54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Yesterday I mentioned that Stephen became the first martyr of the church. He died at the hands of his enemies by the means of stoning, not a very pleasant means of death. Stephen was the first of the Christian martyrs, but he was not the last. It has been said that there have been more martyrs for the faith in the 20th Century then there were in all the other previous 19 centuries combined. Already we are a little over a decade into the 21st Century and martyrs in this century are on track to surpass that of the 20th Century. Today, most of us don’t live under the threat of death for being a Christian, but that does not mean we should go about our days as usual. I would encourage you to spend some time in prayer today for those who do live in life threatening areas. Pray for God’s will to be done in their lives. Pray that they would receive the grace they need as they face death in the eye. Pray that if it be God’s will that they would be able to escape the threats that come against them. If you’d like to learn more go to www.persecution.com.