Fearless: Stephen (Acts 6-7)
Stephen is an example of fearlessness to us today because of three attributes he exhibited in His life and Martyrdom
1. Stephen Was Not Afraid to Serve (he served anyone and everyone)
"Everyone liked this idea, and they chose the following: Stephen (a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit), Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas of Antioch (an earlier convert to the Jewish faith). These seven were presented to the apostles, who prayed for them as they laid their hands on them." (Acts 6:5-6 NLT)
We have had for the past year a Youth Ministry Intern at Creekside who has served our Church selflessly and he has accomplished some amazing things in Service to the Lord. These are just a few of the things Abe Kuhn has done for Creekside while he was here...
1. Youth ministry meetings Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday 2. The landing Celebrate Recovery youth program on Fridays 3. Cox elementary after-school tutoring 4. Organized and helped with monthly youth outreaches 5. Set up and broken down chairs at least 160 times for our church meetings 6. Painted the lines in the parking lot so Creeksiders know where to park 7. Been in charge of the working order of the youth center and improved it in many ways. 8. Been trained in theology and Christian living by reading one book a month. 9. Helped overhaul our youth website 10. Helped plan and execute a successful houseboat camp and English camp in Germany.
11. Spoke to our youth 6 or 7 times 12. But more than all he has done is who he is that touches us. A young man who loves the Lord and is consistently grateful for the opportunity to serve him. Abe we have become so grateful for the opportunity to have had you in our lives for this year. And to have you as a friend from now on. Abe is definitely an example to us of Stephen and his desire to serve the Body of Christ.
2. Stephen Was Filled With the Holy Spirit (and faith)
"Everyone liked this idea, and they chose the following: Stephen (a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit), Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas of Antioch (an earlier convert to the Jewish faith)." (Acts 6:5 NLT) "Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed amazing miracles and signs among the people." (Acts 6:8 NLT)
Sin is what hinders the filling of the Holy Spirit, and obedience to God is how the filling of the Spirit is maintained. Ephesians 5:18 commands that we be filled with the Spirit; however, it is not only praying for the filling of the Holy Spirit that accomplishes the filling. Our obedience to God's commands allows the Spirit freedom to work within us. Because we are still infected with sin, it is impossible to be filled with the Spirit all of the time. When we sin, we should immediately confess it to God and renew our commitment to being Spirit-filled and Spirit-led.
3. Stephen Was Completely Bold (in the face of lies and persecution)
When I was a middle school intern after college I had a middle schooler named Michael. He was my bold and say anything middle schooler. One time we were on a rafting and camping trip. We were all in a 15 passenger van together. I know, it's crazy, a van full of middle schoolers! We were traveling down a windy dirt road along a beautiful river. Other people thought it was beautiful too. As we came around a bend in the road straight ahead of us was a couple having sex on a rock right in the middle of the river! At that moment I was desperately hoping that no one had seen these people, but alas it was too obvious and Michael shouted to the entire van "OH MY GOSH LOOK THOSE PEOPLE ARE HAVING SEX!" Chaos ensued on our van of middle schoolers. and for the next hours everybody was talking about it, and there was nothing I could do to diffuse the situation. Michael was very bold but a bad bold not a good bold. Stephen was bold and the right type of bold. He was bold for our Lord. Let's look at some things that he said. "None of them could stand against the wisdom and the Spirit with which Stephen spoke." (Acts 6:10 NLT) "You stubborn people! You are heathen at heart and deaf to the truth. Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit? That’s what your ancestors did, and so do you!" (Acts 7:51 NLT) "Name one prophet your ancestors didn’t persecute! They even killed the ones who predicted the coming of the Righteous One—the Messiah whom you betrayed and murdered." (Acts 7:52 NLT) "You deliberately disobeyed God’s law, even though you received it from the hands of angels." (Acts 7:53 NLT) While Stephen was being stoned by the Sanhedrin this is what happened "But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And he told them, 'Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!'"(Acts 7:55-56 NLT)
"Jesus was standing on the right hand of God--Why "standing," and not sitting, the posture in which the glorified Saviour is elsewhere represented? Clearly, to express the eager interest with which He watched from the skies the scene in that council chamber, and the full tide of His Spirit which He was at that moment engaged in pouring into the heart of His heroic witness, till it beamed in radiance from his very countenance."
(Title: Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary
Author: Jamieson, Robert, Fausset, Andrew Robert, Brown, David
Copyright: JFB, E-text version from www.ccel.org.)
As Stephen was Martyred for the faith, Jesus received him into heaven with a standing ovation, and we can know he embraced Him and said "Well done good and faithful servant, now enter my rest." Will we seek to be fearless and only strive to please the audience of one, and one day hear him say, "well done good and faithful servant, now enter my rest."