The Influence of a Faithful Life
"And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. ...And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke." (Acts 6:8,10)
It is one matter to have something and it is another matter to have that something in fullness.
Nothing just accidentally becomes full on its own. In order for something to be filled up, there must be the time invested to fill something. This is true in the Christian life. Those who are full of the Spirit or of faith or of power are among those who have clearly learned to depend on and dwell in the presence of the Lord.
Have you cultivated life in the presence of the Lord?
Are you learning to hear His voice and receive fresh power from Him daily?
Stephen was among those who was so devoted to the Lord and spent so much time in the presence of the living God, learning the ways of Jesus, that his face and countenance even reflected the God he served. It was said that his face was "that of an angel". This was of course true with Moses as well when he went up on the mountain to meet with God. And this can be true for ALL who daily dwell in the presence of the Lord.
Furthermore, God worked wonders and signs among the people through Stephen. Even though he was not an Apostle and served tables as more of a deacon, he too learned the essential practices of prayer and the ministry of the Word in his daily walk. As a result, he was ready to give a public witness and to build a case that would show how the history of Israel was all pointing to Jesus Christ.
Stephen would cover the following key areas in his sermon...
The Promise to Abraham — (The Prophetic Line of Christ)
The Salvation through Joseph — (A Picture of Christ)
The Deliverance under Moses — (The Purpose of Christ)
The Building of God’s House — (The Presence of Christ)
The Judgment concerning Israel — (The Power of Christ)
With Abraham, God made a covenant to establish a promised LAND, a prophetic LINE, and a prosperous LIFESTYLE.
With Joseph, we see an amazing picture of a man chosen by God to go before his brethren to save them alive, even though they had forsaken and rejected him.
With Moses, we see that God's purpose is to rescue and deliver us from the bondage of this world and to see all of God's people go free.
With David and Solomon, we see the foreshadowing of God's house, which now exists in a spiritual sense among the church today, since we are God's holy temple.
With Stephen, he brings all of this together and shows how all of this was necessary to prepare for the ultimate event of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins, exposing how the leaders of Israel were guilty for betraying and murdering the Just One - Jesus.
These different seasons and stages of Israel all carried an important piece of redemptive history. They all carried important truths that foreshadowed the coming Messiah who Stephen was now openly revealing as Jesus Christ.
This is the truth that can set someone free...and where every soul needs to arrive at before they leave this earth. Christ is the sum of all things that matter. He is the answer to all things that were previously revealed.
After Stephen finished sharing his words, his listeners were cut to the heart. They were not responsive to the gospel of Christ but were ready to stone Stephen in hopes to end this testimony once and for all. BUT THE TESTIMONY OF GOD'S PEOPLE NEVER DIES! THE LAMPSTAND ALWAYS REMAINS BURNING AMONG ALL THE FAITHFUL!
"But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” (Acts 7:56-57)
Stephen, whose name in Greek means "crown", would be the first Christian witness to die for his faith and to receive the crown of life that God promised to all who love His glorious appearing. He saw heaven opened and Jesus eager to welcome him...and the same is true for us! HOW WONDERFUL THIS IS! Dear saint, live before your God knowing that soon and very soon we are going to see the King! What matters in life are the matters that pertain to Him! Just when it seems that all hope is gone, Jesus will one day fill all things! May we live with open hands and a open heart before an open heaven with our living hope!
"ACTS IN ACTION" CHALLENGE POINT:
- Commit to meeting with God every morning. - Ask God who you need to share the gospel with. - Are you willing to speak the truth no matter the cost?