Read Acts 7
Stephen tells it like it is (Acts 7:1-53). This 1st Christian martyr gives us a glimpse of heaven (7:54-60). Follow the Lord's plan to tell the world: (1) He allows persecution (8:1-3); (2) Believers scatter sharing the Word as they go (8:4).; (3) Individuals hear Word and believe (8:12,27-38); (4) Preaching continues in all the cities (8:40).
Stephen was a deacon in the church at Jerusalem who knew well the Old Testament Scriptures. He boldly reminded the unbelieving authorities: Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost (Spirit): as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers (Acts 7:51-52).
With the same hatred which had caused the crucifixion of Christ, the angry authorities dragged Stephen out of the city, and stoned him. As he was dying, he . . . cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge (7:58,60). Stephen could have avoided death by saying nothing, but he made it clear that the religious authorities were responsible for crucifying Jesus, the Just One. Stephen's faith and forgiving attitude in the face of death was the same as his Savior's on the cross, and it surely must have made a powerful impression on those who witnessed Stephen's love toward his murderers. In the same spirit of love, we too need to pray for those who despitefully treat us. Those who seem to be our enemies today may someday be saved if we express the love of Christ to them as Stephen did to his persecutors.
At that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem (8:1). Instead of discouraging believers, this resulted in a great missionary movement as Jesus' followers dispersed throughout the region. Philip, who was also a deacon in the first Church, was led by the Holy Spirit to meet an Ethiopian official who was reading the Book of Isaiah on his way home. God led Philip to explain to the Ethiopian how the prophecy of Isaiah 53:7-8 had been fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. On learning that Jesus was the Messiah (Savior), the Ethiopian asked to be baptized . . . Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. . . . and he baptized him. . . . the eunuch. . . went on his way rejoicing (8:36-39).
Thought for Today:
I love the Lord, because He hath heard my voice and my supplications (Ps. 116:1).
7:19 subtilly shrewdly, treacherously took advantage; 7:51 stiffnecked and uncircumcised stubborn, deaf to the truth, and unrepentant; 8:9 sorcery witchcraft, magic arts.
For Acts 7:3: See Gen. 12:1. Acts 7:27-28: See Ex. 2:14. Acts 7:32: See Ex. 3:6. Acts 7:33-34: See Ex. 3:5,7-8,10. Acts 7:37: See Deut. 18:15. Acts 7:40: See Ex. 32:1. Acts 7:42-43: See Amos 5:25-27. Acts 7:49-50: See Is. 66:1-2. Acts 8:32-33: See Is. 53:7-8.
Pray for International Broadcasts in memory of Greer E. Coursey • Bible Pathway Printer: Ambrose Printing Staff, Nashville TN • Government Officials: Sen. Barbara Boxer (CA), Rep. Corrine Brown (FL), and Rep. Pete Stark (CA) • Country: Haiti (7 million) in the West Indies • Major languages: French and Creole • Religious freedom • 75% Roman Catholic; 17% Protestant • Prayer Suggestion: Ask the Lord to reveal what is not pleasing to Him (Ps. 139:23-24).
Memory Verse for the Week: Luke 14:33