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October 31, 2021 3:00 am
The priorities of the early church were prayer, Bible study, and evangelism.
When God is working, Satan will always be attacking.
Happiness is not found in looking for self-fulfillment but self-denial.
An early death means an early crown.
1. Stephen was well-respected.
Integrity and character are what you are in the dark.
2. Stephen was full of faith and the Holy Spirit.
To be filled with the Holy Spirit means to be controlled by the Holy Spirit.
3. Stephen was filled with wisdom.
4. Stephen was faithful in the little things.
You can never be too small for God to use, only too big!
5. Stephen looked for opportunities and seized them.
“But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit.” —Acts 6:55
When You obey God, He will fill you with the Spirit.
“And they cast him out of the city and stoned him.” —Acts 7:58
God gave Stephen the grace he needed when he needed it.
As Stephen stood for Jesus on Earth, Jesus stood for Stephen in Heaven!
The Bible promises a believer will enter Christ’s presence immediately following death.
“Teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.” —Psalm 90:12
“Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator.” —Ecclesiastes 12:1
1. For the Christian walking in the will of God, death will come at the appointed time.
2. The Christian does not have to fear death.
Sleep is only used to describe death for the Christian, not the non-Christian.
3. In Heaven, all our questions will be answered.
4. God can bring good out of the worst kind of bad.
Stephen’s life was short, but it was full.
Stephen went to Heaven.
Where will you go when you die?
1 Timothy 3:7
2 Corinthians 5:8
Learn more about Greg Laurie and Harvest Ministries at harvest.org.
This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.
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Hey there, thanks for listening to the gray glory podcast, a ministry supported by harvest partners on Greg Laurie encouraging you if you want to find out more about harvest ministries.
Learn more about how to become a harvest partner, just go to harvest.org. Let's pray together. Now, Lord, we ask you to bless as we open your word. We know what is true and help us to see how we can live our lives. Well, we ask all of this in Jesus name, amen. So were in a new series in the book of acts called upside down, living in the title of my message is a life well lived and under to be looking at acts chapter 6 and also a little bit at acts chapter 7 I think we would all agree in noting right now that were very distracted these days.
It almost seems as though our whole culture collectively has ADD were barraged with all of these images on.
Of course, are phones on our tablets and in our TV screens in our laptops and even our watches. It's nonstop communication effective for the identified is a real issue that is called digital distraction. According to Harvard business review. Is this digital overload is creating problems in the workplace today because there's so much information coming our way constantly. It's making it hard for us to concentrate and we just think about life on the road. People are like drunk drivers because they're using their phones right your behind the person in the light goes green and they don't go why they're texting someone or they're looking at the phone, someone swerves out of their lane.
You know how it is digital distraction will hear something to consider.
Christians can be distracted to we can lose our focus on what really matters in our life. So I have a question for you. What are you passionate about, what are you passionate about the I can answer that question for you by simply looking at your social media because the Bible says your Instagram is, there will your heart be also.
Course the Bible doesn't say that the Bible says where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. But the reality is, people tend to reflect on their social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook and Twitter and even tick-tock. What they're really excited about.
So as I go through your feed. I'm going to know what matters to you for some it looks like it's Their life revolves around cats or maybe their dog. Or maybe what they just ate for others it's politics. For others it's something else, and here's what I'm saying to you if you're a follower of Jesus, number one, you should be passionate about following Jesus. That's where your heart should primarily be listen to this, you're going to walk where you look so if I'm looking this direction. This is where I'm going to walk. So where you look is where your life will go and we want to get our focus on Christ himself.
Paul understood this when he said this one thing I do, forgetting the things that are behind reaching forward to the things that are before I press toward the mark for the prize in Christ Jesus. One thing David said one thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek after that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life will I bring this up because now as we come to acts chapter 6 in chapter 7 we find a distracted church so the devil is trying to stop the church from advancing these first century Christians were turning the world upside down.
The best sense of that phrase they were changing things for the better in the devil doesn't want this to happen so the enemy employees to strategies.
First, he attacks them to do persecution. As you may remember John and Peter were arrested for preaching the gospel. There were told to no longer preach the gospel, sort of. They do, they got together with the other believers and prayed for more power and more boldness to preach the gospel and the Holy Spirit came on them in the room shook so then the devil tries a different approach.
Corruption, he tries to infiltrate the church through an evil couple who were deceitful and with a classic definitions of shipper credits. I'm talking about and then I ask, and some fire and they were dealt with quickly and handily. So now we see the next strategy of the devil, a strategy that frankly he is still using in the church today and it is distraction distraction failing to make the main thing the main thing. So let's read a few verses together ever Bible your tablet or your phone or however your reading with me. Let's look at acts chapter 6, verse one. By the way, everything from the new living translation as the believers were rapidly multiplying. There were rumblings of disconnect. I would underline that it's interesting as the believers are multiplying. There are rumblings of discontent. The Greek speaking believers complain about the Hebrew speaking believers say their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food. So the 12 call the Christians together and they said we apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God not running a food program so brothers select seven men were well respected core full of the Spirit and of wisdom to give them this responsibility. So we apostles can spend our time in prayer and preaching the word. What goes on to say, everyone liked the idea and they chose the following need to give the list of those who were chosen including Steven and Philip and then we read in God's message continued to spread and the number of believers greatly increase in Jerusalem and there were great miracles that were performed in many of the Jewish priests were converted to so reading these verses we get a real sense of what made the early church check and it's clear that what they were passionate about was prayer, Bible study and evangelism.
What the apostle say look what we can run this food program we can be appalled of these things right now are calling is to teach the Bible and to pray and I see got their priorities in order and got everybody pitching in and helping out.
They were able to see more people coming to the kingdom. The focus of the early church was to see more people coming into the kingdom and the focus of the church today should also be seen more people coming into the kingdom work passionate about this current harvest of told you recently that we have seen thousands and thousands of people come to faith watching what you're watching right now, Harvest at Home. So this newly minted church is experiencing explosive growth everywhere they turn great things are happening. Peter preaches on Pentecost 2000 people come to faith. Then in acts chapter for another 4000 believe so.
Their numbers are in the thousands. So now the devil is attacking through what through division go back to verse one again. The believers rapidly multiplied but there were rumblings of discontent. You know it's not even really that important what the discontent was over this case it was about the feeling that there was a bias among the apostles. They were favoring one group over the other is what it comes down to this was about selfishness, not self less mess. They should have been rejoicing that thousands of people are coming into the kingdom of God and instead they're griping about what I would classify as secondary issues.
When are we going to discover is Christians. It's not about me it's about we were so focused on my needs and my needs aren't met here in my needs seem to be met.
In this other area me me me and we need to instead mature and grow up and when we come to church say how can I help others. How can I serve others.
Jesus says hey you want to find your life lose your life, what is that mean it means, invest your life in the work of the kingdom of God in God's kingdom. Everything is upside down and away. That's what we call the series. The upside down life in God's kingdom the way to up is to go down to be a servant leader. Happiness is found in serving not being served. Happiness is not looking for self-fulfillment. It's actually found in self denial. So the next time you feel like throwing in the towel.
Try taking up the towel instead and washing the feet of other people, so to speak, because Jesus said it's more blessed to give than it is to receipt so they needed a plan.
The apostles or say look, we can focus on Bible study and prayer.
This is our calling and we need some other people to help us but this is not in any way to say what the apostle did was more important. For instance, someone is called to preach the word teach the Bible is not more important than someone who's working behind-the-scenes.
It's just different callings. So we have to find our calling. We need to get the round peg in the round hole and get everyone finding their gifts in developing their gifts and using them so they think tank. We need seven men were full of the Holy Spirit who could do this in essence list comes out one of the men that stands out above all of them is named Stephen and as our story unfolds are going to find that Stephen not only served behind-the-scenes well within God used him to help bring miracles about and then he preached a great sermon and tragically his life as some would describe it was cut short, but was it really cut short. Or did he fulfill his purpose in his generation. I don't know if you've ever heard of Jim Elliott.
He was a missionary, along with Nate St. and others who went to bring the gospel to a tribe of people would never heard of before. Tragically, Nate and his missionary friends were all martyred for their efforts to bring the gospel to the Al Qaeda tribe, but Jim Elliott wrote in a little diary and by the way he was only 28 years old but he wrote these words in his diary, and I quote, he is no fool to give up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." So when we think of the name of Stephen.
It's important to note that the name Stephen means crown crown and basically as you look at his life.
You discover an early death means an early crown.
Let me illustrate, let's say you're going to Disneyland and you were waiting in line and it was a super hot day and you're standing in the blazing sun if you don't have any water to drink and you think it is going to be 45 minutes before I even get in the park and suddenly the CEO of Disneyland comes to use standing in the line and next to him is Donald.and the CEO of Disneyland says you know I noticed her standing in this line and you're sweating and he looked miserable. Let me escort you to the very front and Donald Duck affirms this by saying so you walk with the CEO of Disney and Donald Duck and you go right to the front of a life. What is everyone else in the line gonna say Lucky dog. Why did that happen to me. Now let's apply this to life.
Someone is called home to have been sooner than expected their young men there are young woman we see that's a tragedy. In one sense it is in another sense, they are getting a blessing as are being called to heaven before us. Paul said I have a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better in the original language that can be translated far far better it because he had actually been to heaven.
Remember, and he was raised from the dead. He died went to heaven. Came back he was raised from the dead and so he knew what was waiting for the go zone in heaven is so much better than earth.
Let's think about Stephen a little bit why was he chosen by God. His life was short but impactful. What are some of the qualities in his life, and I bring this up because some of you are young and your thinking about your future. I want you to pray that God will instill these qualities inside of you, so you can be used by God to reach your generation if you're taking notes. Here's number one, Stephen was well respected. Verse three tells us he was rolled well respected. We read select seven men were well respected the King James version translates it seven men who have a good reputation. This means that he had personal integrity. Integrity and character are what we are in the dark. When no one is looking humorous.
Will Rogers once made this statement and I quote, so live that you would not mind selling your pet parent to the town concept so this is the thing that God is looking for.
If you want to be a leader if you want to influence others. As a Christian, you need to have a good reputation among those who are not even believers in first Timothy 37 it says people outside of the church, and speak well of him speaking to someone call the leadership so he won't fall into the double trap and be disgraced.
Let me ask you what you think nonbelievers say about you if you grade if they would say will look I don't agree with what he believes but I have to say is one of the nicest people I've ever met. He's a great neighbor. He's a hard worker. They seem to be a wonderful loving husband or wife and family is so important to them and I admire so many things about them and I know if I was in trouble they would be there for me. Seeks that's having a good reputation even if they don't believe what you believe you have a good reputation was cemented. Number two.
He was full of faith and the Holy Spirit.
He was full of faith in the holy spirit.
We read in verse five, and by the way, I can't really accomplish anything without the power of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says it's not by my nor by power but by his Spirit says the Lord. There's so many things I cannot do without God's help with the power of the spirit so much can be accomplished.
You know we talk a lot about the power of the spirit.
The gifts of the spirit which were given to the believers in the first century.
But let's not also forget the fruit of the spirit, because Galatians 522 says the fruit of the spirit is love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and goodness and faithfulness and gentleness and self-control so you can talk all day about the power of the spirit of the gifts of the spirit, but you have control of your temper. We can talk all day about God's Holy Spirit moving in people's lives but are you a gentle person. Are you a kind person.
Are you a loving person. Remember to be filled with the spirit needs to be controlled by the spirit. Also another quality in Stephen's life.
He was filled with wisdom. Verse three.
Find men who are filled with wisdom where you get wisdom, you get wisdom by studying the word of God, and Stephen was a great student of Scripture is will discover in a moment. The Bible says if any man like wisdom, let him ask of God will give it generously and I've met young people who of wisdom beyond their years. You know, maybe there in 13 still in their early 20s, but you sit down and talk with them and they know what life is all about the know would really matters. They know the word of God. They have a biblical worldview. I'm so impressed with that they have great wisdom where we think wisdom goes to the older people will. It can and it will if the older people walk with God.
But let's be honest, we've all met some old. Weber learned anything then admitted younger people were filled with wisdom because they read and understood and followed with the Scripture says Stephen is filled with wisdom. We see him do this amazing flyover of Old Testament history showing how to get a good working knowledge of Scripture.
Another quality in Stephen's life. He was faithful in the little things. So, what was his job. Okay buddy. We want you to wait on tables take care of the distribution of food to this menial work and and be faithful, and he was faithful and I think you need to understand that were never too small for God used only to bid and sometimes we will think they want to do big important things for God, but the reality is you should be willing to do the simple things I remember years ago is probably around 18 and I was a brand-new believer and I wanted to serve the Lord. I knew there was a call of God on my life.
I went down this coverage up of Costa Mesa did Jesus movement is in full swing in Pastor Chuck Smith is in his office. I sat down in front of them. Pastor Chuck was sitting behind his desk and I sat down and I said Pastor Chuck, I want to serve God.
I was hoping he might say will Greg why don't you teach over this little Bible study here or maybe fill in for me and us in the morning. I don't know what I was thinking what he said will Greg you need to go see one of our associate pastor's name Romaine while I I've met Pastor Romaine and I know he used to be a drill sergeant in the Marine Corps that long hair and a beard. At this point it is for me to work doing janitorial work and I don't why am I sweeping leaves. There was this one tree. It was a pepper tree and it constantly disrupted sleeves. I thought, why even have a tree like this. All it does is draw please.
But I was constantly sweeping under that tree, but what they were doing was giving me simple things to do because of I wasn't willing to be faithful in the little things. Why would God give me greater things to do. The Bible says despise not the days of small things make him talking to somebody right now that feels called to serve God I would suggest to you, you start in the simple areas. Go to your church and say dear Pastor I want to just help out wherever I can. I want to do whatever I can. Whatever needs to be done and I find that when people are faithful in the little things will be faithful in the larger things as well. So here is now the early church functioning well and we have these men serving God so effectively in the devil is thinking. I've got to put a stop to this. So he brings a new attack with a sort of new twist persecution again but this time, ending up in martyrdom at 611 says they persuaded men to lie about Stephen saying we heard him blaspheme Moses and even got what a lie that was the very opposite Stephen honor God, but they made up a lie about. Let me just say this let nonbelievers make up lies about you that's not a bad thing. That's what they did to Daniel.
Daniel faithfully serve the Lord, and there were others that were jealous of his success and they said were not going to be able to bring Daniel down unless we find something concerning him and his God see the problem for them as there were no skeletons in Daniel's closet instead he was praying in his closet. He was a amended prayer, so they made up lies about them and took them to the king, let people lie about you because you're living a godly life. Here's another point about Stephen point number five. He looked for opportunities and he sees them. He looked for opportunities in the season, so Stephen is called before the Sanhedrin go with the Sanhedrin they would like the Supreme Court of the day. This distinction they were making spiritual decisions as well as legal decisions, but this was the powerful group of men rolling over Israel. So to even appear before them. Not unlike appearing before the Supreme Court today is a big deal you going to make your case and Stephen is a young guy.
He understands this, but he also sees it is a tremendous opportunity to present the gospel and that's where our story picks up. I'm back in acts chapter 6. Look at verse 15. At this point everyone in the high Council stared at Stephen because his face became as bright as an angel while I went with that look like it was his radiating God's love. There was something about them. They could see it on his face and then we read in the high priest asked Stephen.
Are these accusations true Stephen replies brothers and sisters listen to me that he goes on to give an amazing message in acts chapter 7 of flyover of the history of Israel versus 9 to 10 about seven deal with the story of Joseph versus for a 17 to 43 deal with Moses. But everything builds to the main point.
Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, the Messiah of Israel has died on the cross for our sins and risen again from the dead, and you rejected him. You rebelled against them, nor that did not go over well go back to acts seven verse 54, the Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen's accusation and they shook their fists at skimming and range. Now you know you're not doing well in your sermon. When people are shaking their fist at you enrage, but Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus steadily in the heaven and saw the glory of God and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at the right hand of God, and he said look I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man is standing in the place of honor at God's right hand. Then they put their kids over their ears and began shouting and they rusted him and dragged him out of the city began to stone him and his accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as these stones him, Stephen prayed Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. He fell to his knees, shouting Lord, don't charge them with this sin. With this, he fell asleep while what a powerful account that is look at the blind bias that these men have their hatred for Stephen as we read in acts 757 they put their hands over their ears and began shouting and rushing at him and dragged him out of the city to an amazing thing.
However, rational people can be when you talk about Jesus, you can be talking about anything else for you get on the subject of Jesus Christ. And some people can effectively flip out the face turns red. Their voice gets louder. You know they they just don't want to hear. They want to silence you. That's what's happening in so many ways and are culture today.
We have canceled culture.
It's not that they disagree with you. It's that they don't want you to even express that opinion. They want to silence you. They want to shut you down. That's what they were doing to Stephen, we want to stop you from saying this. Why did people act this way. Jesus gives the answer in John 320. He says they hate the light because they want to send in the darkness they stay away from the light for fear their sins will be exposed though be punished. You notice I could surely in the morning shades are drawn and start maybe your wife or your husband or your mom or dad take time to wake up open up the shades and flip on the light Tillich.
It's too bright right that's all. Nonbelievers are usually Jesus Christ you say the Bible, and the like, whoa, whoa, too much light stop stop talking stop shining so radiantly I don't want to hear this, but he was full of the Holy Spirit verse 55 says, listen to this when you will be God you will be filled with the holy spirit God doesn't pour out his spirit just for the fun of it. He gives us the power of the spirit for a reason its power with a purpose. You know you can empower like a fire hose you've lost control appendages flailing about, but then you can grab hold of that hose and you can aim it into the direction of a burning building and extinguish the fire. The same is true of the Holy Spirit. I think some people just want to have emotional experiences and, no, no, it's power, with the purpose. Acts 18 says you shall receive power, after the Holy Spirit is come upon you to be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth in a sometimes people say you know and I just feel so dry spiritually. Let me ask you this question one as last time you shared your faith.
One is the last time you spoke up for Jesus Christ. See the gospel is not meant to be hoarded. It's meant to be shared. Your blessed indeed a blessing. Proverbs 1125 says the generous soul will be made fat and he that waters others will be watered himself so that you want to fat soul and we went on about body, but if that's all that sounds good when you're generous when you're giving out you will be replenished again if you want to run others you yourself will be water.
I can think of times. Honestly what I've gotten up to preach, were I was sort of depleted. Maybe I was going through some kind of conflict that day.
Maybe there were issues that were heavy on my heart that I was aware of whatever it is I went into preach and I didn't feel in the mood if you will, to preach, but I can tell you in so many occasions I've started my message on empty and I've ended it on full as I felt as I give. It's given to me and with the same measure.
I give it's given back to me in a sometimes people civil. I just don't feel joy anymore. Life is so hard he maybe you need to get perspective maybe you need to talk to someone who's really suffering and see how blessed you really are. He was filled with the Holy Spirit as he was doing the work of God will as he speaking these religious leaders.
These are experts in theology listening to this young kid who clearly knows the Bible speak with boldness and with power and he radiates like an angel and they were angry they were coming under the conviction of the spirit. In fact, verse 54 says they were cut to the heart which means the literally saw the heart and half this was really kidding them and Stephen was so heroic and what he did.
Even when he was on his knees. He stood tall.
They say we have to kill them and they stoned him now, stoning was a horrible process it it it took a while. Frankly, they would take a person sometimes and bury them up to their way so they could move and people would pick up rocks and throw them out them and and and it it would take time. It would be painful.
It was horrible. There stoning young Stephen and God gives to this young man a glimpse of glory. Very few people have been given a glimpse through the portal into the after life. We know that some have like Isaiah saw the Lord sitting on his own. He was high and lifted up in his glory filled the temple.
He wrote about it in Isaiah 6. Ezekiel was given a glimpse of glory so was the apostle Paul. So God keeps Stephen what he needed when he needed it.
Know this. Stephen was an extreme adversity. But God keep him what he needed. Sometimes you look at someone who suffering the music. All men that happened to me I would never have the faith that person has. Why think you would, I think God will give you what you need when you need it because the Scripture says he's a very present help in time of trouble. So God keeps Stephen this glimpse into glory. What is EC he sees Jesus standing on the right hand of the father ever notice that when you read of Jesus with the father in heaven that always says he's sitting at the right hand of God.
But in this particular instance, we read that Jesus is standing at the right can of the father.
We don't read of this. Any other time in the Bible. Why do you think that is going to be the Christ was standing in honor of this young man who would be the first martyr of the Christian church. Remember the Lord says if you will confess me before men, I will confess you before the father. So, as Stephen stood for Jesus on earth, Jesus stood for Stephen in heaven effectively welcoming him in and look at the prayer of this young man.
He says Lord don't charge them with this sin. How you would have thought he might've called a curse in the current season godless men bring judgment on them all, but was not the prayer of Stephen, a reflection of what Jesus prayed on the cross. You remember the first statement of Jesus as he hung on the cross he gave seven statements in total this first statement was father forgive them for they know not what they do and wanted Stephen pray Lord don't hold this sin against them, and then he said, Lord, receive my spirit.
He knew he was going to glory. He knew he was going to heaven when a Christian dies they go immediately into the presence of God.
Second Corinthians 5 it says were fully confident I would rather be away from these bodies because then will will you we will be at home with the Lord. Writer John Bunyan once said, quote, death is but a passage out of a prison into a palace." When death strikes the Christian down, they fall into heaven. The Lord allow this to happen because Stephen's work was done. He was faithful to God to fulfill the calling in his generation was have no guarantee we will live long lives. To quote Jim Elliott again.
He said I seek not a long life, but a full one like you or Jesus. I don't know how long your life will be.
I don't how much longer my life will be, but it can be a full life if you live each day for the glory of God.
A life is not measured by its duration, but it's donation said Corrie 10 boom, so it's not just about living long some people only want to do is live long. That's fine but would you really want to do is live a meaningful life. Live a life that makes a difference. Stephen certainly did that. The Bible tells us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom listen abroad sent a Christian never dies is a bigger delusional Christians die all the time but I know they layer bodies in the ground but understand Jesus said I am the resurrection and the life he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. It is whoever lives and believes in me shall never die my soul. Your soul as followers of Jesus lives on for eternity. Yes, our bodies will cease to function on this planet but will be in the presence of God in one day God will resurrect these bodies so let's make sure we live a life that matters. Here's a few closing thoughts number one for the Christian, walking in the will of God. Death will come at the appointed time that will come at the appointed time. So don't worry about how long you're going to live. Jesus said who of you by worrying can extend your life for one moment, people become so obsessed with this, but that this is really ultimately in the hands of God.
The Bible says there's a time to be born, and there's a time that I so here's what I believe the Christian is indestructible until God is done with them so when you get up in the morning as it will notify data they will. What if you died today if you divided in your Christian you go to have as Paul said the live is Christ and to die is gain. Chances are you will die today so live this day, for God's glory. It's in his hands number two. The Christian does not have to fear death.
You don't have to fear death doesn't mean we want to die. I don't think Stephen had a death wish. You know he would've played his cards right and given a nice flowery message you might've been able to go home for dinner, but he knew it was a strategic moment to bring the gospel to a particular group of people, so he sees the moment carpe diem right well. He also knew that he didn't have to be afraid to die.
Notice it says in verse 59 Stephen fell asleep some of the interesting manicures and men died a violent death.
To be honest, the Bible says he fell asleep his general this expression falling asleep connected to death is only used of Christians. It's never used to describe the death of a non-believer. Are you afraid of sleep and I think as you get older you kind of enjoy sleep while you take more naps and used to don't you when you're older happy hour is a nap right and so he fell asleep it just a beautiful picture of of calmness and peace and safety, number three in heaven all of your questions will be answered. I know we all have questions. I just met with the family who lost a loved one, and he was a young man and they were of course asking why did this happen and I said I don't know the answer but one day we will know the answer, then I said never trade what you do know for what you don't know, there are certain questions we can answer why did this happen, but there are questions we can answer like this. Does God love me, the answer is yes if the person is a believer in this case, this young man was. Are they in heaven. The answer is yes. The question is will I see them again.
The answer is yes, these are things I know.
So I focus on what I know is true instead of those on answered questions.
The Bible says that one day we will know as we are no one day all questions will be answered.
One day, all conflicts will be resolved.
Having said that, there is great sadness when a loved one dies.
Even when a Christian dies chapter 8 verse two of Alex's godly men buried Stephen and they mourned deeply for him. They mourned deeply for him because they love to you know sometimes Christians who don't understand the Bible will say whoa when a Christian dies. We don't we don't cry because there were never no cry as the Bible says there's a time to mourn. When I was talking to this family Artie mentioned. I said you need to cry you need to more because the depth of your sorrow is an indication of the depth of your love and the Bible promises. Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted. So it's a good thing to mourn and cry and these godly men felt sorrow over losing Stephen he was such a tremendous young man. But there's another thing that we don't want to miss that happened here because a great objective was accomplished ringing me to my last point God can bring good out of the worst kind of bad, who was in charge of this Tony. The Bible says they laid their coats at the feet of Saul.
What is that mean that means that Saul was in charge later go to this feed was showing respect. Saul was a young man at this point. Apparently the leader of the Sanhedrin, and of course if you know your Bible, you know, Saul later became Paul the apostle and will get to that later. The amazing story of his conversion, but here's what I want to bring back to Stephen. Stephen played a role in that conversion because Stephen because of his courage because of his faith impacted Saul. I think Saul came under the conviction of the spirit. When he saw how Stephen died and that played a major role in Kim coming to crisis and Stephen may have not had a lot of converts but he had one whopper of a convert, and the apostles Paul who occupies the second half of the book of acts and was so influential in the early church. And, of course, is given us our epistles, and so much more. So here's what it comes down to hardship will come in our life. We can't control it, but we do control how we react to it.
Many of you know that our son Christopher went to be with the Lord.
13 years ago. The age of 33 we were absolutely devastated by this event and if I could turn back time I would bring him back but I was not given that choice.
People came to me with a lot of verses trying to comfort Kathy and myself and our son Jonathan Christopher's brother and one of the hardest verses to hear was honestly Romans 828 because sometimes it was applied out of context. You know, Romans 828 right. It says for we know that all things work together for good to those who love God and other called according to his purpose. People would say this is going to work together for good. Well I do hard time seeing how the death of my firstborn son could ever work together for good, but yet I have to look back in retrospect and say even though this was a great tragedy. We have seen good come despite it.
It impacted our family in a dramatic way. My son Jonathan was going the wrong way in life. He was using drugs he he was having conversations with his older brother affect the night before Christopher went to be with the Lord. Jonathan and Christopher were talking the Jonathan would really open his heart to his older brother that he respected and tell them things he wouldn't tell Kathy and I got is my wife and and it was he was talking to Christopher about a struggle. Christopher said to Jonathan Jonathan once again to take for you to get right with God and the next day when Jonathan found out his brother had died in an automobile accident.
That event jolted him and he recommitted his life to Christ and in fact committed his life to serving the Lord in ministry. Jonathan is a pastor now. He is married is the father of three wonderful children and he serving the Lord. You see them here and harvested home. Jonathan's life is change. Kathy's life was changed. Her heart was enlarged and she wanted to do things she had not done she started a powerful women's ministry that touches women all around the world.
My heart was changed I was willing to do things I wasn't willing to do before because I wanted to make my life, I was in my 50s, when it happened and I said okay I don't know much life I have left. But I want to make every year count. I want every month account. I want every week to count. I want every deed account, so we took bold steps of faith and done things we would not have done otherwise, including doing Crusades in unexpected places. Taking big bold steps of faith, which I'm happy to say the Lord is really honored C instead of this stopping the spread of the church. This attack against Stephen ended up helping the church to fulfill the very mission. Jesus came to them. He said to the church there to go into all the world and preach the gospel and what are they do.
They stayed in Jerusalem there having a nice little holy hovel, but when Stephen was martyred.
They spread out, but they spread out with greater courage and greater faith because Stephen was his heroic inspirational figure this this young man who is fearless before his accusers.
Yes Stephen's life was short but it was full and it was meaningful anything.
Something that we all have to face one day and it's called death when that day comes, if you're a believer in Jesus Christ.
You don't have to fear it. Revelation 210 says be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life. God will give you what you need when you need to. But here's my question. In closing, if this were your last day would you go to heaven and are you sure some people would say well I would hope I would because I'm a good person and I live the good life. Sorry to burst your bubble, but you're not as good as you think you are and you've not lived as good of a life as you think you live because the Bible says we all sin and fallen short of the glory of God.
We've all broken God's commandments and the Bible says if we offend him. One point of the law were guilty of all of it. See you are not good to get together and by living a good life. The only way you're going to get to heaven is through Jesus. Jesus said I am the way the truth and the life and no man comes of the father, but through me. So you get to Kevin because you've asked God to forgive you of your sins and you put your faith in Christ.
That's all Stephen got the heaven that's on that to get to heaven. That's how you can get to heaven as well. Have you asked Jesus to come in your life and have you ask him to forgive you of your sin and if you have not, would you like to right here right now is it what would you mean right here right now.
I mean, would you be willing to pray a prayer with me when you would see the got I'm sorry for my sin but I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, who died in the cross for me, and rose again from the dead, and I want Jesus to come in the my life if you will pray that prayer God will hear it.
God will answer and you can know with certainty that you go to heaven when you die if you would like to pray that prayer if you would like Christ to come of your life if you like to fill the big hole in your heart you will if you would like to bring the meaning. The purpose of your life if you want to go to heaven when you die. Pray with me right now.
Just pray this prayer after me. Pray these words. If you would or Jesus.
I know that I'm a sinner but I know that you're the Savior who died on the cross for my sin and rose again from the dead, I repent of my sin and I choose to follow you from this moment forward as my Savior and Lord is my God friend in Jesus name I pray, amen. Everybody thinks or listening to this podcast to learn more about harvest ministries follow the show and consider supporting it.
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