Acts 7

Acts 7 is the story of Stephen before the religious leaders.  He has been hauled in after becoming one of the guys selected to serve in the church and making an impact in the people around him.  Most of the chapter is a history lesson – if you want to read a summary of scripture this is a good place to get a good overview of some highlights.  Stephen recites to them a number of the key happenings that have occurred and how faithful God has been over time.  As he gets to the current time he says this: “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you”.  He is before them being accused of many things but certainly doesn’t back down.  He lets them have it.  And then he puts in a few more jabs when he says “you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law delivered by angels and did not keep it”.  He calls them betrayers and murderers and people who don’t keep the law. This isn’t going to play well with the leadership.  They have justified every action they ever took and are not going to just sit back and be treated like this.

Stephen is not even paying attention to his accusers.  He “gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God”.  This is an great example of living for an audience of One.  While he is being falsely accused and on the edge of being sent to his own death – Stephen is completely focused on God and Jesus.  Forget what these leaders are saying or doing – he is looking to the Father.  He is living to serve Him and Him alone.  The leaders go ballistic and take these steps:

–       “Cried out with a loud voice

–       Stopped their ears

–       Rushed together at him

–       Cast him out of the city

–       Stoned him

 But even as Stephen is being struck by stone after stone – led by Saul who later becomes Paul – he still is focused on living for the Father.  And he utters these words similar to what Jesus said on the Cross – “Lord do not hold this sin against them”.  That only happens if the focus is somewhere other than on those who are stoning you.  We can’t have that kind of love in our own strength.  He alone can enable us to live that way!

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