Partnering with the Persecuted Church
November 24, 2013 Speaker: Series: Mission Sunday
Topic: Missions Verse: Acts 7:54
“Partnering with the Persecuted Church”
Pastor Brandon Hovey | 11.24.2013
When the members of the Sanhedrin heard [Stephen’s preaching], they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him… At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him…. While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep….
On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.
4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city….
19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus.
Acts 7:54, 57, 58-60; 8:1-8; 11:19-20
How Can We Support the Persecuted Church?
I. Pray for them
• Pray for the persecuted (1 Thessalonians 1:3-4)
• Pray for the persecutors (Matthew 5:44; Romans 12:14)
II. Comfort them
• Become a conduit of God’s comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
• Personally visit them (Philippians 2:25)
III. Learn from them
• Understand that God uses persecution to advance his gospel and kingdom
• Imitate the persecuted (1 Thessalonians 1:6-8)
• Honor the persecuted (Matthew 5:10-12)
IV. Join Them
• We are global Christians, sent on a global mission, by a global God.
• How can you join them?
o Become a pioneer (e.g. Paul)
o Become a developer (e.g. Barnabas)
o Commit to finically supporting missions (e.g. Macedonians churches)
How is God calling you to support your brothers and sisters in the persecuted church?
Going Deeper Questions
Acts 7:54-8:8; Matthew 5:10-12; 44; Luke 9:23ff; John 15:18ff 1 Thessalonians 1:3-8;
Have you ever been ridiculed, make fun of, or marginalized because of your faith in Christ? If so, explain.
How does our “freedom of religion” help and/or hinder the church in America?
What makes it difficult for you to connect with and support the persecuted church?
A Closer Look
Read Acts 7:54-8:8
• Why is Stephen stoned to death? How does he respond under the impending death?
• What were the results of persecution and the scattering? (cf. Acts 11:19-26)
• In what ways does the spreading of the gospel bring “great joy to cities” (8:8)?
Read Acts 5:41-42. What can we learn from the persecuted church in the book of Acts? The persecuted church of today?
How does (or can) our involvement in global missions serve the persecuted church?
According to Pastor Brandon “comfort, ease, freedom, luxury, and safety” can often create tremendous stagnation in the church. Where do you see this evidenced in you life? In the American church?
With your family or small group read 1 Thessalonians 1, and use the text as a filter to pray for the persecuted church.
With your family or small group pray for the following:
• The advancement of the gospel in specific persecuted nations
• Strength and faithfulness for persecuted believers
• The families of those killed or imprisoned for their faith
• The salvation of the persecutors