Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 8-12-21

Acts 6: 8-15 (VOICE)
8 Stephen continually overflowed with extraordinary grace and power, and he was able to perform a number of miraculous signs and wonders in public view. 9 But eventually a group arose to oppose Stephen and the message to which his signs and wonders pointed. (These men were from a group called the Free Synagogue and included Cyrenians, Alexandrians, Cilicians, and Asians.) 10 The Holy Spirit gave Stephen such wisdom in responding to their arguments that they were humiliated; 11 in retaliation, they spread a vicious rumor: “We heard Stephen speak blasphemies against Moses and God.”

12 Their rumor prompted an uprising that included common people, religious officials, and scholars. They surprised Stephen, grabbed him, and hauled him before the council. 13 They convinced some witnesses to give false testimony.

False Witnesses: This fellow constantly degrades the holy temple and mocks our holy law. 14 With our own ears, we’ve heard him say this Jesus fellow, this Nazarene he’s always talking about, will actually destroy the holy temple and will try to change the sacred customs we received from Moses.
15 The entire council turned its gaze on Stephen to see how he would respond. They were shocked to see his face radiant with peace—as if he were a heavenly messenger.

In our passage today, believers are being multiplied; therefore, the apostles are not able to keep up with the demands of serving, as well as teaching the Word of God. So, the apostles decide to recruit more help. Stephen is one of seven men filled with the Spirit, grace, and power who have been selected to serve and distribute food. These men love the Lord and are happy to serve in any way needed.

Like these servants, when we are deeply devoted to God, everything we do and say becomes a message revealing the goodness of Jesus that may draw more people in while, at the same time, offending and agitating others. In Stephen’s case, Christ in him humiliated some religious leaders. Like Jesus, Stephen is lied about and betrayed by the ones who think they know God. However, what they actually know is manmade traditions void of the Spirit.

Are you exercising the gifts Jesus has given you? Whatever gifts you have been imparted, you must use them with faith and in the power of the Holy Spirit. In God’s Kingdom, believers belong and serve in some capacity. Stephen’s life reminds us the holy presence of God covers us in our service and when people are agitated by God’s presence in us they will even lie to get rid of us. Shine for Christ, anyway!

Prayer: Lord, thank you for this lesson from Stephen’s life and the Wisdom you became for him. May the service I bring to the work of establishing your Kingdom on earth, be instigated and empowered by the Spirit. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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