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: The Hebrew prophets of old were never afraid to use a little bit of humor mingled with reality. They might have made brilliant stand-up comedians. When talking about idols, in particular, they were amazed that at the lengths to which people would go to avoid worshipping God. They would create anything. They would worship what they had created and pretend that these things were gods. This is why Moses had the golden idols melted and mingled the Hebrews’ food. It was to demonstrate that their man-made idols were now flowing in the latrines. God is the only One who can create something out of nothing. Even though Solomon built the temple, Isaiah declared that God cannot be contained in any building (Isaiah 66:1-2). What a ridiculous idea! But as I have said before, when Jesus arrived on earth, the people expected a Messiah who would come from the line of David, but they always wanted a Messiah more along the lines of Solomon. They wanted to see human power and glory.
Knowing that, do you see how incredibly prophetic Stephen’s words were? He said that Jesus came to this earth to turn the whole world upside down. He did not need the temple that they loved so much. They loved the temple more than they loved people. Just like their forefathers, they rejected Jesus. Abraham, Joseph, and Moses would have agreed with Stephen, admonishing the people that they had rejected the One God had sent. This is what made them mad. This is what made their blood boil. This is what drove them to take Stephen’s life. That same man who, at the start of the chapter, is described as having a face that shone like the face of an angel. His life was filled with the Holy Spirit. Consider this:
“Stephen is the first witness (μάρτυς) in the church who died for his confession of faith in Jesus, the crucified, risen, and exalted Lord and Savior. An authentic witness of Jesus is a person full of the Holy Spirit willing to serve at tables (6:1–6), active in proclaiming Jesus Christ (6:8–10), unfazed by opposition (6:11–14), capable of explaining the significance and meaning of the gospel (7:2–56), unwilling to compromise his convictions (7:51–53), willing to die for his faith (which he regards as more precious than his own life, 7:57–60), and loving people who have not yet accepted the gospel, including his enemies (7:60). What Luke emphasizes is not Stephen’s courage but the presence of the Holy Spirit in his life (6:10; 7:55).” (Acts: Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, p. 101)
Recalibrate: Do the potential consequences hold you back from an honest public walk with God?
Respond: Pray for the joy and hope of the Spirit in your life.
Research: Read one of the suggested commentaries from the bibliography on this passage.
The responsibility of parenthood can be so overwhelming. It is daunting to consider that you are responsible for this little life. You are not alone. Know that Jesus stands at the right hand of God ready to act on your behalf.
Have you ever had a hard time being nice to someone who has been mean to you? It doesn’t feel normal to be nice to mean people, does it? Is there someone who has hurt your feelings? What can you do to be nice to them this week?
As Stephen was being killed, he cried, “Lord, do not hold this against them.” What does this tell you about Stephen’s heart? We can only respond to hate with love when the love of Jesus is within us. Are you at a place in your life where you respond with love when people hurt you?