Stephen was full of faith and the Holy Spirit. He did spectacular miracles among the people. God's anointing had spread beyond the twelve apostles to other people now (see Acts 6:8). Stephen was full of wisdom and able to defend the faith with great boldness. Opposition arose against him including a host of lies. He was arrested and brought before the Council. His face became as radiant as an angel's. He was able to tie the coming of Jesus to the Old Testament stories of Abraham and Moses. He confronted the leaders strongly resulting in great rage from them (Acts 6:9 - 7:53).
They mobbed Stephen and then stoned him to death (Acts 7:54-60). He gazed up toward heaven and saw Jesus standing at God's right hand. He surrendered his spirit to God and asked that this sin not be charged to his accusers. A young man named Paul stood nearby observing all of this. What an influence Stephen must have had on him.
Here we see courageous proclamation of the gospel and a willingness to die for the faith. We also see great opposition and persecution of the church, especially by religious leaders. Yet, the work of God continued to grow.
1. Think about those who suffer or even lose their lives for their faith in Jesus Christ. What kind of faith would be strong enough to do that?
2. What is your story? Think about your life before Christ, when you encountered Christ, and what has been different since. Can you articulate this in just a few minutes? Maybe take time to write down your story.
3. Pray for courage and wisdom to look for and respond to opportunities to share your story today with someone you know or someone you meet.
4. Who could you share a meal with today that could benefit from your love and interest?
5. Pray for friends and family members who don't yet know Christ. Pray for them to come to know God personally.