Summary: the story of what it means to be strong
The First martyr Acts 7:54-60
What a privilege it is to dedicate a child to the Lord. We need more adults dedicated to the Lord. I want us to focus on the meaning of Riker Stephen this morning I have already told you Ricker means strong power and Stephen means to be crowned so we could say riker Stephen means crowned with strong power. I want to talk to us this am about another Stephen who was defiantly crowned with strong power and that is found in the verse we just read.
Let us look at them again this am
1) Why was Stephen martyred? What had he done that caused the council to stone him? It was a reaction against God Himself. Stephen was on trial for his life but instead of defending himself he preaches a sermon about the tragic failure of the people to follow God. He told of how God had called Israel to go to the promised land but how they rejected God and had to wander around and all the time they disobeyed God and were handed over to their enemies but the thing that really cut them to the quick was when he told them they had crucified God’s own son the messiah. The bible said when they heard these thing they were cut to the quick and gnashed their teeth. In other words they were convicted and they responded not with godly sorrow but with bitter anger. When the real power of God falls you have to respond one of two ways – get in to get out.
The gnashing of teeth showed they had such anger they were ready to do violence ready to unleash a flurry emotions.
Listen when the heart rebel against God it is uncertain and insecure disturbed and troubled passive and inactive.
This is still true today many people claim to be Christians yet they don’t love their neighbor. Many claim to love God but they never go to church. Many claim to be on the lords side but hey never let the world know it. If people would chase God like the world is chasing Pokémon go right now imagine where we would be.
2) I want you to notice something the bible says he was full of the Holy Ghost yet he was still killed. There was provision there I believe that he was so full of the power of God he was so caught up in what he was seeing that he never even felt the first stone. There was a spiritual hedge of protection around him. Preacher you cant say that for he died. Yea he died but looked at what happen first- he said I see the Son of God standing at the right hand of the father. Understand in most places we see Jesus in the NT He is sitting but here he is standing to welcome home one of his very own. The Bible says if we are ashamed of Jesus here on this earth He will be ashamed of us before his father in heaven.
This sticks out in my mind that as Stephen was being killed stoned to death he saw the very glory the very presence of God almighty. I think about all of the other recent martyrs in the world to day. I think about the ones Isis has beheaded or burned or drowned and I think they may of experienced something of the same thing. All they had to do to live was deny Christ to convert and yet they refused too. To god be the glory. And yet I wonder at all the Christians who say I would die for Jesus and yet we cant even get them to church.
I know the ones throwing the stones got madder and madder as Stephen tells of what his eyes behold for with him at the right hand of the father he is saying Jesus is the son of God that his death was not in vain and he is exactly who he said he was!
3) The persecution – it is my opinion and that is worth nothing that a lot of these people and the atheist today are really a touch insane. Why do they protest so hard against something they think isn’t real? Why kill someone who all they want to do is offer hope and help. He wanted as we should to help out those they feel lonely hurt depressed with no hope. If we have the answers and we do we need to be telling the world!
Yet to many are quiet. When the prophet battle the prophets of Baal your bible says the bible opened not their mouths they didn’t say yea or neigh –sometimes like us in worship- and it is only after it is over God tells the prophet there are 7000 that didn’t bow- well them my question is where were they during all of this time. If we cant worship God in church how in the world are we going to tell the world?