Read Acts 7:51-60
The whole scene of this passage really comes to life with all of the visuals written right into the story. The church was growing rapidly. The disciples needed to appoint deacons so they could continue traveling and sharing the gospel. They knew Stephen was filled with faith, but he was also wise and had a good spirit about him. They knew they could trust him to help with the structure of the rapidly growing church.
What the disciples didn’t know was that Stephen’s first message would quickly become his last. When the high priest asked Stephen if he would like to say a few words, Stephen wasted no time. He had lived for this moment, not for his own glory, but for the glory of the One he loved most; he longed to share the truth of Jesus. Something interesting happens when you hear the truth; conviction always follows. Stephen plowed right into telling this ‘religious’ crowd that, while they may know the facts of the gospel, they never submitted to it, and they were certainly not living it. To a Jewish crowd, these quickly became fighting words.
Now, had Stephen read the book, “How to Win Friends & Influence People”, his approach may have been a little different. But all Stephen knew was the truth about the gospel and the very character of Jesus, whom he loved with everything he had. The Jewish people became irritated by his words and started lashing out at him. Stephen instantly took his eyes off of his attackers and looked up to God. He saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God. Can you even begin to imagine this? I can only guess, for even a couple of minutes, Stephen was so mesmerized by that sight that the only thing he could think of was his desire to be with Him. Something beautiful happens when we spend time with Jesus; we become more like Him, we even speak like him. Stephen knew the stoning was going to lead to his death so he did what his Lord & Savior did, he cried out to his God for forgiveness for his accusers and for God to receive his spirit.
God heard Stephen’s prayer and what happened next changes everything. The image of a man living for and dying for the gospel of Jesus Christ is an image Saul will never get out of his mind. Without Stephen’s dying prayer, the church may never have Paul.
Can God trust me to share the truth about His Son? More importantly, can God count on me to live out the gospel of Jesus? We live in a visual world. Words get lost, but people still watch how we live our lives. Lord, is there a Saul in my life that you are counting on me to live out your gospel to? May I never take my eyes off of you. May I stop blending into the world. Give me the courage to stand up and stand out for You in the precious name of Jesus.
21 DAY PRAYER CHALLENGE
For the full challenge, go here!
Day 8: 10-Minutes of Airplane Mode
Read Philippians 4:6. Take 10 minutes throughout the day and completely get away from all possible distractions. Spend this time talking with God.