Message: Death and Growth
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Japhet De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jessyka Albert
Live Purpose: Kyle Smith
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin today in prayer. Ask God for understanding through the Holy Spirit and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Acts 6:8-7:60 in the New Living Translation (NLT). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: What can you do about defamation of your character? What can you do about naysayers? How do you handle those who lie about you? What should your response be to those who seem to spend their time trying to hurt you? In the summer of 2015, in San Antonio, TX, Sam Leonor and I decided to go out of our way to meet some of people who had been the most violently outspoken against us and the One project. We knew they were all present at the exhibit hall in close proximity to each other, and we happened to be sitting in a booth at the Waffle House when one of the groups arrived, all wearing clothing marked with their organizational logos. I was super excited at the prospect of sitting down with them and talking. They were choosing their waffles (and I was offering suggestions, including extra melted chocolate and ice cream) when they finally realized who I was. They were no longer hidden behind a printed pamphlet, book, or website blog, but had to look at Sam and I face to face. We invited them out for a meal, thinking that if we could break bread together and fellowship together, we could find a way to understand each other and to end these false allegations. They agreed to meet a few days later—but later changed their minds, becoming secretive and illusive. One individual put his hand over his ID tag so that Sam could not see his name. It was weird. As an excuse, they told us that their boards had advised them not to engage in any verbal conversations with either Sam or me—for legal reasons.
Early in the story portrayed in Acts 7, I find myself very pleased that Stephen has a chance to share his perspective. Let us not forget that this was the third warning issued by the religious leaders against the followers of Jesus. The first warning was in Acts 4:17, 21 and the second was in Acts 5:40. That warning included a session with the leather whips. This third warning was an escalation demonstrating that the leaders were not going to back down. They were not interested in engaging in conversation but in taking power back. The problem then is the same problem that exists now: People get confused about where power lies. The power is not with the One project. It is not with the leaders or with the men and women who dream and respond to Jesus. They are nothing. We are nothing. The power is in Jesus. All. No one of us can contain nor own this power. We do not have a monopoly on Jesus. He does not belong to us. We belong to Him. We are his children. This is worth saying over and over and over and over again. With this truth in mind, we acknowledge that today the One project chapter ends, but that only means that the next chapter in our faith journeys has to begin. We look forward to the future (2 Corinthians 13:11).
Recalibrate: When you think of Jesus, what quality of His captures your heart the most?
Respond: Share a prayer of thanks for forgiveness that does not require work, but simply asks us to accept Jesus.
Research: What is Stephen trying to achieve through sharing these stories?
Our faces communicate so much of what we are feeling. Acts 6:15 describes Stephen’s face as being like that of an angel, even though he was being interrogated and lied about. Peace under any circumstance has been gifted to you. How can you thank Jesus today?
Has anyone ever said something about you that wasn’t true? How did that make you feel? It doesn’t feel very good huh? Have an adult help you look up Psalm 139 in the International Children’s Bible Version. What do you think Jesus would say about you?
Acts 6:12 says that the rumors people spread against Stephen “stirred up” those in the temple. How have you seen rumors “stir up” your school, work, or even church? Are you willing to take a stand against sharing rumors?