“Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen.10 But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.” Acts 6.8-10
Stephen was supposed to just be a servant. I mean, that’s what we think about those who are not ”pastoring” the church. They serve. And the chief shepherd leads, preaches, etc. But Stephen was chosen because he was full of faith and the Holy Spirit (v.5). He could not be contained to only handing out meals to widows. The Spirit of God who lived in him could not be contained to simple kitchen duties.
In v.8, we read another descriptor of Stephen, he was ”a man full of God’s grace and power.” And because he was this type of person, a leader in the church, full of faith and the Holy Spirit, he ”performed great wonders and signs among the people.” Great wonders and signs by a church administrator! This is awesome. I labeled him a deacon yesterday which means our labeling might be more human than divine. He was doing the work of a servant but it was more. He was performing miracles just like Peter, just like Jesus.
As a result of Stephens supernatural abilities, opposition arose. (Obviously. Would we expect anything less?) The synagogue leaders began to argue with him “but they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.”
A few things stand out at this message — 1) We should not limit the work of the Spirit in or through us based on what others label us to be. 2) We will have opposition when we begin to speak, work, and act in the name of Jesus. 3) We must lead according to the Spirit even in the midst of this opposition.
I am at a mens retreat in which I am helping lead and pastor. Forty men, many I have known for years. And the time is incredible. It’s a sabbath, even for me. We have no schedule during the day. At night, however, we gather for a common meal and worship. We have a different worship leader and speaker per night. And God is doing insanely crazy things! Men are receiving spiritual and emotional healing, confessing sin, ridding themselves of demonic attachments in Jesus name, finding grace and love through Jesus Christ. Some folks, even in my church, might think we are a little nuts. But as I read Acts, and believe that what happened then can still happen today, I don’t think it’s apostasy. I think it’s apostolic. I think what God is doing among us now is what is natural and should be normal for Spirit filled, faithful Christians.
Why do I share all of this? I think these kinds of things are what Stephen was being accused. We are doing the work of the Lord as guided by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is showing up, speaking to men, setting them free from the penalty of sin and death and giving them new life, hope, in Jesus name.
Stephen had the guts to stand firm in the midst of opposition while performing the work of the Lord. Do you?
“O Lord God, I heard the voice of the Lord last night. I am awed by your power and presence. Even when I think I have nothing left to give, you renew my body, heart, soul and mind. Come now, Lord Jesus, like a flood in my soul and spirit. Help me know the power of your love and the guidance of your Spirit. Thank you for loving me and for allowing me to serve your church and honor your name. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen
I Heard the Voice of the Lord Last Night
I heard the voice of the Lord last night. It’s hard to define it. It’s impossible to explain it. But I heard the voice of the Lord last night.
I heard the voice of the Lord last night as I knelt down to pray. Seeking his wisdom and his refreshment after a very long, full and exhaustingly productive day.
I heard the voice of the Lord last night as I discerned what he might have for us, for the men gathered in this group, for a third straight night of calling upon his name, his power and his love.
I heard the voice of the Lord last night as he whispered into my ears, impressed upon my heart, images, words, signs and songs.
I heard the voice of the Lord last night as I spoke words over men deeply in need of his grace.
I heard the voice of the Lord last night as crying, rejoicing, moaning and praising uttered forth from lips desperate for salvation, for an encounter with the Christ.
I heard the voice of the Lord last night as the mourning turned into rejoicing. As God confirmed the Word he spoke to me, was implemented into a room filled with faithful followers.
I heard the voice of the Lord last night and was so incredibly honored to do so. To hear his message for his people, to convey that fully, and to see his work of grace take place.
It’s day four, and again at worship, I will cry out to the Lord and ask to hear his voice once again. I will seek discernment and direction for those sheep under my care, even as I am under the care of the Shepherd.
I heard the voice of the Lord last night.