The Story of Stephen (Part One)
As a teacher long ago in a small Oklahoma town, I met a young woman who became our music teacher. After a few days, we became best friends. What impressed me was the smile, no matter what, that remained on her face. I knew Christ lived in her before we talked. It wasn’t just the smile or even her good deeds, it was the whole countenance of her being.
As our friendship grew, we decided to pray for each other before starting our teaching day each morning. We invited others and a few came, but soon it was just us. We both loved music. We sang together at a women’s retreat at our church. Later, we were even asked to sing at one of the parent/teacher association meetings! We had different church backgrounds, but the same God. She struggled at the time with her family life so maybe I was “called” to be there for her.
But one thing for sure, I couldn’t take my eyes off this holy woman of God who was totally in love with Jesus Christ and obeyed him with all her heart, mind and soul.
This “countenance” is what others saw in Stephen. Stephen was at the top of the list of the chosen by the apostles to help with the ministry of food distribution. By his name is written, “a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit. What an awesome description of this man!
The story of Stephen reminds me of the missionary Jim Elliot who was killed by the very people group he was trying to reach for Christ. It also reminds me of those who are beheaded today in the Middle East for declaring Jesus as their Savior and Lord! Those who stand for Christ but are rejected or killed because of their faith still exists today! Stephen’s Story is still lived out today. We in America seem immune to the Truth of this, but we must realize that it occurs and pray for the persecuted who live for Christ!
Part One: Stephen’s Story
Acts 6, The Message
8-10 Stephen, brimming with God’s grace and energy, was doing wonderful things among the people, unmistakable signs that God was among them. But then some men from the meeting place whose membership was made up of freed slaves, Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and some others from Cilicia and Asia, went up against him trying to argue him down. But they were no match for his wisdom and spirit when he spoke.
11 So in secret they bribed men to lie: “We heard him cursing Moses and God.”
12-14 That stirred up the people, the religious leaders, and religion scholars. They grabbed Stephen and took him before the High Council. They put forward their bribed witnesses to testify: “This man talks nonstop against this Holy Place and God’s Law. We even heard him say that Jesus of Nazareth would tear this place down and throw out all the customs Moses gave us.”
15 As all those who sat on the High Council looked at Stephen, they found they couldn’t take their eyes off him—his face was like the face of an angel!
What do we learn?
–We must stand, no matter what or who, tries to bring us down.
–The traits (spiritual gifts of Stephen) that turned all eyes on him were described as “full of faith, full of the Holy Spirit, brimming with God’s grace and energy, did wonderful things among the people, “unmistakable signs” that GOD was among them.
–God was IN Stephen.
Is God so evident in me that it reflects in my countenance? Do others know that God lives in me before I tell them? Mm.
Dear Heavenly Father, We are gratefully thankful for the story of Stephen that reminds us that “in this world we will have trouble” but YOU have overcome. Death does not hold us down when when we stand for You, looking fully into YOUR wonderful face who give us life eternal! Thank you, Lord! Continue to be with us, guiding us, and unconditionally loving us as only You can. In Jesus Name, Amen