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November 3, 2019 5:00 am
I love you called it or not, but at the beginning of of Adams video. There he made a comment I want to be a broken vessel that God can put back together the way he wants to, that's perfect. Laura talk about today here in a few moments to open your Bibles to the book of acts next to you and take your Bibles and turn their acts chapter 6 is where were going to be here just couple of moments but I want to be a broken vessel that God can put back together the way he wants to own figures very many prayers, I can be any greater than that God put me together. The way you want me to be for you started this morning. I want to mention something that the vast majority of you already know, but John Newsom was promoted to heaven this past Friday morning.
John was 96 years old he asked. He had his birthday last Tuesday, turn 96 couple weeks ago, he would have celebrated his 75th anniversary. Edith, his wife passed away just over a year and 1/2 in the right of the year and 1/2 ago, but John has been a part of our church since day one effect. I think he was three months old when he was first here and that he has been a faithful member of our church ever since couple of times that had opportunity to talk with him or to sit in his home and and he tell me the story of his life.
He's mentioned how the only time he was ever not at Salem was when he was away in the military for different assignments different times but folks wanted testimony of being faithful to not only God, and there is absolutely that, but the testimony of being faithful to the church and I am thankful to have been able to know John and Ann folks.
Owner will challenge you two ways with along with that one be praying for the Newsom family as they work through the grieving process. But then, secondly, I wanted to challenge you to if it all possible to attend a memorial service of celebration service on Tuesday at Haworth Miller funeral home chapel there is to be vigilant visitation from 1030 in the morning to about 1145 with the service being for at 12 o'clock to come together to celebrate the legacy the memory of of John Newsom but I'm excited about that time for us to be together that day.
I pray for member pray for the Newsom family in this urine acceptor six and a couple moments were to look at a very specific story last week. Skip furloughs shared with us a wonderful message about depression but but even deeper than just the topic of depression itself. He talked about digging a trench in our minds and our lives that is full of the good of the grace and full of the goodness of God.
I hope you are challenged by that message as I was wearing the series throughout 2019 that looks at God's story and how we fit into God's story at any point in our lives, our stories can change drastically. In fact, one little decision can forever change the narrative of our lives is an example of what I'm talking about how you recognize the name Oscar Pistorius Oscar Pistorius okay will obligate your recap of some of your logo only under that name. He was effort for many years a name that much of the world knew just because of his success as a professional runner when he was just 11 months old. Both of his feet were amputated due to a medical condition that he had. But in spite of losing his feet Pistorius went on to win in both disabled and nondisabled racing events as he became an adult. He's even able to participate in the 2012 Summer Olympics and in that time he finished 16th overall in the events that he was running in everything was set for Pistorius to have a life story that other people could only dream of having until one day he was arrested for killing his girlfriend now according to Pistorius.
He shot her while we shot what he thought was an intruder in his home and it turned out to be his girlfriend. According to the jury. He was guilty of murder and is right now serving out the students for that murder at any point in our lives, our story can change drastically unless that change become in the and in the form of a birth. You know, we have a child that the comes to us and immediately our story changes. It could come in the form of a marriage or to come in the form of a divorce are story could change when a death takes place in a family member.
This close to us are story could change when we have a job and and maybe we make great decisions with that job and and and it elevates us to a level of begin to be successful at that job, or maybe in a job. We have a moment in which all the sudden are our feet fall off from under us, and we fall flat on her face, and may we lose our job or we lose everything that we had been building for but it any point in our lives, our stories can change drastically in a moment to see them. An example in the Bible of story that change drastically is another story that came back during the mid-1500s that I will tell you about effect February 10 1554 is two days before Lady Jane Grey is killed. The Catholic chaplain John second home enters Jane cell of the Tower of London, in the hopes of saving her soul. Or so he thinks Queen Mary a.k.a. bloodied mirror you've heard that name before had already signed her cousin Jane's death warrant. But she said her seasoned chaplain to see if he could woo Jane back to Rome and to Catholicism before her. Ask execution. Jane is about 17 years old at this time was a charged debate that follows beckoned him the Catholic apologist and Jane the reformed teenager depresses that justification comes by faith and works, she stands her ground on solo for day or faith alone, he asserts that the Eucharist bread and wine are the very body and blood of Christ. She maintains that the elements symbolize Jesus's saving work, he affirms the Catholic Church's authority alongside Scripture. She insists that the church sits underneath the piercing gaze of God's word. I'm sure we too shall never meet again beckoned him finally tells Jane, implying her damnation, but James heard the warning back on them by saying truth is, we shall never meet again, unless God turns your heart. Lady Jane had reluctantly taken the throne.
Not long before this. July 10 1553 and willingly left the throne, just nine days later, July 19 1553, when Mary gathered an army to depose her cousin, Queen Jane is often remembered by a number of the nine days Queen's wishes known as February 7 1554. Mary signed the death warrant that would lead Jane to the scaffold just five days later.
In addition to sparring with beckoned him.
Jane spent her final days preparing a brief speech for her execution and sending some last remarks of the inside of her Greek New Testament.
She wrote to her younger sister Catherine. These words this is the book dear sister of the law of the Lord is his testament and last will, which he bequeathed unto us wretches which shall lead you to the path of eternal joy and us touching my death. Rejoice as I do good sister that I shall be delivered of this corruption and put on incorruption, for I am sure that I shall for losing of a mortal but mortal life win an immortal life the morning of February 12 brought Jane to the wall of the eternal or exceeding the central white tower where a small crowd and an executioner awaited her arrival. Turning to the onlookers. Jane announced. I do look to be saved by no other mean but only by the mercy of God in the blood of his only son, Jesus Christ. She then knelt down and recited Psalm 51, have mercy on me. Oh God wants blindfolded.
Jane groped her way to the execution block and laid her head in its groove. The last sound. The crowd heard before the ax thudded into the block was a prayer from Jane's 17-year-old voice Lord into thy hands I commend my spirit, and so ended the life of Lady Jane Grey, the teenage martyr. They returned her attention to a story that marks the turning point in the life of the church. The book of acts is the story of the expansion of Jesus church expansion though didn't come without difficulty difficult circumstances. And this is a difficult circumstance or talk about today. That would've rocked the church to start out in acts chapter 6 by saying something that is important to God. A acceptor six verse one. The start reading together process exit the sentence to this women of this in a while. Would you please stand for the reading of God's word. If you're able to do so. Acceptor six reading in verse 19 these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenist rose against the Hebrews because there will the widows were being neglected in the daily distribution in the 12 summoned the phone number of the disciples and said it is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the spirit and full of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty, but we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word and what they said please the whole gathering and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit and Philip and procure us and Nicanor and Simon and Paul Minnis and Nicholas a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles and they prayed and laid their hands on them and the word of God continue to increase in the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith they would you bow in prayer with me. Father I come to you, and I asked that in these moments, you make your word clear to us. Father, we know what is says we can read what it says but the father understanding and applying it to our lives is where we need the Holy Spirit to come alongside of us and assist us in these moments father would we be distracted by nothing except they are attention be wholly devoted to you.
We love you. Father, we only love you because he first loved us. We thank you for sin in Jesus to die in our place is in his holy and precious name I pray, amen and amen you may be seated before we get into the passages were really good look at the most. This morning we understand something we understand a foundational reality. Here's the foundational reality that that I will share with you is this, that God cares about the physical needs of his children. God cares about the physical needs of his children know the passage we just read.
There is a great need for some discrimination is taken place between the Hebrew Jews and the Greek Jews like the Hellenist is the word is used there.
Hellenist is a Greek speaking Jew Hellenist widows are receiving care for their physical needs away all the other widows are so the apostles and I believe they do this according to the leading of the Holy Spirit. They put a plan in place to make sure that all the believers are taking care of well they raise up seven men to oversee the weighting of tables and the distribution of the food and the care of the believers that here's the deal. We are about to enter into a passage of Scripture, a section of Scripture and which should be easy for us to assume that God doesn't care about the believers at all. We see happen here is is is is difficult is hard but listen, we are about to see this. This launch of the persecution that takes place in the New Testament church.
But before we get to that point.
I love the way the that that the Scriptures align this up forces that we clearly see God providing for the physical needs of believers before we get to that now you might be here today, and you may be experiencing a difficult time right now. Maybe it's a time of heartbreak for you. Maybe it's a time or you think God doesn't care about me God doesn't know what's going on. I am stuck in this by myself. I cannot tell you that there is nothing that is further from the truth is what we see is that God truly does care about us as believers and I pulled out one passage here right before we jump into the persecution of the church. If you look at the Bible you see over and over and over again that God truly does care for mankind, especially those that he calls his children. God cares about them folks we know without a doubt, we can trust God in the difficult times because there's been times in the past in which he has proven himself already. Right hold onto that never let go of the fact that God is a good God always the evil in this world does not negate his goodness ever the evil in this world does not negate the goodness of God's will that this pickup reading a verse eight verse eight Stephen, full of grace and power was doing great wonders and signs among the people that some of those who belong to the synagogue of the freed men as it was called in. Of this, Iranians and of the egg. Alexandrian's and of those from Cecelia and and Asia rose up and disputed with Stephen but they could not withstand the wisdom in the spirit with which he was speaking, they secretly instigated man who said we have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God and they stirred up the people in the elders and the scribes and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the Council and they set up false witnesses who said this man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law. For we have heard her say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us and gazing at him all the side of the Council saw that his face was like the face of an angel folks as we work through this passage Scripture this morning. I would like to present to you a model of persecution. A model of persecution because it is rampant all over the world right now Christians are being persecuted. But here's oftentimes how it happens.
First of all, you have a believer, a believer who is full of grace and power as we read here believers, full of grace and power as we read about Stephen that this is this power.
This graces that come from itself is coming from the working of the Holy Spirit inside of them. If I see so full of the Holy Spirit that is doing things that are supernatural, we read their great wonders and signs are being done among the people through Stephen that is exactly what a follower of Jesus should look like. No, I believe that God supernaturally gifted the all the early church believers in ways that he has always gifted them today that all believers should be marked by grace and and power because we have the Holy Spirit indwelling us. That was certainly Stephen is the second time that he specifically called out as as someone with exceptional spirituality affect your back and read verse five you see that when the raising these men up to seven men. He's described as a person who is full of faith and full of the Holy Spirit. For some reason he is he is characterized in that way. Apart from all the other men, why because I believe he truly was exceptional in his spirituality.
The first step in this model for the persecution is that the believer is filled with grace and power by the Leona policy for a moment before we get to the second point the commission this it might be that we don't experience much persecution sometimes because we are not marked by great grace and great spiritual power effect. Why would Satan even attempt to come after us if we are lackadaisical for ride the fence for lukewarm. Why would he do that because he knows what when operating within the power that God gives us over Satan chooses to attack is the believers that are full of the grace and full of the power understanding exactly who they are in Christ and what Christ can do through them in the working of the Holy Spirit. That is where Satan chooses to attack is just food for thought. But it might be that we don't experience any persecution because were not a threat to Satan in order to threaten the power or threat to the powers of darkness.
Here's a second step in this model for persecution.
Opponents could not withstand the gospel. The opponents could not withstand the gospel. Verse 10 there says, but they could not withstand the wisdom and the spirit with which he was speaking to get the believer who is full of grace and power. But now you got the opponents who cannot withstand that power is driving them crazy.
The way Stephen is such a dynamic minister to the people around them.
These opponents are fighting against Stephen using their brilliant minds and were unable to beat him in a religious debate, the members of the synagogue, it was talked about here from a couple of different areas that are known for their philosophy and they are known for their ability to debate the individuals from from northern Africa there in Sirena and Alexandria because of individuals from Asia, which at that point would've been the western portion of what is today modern day Turkey that he got so Alysia was sued which is which is where the apostle Paul is from Tarshish referred Paul is from Tarsus where Tarshish is the capital of Cecelia. All of these cities and areas are known for their ability to put out great thinkers and philosophers at these great thinkers are engaging Stephen in a debate, but they cannot withstand the argument of the gospel that Stephen presents them with folks here, something that we should never forget. We tend to get caught up in in in in vain.
Arguments right or we just continued caught up in and just passively know it. Not only were about talking about allowing worry about being engaged here but what Stephen does, as he engages these people in conversation, even when it may cost him his life know you know that at this time but is going to lead to that, folks, there is nothing that can withstand the power and the truth of the gospel the message of how Jesus came to this earth to live the perfect life that we could not live to die the death that we deserve to die because of our sin and how Jesus went through this life you went through that death and he went all the way to the resurrection in which he was raised giving us victory over life that is where the power comes from the power doesn't lie in the is a human being in my ability to share it. The power is already there and it comes through us. The Holy Spirit Stephen the first of the most brilliant minds in the world that they cannot withstand the legitimacy of the argument. The Stephen is making they can't uphold or they can't stand up with entity.
The apparent truth will Stephen is saying even though they have far superior intellects and training procedure lesson for us. We need to stop messing around and just share the beautiful good news about the life and death and resurrection of Jesus. The powers found in the message of Jesus stuff found in us is found in the message this. Be faithful and sharing it. However, it in ensuring that message. Sometimes there's going to be times that it leads to persecution. That's what happens next year with the Stephen you got the believer who is full of grace and power. Yet the opponent right though the one who is in opposition to, or they could not withstand the gospel but now here's the third step in this model for persecution.
You got instigation against the believer get instigation is the believer. Verse 11 then they secretly instigated men who said we have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.
Stephen has proven that he is a man who is on fire for God. The gospel is so impacted him that he is full of grace and power. Any attempt to sway Stephen or to silence him has been Onyx unsuccessful.
To this point. Even though this people trying to do so or supersmart.
These have been able to beat him in a debate so they do they convince people to lie about Stephen since the inception of the church. Christians have been the brunt of injustice like we see right here with Stephen since the inception of the church persecution of believers often comes in the form of people making up lies about those believers. Entire nations are sometimes incited against Christians by their governments with the accusation and accusation that that maybe Christians are trying to hijack the government or they're trying to change a way of of life as a whole nations are incited into violence against Christians and colleges is nothing for a professor who is on the unbeliever to single out a believer and ends doing so often times bring the rest of the class against that one believer. This happens often times, because I think about this.
The idea of injustice that comes with Christianity. I go back to a creek. Jesus had to say about persecution to his followers feel the sermon on the Mount is preaching to these people, and here's what he says in Matthew 511, he says. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Jesus said that exactly what's happening with Stephen was going to happen. He knew the people to say things were not true. He knew at the very least that there was no be times that people twisted the truth in trying to turn others against the believer. He knew that those that happen.
That's why he said what he had to say right here. Matthew five the what we see. Last in this model for persecution is a gathering of opponents see before the just a few people that are against Stephen about what they're doing now they're pulling people in the mass in against Stephen verse 12 and they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the Council and they set up false witnesses who said this man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, for we have heard them say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us and gazing at him all who sat in the Council saw that his face was like the face of an angel folks they have taken their anger and their frustration public is about the cost Stephen his life known owner policy for the second point this out says there that they went and they stirred up. They stirred up the people, the elders, religious elders describes all of these are religious people right. Sometimes Jesus calls us to do things that go against the grain of what is customary or normal. The very nature of being saved by grace through faith goes against the grain of what is normal for religions PCN in religions all throughout the world.
There is a God of some kind. And if we do enough good then that God is happy with us and we can earn our way to heaven or to Paradise whatever it is that's what they teach but in Christianity, something completely different happens in Christianity, we have a Savior who is already common done all the works that need to be done in order for us to be safe and have a right relationship with God and all that's required for us is to step out in faith and say I know that I'm a sinner and I know that I'm in need of a Savior got.
I need you to save me and then after salvation been we don't work so that we can be saved. We work we serve God we are faithful to God because we are safe. These religious leaders had no concept of what that looked like none whatsoever. So, as they are, are angry with Stephen. They are angry because all the sudden something is, come on the scene is completely different from anything they've ever seen before and their anger is because all my customs or what I'm used to. Or my traditions are being thrown out at this man is a heretic because he saying that they are no longer in effect and that I can have life in relationship with God through a man. Through Jesus. What happens is this opposition comes against Stephen folks the opposition is not always in a, come from people who may be considered pagans the opposition.
The persecution is not always in a come from people who work in outright defiance to God. Sometimes that persecution sometimes that that that pushing back is been a come from people who say they love God and who are committed to him but yet they don't get grace by faith alone. Through Jesus.
Those just reading through that passage just now realized sometimes we can turn on each other.
We can persecute each other when we should not we keep our eyes on Jesus, all preaching Jesus preaching the gospel the whole gospel.
Jesus not holding onto the things that we we know to be her customs not holding onto the things that make us comfortable. Stephen went way outside his comfort zone and what is gotten them is nothing but a whole bunch of trouble but what it's going to get a menu to see this in just a moment what it is going to get him is a place in heaven of the acceptance of Jesus Christ by Ricky pre-see that here in just a moment actually stepped out of verse 51. We see this verse 51. Stephen has aged in chapter 7 I'm sorry chapter 7 verse 51 verses one through 50 of chapter 7 Stephen outcome launches out in this in this speech in which she is doing nothing but reminding the people of. Here's what took place in an in the Old Testament didn't say anything about us.
Her current circumstance or situation that is in, but all the sudden that changes when you get a verse 51.
I love this. He speaks directly what's taken place. Verse 51 you stiffnecked people do not know that about getting a map you stiffnecked people uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit as your fathers did, so do you.
Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute and they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the righteous one whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it functional about boldness in the middle of great danger.
That's Stephen is an incredible example of what it means to boldly proclaim Jesus even when it means death. He turns this whole argument around says listen you are defying God with your actions speak truth into the lives skipper you verse 54 when they heard these things, they were enraged they ground their teeth at him as a sign of of their anger when you're angry you're super angry you clench your jaw there there doing that publicly grinding her teeth at Stephen but he verse 55 full of the Holy Spirit is the second zombie scene that full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God, but they cried out with a loud voice and stop their ears and rush together at axiom they cast him out of the city, and stoned him. The witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul who taught us all next week was all about how God changes Saul's life. Continue reading here with Stephen verse 59 and as they were stoning Stephen he called out, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit and falling to his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, Lord, do not hold this sin against them. When you said this, he fell asleep at the beginning I talked about how one event can drastically change a person's story about the life of Stephen Stephen here for a moment thing about the story of Stephen story of Stephen up to this point would have been that he was a really good guy but he was a really good guy who was safe that has a saved person. He lived as a set person that has a set person.
He did everything he could to care for the needs of the people around that is a set person. He did everything that he could to share the gospel with the people around him.
That was Stephen story, but that all of a sudden there is this event that has completely changed. Stephen story. In fact, when we think Stephen today. We think the first martyr. The first one was killed for the sake of the gospel right is what I think of when when I think of Stephen. Folks, this story of Stephen. It was all well and good, and then all of a sudden it ends with a brutal death at the hands of an angry mob. So from this point as weak as we look ahead of the story we see Saul was soon to be Paul like the rotund by him next week. We see this great persecution of the church that is launched out this very single this very day see that starting up verse in chapter 8. Saul is is dragging people from their homes that he's imprisoning the others is great persecution that takes place.
Up to this point the church had been centrally located right here in the city of Jerusalem, the God story is about to be taken outside Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria and will be too long ago to the uttermost parts of the earth. Why because the persecution that starts right here with Stephen God story has just changed with one event that is taken place owner owner close out our time together here today with couple of thoughts regarding suffering regarding persecution and the death of a believer in general guy. Here's the first author will start with that is that martyrdom is part of God's will. Martyrdom is part of God's will that makes God seem like a mean cold.
God.net makes it see my God he doesn't care about people who were committed even to the death to him that started all the case.
If there's anything we know about God and who is this is that suffering produces an increase knowledge for us of the love of God, we come to understand the love of God more and we may not see it in the moment, but after a while you take a step back and we can look at all the suffering that were looking at in life. We can see that I love God more and I see the love of God more because of the suffering that I've asked that I have experienced martyrdom.
It has a way of expanding the gospel in ways that it never would have otherwise. Here's a couple of examples that you might recognize in 2001, there was a man and his wife and their son and her unborn daughter is more child along with her pilot was flying from one area of Peru to another might recognize the name of Ronnie Bowers. This airplane that they were traveling in was shot down by a Peruvian government jet.
They were missionaries serving God. They are in Peru and it was a it was a it was a gross injustice that took place with this.
The world was enraged. It was all over the national news everywhere. But what took place from that is that thousand hundreds of thousands of millions of people came to know what they were there about and many of them probably came to know Christ as result of what took place at the classic example of 1956 when there's five missionaries who go to the beaches of Ecuador to take the gospel to unreached people group. They land there on the beach and their instantly killed for the sake of the gospel. We have no idea.
Now how many hundreds of thousands of people have come to know Christ because they were killed because they were martyred for the sake of the gospel. Right now all over the world.
There are over 245 million Christians living in places where they experience high levels of persecution is between is just between November 2017 and October 2018 4305 Christians were killed during that time for their faith, 1847 churches and other Christian buildings were attacked 3150 believers are detained without trial there arrested sentence or imprisoned you nothing about nothing about this. This persecution is martyred in the takes place among Christianity, I can't help but think of James and James chapter 1 verse two through four, where he says take count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet. Meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness and let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
We can count it all joy when persecution comes because we know that suffering is a part of God's plan is going to result in his glory and our good for some Christians.
Persecution is the result in them seeing Jesus face-to-face.
Some will be martyred. They would die as martyrs for the faith but this applies to anybody who is a believer not just people who die are believers who die as martyrs, but there are certain things were to happen when you die a martyr who for the first time the parts this earth or soul parse this earth and they are in the presence of Jesus there some things that are going to happen, but also if you are a believer and and you die. In general, there are some things are going to happen and this is where we keep our eyes just like Steve and this is where we keep our eyes I think about John Newsom and he passed away this past Friday when he passed away.
There was a few things that took place there were there were amazing. Nothing short of amazing.
First of all when a believer dies they see the glory of God. They see the glory of God Stephen in acts chapter 7 verse 55 we see that it tells us that Stephen is about to die any cases up into heaven, and he sees the glory of God the glory that were told over and over again in Scripture that if any man lays his eyes on the glory of God or God himself that he will die.
All of a sudden when that soul parse the body in the presence of God. You see, and you can feel and you can know without a doubt the glory of God completely takes over you is what happens when a believer dies.
Secondly, when a believer dies, they are welcomed by Jesus there welcomed by Jesus, Stephen saw Jesus sitting at the right excuse me, standing at the right hand of God welcoming him in is really interesting because every other time that there's a reference to where Jesus is at in heaven, author of the New Testament is referenced him sitting at the right hand of God. But here's the only time in which Jesus is seen standing at the right hand of God.
And I firmly believe that he is standing there and he is welcoming Stephen in is the first of millions of martyrs for the sake of the gospel.
He is welcoming Stephen in a believer dies they see the glory of God there welcomed by Jesus. Then lastly, when a believer dies they receive the assurance of Jesus and receive the assurance of Jesus, the apostle Paul in writing to the Corinthian church had this to say had to say about when we get to heaven someday. He says for now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face-to-face now on this earth. I only know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. In the words just as Jesus has fully known. Everything about me. There's coming a day when summative fully know everything there is to know about Jesus.
There is coming a day it was the confusion of this world is gonna pass away, and that refute that confusion is due to be replaced with crystal clear sight and understanding in closing is one more thing on to point out the name Stephen in Greek means crown Stephen means crown in Greek increase. A crown is given to anyone who overcomes a crown is given to anyone who overcomes not only to miss this. Stephen overcame the world, not by experiencing what we would typically call blessing, but by dying faithful to Jesus with his eyes fixed upon the risen Christ Christian listen being faithful to God, not so that you can earn heaven because honestly there's not enough good that you can do on this earth to earn heaven but be faithful to God because he has been faithful to you, just like Stephen. Fix your eyes on the risen Jesus and hold onto him. Not only is the author of your faith. He did that he began your faith but hold onto him, knowing that he is also the finisher of our faith.
You be faithful to Jesus, just like he is faithful to you which you bound and in prayer with me of father we thank you for Stephen the first martyr father.
We know that this world is going to bring persecution is gonna bring difficulty. Father, we have a fairly easy here when it comes to physical persecution, but that may not always be the case. Father as we think ahead it as suffering we think about the fact that there will be times in which to suffer for the for the faith.
Father, may we use that the example here of Stephen and his faithfulness to you for the use it as a as a tool wish to understand your goodness understand your sovereignty to understand that you know all things you got all things in your hand father, may we hold onto you and never let go. Look forward to seeing the ways you use us in the good times, easy times, but also father and that in the bad or the difficult times. We love you. Father, we thank you for loving us this in Jesus name I pray, amen