Book of Acts Chapter 7 Part 1
Introduction: A key idea in the book of Acts is that God's people should be witnesses for Him, everywhere they go. Today, we hope to begin our discussion of "The Sermon of Stephen."
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Read Acts 7:1-16
2. The Sermon of Stephen. The High Priest asks Stephen about the charges brought against him in this portion of the book of Acts. Stephen gives a history review. Highlights from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob's lives are mentioned.
God's taking Joseph from slavery to a great palace position in Egypt is mentioned. Even though Joseph and family lived in Egypt, the bodies of their dead were taken to Shechem.
Stephen is laying the ground work for God's covenant relationship with His people.
- Faith for the trial. Notice in vs. 1 of this section of the book of Acts that even though Stephen did what he was supposed to do, he still ended up in trouble with the authorities of his day.
We ought not think that right living somehow gives us a waiver from being in trouble with the authorities of this world.
As Stephen will be stoned and as Jesus was crucified, we should expect that there will be some pain associated with our striving to live for the Lord. But thank God, God has a way of blessings us in such a way that the pain is overshadowed by the blessings.
Let's work on the faith needed to endure the current pain and keep trusting in the future blessing. The blessings can be temporary stuff in this life, the seeing of some fruit from our labor, or the blessings of the afterlife.
- God's early plans. Notice in vs. 2 of this section of the book of Acts that while Abraham was still in Mesopotamia and had very little if anything to do with God, God already had plans for Abraham.
This notion should make use revisit the speed with which we write people off. God can take people in their roughest state and work with them to become "fathers of faith" and other great players in His plan.
Let's work on treating everyone like he/she is an Abraham in the making. For all we know they may very well be. In other words, we don't know what God will do with those who look like they are so little.
- Journeying by faith. Notice in vss. 3-7 of this portion of the book of Acts that Abraham was called to leave what was so familiar and probably comfortable to him, in order to be obedient to the Lord.
He had to move around several times. There was promised suffering, within the covenant of God. It takes so much faith to deny ourselves and be dedicated to following divine directions. However, this is exactly what we are called to do.
God's ways don't always make sense to us, but they are always the right things to do. And they will be better for us than our own ways will be for us.
Let's work on developing the faith to simply obey God, even when it moves us past our comfort zones. Prayerful study and obedience with the support of other believers can help us in this area.
- Post trouble worship. Notice in vs. 7 that God's people were to come out of their season of suffering with a spirit of worship. We learned from the book of Acts that there are too many who allow pain and suffering to make them bitter.
However, God is calling us to worship Him, in spite of the pain. This is more than difficult, but it is the call of discipleship.
I have discovered that when believers gather for cooperate worship and actually worship that the worship of others can help me worship, in spite of my pain. In other words, we can draw strength from others in the worship experience.
This is a good reason to bring an "amen" and "thank You, Jesus" with you to the worship experience. You never know who needs help with worshipping. Let's work on enthusiastic and helpful worship.
- Circumcision and baptism. Notice in vs. 8 of the book of Acts that circumcision was a symbol of being in covenant with God. Christians have water baptism. Whereas circumcision is only for men, baptism is for men and women.
And just as one could be physically circumcised and yet have an uncircumcised heart (see vs. 51), one can be water baptized and yet live an un-resurrected life.
Let's strive to live out the implications of being in relationship with God. As those who identify with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, we should find ourselves focused on loving God, others, and ourselves (see Mk. 12:29-31).
Conclusion: Let's work on being witnesses for the Lord, everywhere we go. God has much for those who obey His will.
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