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Stephen and Saul, Acts 7 and 8

The Believers in Jesus Christ increased. But it was a bad time. The San Hedrin in the Jewish temple were jealous and they were scared that they would lose their power. They threw Peter and John into jail. The Angel of the Lord came and let them out of the gates in the night!

They were brought to the San Hedrin and bawled out for preaching Jesus. But one of the priests said, “We had better be careful. Remember, there have been others who claimed to be the Messiah and they fizzled out. If these guys are honest we might be trying to fight God Himself!”

A multitude of Christians joined the Disciples. They gathered every day and everyone ate together. Seven young men were chosen to help pass out food to the poor. The best one was named Stephen. He had the face of an angel. One day Stephen was arrested. He explained to the priests that Jesus was the Messiah promised by God to Father Abraham. He reminded them that the Big Shots all through the ages had killed the men of God because they wanted power.

When he said that, the priests and others jumped up screaming! They didn’t want to hear that they were wrong. They went wild! They started pounding him with rocks!

Stephen looked up and saw Jesus in heaven on the right hand of God. He fell to his knees and prayed, “Lord, don’t blame them for this,” and he died, the first martyr for Christ.

When the mob ran to throw stones at Stephen they took off their coats and dropped them in a pile. A young man stood watch to keep them from being stolen. His name was Saul.

After that many people were against the Christians. The Big Shots in the San Hedrin ordered them to throw the Christians in jail. Some were killed. The Believers in Jerusalem got out of town but they carried the message about Jesus everywhere they went!

Saul was one of the worst tormenters of the Christians. He rode through the streets and arrested them and threw them in dungeons. They were flogged and sometimes killed for Jesus. He cleared out a lot of Christians from that city so he went to the San Hedrin and got papers to allow him to arrest Christians in the city of Damascus about 200 miles north.

So Saul headed north on horseback with a crew of men. But just before he got to Damascus a sudden bright light poured out of the sky over him! He fell onto the ground and a Voice said, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?”

Saul asked, “Who are You, Lord?!” The voice said, “I am Jesus, the One you are tormenting.” Saul asked, “What do you want me to do?” Jesus said, “Get up and go into Damascus and you will be told what to do.”

The men with Saul could hear the Voice but they didn’t see anyone. Saul got up and found out that he was blind as a bat! His men led him into town. Saul couldn’t see!

There was a Christian man named Ananias living in Damascus. The Lord told him to go and find Saul and restore his sight. Ananias said, “Lord, I have heard about that guy! He has tormented the Christians in Jerusalem and now he has papers to chase us down here! I’m afraid!”

The Lord said, “Go on and do it. I have chosen Saul to preach to all kinds of people and kings and the Jews. He is going to serve Me.”

So, Ananias found Saul and he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who came to you on the road sent me to restore your sight and you will receive the Holy Spirit.” Suddenly Saul’s eyes cleared and he got baptized and he went right to work preaching Jesus in the Jewish Temples!

Eventually his name was changed to “Paul” and he was the most powerful preacher for Jesus in the whole Mediterranean. God took special means to use Paul because he was intelligent and dedicated when he believed that he was doing the right thing.

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