Stephen changed the world…not me, the other one.
NOVEMBER 8, 2021
Stephen changed the world…not me, the other one. Let’s talk, on Key Life.
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Thank you Matthew. If you have your Bible open it to the book of Acts. And we’re looking at the seventh chapter of Acts. And we’re looking at my friend, Stephen. If you’ve been with us, you know that we’re spending several weeks, actually months studying the book of Acts. One of my favorite books, and as I read what happens in that book, I want to pray the Lord, do it again. Do it again and do it now and come yourself cause this ain’t no time for boys. It is a pretty dark time and it’s a good time to study the book of Acts. I found out that my pastor has been doing a series on Acts, probably for the same reason. And he called his series, Go Boldly. And, he’s saying, you know, it’s hard right now. People don’t like us. Things aren’t going our way, but never mind. God is on the move. Aslan is not silent. Things are happening. So, go boldly. Now, I’m not going in that direction, but I am spending some time lifting up before you some things that happened at the very beginning. It’s good sometimes to go to the very beginning, to remember who we are and what we’re about and what we’ve been called to do. And that’s what we’re doing in the book of Acts. Now we’ve looked at the election of the first board of deacons in the church, and we’ve seen the politics that was involved in that. And the practicality that was involved, we saw that Stephen was elected the first president of the board of deacons of any church in the history of the world. And he was a young man who was going to make something of himself and then it all fell apart and he was killed. And, we spent a good time talking about Stephen, but I want to do that some more this week, as we look at Stephen. Now, I’m not going to take the time to read all of that chapter. His sermon is a rather long sermon, but a very good one. He realized he was going to be killed and he decided what the hey, I’m going to go out in a blaze of glory. And boy did he, he spoke truth with such power that there was no chance they were gonna let him go, and they didn’t. Let me read to you the final part of that seventh chapter. Then we’ll pray, then we’ll get down. This is what Luke says after the sermon of Stephen.
Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth against him. But he, 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 stopped their ears and rushed together upon him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. And Saul was consenting to his death.
Alright, let’s pray. And then we’ll talk some about Stephen. Father, as we come into your presence, we come looking to the past, glad for the present and excited about the future. We remember people like Stephen and his faithfulness. He was like us. And you remind us of that, but he followed and he followed quickly to his death. And then you used even the bad stuff to change the world. Father, remind us that you’re in charge of all of this. And when it looks dark, it’s not. When it looks hopeless, it’s not. When it looks like things are not going to work out, they will because you are God, you’re sovereign. You’re the sovereign creator, ruler and sustainer of the universe. And you are the God in charge and we praise you and worship you for that. And we also thank you that you know our name. We are thankful that you know the dark nights when the demons come, the fear, you know the doubt, you know the sin, and yet you love us. And you love us without reservation or exception. And we not only worship you, we thank you, so much. And now Father, as we study your word, we pray for the one who teaches that you would forgive him his sins because they are many. We would see Jesus and him only. And we pray in Jesus name. Amen. If you were listening last week as I started introducing you to my friend Stephen, obviously given that my name is Stephen, I kind of like this guy. I keep saying, God, you could do stuff like that with me, if you wanted to. And, he often says to me, yes, I could do things with Stephen you Stephen, the way I did with the other Stephen, if you’d just let me. So I, so I study this with a bit of conviction, but a bit of knowledge and a bit of gladness about Stephen and his very brief, but very amazing witness. We saw last week that Stephen’s only strong points were those which God gives. He was no different than you, you know, we have this idea that these were very spiritual, very together, very pure, very obedient people. And they weren’t. If you’ve learned anything from our study in the book of Acts, you’ve learned that these people are just like us. They’re afraid like us. They’re sometimes wondering if God is in the middle of this, just like we wonder. And yet God uses them. And Stephen knew that he had been set apart, but he also knew that he had been set apart because God had given him what he needed to do what God told him to do. I’ve given you the principle before, and it’s a good principle.
You take the first step. God will take the second step. By the time you get to the third step, you will know it was God who took the first step.
That’s what God does with his people. You walk in the dark and then when you move it you’re bathed in light. And then secondly we said about Stephen, Christians will be misunderstood. Notice they even stopped up their ears because they didn’t want to hear the sermon that he spoke and the truth that he gave them. And if they had heard it, they would’ve misunderstood. And in fact did and called him blasphemous, and they killed him. You wonder why your friends think you’re weird? Now, you know. You wonder why they don’t want to be your friend anymore. Now, you know. You wonder sometimes why everybody thinks you’re some kind of religious fanatic. Now, you know. You’re not any of those things. You’re a simple follower of Jesus. And there are a lot of us who are simple followers of Jesus who will come along and stand beside you. I have a dear friend who’s a lawyer in Miami. And I remember when he became a Christian, I had said in a sermon that CS Lewis’ testimony was really boring. He wrote a book called Surprised by Joy and it was a good book, but his testimony when he came to Christ was simply this.
I went to Whipsnade Zoo this morning, before I left, I did not believe Jesus was the Son of God. And when I got there, I did.
That’s it. No, I was on drugs. He didn’t talk about his horrible life before, he just said, I believe that Jesus was the Son of God. And my friend, the lawyer came out of church that morning and said, I pulled a CS Lewis this morning and I didn’t know what he was talking about. And then he walked down the walkway and I realized what he was saying. He had become a Christian. And after he became a Christian, he said, I don’t know what to do about these friends that I’ve had for all these years. How do I handle my new faith with them? I said, don’t worry about it. Tell them what happened to you. That’s all you have to do. Don’t be self-righteous about it. And those who are your real friends will hang out with you. Those who aren’t, they’ll leave you. And God is going to give you a bunch of new friends, who understand, who get the truth that you’ve got, who walk in the ways that you are now called to walk. And in fact, because I’m so wise, that’s what I happened. It can happen to all of us. And it happened to Stephen. You think about that. Amen.
That was Steve brown, continuing to teach us about his friend and namesake, Stephen. We’ll continue exploring this powerful chapter in Acts tomorrow and for the rest of the week. Sure, hope you’ll join us again. So, today is November 8th and I have two words for you, tick tock. No, not tick talk like that app that your kids or grandkids keep trying to get you to use, no tick tock, like there are only seven weeks left in this year. What? That’s why I want to make sure you get your copy of Key Life magazine before time runs out. This issue has some wonderful articles by Robin DeMurga, Chris Wachter, and of course, Steve. And yes, it is still available for a limited time. But check this, we also now have a new digital magazine with completely different content. This one features a very important article from Steve called Wolves in the Church, along with pieces from some of your other favorite Key Life voices. Get your copy of our digital magazine, for free, right now at Keylife.org/digitalmagazine. And for a print magazine, just call us at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] and ask for the magazine. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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