Friday, May 4, 2018

Day of Praise

Sat, 05/05/18, Easter Day #35, "Day of Praise" 

Acts 7:55 - "But [Stephen], full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God." 

Many think Stephen was killed for his faith in Jesus. But actually, according to Acts 7, Stephen was killed for telling others about Jesus in a way that moved them out of their proverbial "comfort zone." 

Most people love the thrill of being moved out of their comfort zone until they're out of the zone that's thrilling. I'm not trying to be cute. I'm just telling you what Stephen's witness displays, namely, people love a thrill, that is, a momentary thrill, until the momentary thrill is tied to implications that aren't so momentary, in other words, the implication that you've got to change the way you're living day after day after day. 

But even though people killed Stephen for telling people about Jesus in a way that truly made them uncomfortable, Stephen clearly believed that the price he paid was worth it because not only did Stephen see God as we see in today's verse but Stephen's witness also led to the single most important conversion to faith in Christ, namely, the conversion of a persecutor of Christians, Saul of Tarsus, who would later, because of Stephen, come to faith in Jesus and would himself taste persecution from many for doing exactly what Stephen did, namely, tell the world about Jesus in a way that moved people out of their comfort zone to an authentic faith and trust in Jesus Christ. 

What follows therefore is what we can call,  "Learning from Stephen: How to Tell a Faith Story (What Stephen did, and how he did it)" - Acts 7:55-60. I pray this is a blessing to you. 

WHAT Stephen DID to share his faith story.: 
1) He looked up, took a deep breath of the Holy Spirit, and invited others to do the same. 
2) He cast a vision by telling them what he saw God doing and invited them to look and see it too. 
3) He was prepared for their resistance and attack because casting God's vision will always run counter to what despairing sinners see. 
4) He entrusted both his own life and also the life of others into God's power to make things right. 

HOW Stephen WAS ABLE TO DO 1-4: 
5) He regularly stopped to both spend time with God and also remember how God had acted mightily and graciously in his own life. 
6) He was at peace because, in stopping regularly, he was able to both turn any ill-sentiments against others over to God and also remember his purpose in life to reflect God's might and grace, which he did by praying for God to forgive the very ones who were killing him. 
7) He was hospitable to God's word and all that it commands because he knew that God only asks us to do what we will need God's strength to do which increases our faith, brings us closer to God, and unveils our eyes of the heart so we can see God! 

May God bless you as you share your faith story!!!! 

Praise God! 

Pastor Chris 
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

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