This chapter starts with Stephen in front of the Supreme Council.
I may not actually know what the ‘supreme council’ was but I can surely imagine…..it has the word ‘supreme’ – it must be the highest of high places – like the ‘Headmaster’s Office’ or the ‘CEO’s Office”, the ‘Boss’ Place’ – THAT place that holds the big chiefs!
How did Stephen get there? Acts 6:12-15 informs us.
In Acts 6 Stephen was doing what Stephen does on any given day – performing astonishing signs, wonders and mighty miracles (if only that was my daily routine!) when he upset a few people.
Has that ever happened to you?
It has happened to Craig and I.
We are going about our daily business, church related stuff, being led by the Spirit, enjoying the future plans that God was unfolding, and just generally being one of the ‘good guys’! And…
The tide changed in an instant.
Someone spoke ill of us.
Questioned our motives.
Casted doubt on our integrity, our spirituality.
Gathered a crowd, threw us into a supreme council.
Ever had that happen to you?
Acts 7 speaks a message into my heart.
Stephen, when facing opposition (just a wee bit!), did 3 things –
- He remembered. He gave a rather lengthy history lesson! He remembered all that God had done. He reminded others of all that God had done. He spoke, not of all he had done, but all that God had done.
- He fixed his gaze heavenward.The angry people were gnashing their teeth at him (Acts 7:54)! Imagine that! I confess, I’ve seen that – it’s a tad intimidating! But, Stephen, not cowed, but ‘overtaken with great faith fixed his gaze into the heavenly realm and saw… JESUS’ (Acts 7:55 -TPT)
- He asked God to forgive them, Acts 7:60
Stephen didn’t lash out at his accusers, he didn’t try and justify himself, he didn’t fight and create a scene and get others on his side, he didn’t try to become the hero of the story.
He remembered God and all that He has done!
He fixed his gaze heavenward!
He asked God to forgive them!
I think I can learn something from Stephen.
I know, I know – I can hear you all saying “But, Andy, HE DIED”!
Short story – My Dad used to watch TV with us as little girls. And, when there were scary scenes and we feared for the hero of the program (Magnum PI, The A-Team, Hawaii 5 0!), my Dad used to say “They’ve got to come back next week! They will be fine!”, and this settled us!
But, hey, in this action series – the good guy dies (horror-face emoji)! How does this fit in with the storyline that God is writing…..?
Well – keep reading. In Acts 8 we get a glimpse of what is to come –
Goodbye Stephen – Hello Saul!
One man’s obedience opens the door to another man’s salvation. In fact, to a wave of salvations.
“From that day on, a great persecution of the church began. All the believers scattered…” Acts 8:1 (TPT) and many, many, many people came to hear of the wonderful news of the Anointed One!
No matter how hard our circumstances may be, how misunderstood, misrepresented we may feel – we can learn from Stephen and do 3 things –
2. Fix our gaze heavenward
And watch God write an amazing story that brings Him glory and honour.