LIFE OCCURRENCES sometimes cause controversies and conversations. They confound our reasoning and reveal our vulnerabilities.
They humble us—and when we can't, we run to the One who can.
We pray to the One who knows all things—the author and finisher of our faith. (Heb 12:2)
IN THE early church, things had begun to take shape—and they needed more hands to do the work.
They chose seven men, and Stephen was one of them.
He was a man of faith, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. But there were men in the synagogues who disliked him.
Are you despised?
THEY HATED Stephen for his word and his wisdom. They hated him for the Spirit he carried. So they trumped up false accusations against him.
But when they questioned him, he pointed them to Jesus Christ.
"If you find that the world despises you, remember that before it hated you, it first despised Me" - Jesus Christ. (John 15:18)
When you can't, run to the One who can
God's Accolade or Man's Approval?
GOD HIGHLY PRIZES many things that the world hates. He loves those who take a stand for Him.
The audience hated him for the truth, but the heavens loved him. When the world condemned him, God celebrated him. And when the earth closed upon him, the heavens opened over him.
He saw the glory of God and Jesus standing. (Acts 7:55) Stephen saw the heavens acknowledge his testimony and God waiting for him to come home.
What is your testimony?
HIS WITNESS was that Jesus put a face on salvation, and through his death and resurrection, we can acquire redemption. (Acts 7:52-53)
With the heart, man believes unto righteousness. With the mouth, confession is made unto salvation. (Rom. 10:10)
Stephen was a believer in Christ. Are you a believer in Christ?
What do you enjoy?
STEPHEN ENJOYED the core of life as a believer without the bore of death.
His inward possession supported his outward expression—and his life was a demonstration of his walk with God.
He loved the Lord.
Stephen's purpose in life was not to satisfy his plan but to lay it at the foot of the cross.
He did not cling so much to life to be afraid of death. Instead, the young man fell on his knees and asked God to forgive them as they pelted him with rocks. (Acts 7:59-60)
And when he died, the brethren mourned his passing.
GOD WAS intentional when he started the conversation to change our plight. He was intentional when he sent his Son to take our place. (1 John 4:14)
If we are deliberate in choosing careers and places to live, we must intentionally choose where to spend eternity because death is inevitable. (Eccl. 3:2)
Death has always been a sore point—and no one wants to lose a loved one.
Unfortunately, we lost one this past week: Pastor Nomthi Odukoya, my senior pastor's wife.
It's a difficult one to process, but that's our reality. Our loss is heaven's gain.
After all, to live is Christ's; to die is gain. (Phil 1:21)
She was our hero! And when heroes pass, we miss them. But we appreciate their walk of faith, and we are consoled that they are with the Lord.
Pastor Nomthi, we celebrate you. We are glad that you were here.
Bringing it Together
A SONG says, "You can bury the workmen, but the work will go on. You can silent the voices, but you cannot stop the song" - Unspoken.
The mob took his life, but they couldn't take his faith. He had a good testimony.
When your time is up, what will be your testimony?