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Stephen was an ordinary person, just wanting to help.
Willing to serve tables, so the apostles could preach
not willing to be ashamed of the gospel, or compromise the faith
They were not able to resist the sprit and wisdom by which he spoke
God does not call great people
God does great things through those He calls
Consider what God does right here at City of God Church:
Someone might look at the small number of people in this congregation and say “This place is dead”, or “God must not be blessing this ministry”
But someone else might consider the things that are accomplished here, the number of lives who are reached, the miracles that sustain us, the provision He has provided to “visit the fatherless and widows in their afflictions” and say How amazing God is!!!
So many things in life like that.
God chooses simple things of the world, and humble people, ordinary people.
When you are willing to “serve” the enemy is not able to resist the Spirit in you
This is as true today as it was then
We don’t see enough of this because too many pseudo Christians are willing to compromise the truth in order to be popular
They do this by changing the Word, omitting it, or suppressing it
Think about this: If the disciples had been willing to compromise none of them would have needed to be martyred
All they needed to do was keep the Word quiet when they were around people who might be offended by it.
Like the government, media, and pseudo Christians want us to do today
All the Jews were asking them to do (and later idol worshippers) was to be quiet about preaching the name of Jesus - stop spreading this doctrine
What was so troubling about it?
They were not forcing anyone to become followers as the muslims later did and still do
They were not forcing converts under threat of death, although they themselves were threatened with death
they were not harming anyone or forcing payments by anyone
They were simply confronting people with a truth that The Holy Spirit would use to convict their own consciences - a truth they could not escape
this truth made people uncomfortable: They couldn’t un-hear it.
They were convicted in their minds and spirits
It became inescapable, and people were converted, irrevocably, from the inside out.
Nevertheless, if we are willing to be “full of faith and Power” God will use us today, as He did then.
And the enemy will not overcome us.
people were being fed
people were being changed
And the enemy will not overcome us.
So they secretly induced men to say...
When they couldn’t find ways to stop the spread of the gospel, they resorted to lying
They stuck together and overcame the feuding among themselves, and the church began to multiply
now, they rose up to persecute Stephen, and probably others
Hiring people to lie about them
this tactic is also alive and well today - but God
This is how we should look in the face of persecution, tribulation, trials, and temptations
His face, even in the face of their false accusations, was like the face of an angel
What does your face look like when someone says something bad about you?
Why do we get so shaken so easily?
do we get so shaken so easily?
How do you handle it when things don’t go your way?
How do you handle it when things don’t go your way?
We really ought to stop here and have some personal confessions, because I can tell you, I see a lot of different faces each week when people don’t like what they are hearing, and I can’t really say that they look like angels.
In fact, if that’s what angels look like...
We really ought to stop here and have some personal confessions, because I can tell you, I see a lot of different faces each week when people don’t like what they are hearing, and I can’t really say that they look like angels.
We may be laughing, but we should also be convicted a little about this.
When Stephen was accused, he looked like an angel because he was looking toward God
He knew the secret to the peace that passes all understanding - the peace that will keep your heart and mind
He was looking to God, listening to God, pleasing to God, expecting from God, fearing only God, trusting in God.
If we would look to God instead of our emotions
Listen to God instead of our friends
We also would experience that unshakable faith and in-surpassable peace.
We need top see the Lord “always” before our face.
When called into account, because he was looking to Jesus, and filed with faith, he took the opportunity to preach the word
If we could simply not worry about the reactions, what kind of things might we say?
Stephen probably didn’t know if these people were going to get converted or get angry.
The outcome was not his problem or responsibility.
He was simply faithful.
In todays’ Christianity, or Selfianity, preaching is only acceptable if it gets a positive, uplifting response from the hearers.
And immediately.
If the people are offended then the preacher must not be anointed, or worse, must not be from God
In reality, preaching should be judged on whether it reflects the truth of God’s Word and communicates the heart of God.
If you are set steadfast on sin, God does not want you to leave here edified today, but rather convicted.
In fact, right preaching should do both.
It should be very encouraging to those who are saved, very convicting to those who are not yet saved, and very inspiring to both, drawing us always closer to His glory.
Shining light on greater truth.
As we see in the text here, Stephen began to share God’s Word, truthfully, and forcefully, and yet the people were filled with offence and anger, which only got worse as he spoke.
He took them through the history of the old testament reminding them of our long history in rejecting those who God sent.
He finally built up to where Solomon built God a house (the temple) and pointed out that God does not live in temples made with hands
He lives in us
act 7.52-53
As you can see Stephen was speaking with boldness
he pointed out that the problem was them: They were stiffnecked, unwilling to submit to God
We are by nature just as stiffnecked today
it is in our nature to return to our own prideful and selfish ways
refusing to submit to God, or to those whom He sends
Only submission to Jesus through faith can save us from this
As their forefathers had done, so were they doing
We are doing the same thing in many places in the nominal church today
allowing our traditions and comforts to displace the Word of God and faith
cts 7.
They were cut to the heart
getting to the heart does not always result in conversion
sometimes people don’t want their hearts to change - tot hem the truth is offensive
Was Stephen wrong here?
I actually heard a man trying to teach once, that if Stephen had just had enough faith he could have avoided being stoned; How offensive!
Stephen became the first martyr
My testimony was greatly impacted by this passage:
Stephen was a Christian.
Nothing more.
He was not a priest, a rabbi, a politician or a lawyer.
Just a Christian.
An ordinary man, just like you and I. Serving tables.
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