November 18: Hope of an Advocate

Read Acts 6:8-7:60

Although most anyone would be able to deliver food, the early church was very selective when it came to the character of those who helped in that ministry.  Stephen was one of the men chosen.  But his job description of serving meals to widows was vastly different from the miracle working/evangelist/teacher roles that he also played.  He seemed to understand that his meals on wheels ministry was subordinate to the call to make disciples…and so he invested in both!

What is your ministry?  Would you define it as a “support role” less obviously and less directly attached to disciple-making?  Rocking babies?  Counting money?  Caring for facilities?  Setting up the stage?  Serving food?  Those are vitally important!  You can be making a great contribution to the Great Commission even though the connection isn’t as direct.  Meanwhile, don’t excuse your direct involvement.  Pray for your “five.”  Engage in evangelistic relationships and opportunities.  Share biblical truth with those in your world.

As Stephen served faithfully on two fronts, some didn’t like what they heard.  They saw him as a threat to Old Testament Judaism.  He wasn’t the first to experience opposition. Peter and James had made enemies in chapter 4.  But Stephen was the first recorded individual since the ascension of Jesus to be executed for his faith in Christ.

If you read the story, however, you know that he died seemingly fearless and hopeful. While others gnashed their teeth, his gaze penetrated heaven, the dwelling place of God. Even though others had brought accusations against him…in spite of the fact that they were about to condemn him to death…there, at the right hand of God, Stephen saw His Savior. He saw the One who had died and been raised. He saw Him, Who intercedes on behalf of His saints (Rom. 8:33, 34). He saw the One, Who was his hope. As a result, he gathered strength to navigate faithfully and even graciously through those final moments of his life as the target of the anger of others.

Take courage in knowing that every Christ-follower has the assurance of a loving Savior at the right hand of the Father. There He intercedes on behalf of His disciples…even in the darkest of times. We find hope in that reality.