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 International Version (NIV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: What was it that Stephen shared that made the leaders so upset that they took his life? At the simple level, it appears that Stephen simply shared a common historical narrative. But when you start to delve deeper into the text, you soon realize that Stephen was very selective in this narrative. He was very intentional about which elements of the stories he chose to highlight. This is because what he had to say was dangerous. The apostles were brave men and spoke with conviction, but this young deacon was on another level!
Stephen starts by referencing God, to demonstrate his belief that the source of all blessings and life is God alone. The leaders are good with this. He brings up Abraham and reminds them that even when the covenant was established, God knew that one day they would lose their way and end up in captivity. This is the same thing that the Apostle Paul will point out (Romans 4, Galatians 3) when he draws on Genesis 15 showing how God would bring a new promise forward. Stephen then slips over into the Joseph narrative without missing a beat and reminds them that Joseph was rejected, yet God restored him and he eventually became second in command over all of Egypt. He was even able to save the people who had rejected him—his own family. You have to wonder how the listeners could not see where Stephen was leading them. Literally to the cliff edge. Moving on to Moses, whom they absolutely loved, he affirms that the law was given through Moses. While they don’t necessarily agree on how to keep the law, they all agree that is it the foundation of their world. When Stephen explains how there were people entering into idolatry while Moses was on the mountain receiving the law, I am positive they were disgusted—never thinking that this could be a veiled reference to them. Stephen is in full stride now, again, being very selective in what he mentions. He intentionally focuses on his own unlikely nature as an insider who became an outsider, yet has been chosen. He too has been rejected by his own people. He understands that God’s presence is what makes the ground and space holy—not our presence. Tomorrow, I will share one crucial piece of historical context that will shape this incident. For today, let us pause on the significance of Stephen’s words.
Recalibrate: Would you rather be told a truth outright or gradually discover it for yourself?
Respond: Pray for the heart of God to reside in you.
Research: Why are their factual differences between Stephen’s account and the First Testament record?
Choose to see the good in your circumstance. Yes, your baby or toddler may a poor sleeper or eater, but aren’t you blessed to be given this bundle of love? Let your child see joy and peace in your expressions and actions
As we’ve been studying the book of Acts, we see that a lot of people get upset when they hear people talking about Jesus. Some of the apostles who talked about Jesus were thrown in prison, and some were even hurt or killed for talking about Him. Why do you think they kept sharing about Jesus anyway?
Anger drove those in the temple to murder Stephen. As those in the temple were about to stone him, he looked into heaven and saw Jesus. What does it mean to you that Jesus is always with us, even in life’s toughest moments? Think about a time Jesus revealed Himself to you when you needed Him the most.