Sunday, May 23, 2010

Stoned for Christ

Read Acts 6-7

Stephen was a man filled with the Holy Spirit. That is pretty much all that is said about his qualifications. The apostles chose him as one of the seven lay leaders for this reason alone. He wasn’t an honor grad from some bible college and had not spent a single day in seminary. Stephen was a spirit filled man who loved God with his whole heart.
God isn’t impressed with our earthly accomplishments. We don’t earn extra points for an expensive education or extensive financial backing. God wants our hearts. He demands that we seek after him. This is a requirement that Stephen had in spades.
Acts 6:8 tells us that Stephen was full of God’s grace and power. Many miracles and wondrous signs were performed through him. Elders in the church of the day grew jealous and tried to accuse Stephen of heresy, but no one could match the wisdom that God had given him. Stephen could not be out witted.
In the end, the only thing the enemy could use against him, were blatant lies. Even these he defeated easily with God given wisdom. This only angered his enemies more. They were filled with so much jealousy and raged that they decided to kill him anyway. The masses were ready to stone him to death.

Acts 7:54 – 60

When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.
While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 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.
And Saul was there, giving approval to his death.

Stephen did not try to run. He did not try to fight, or make excuses for his faith. Stephen was filled with the peace that only Christ can give. He simply told the truth. He shared the message of Christ and prayed for those who were lost. He followed the example set by Christ, even to his own death. If only we all shared his faith and commitment.

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