Read Acts 7:1-26
Stephen tells it like it is (Acts 7:1-53). This early Christian martyr gives us a glimpse of heaven (7:54-60). Follow the Lord's plan to tell the world: (1) He allows persecution (8:1-3); (2) Believers scatter, sharing the Word as they go (8:4); (3) Individuals hear the Word and believe (8:12,27-38); (4) Preaching continues in all the cities (8:40).
Stephen's Spirit-filled sermon was by no means designed to secure for himself an acquittal with the Sanhedrin. It was a defense of Jesus as the Christ — the only God-appointed Way to eternal life. Stephen's convicting words were too much for the listening Sanhedrin. They cried out with a loud voice . . . And cast him out of the city, and stoned him (Acts 7:57-58).
Stephen's last testimony for Christ was a prayer: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit (7:59). He then prayed for his enemies. As they stoned him, he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep (died) (7:60).
Only the indwelling Spirit of Christ can cause a person to pray for his murderers. This prayer was first prayed by our Lord on the cross: Father, forgive them (Luke 23:34). Such a prayer has no parallel outside the Christian faith. If Stephen had not prayed this prayer, the Church may not have had an Apostle Paul.
The few who experience the highest glory of the Christian life will, as did Stephen, pray forgiveness for all those who misunderstand the love of Christ whom they represent.
Does God really expect us to deny ourselves so entirely for others? Is it not asking too much? It is indeed our calling to become like Jesus who said: If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me (Luke 9:23). Only by demonstrating His self-sacrificing love can the Church fulfill the purpose God has for the Body of Christ on earth (I Cor. 12:27).
The height of the love of God was manifested in the self-sacrifice of Christ. It is the highest glory of the Christian to be like his Lord. Let our love prove itself to be conformable to Him in daily self-sacrifice for the welfare of others; so will it also be acceptable in the sight of God. We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren (I John 3:16). Christ's example of self-sacrifice should be the rule of our lives, even in the daily affairs of home, between husband and wife, and between brother and sister.
If we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection (Rom. 6:5).
Thought for Today:
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God (I John 4:7).
For Acts 7:3: See Gen. 12:1. Acts 7:27-28: See Ex. 2:14. Acts 7:32: See Ex. 3:6. Acts 7:33-34: See Ex. 3:5,7-8,10. Acts 7:37: See Deut. 18:15. Acts 7:40: See Ex. 32:1. Acts 7:42-43: See Amos 5:25-27. Acts 7:49-50: See Is. 66:1-2. Acts 8:32-33: See Is. 53:7-8.
7:19 subtilly, shrewdly, treacherously took advantage; 7:51 stiffnecked and uncircumcised, stubborn, deaf to the truth, and unrepentant; 8:9 sorcery, witchcraft, magic arts.
Pray for Bible Pathway Printer: Ambrose Printing Staff, Nashville TN • Staff: Barbara Bivens • Government Officials: Sen. Barbara Boxer (CA), Rep. Corrine Brown (FL), Rep. Pete Stark (CA), and Rep. Tim Huelskamp (KS) • Country: El Salvador (5.9 million) in Central America • Major language: Spanish • Some intolerance of Protestants by government officials • 75% Catholic; 20% Protestant; .5% Baha'i; 2.5% Other; 2% None • Prayer Suggestion: Ask the Lord to make you willing to go wherever He wants to send you (Is. 6:8).
Memory Verse for the Week: Romans 6:12