“Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring — what your life will be! For you are like vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes.” James 4:14 (CSB)
Sometimes in the daily doldrums of waking up, pouring coffee, driving to work, clocking in, and getting the job started you get hit with something that you just don’t see coming. I wasn’t too far into a project when our lead man came up to me and told me that a coworker of ours was found dead after another coworker went to check in on him. Yeah…didn’t see this one coming. I was shocked and fumbled with some internal prayer to calm myself.
As the day’s past, some folks told saddening stories about this coworker’s life. How much truth there is to any of them I don’t really know, I only know this…Danny’s gone, period. I have wondered if he made peace with God in his final moments. However, that’s something that I’ll also not really know on this side of things, but it did make me think of someone in our Bibles who was at perfect peace in his final moments.
“And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility.” (Acts 6:3)
So, seven men were selected, Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, Nicolas, and the one I’ve had on my mind, Stephen. Scripture states that Stephen was a man full of faith, the Holy Spirit, God’s grace and power. “But one day some men from the Synagogue of Freed Slaves, as it was called, started to debate with him.” (Acts 6:9a) As it would go on, Stephen would best them with his wisdom and knowledge. This didn’t sit well with these men so they created a lie and had him arrested. Stephen is accused of blasphemy and as he was being testified against, “everyone in the high council stared at Stephen because his face became as bright as an angel’s.” (Acts 6:15)
And what happens next turned into a scathing public condemnation of the very people that he was brought before…the Sanhedrin. In Acts 7, Stephen’s sermon went through just about every aspect of Jewish history up to that point. He reveals their own stubbornness and rebellion in the midst of God’s grace to them. He’ll slam them for limiting their worship to a sacred place rather than to THE Sacred Person who made it all possible. “El Elyon doesn’t dwell in houses made by human hands” (Acts 7:48, paraphrase mine) In the end, Stephen reminds these men that God’s people had a spiritual privilege like no other people and yet they would reject their Savior and incurred God’s judgment instead.
“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)
It didn’t take too much longer after he made that statement before they, in a fit of rage, dragged Stephen out of the city and stoned him to death. But an unusual thing happens, “As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.” (Acts 7:59-60) Stephen publicly intercedes of behalf of those who are going to murder him. That, my friends, is an awesome display of the power of Jesus Christ in the life of a believer, follower, and doer.
I’m not too sure if all that Stephen was in his time is all that I am in this present time. I fall short once in a while and sometimes choke at crucial moments. Sometimes it’s hard to share the hope that is in me when things aren’t going right for me. Sometimes I realize that I didn’t even mention that “Jesus Saves” before some people around me are no longer around me…like Danny. I’m not too sure he would have even received my message but still, I failed to mention that Jesus Saves. My bad…big time!!
How about you? Are you failing to make mention to those around you about the hope that lies within you? We shouldn’t be this way at all. Too many before us gave up the comfort of everyday living to proclaim the Good News only to have us stifle it by keeping the joy of the Lord to ourselves? May that not be. There’s gonna be an accounting for this when I stand before the Bema Seat, that I know, but with this public confession, I implore you not to do what I failed to do.
The Bible doesn’t give us much about Stephen’s life except this moment in Acts. Let it be an example of the kinda boldness it takes and pray that we be allowed to receive a mere ounce of it. I know I need it. Do you?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris is a husband, a father, has an education in Biblical doctrine and is a graduate of The Colony of Mercy. He has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008. You can email him at email@example.com