Summary: The story of Stephen. In God’s eyes, Stephen was so successful, that verse 56 tell us that Jesus Himself stood to show Stephen that He was a witness on his behalf.
THE SECRET OF SUCCESS
Do you believe that we as a society put a lot of emphasis on success?
What are the indications of our obsession with success?
Would you like to know the secret of success? Hands up who would like to know the secret of success!
Please turn with me to the book of Acts and we will consider someone whose life was a success. Someone whose life changed & is still changing the world today.
There’s a success story – the story of Stephen. In God’s eyes, Stephen was so successful, that verse 56 tell us that Jesus Himself stood to show Stephen that He was a witness on his behalf. It may have indeed been this fact, that so enraged the mob – the fact that Stephen said – I actually see God witnessing to the truth I am stating – that they covered their ears & stoned him to death! We are told in many places in Scripture that Jesus sits at the right hand of God – here, we are told that He stands as an advocate for Stephen. When all others bore false witness – Christ shows Himself to stand as a witness on Stephen’s behalf to the truth.
What are some of the secrets of success that we can learn from Stephen?
Lets consider 4 of them:
Could someone please read verses 1-5 of Acts 6
The first secret of success we can learn from Stephen is,
1. BEING WILLING TO SERVE GOD IN WHATEVER WAY HE WANTS
Stephen was chosen along with 6 other men to give out food to needy widows within the congregation. These men were chosen for a mundane, behind the scenes service. They were not chosen to be in prominent ministries. They were chosen to ‘wait on tables’. And all 7 were willing to do just that – Stephen, as we can see in 6:5, headed the list.
It is interesting to note that in verse 5 we are told Stephen was ‘full of faith’. He trusted in the goodness of his God in whatever service he was called to.
So the 1st thing we learn from Stephen, is that to be really successful, we must be willing to serve God in whatever way He so desires. Whether that be noticed or unnoticed, considered by others as important or unimportant. For with God all service is noticed & all service is important.
Listen to verse 5 again
What do you think could be the 2nd ‘secret of success’ we can learn from Stephen?
Yes, the 2nd ‘secret of success’ we learn from Stephen is
2. TO BE FULL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
In Acts 6:9-14 we are told how religious people argued with Stephen, stirred up hatred against him and even ‘dug up’ false witnesses to condemn him!
Doesn’t sound like much of a success story does it?
How did Stephen react under these circumstances? Look at 6:15 and see! ‘All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.’
This is how we will react if we are controlled by the Holy Spirit. There was an angelic calmness and composure on Stephen’s face. He was a ‘Spirit filled’ man, and he reacted graciously. What a tremendous testimony he bore in his life and on his face.
To be successful, we need to have that ‘peace which passes understanding’, which only God can give, when we give our all to Him.
How do we become ‘Spirit Filled’?
Firstly, by yielding to Christ and letting the Holy Spirit come into our lives. Listen to Eph 1:13, ‘And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit’.
And secondly, by allowing the Spirit to control all that we do.
The 2nd ‘secret of success’ is to be full of the Holy Spirit.
Firstly, we are to be willing to serve God in whatever way He wants and secondly, we are to seek the infilling of the 3rd Person of the God-head by surrendering to Him. If we are to be successful we must be Spirit filled people!
The 3rd ‘secret of success’ we can learn from Stephen is,
3. TO HONOUR THE HOLY SCRIPTURES
In Acts 7:2-53 we have the record of Stephen’s defence against his accusers – and that defence was full of quotations from the Scriptures.
Stephen’s message shows us clearly that:-
· He knew the Scriptures
· He believed the Scriptures