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 English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Millions of people around the world will spend literally billions of various currencies on expressions of love today. As we begin the annual Valentine’s Day celebration, this website alone has some awkward insights, not least that 53% of women would end their relationship if they did not receive a gift on Valentine’s Day. Choosing an appropriate expression of love requires thought and preparation. Did Stephen have time to prepare an answer for his accusers? When they arrested him, was he placed in prison overnight like the others (Acts 4:1–3; 5:17–18), or did he have to answer his accusers within moments? The Gospel of Luke (often referred to as volume 1 of Luke’s story with Acts as volume 2) records this counsel from Jesus:
And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” —Luke 12:11-12 (ESV)
When you start to unpack exactly what Stephen said, he either had an entire team of the best writers around him or he heard the clear voice of the Holy Spirit guiding him as to what he needed to say.
Not every Bible does this, but the English Standard Version, ordinarily one of my personal favorites, has adopted the tradition of inserting subtitles into the text. There is one right between verse 53 and verse 54 of chapter 7. It is unfortunate, as the original text presents this as a single passage with a dramatic break. An interruption. It caused them to “grind their teeth at him.” Tomorrow we will look at exactly what Stephen said that caused such a violent reaction. But today, perhaps you wondered why the Holy Spirit encouraged him to give this speech if the result would lead to death? Perhaps the Holy Spirit does call us to advance into spaces that are uncomfortable. we are told to take up the cross daily, to give up ourselves, to live for others, and to give our lives for others if necessary. Perhaps the Holy Spirit is calling our church to advance, but that requires more of our time, resources, and energy. Perhaps we think that because our lives are not at risk that we have nothing to sacrifice. This might be the way we avoid advancing.
Recalibrate: What do you need to sacrifice to advance your local church mission?
Respond: Pray for the heart to respond to the call to serve.
Research: How does the ministry you do advance the overall local church mission?
With your child, thank God for all the family members who have helped you reach the point you are at today. Ask God to make something awesome out of your family tree.
What do you think love means? Put your hands together like a high five. Now move your hands apart to show how much you love: Dogs? Candy bars? Recess? Your best friend? Your family? Jesus? How much does Jesus love you?
When Stephen shared his testimony with those in the temple, they responded by becoming “enraged.” They were supposed to be loving, righteous people of God, yet their anger got the best of them. Have you ever seen people of authority, who are supposed to be the example of love, fail to be loving? What can you do every day as a reminder to be consistent in your love for others?