Acts 6:8-15

Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and others of those from Cilicia and Asia, stood up and argued with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. Then they secretly instigated some men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.”

They stirred up the people as well as the elders and the scribes; then they suddenly confronted him, seized him, and brought him before the council. They set up false witnesses who said, “This man never stops saying things against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses handed on to us.” And all who sat in the council looked intently at him, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel. Acts 6:8-15

The stoning of Stephen feels like a biblical car accident. You are tooling along, reading the book of Acts, following the growing Christian movement, when you are shocked at the disaster that strikes.

Stephen was a quiet hero. He did wonderful things without much acclaim. Yet Jesus was alive in him. To the very end. Stephen’s final speech, in the face of his accusers, is one of the longest in the New Testament. It is the speech of a person who knows who he is and Who he belongs to. He has connected the dots of God’s presence in the world through his relationship with his chosen people. Stephen has discovered the truth and the truth has set him free.

When the end comes, Saul – who would become Paul – witnesses the stoning. He helps by holding the cloaks of those who killed an innocent man. The memory would haunt him but it wouldn’t stop him. Only God could do that.

The news media tells us of courageous Christians who suffer for their faith. Missionaries locked up or killed in North Korea. Thousands of Christians killed in Syria, Iraq, and various places in Africa. By sheer numbers, Christianity remains the most persecuted faith in the world. We also number among the highest persecutors.

But I’m never persecuted for my faith. At most, I might make a few people uncomfortable in my presence. Especially when I’m wearing the black shirt with the white power strip firmly installed. Something inside me tells me that, if put in a horrific position, I would boldly stand up for my faith. Easy to say as it is unlikely to happen.

The real problem for me, and perhaps for many of us, is how often I just keep quiet and fall down without a fight when there is no right around me. How quiet I can be. How I can live in denial and ignorance of the evil and injustice in our world. I am not Stephen, nor am I Paul. I throw no rocks at people. Instead, I hide back in the crowd. Quiet. Anonymous. And far too self-satisfied.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, the bold witness of Stephen strikes us. His willingness to tell his truth despite the consequences. The rage in the crowd around him. The senselessness of his death. This story tears at us, tugs at us. Today we pray that it might also encourage us toward boldness, and discourage us against our own complicity in the suffering and oppression of those who challenge us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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12 Responses to “Acts 6:8-15”

  1. Theresa Wyatt-Prebilsky Says:

    Good to read your posts again – reminding me how cool you are in bringing God’s Word to our lives – even when it makes me uncomfortable.

  2. Donna Says:

    I just received 2 Daily Devotions, this is the second one. Have I been missing something? Great to have you back in my inbox!!

  3. Anonymous Says:

    A men

  4. kirk921 Says:

    I think Stephen knows he has nothing to fear

  5. Carolee Groux Says:

    Recently one Briton and two Americans were killed because they weren’t like-minded Muslim Islamics. A terrible wrong was committed in the name of Allah, the jihadists’ God.
    Like Stephen’s senseless death, these men’s lives must challenge us to be bold in fighting against oppression and suffering.

  6. Arnie Walter Says:

    It’s wonderful to read your posts again Pastor Kerry, Thank you and God be with you

  7. Glenn Says:

    Hi Kerry! Glad to have your daily devotions back on line….

  8. Lynn Says:

    So nice to have you back. Your devotionals really make me think, and I need that in my walk with Jesus. Thank you.

  9. Eddie Says:

    I will ditto above comments. I have missed these daily devotions and count it as a blessing in my life to have them back for any period of time. God Bless you Pastor Kerry

  10. Julia Baxter Cloninger Halford Says:

    Just when things were falling apart yet again . . . The revkerry glue appears and is applied! I rejoice and ditto previous comments — oh, how I needed help in thinking positive thoughts — then putting the positive where the negative hath festered! Julia

  11. June Macare Says:

    So thankful for your devotions again, God Bless you.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Yes these are very good devotions, I think Stephen had nothing to fear because he knew he was going to Christ.

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