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A Faith You Can’t Ignore

Martyrdom. Being killed for what you believe in. The word doesn’t necessarily mean that you die for believing in your religion. A martyr is a person who sacrifices something of great value, especially life itself, for the sake of principle. In Acts chapter 7, Stephen has the honor, if you can call it that, of being the very first martyr of the new Christian church. He stood on the principle that Jesus Christ was the Righteous One, fulfilling the prophecies of the Old Testament. He stood against a grumbling mob who were out to fulfill a righteous punishment – stoning on the account of blaspheming God. What was the blasphemy? Declaring the truth of Jesus Christ.

Stephen was appointed by the apostles as one of the first deacons in the church. As the church grew and different kinds of people were added, they grumbled because one people group felt marginalized against another. This may have been true, since prejudice existed even then. So, the apostles appointed 7 deacons to help serve the church while they devoted their time to study of the Word. Stephen was tasked with serving tables. Yet, while he was supposed to be waiting on tables, the Bible tells us that he was doing signs, wonders, and miracles! He was described as full of faith and the Ruach Ha-Kodesh – the Holy Spirit. That made people angry! Stay in your lane Stephen! What right did he have to be ministering when he should be laboring?

There’s always going to be someone telling you that you shouldn’t be doing what God called you to do. What right do you have, usher, to be evangelizing when you should just be showing people to their seats? What right do you have, janitor, to be laying hands to heal when you should be laying your hands on a broom? Preacher Girl, remember that when God calls you, no one can uncall you. You can serve, you can minister, you can preach!

In response to his accusers, Stephen stood up and preached what he knew would be his last message. He knew he wasn’t going to survive his ordeal. If you ever get a chance to speak – say everything! When you’re up against a judge and you get permission to say your piece, SAY IT ALL! Stephen’s example of faith came from Jesus. His dying words are evidence of this. As Stephen was chased out of the city by a loud, angry mob and was being stoned, he said “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Do those words sound familiar? As Jesus hung on His cross, preparing to give up His Spirit, He said “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”Stephen’s faith and compassion came from Jesus. And later, the apostle Paul remembered Stephen’s faith. As a young man, Paul, then named Saul, held the coats of the ones who were stoning Stephen. He made a point of persecuting Christians, and he was relentless in his pursuit. On the road to Damascus, he encountered Jesus and was set on a path to evangelize to the Gentiles. His pursuit of the Gentiles was just as passionate as his earlier persecution. He forever remembered Stephen’s faith and it inspired his ministry.

Today PG, remember what changed the way you look at your God. Remember what changed the way you look at your calling. The thing that inspires your pursuit of your God is what your faith is based on.

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