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“Lessons from Acts 7”

             In Acts chapter 6 we meet Stephen, a servant of the Lord.  He is put on trial before the Jewish elders because he had been preaching the gospel. They bring in false witnesses to accuse him of blasphemy.  At the beginning of chapter 7 he starts to make his defense. He gives a brief history up to David, citing many examples of the peoples’ often rocky relationship with the Lord God. He concludes by telling the men before him that they have also rejected God in a similar way by killing Jesus Christ.  Then they stoned Stephen to death. In his final moments, Stephen prayed that they would not be charged with that sin.

            Chapter 7 is lengthy, but it is a fascinating read.  If all you know about that story is what I just told you, please take the time to study it for yourself so that you will know the details of that event. All of us should know the Word for ourselves so that we might be able to defend it like Stephen did here. One of the lessons we can learn from him is his incredible working knowledge of the scriptures. He had an intimate knowledge of the Word.  It was so important to him that he shared it with others. He gives a brief Jewish history lesson to establish credibility with his audience.  He also presents a pattern that has always existed with the Jews. His audience could not deny that he knew what he was talking about.  They could not deny the implications and applications that came as a result.

            The pattern comes back again after he finishes speaking. He showed them that they had always had a tendency to reject God if He wanted something different from what they wanted. They did it with Moses, the judges, the kings, and with Jesus, the Messiah. Their hearts were not in the right place. We need to ask ourselves if we do the same thing, or if we truly want what God desires for us to do. Examine your heart, before it becomes hardened and rejects the truth. We learn how not to react to the Word from these people.

            We also learn unfortunately how some people react to the truth. They don’t want to change.  So they react negatively and sometimes violently. We must be willing to do what is right no matter what hardships or complications may arise! Stephen probably didn’t think when he left the house that day that he was going to be stoned to death by his people.  But I believe he was ready for that possibility because he doesn’t back down or retract his message. Stephen knew what was right and he followed it. He had confidence that if anything happened to him, he would be with the Lord. We can have that same confidence! We must persevere through difficulty and encourage each other when the work gets hard.

            Stephen forgave these people for murdering him, In all honesty, I hope that I would be able to do that, but I’m not so sure. I have a hard time forgiving people for much less than murder. That’s something I need to work on.  I believe we could all stand to be more forgiving. Since God has forgiven His children of a multitude of sins, they should be willing to do the same for others. Let us all learn from and follow the example of Stephen. Be bold, be right, be forgiving.

-Matt Arnold

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