Acts 7 English Standard Version (ESV)
7 And the high priest said, “Are these things so?” 2 And Stephen said:
“Brothers and fathers, hear me. ……
35 “This Moses, whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’—this man God sent as both ruler and redeemer by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36 This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in Egypt and at the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years. 37 This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.’ 38 This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles to give to us. 39 Our fathers refused to obey him, but thrust him aside, and in their hearts they turned to Egypt, 40 saying to Aaron, ‘Make for us gods who will go before us. As for this Moses who led us out from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 41 And they made a calf in those days, and offered a sacrifice to the idol and were rejoicing in the works of their hands. 42 But God turned away and gave them over to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets:
“‘Did you bring to me slain beasts and sacrifices,
during the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel?
43 You took up the tent of Moloch
and the star of your god Rephan,
the images that you made to worship;
and I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.’ ……
The Stoning of Stephen
54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul.59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
- Stephen was one of the seven men chosen by the church to serve meals to the neglected people in the church. Not a prominent role, but a menial and lowly one. However, Stephen was chosen as he was “of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (6:3).
- Any ministry, however menial, must be performed in the Spirit’s power if it is to be a means of grace. There is no service that’s demeaning to a Christian. And there’s no ministry that we are to perform in our own strength.
- When have you felt God calling you to serve in a small way? What did you learn in being obedient?
- Have you ever experienced God’ spirit moving through you in a powerful way after a period of simple, obedient service to him? If so, how has God helped you grow in wisdom and grace through these experiences?
- How fully have you surrendered yourself, your time, and your concept of your own importance to God? Sit with God now and in the coming days, listening to what he may be asking you to do in service to him.
- In this chapter, we see that the false witnesses had accused Stephen of blaspheming God. Stephen powerfully defended himself as this chapter is sometimes called “Stephen’s Defense”. Stephen’s review of history is more than an affirmation of his faith. It is a bold and courageous confrontation of his accusers.
Pray that God would provide you with opportunity to serve whether “small” or “large”. Pray to thank God for the opportunities that you may already have to serve Him. Pray that you may be as Stephen was, full of spirit and affirmation when faced with persecution.