Summary: Learning how to be the church in today's world through learning from the book of Acts.

When is it the right time to tell someone about Jesus? When is it a good time to share with someone the beautiful words of life? You know when the right time to be a witness for the Lord is? [2] When opportunity knocks. When God gives you that opportunity to share.

I think too many Christians are passing up opportunity after opportunity to share God’s love with others. Too many Christians are more worried about political correctness than they are about other people’s eternal souls. Too many Christians are silent today.

[American Idol finalist’s silence story.]

Too many Christians are passing up opportunity after opportunity to share God’s love with others. I think it’s time for us to care enough to share. And you know what, [3] God will give us opportunities to share God’s love with others. We won’t have to force Jesus into the conversation. Jesus should just flow naturally in the situations of life. That is if our mind is set on Him.

Stephen’s mind was set on the Lord when God gave him an opportunity to be a powerful witness for Him. Turn with me to Acts 6 where we’re going to see one of the first ‘deacons’ of the church become the first martyr of the church.

[Read Acts 6:7-15.]

Stephen was out doing his thing amongst the people as usual. Helping people, working miracles, and talking about Jesus Christ. A group of Jews called the Freedmen, who were descendants of former slaves, decided to argue theology with Stephen. But they were no match to his wisdom and power. So they got some people to spread false rumors about Stephen so the ruling authorities would shut him up. Their plan worked and Stephen was brought before the same council of men who killed Jesus, who imprisoned Peter and John and who had most recently imprisoned and tortured the Apostles.

But as he stood before the council they saw a man with an angelic face. Meaning, when they looked at Stephen his face and his demeanor reminded them of what an angel must look and act like. What a great testimony he had.

So here’s his opportunity to share God’s love with these people. In a moment he’ll be questioned about why he continues to preach about Jesus Christ. Everyone will be listening to what he has to say. Will he take advantage of this opportunity?

But what about us? Will we take advantage of the opportunities God gives us to tell others about Jesus Christ? You and I have opportunities almost every day to be a witness for the Lord. Some of those opportunities might be to publicly praise God for something good that’s happened to us.

- hospital praise - facebook page - receiving an award

[Tim Tebow example.]

Sometimes God gives us opportunities to just publicly praise Him for something good that’s happened to us. And that’s being a witness for God.

But sometimes God gives us opportunities to actually share the Truth of the gospel with someone else.

- helping someone, (track) - chat rooms - neighbor

[Debbie asking me how I quit smoking story.]

God will give us opportunities to witness for Him. Will we use them? When Stephen was given this opportunity, he was more than ready to share. [4] Stephen uses this opportunity to be a witness for God.

Now I’m sure he didn’t relish the fact that he’s standing before an angry mob of godless men who held his fate in their hands. But he wasn’t going to miss this opportunity.

Now we’re actually going to watch a video that I found that portrays word-for-word Stephen’s message to the council. But before we do, let me set the table for us a bit. Remember, Stephen is a Greek believer in Jesus Christ who’s been accused of blasphemy against the Old Testament. So he spends much of his nine-minute sermon showing the council his understanding of the Old Testament and that he believed it just like they did. But with one exception, that the Savior Moses and the prophets pointed to was Jesus Christ – the One they had rejected. [5]

[Watch segment from “Acts” video.]

[6] Stephen knew that simply showing them that he was down with the OT wouldn’t accomplish anything. He needed to show them their sin and that they had killed Jesus who was the Messiah. A message that they continue to hear, but continue to ignore. Their hate then moved them to kill this great man of the faith.

[Read Acts 7:54-60.]

This is one of the most harsh and yet most beautiful scenes of death in all the Scriptures. Here’s Stephen being unjustly and brutally murdered for his beliefs. But as he’s dying he sees the Lord standing by the throne of God. Standing as if He’s ready to receive him into His kingdom. And then in his final moment of life he asks God to forgive his persecutors – just like Jesus did when he died on the cross. Even with his last, dying breath Stephen was a witness for God.

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