Summary: Change is hard for people and we need to think about how we deal with rejection.
• SLIDE #1
• Today we continue with our Great Complaints series by looking at a complaint on steroids!
• There are many things in life that we can complain about, but one of the more difficult things we deal with is change.
• It is amazing what we will do sometimes to avoid dealing with change.
• We will stress about the smallest of changes at times.
• Change is even more difficult to accept when the change involves a change of how one lives life.
• Today we will dive into a tragic event recorded in the book of Acts that reveals an extreme case of rejecting change.
• The us begin with for first observation, it begins with…
• SLIDE #2
I. The messenger.
• I want to begin our journey with some background concerning our messenger and the context in which this scenario played out.
• The scene takes place around 3 years after Jesus was crucified and resurrected. Jesus was crucified in 30 A.D. Paul was converted about 34 A.D., so we place this event in 33 or possibly early 34 A.D.
• The Church was growing and at this point most of the growth was coming from the Jewish community. The Jewish leaders obviously were not too happy that they were bleeding members to this new-fangled religion that was built upon the man they crucified!
• The Jewish leaders were trying all they could to stomp, as it was called, The Way, out of existence.
• The harder they tried, the more it grew.
• So that takes us to our messenger of the day.
• The messenger was a man named Stephen. Our first contact with Stephen is in Acts 6.
• In Acts 6, the church was growing and there was a problem, the Greek speaking (Hellenistic) Jews were complaining that their widows were not being taken care of like the Hebrew Jews were.
• After prayer and leading by God, the church appointed our first Deacons, of which Stephen, was one.
• The Apostles, who were the only ones who could pass on the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, laid hands on Stephen and the other Deacons, so that they too could perform the miraculous manifestations of the Spirit.
• In Acts 6:8, we see that Stephen was full of grace and power, he was performing great signs and wonders among the people.
• Then according to verse 9, trouble started as many Hellenistic Jews rose up to oppose Stephen as he preached.
• The problem for the opposition was that Stephen was filled with the Spirit and they could not stand up to his wisdom.
• So, what do you do when you can’t win an argument, you try to twist words and falsely accuse the one you cannot win against.
• Stephens opposition got all the networks to get the people stirred up and subsequently, Stephen was seized and taken to the Sanhedrin, the Jewish High court.
• So, his accusers sent a parade of false witnesses against Stephen, yet according to verse 15, we are told Stephen’s face looked like that of an Angel.
• Can you imagine having to endure folks lying about you.
• Their great complaint was that Stephen was teaching against the Law of Moses.
• What is ironic about the false charge is those who claim to uphold the Law, themselves were breaking it by presenting false witnesses.
• Anyway, I digress.
• As Stephen was being falsely accused, he just listened, and apparently without any anger or malice.
• This brings us to our next thought.
• SLIDE #3
II. The message.
• The audience in which Stephen found himself was not in the least bit eager to hear what he had to say.
• We face a similar audience today as we try to share the message; however, not quit as hostile.
• Stephen, instead of pleading his innocence, did one of the things the Jews loved, Stephen’s defense was a trip down memory lane.
• The Jews loved to recite their glorious history, and that is what Stephen did; however, he did so with a point to make.
• In the bulk of chapter 7, we find Stephen’s defense. Stephen is trying to get his audience to realize that they need to change, that the Law they so covet, has been replaced with Jesus and the New Covenant.
• Without going into all of the message, Stephen offers a 4-point outline.
• In the first 16 verses, he speaks on the subject of Abraham and the Patriarchs. The emphasis is on God and the fact that God did not have to be worshipped in a temple or in Jerusalem.
• Then in verses 17-29 Stephen shifts to Moses in Egypt. The focus was on the fact that the people of Israel rejected the leadership of Moses, he was implying the leadership of his day was doing the same thing because Moses pointed to Jesus.