Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Acts 7-8

Stephen in today's reading, Acts 7-8, makes me want to back up a little bit.  He is a leader from the start.  He enters the picture in Acts 6 as the apostles become a little overwhelmed meeting all the responsibilities that come with spreading Jesus' good news.  They realize their need for help.  The apostles want to focus on praying and teaching God's word, and seven chosen men, who are "full of the Spirit and wisdom," serve in meeting the day to day needs of the people.  The apostles pray over these men and lay hands on them.  This is the start of Stephen ministry.  (Ahh, that's the story behind that ministry.)  And God's ministry keeps growing...

Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people.

Stephen is just doing what God has called him to do.  It's all good.  His popularity grows.  God is using him in powerful ways, but he runs into a ton of opposition.  

Have you ever been there?  You feel like God is calling you to do something for Him.  You know it's all good, but you hit road block after road block.  It can be so frustrating.  

I love what Stephen does.  He doesn't give up.  He stands firm in what he is doing.  How does he do it?

He takes a look back at God's story and plan for His people.  He reminds those around him of their roots, where they've all been.  Stephen looks to God's story for help and strength.  He takes a trip down memory lane not for self-pity or to dwell on the past, but to focus on God's promises then and now.  He helps people see what God's power has already done (through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses) so they will believe in what God's power can do now and in the future.  

I think that's important when we face difficult circumstances.  We have to be intentional about remembering what God has done in our lives so we can hold on to His promises for what comes next.  What do you think?

Stephen works to fill people with God's hope and peace.  It changes lives, even saves some.  

Still, there are some that just don't get the bigger picture yet.  Saul is one of those people.  He is responsible for Stephen's death.  But with God, we know there is always hope.  I can't wait to see how God uses Saul…

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit.  Forgive me for resisting the Holy Spirit that is at work in my life.  Give me the courage and the good judgement to listen to and follow Your will for my life.  Fill me, Lord, with Your awesome power, peace, love, and grace.  I pray for the blessing of your favor in all that I do in Your name.

In the name of Jesus I pray,

Love in Christ,

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