My big idea for today is that there is much that we can learn by the spiritual examples that have gone before us. My prayer for us to day is that by hearing this message we might identify with the spiritual character of godly examples and that their influence may bring us closer to Christ.
The next element of Stephen’s character & ministry.
Stephen’s Opponents Were “Members of the Synagogue of Freedmen”
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.Acts 6:9
Many believe that there was a previous connection with Stephen and this Synagogue. As a gathering place Hellenistic Jews it’s quite possible that its connection to the cities associated with this synagogue tell a larger story. Cilicia is where we find Tarsus Saul/Paul’s hometown. Asia minor is where we find Ephesus as well as the seven Churches in Revelation. The name “Freedmen” indicates that these where once Jewish prisoners of Rome who had been liberated. At any rate this is the equivalent of religious/spiritual opposition against Stephen. Opposition from a familiar place. Quite possibly from within Stephen’s own religious circles.
This is not unlike today where we experience denominational strife and backbiting. When God is doing new things in your life be sure that someone is likely to talk some kind of mess. We must keep focused on the prize that is Christ Jesus.
They plot arguments and devise schemes against him. His response was always in keeping with and consistent with His relationship with Jesus. Are we focused we face opposition? Or do we blow it? When the pressure of external things begins to squeeze you, what comes out. Is it evidence of Spiritual growth? Stephen is a great example for us to analyze. Because we can learn so much about who we are in Christ and our own faith that be using His example like a benchmark of sorts. Obviously, Christ is the model. He being tempted in every way can relate to our struggles, but that doesn’t mean that we can relate to His sinless humanity. So we tend to look at fallible men like Peter, Paul, and Stephen to benchmark spiritual formation in a manner the may be deemed realistic.
I’ll move to my final point.
Stephen Possessed Inspired Wisdom
But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.Acts 6:10
Stephen’s wisdom was God given and a direct result of His relationship with Christ.
But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.Matthew 10:19-20
If we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, He is our Guide.
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.John 16:13
I’ll move to my final point.
Stephen was able to apply scripture To Everyday Life
The ability to apply scripture to everyday life is a gift in and of itself. It’s a gift that God gives each of us progressively as we hear Him and respond appropriately to his leading.
In many ways we are learning from our experiences.
I’ll close with this. Each of these elements require a certain level of personal choice. We choose to except Christ. We choose to Respond in faith. We choose to obey His Spirit. We desire to grow in Him. You cannot make someone do what they do not want to do? This is the beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ Is that He will Forgive our sins. He Creates a perfect reconciliation with our heavenly Father. Filling us with Faith and Spirit. He gives us wisdom and Power over darkness. Stephen’s example here is a perfect picture of how God takes an ordinary man and brings out extraordinary purpose and plan. We are ordinary people that God is including in His extraordinary plan.
Will you join me as we seek an authentic relationship united in Christ and each other? Rejecting division, embracing God’s reality in Jesus, and encouraging one another. It’s just between you and God. Here’s the thing, If we love God and abide in Christ we will find ourselves more and more loving each other. You will we more and you will love better. We will experience God in spirit and in truth and we will share that amongst each other. Share all the ways God has shown you mercy and grace. Will you allow the Holy Spirit to stir faith in someone through your testimony? Would you join me as the Holy Spirit moves on us to be unified in the spirit of Christ? These are the kingdom values. This is truly the work of God. The intentional actions of the body of Christ. Remember the devil seeks only to kill steal and destroy. Steal your freedom, kill your joy, and destroy your destiny for hope and love. But God has a plan! He’s stealing from your neighbor, your family, and your loved ones today.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.John 3:16
Jesus, He’s the Son of the living God, and we can receive from Him today His Righteousness, His purpose and His calling. Will you call on him today? Your salvation/forgiveness is just one prayer away. Will you trust in his ability to do what He said He would do? Will you believe today? Many of you need a fresh touch from God today. Is there some form of unbelief or a fracture of trust as it relates to God in your life today? God wants to redeem and restore those areas of your life? He wants to restore Joy and hope for you today. You’re hearing this now and the Holy Spirit has brought someone or something to mind. He wants to speak life into this today. He wants to bring healing in this area today. There are areas of deep regret when it comes to your relationship with God and you have rejected Christ as your savior …It’s not too late
It’s not too late to humble yourself before him today, hold out your arms and open your hands to receive from him today. Will you say yes to Jesus, today? Will you bow your heads with me? Some of you already know the Lord, but maybe he’s put something on your heart that you need to deal with, you need to ask his forgiveness today. If that’s you will you just acknowledge that to him today. This is just you and God here. Now someone here may not have that relationship with Jesus and today you’ve felt him tugging at your heart, you’ve been hurt, and you’re guarded, I know. Jesus is here and wants set things right in your life. If you’ll say Pastor, I want Jesus to be my Lord and savior. Remember, it’s just you and God here. Will you pray with me today, We’ll pray here as a family and you can repeat after me?
Jesus, I know that I’m a sinner. I ask you today for your forgiveness. I believe that you died for my sins and on that 3rd day, you rose from the dead. I ask you to come into my heart today. I trust and follow you as my Lord and savior. Guide me and help me to do your will. In Jesus’ name Amen.
“‘“The Lord bless youNumbers 6:24-26
and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’