Friday, October 6
Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called) – Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia – who began to argue with Stephen. But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke. Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We have heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.”
So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”
All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
Stephen was full of God’s grace and power. His thoughts and actions were motivated by his faith in Jesus Christ. Not only did Stephen believe and trust Jesus for his salvation, but he also depended on Jesus in his days thereafter. And everyone saw it. Stephen helped to resolve disputes within the early Jerusalem church. He also evangelized within the community outside of church. Wherever Stephen went, he wore his faith (unashamedly) on his sleeve.
Stephen experienced the joy and blessing of relationship with God; Stephen lived within God’s love. Stephen was also hated because he aligned himself with (and lived for) his Savior. People told lies about Stephen and treated him unjustly. Yet, he continued to live for and with God. Even in the minutes immediately preceding his death (Acts 6:12-7:60), Stephen’s face shone like that of an angel in the presence and communion of God Almighty.
What might God be trying to communicate and remind us of through this passage? Certainly, it is good to live for Jesus, but isn’t a dependency on the Holy Spirit the foundation for Christ-like thinking and godly living? Yes, we must be filled with His Spirit, just as Stephen was (Acts 6:3). “Being filled with the Spirit” can be described in many ways, but one way to define it is active fellowship with God. When we are filled with His Spirit, it is easy and natural to live for Christ and glorify the Father!
In light of today’s passage, think about how remarkable the rescue of God is. Consider the greatness of the cost paid by God to take away the sin of the world. Think about how amazing God’s love is; not only did He make a way for you to come to Him, He actually came and got you and is bringing you closer to Him every day. All that we might bring Him glory as we become more like Him, in life and in death.
Father, You are absolutely incredible. You take hold of the unbelieving hearts of men and women… and You rescue. You are love and You are the giver of love. Make me more like You, Lord. Amen.
Now… respond by GIVING in a new way. God has given you everything you have. GIVE today that you might become more like Him. GIVE something to someone. It could be a piece of clothing, a cold drink of water, an encouraging Scripture, a hug, etc. But when you give, let the person know that you are giving because God has given to you.