Acts 7:55, 59-60 ESV
But he [Stephen], full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God… 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep [died].
Stephen was murdered as a result of his faith in Christ, expressed in the bold way he proclaimed God’s word while challenging his hostile and sinful audience. It may (or may not) be easy to preach to a friendly audience that agrees with the basics of what you are proclaiming, but it’s extremely difficult to be the only one preaching to a hostile crowd that doesn’t believe but opposes you! Stephen’s example of a Spirit-filled life shows us the following… (1) The Spirit empowered him to speak truth boldly - especially to a hostile audience. (2) The Spirit empowered him to experience joy and glory during a time of deep suffering, rejection, and persecution. (3) The Spirit empowered him to stay prayerfully focused on Jesus when others were viciously attacking and hurting him. (4) The Spirit empowered him to seek the forgiveness of those who neither deserved it nor asked for it.
For which of these “Stephen situations” do you most need the power of the Holy Spirit to help?
Who should you pray for now that is involved in a “Stephen situation”?
Do you believe being filled with the Holy Spirit gave Stephen the power to resist anger, depression, revenge, or other negative temptations in his hour of ultimate trial?