Book of Acts Chapter 7 Part 2
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 continue our discussion of "The Sermon of Stephen."
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Read Acts 7:1-16
2. The Sermon of Stephen. In this section of the book of Acts the High Priest asks Stephen about the charges brought against him.
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.
- Focusing on God, instead of the sins of our day. Notice in vs. 8 of this section of the book of Acts that in spite of so much sin and strange activity, God was still working things out for the good of His people.
Jacob was a trickster. Jacob/Israel had 12 sons by four different women. There are some who allow the sins and strange activity of the day to distract them from what God is doing.
Let's work on keeping our minds on God, instead of being distracted by the sins of our day. God's working all things out for the good of His people includes working with even the sin and strange activity of our day.
The normalization of homosexuality and the acceptance of consumerism and poor health stewardship may be issues to ponder in this area.
- Lessons about jealousy. Notice in vss. 9-10 of the book of Acts that the jealousy over the dreamer did not make much sense. To the jealousy brothers, we could tell them not to be jealousy, because what God has for you is for you.
Furthermore, jealousy is not going to help you get what you want, it only gets you in trouble with the Lord. To Joseph, we could say "stay focused," in spite of the jealousy and mistreatment of your brothers.
God is still working, in spite of the jealousy and persecution. God can turn what is meant for evil into good. Let's work on learning and living by the lessons about jealousy.
We should avoid jealousy. And we should stay focused and obedient, in spite of the jealousy of others.
- Treating people right. Notice in vss. 11-14 of the book of Acts that a famine came that made the jealous brothers end up needing the same Joseph whom they mistreated.
We need to be careful how we treat people. We never know what is going to happen in our lives and who we are going to need on our journey. Those we mistreat today may be the ones God use for our next loaf of bread.
Let's work on treating people right, so that we don't have to eat so much humble pie, if we need them.
- Estate planning. Notice in vss. 15-16 of the book of Acts that plans had been made for the bodies of those who died.
It is good idea to give serious thought to not only what we want to happen to our bodies but also what we want to happen to our estate. Some of us could leave a nice donation to the church, so that the church can do great things long after we are gone.
However, we tend to put it off and off until it is too late. Let's work on better estate planning. This is an area that includes things like wills, living wills, donations to churches and communities, etc.
Read Acts 7:17-29
The Sermon of Stephen (continued). We see in this section of the book of Acts that Stephen continues his historic recitation.
The Israelites grew into a great number of people. The new King of Egypt oppressed them. Moses was born during the time of oppression. Around the age of 40, Moses fled to Midian, after it was known that he killed an Egyptian.
- God's promises and timing. Notice in vs. 17 that God is a covenant keeper; however, He moves at His own time. Even though the Israelites were about to experience over 400 years of slavery, God was going to keep His promise.
We would have to ask God about His timing, because we don't know why He seems to be so slow with some things and so fast with others. But one thing is certain; we can count on the promises of God.
Let's work on trusting God to keep His promises, even when we don't understand His timing. The church ought to be a place where we encourage one another, as we strive to keep the faith and wait on the Lord.
- Following leadership as God instructed. Notice in vss. 18-19 of this section of the book of Acts that all kings don't act right. As in the text, we can have people in positions of influence who do terrible things.
And if we are not careful, we will over react and stop obeying all of them. Or we only obey those who we like because we like them. These are wrong ways to think. We must remember that God uses human agents to lead His people.
Our job is to obey those who have rule over us, unless they are leading us contrary to God's will. We are to do this because God said so, not because we like the person.
Let's work on having the spiritual strength to obey God's instructions about following leadership, in spite of the distractions of bad leaders. We can count on God to take care of those who strive to obey His will.
Conclusion: Let's work on being a witness for the Lord, everywhere we go. God has a way of blessings those who obey His will.
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