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Stephen - A Spirit-Filled Man

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ACTS 6:5 - 7:60
-this passage marks a transition in the book of Acts
-up to this pt - Peter has been the dominating figure – ministering to Jews
-another man looms on the horizon – Paul – introduced in 7:58
-Paul is converted in chap 9 – will minister to Gentiles
-after Paul comes on scene – Peter begins to fade from the scene
-exp w/Cornelius(10) /freed from jail (12) /on council (15) – then ???
-the rest of the book focuses on Paul
-bridging the gap between those two giants of God is Stephen.
-only 3 mentions of Stephen in Bible -- Acts 6-8, 11:19 & 22:20
-his ministry catapulted church out of Jerusalem – scattered - 8:1 -his death must have left an indelible impression on Paul.
-this all makes Stephen a key figure in the early history of the church
-showed - efforts of one courageous person can have far-reaching effects.
-proves that impact of a man’s life & ministry is not restricted by it’s length
-his ministry (tho brief) was essential to God’s plan for world evangelism -Stephen paid the ultimate price for his commitment – 1st Christian martyr
v5 -- Stephen is spoken of as "a man full . . . of the Holy Ghost"
-this is the EXPLANATION of the IMPACT of his SHORT life/ministry
-THIS was the THEME / SECRET of his life, ministry, impact for God
-THIS is God's plan & provision for every Christian
-not for few Christians ONLY / older / mature / preachers / msnries
-is to be the NORMAL experience for God's children
Ephesians 5:18 KJV
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
-if took a picture of a man full of the Holy Ghost…what would it look like ???
1. Available & Willing to Serve 6:5-7
-available to the Lord for whatever He appoints.
-7 men needed --- NOT for preaching/prominence/position - but hidden ministry - serve tables -- to distribute to widows in need – HIDDEN MINISTRY
-7 men selected were ready & AVAILABLE– 1stmentioned – STEPHEN
-EVIDENCE THAT……
a. out of 1000’s of men now in the Jerusalem church -- he was one of 7
-reveals the high esteem the church had for him
-what does Spirit-filled man look like? great preacher? prominent pastor?
b. a Spirit-filled Christian will be available to the Lord & to the Church for whatever task the Lord appoints – ARE WE AVAILABLE for whatever He wants?
-the task may not be a prominent one, it may be a "backroom" job
-like David’s servants -- 2 Sam 15:15 And the king's servants said unto the king, Behold, thy servants are ready to do whatsoever my lord the king shall appoint.
-we ought be willing to do ANYTHING the LORD would ask of us
-preach sermon/teach lesson OR take out trash/clean floors or restrooms
v7 – the result of their service / being plugged in where they were needed
-a church full of servants will grow / be blessed / people will grow in faith
2. A channel for the power of God. v8
-Stephen was used of the Lord
-it says that Stephen did great wonders … but don’t miss … “full of power”
-NOT POWER of Stephen, charisma, personality, public speaking ability
-see the supernatural working of the Holy Spirit through Stephen
-but – Stephen WAS the channel – thru which the Spirit could work
-every Christian – to be a CHANNEL of the working power of the Spirit of God
-God may not perform miracles through us in same way as Stephen
-BUT – there WILL BE evidence of His wonder-working power through our transformed lives --- LET SPIRIT OF GOD WORK THRU YOU
-some people are draining, discouraging – BUT PEOPLE ought look at what SPIRIT of GOD is doing in your life and be ENCOURAGED
-people ought be able to look at your life and SEE GOD / working of God
-people should be able to “tune in” to your channel & see GOD AT WORK
John 14:12 KJV
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
John 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
-our lives ought to touch others thru our:
a. words – ever heard the encouraging words of a friend & know they came from God ?? *IL* Marc Monte – encouraged me recently
b. attitudes – are contagious – gripey / positive
c. works – the things we DO to help people / impact them for Christ
3. Grace under provocation. v9-14
v9 …disputing with Stephen
v11-13
-suborned: throw in stealthily, introduce by collusion (planned attack)
-recruited false witnesses / hatched up a wicked plot
-BUT -- all this failed to overthrow / discourage this Spirit filled man
*IL* maybe you have had unkind/untrue statements made about you
-Stephen had all that, and more. How did he react?
v15 -- gives us the answer
-we might have understood if he had become rattled & angry & retaliated
-BUT – we are reading about him in God’s WORD because he didn’t
-this set him apart from the avg Christian who has no “longsuffering”
Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is… …longsuffering
-under tremendous provocation -- …."as it had been the face of an angel"
*IL - David – many enemies – “behaved himself wisely in all his ways…”
-similar thot concerning the apostles --- Acts 4:33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
4. Mighty in the Scriptures. Chap 7
-practically whole 7thchapter is taken up with Stephen’s defense / sermon preached to his accusers
-we will read thru it later --- see it is packed full of scripture
a. He knew the Scriptures well to be able to quote them so freely.
-how many verses do we know? - memorization is a lost art
b. He believed the Scriptures – ALL of them – historical/poetical/prophetic
c. He preached the Scriptures. His sermon was "all Bible" !
d. He presented the Christ of the Scriptures - preached the cross – v52
e. He applied Scriptures to his hearers & did it fearlessly -- v51
6:10 …they were not able to resist…
-what does this snapshot of a Spirit-filled Christian look like?
-a Spirit filled Christian knows / loves / believes / preachesthe Bible
-he presents Christ in all the Scriptures / applies Scriptures to his own life
-helps others to know the Word of God
-SPIRIT OF GOD WILL ALWAYS POINT TO WORD OF GOD
Col 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
2 Tim 2:15 Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
-do you KNOW the Word of God – ??? – not just know “about “ it
1. Avail & willing to serve 2. Channel for power 3. Grace under provocation 4.Mighty in Scrip
5. Sustained in adversity. 7:54,57-59
-look what happened to this man of God --
-this Spirit-filled follower of the Lord – hated - being stoned to death
-preacher – what do you mean “sustained” --- HE was STONED to death ??
--WELL – look at WHAT was he doing?? feeling sorry for himself / overwhelmed with sorrow / crying for mercy ???? – NO – NO
-NO -- the marvelous thing is that Stephen kept his peace and his poise
-he did NOT “LOSE” it -- he WAS sustained by the Lord
-he did not go under -- but he rode the storm of trial victoriously
-explanation is in v55-56 ----
a. he was full of the Holy Ghost --- it was the Spirit of God in control
b. he kept his eyes on JESUS – that is where Spirit of God will point you
-THIS IS the way to be victorious in midst of trial/testing/sorrow/suffering
-*IL* “why do the things that bother me most keep happening?”
-with eyes on Jesus – things that really bother you won’t bother you
-BE SPIRIT-FILLED ---- a Spirit-filled man endures – eyes in right place
*IL* Moses -- Heb 11:27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
2 Cor 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
2 Cor 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee:
-how many of God’s people have been sustained b/c of Paul’s testimony
1 Pet 4:14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you:
-no matter what you are going thru – SPIRIT of GOD can sustain you thru it
6. Resemblance to JESUS v59-60
-his prayers were JUST LIKE the two petitions that Jesus offered from cross
a. prayer of forgiveness -- Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.
b. prayer of surrender to death -- Luke 23:46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit:
-here is good appl --- a Christian full of Holy Ghost will look like Jesus
*IL* Peter & John -- Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. -- you remind me of that …. Jesus
-the goal of the Spirit of God is to conform you to the image of Christ
2 Cor 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same imagefrom glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
-how long has Spirit of God had to work on you – to make you look like Jesus
- “well, preacher, I’ve been saved 30yrs” – I know – but how much of that time has the Holy Spirit had control ???
-some people been saved lot of years – still babies in Christ – because still yet have not surrendered to the control of the Spirit of God
-perhaps best compliment to be given about you ------ “you help me love Jesus more / your life makes me think of the Lord Jesus”
*IL* Ron Gearis funeral – “I am a better Christian because of Ron Gearis”
7. Greatly lamented in his death 8:2
-great lamentation – exceeding (high, large & loud) mourning
-when Stephen died, the church grieved loudly
a. it was a great loss on earth – to lose……
a. a man who was available & willing to serve wherever needed
b. a man thru whom God worked in great power
c. a man who was faithful & joyful thru great adversity
d. a man mighty in Scriptures
e. a man who reminded us of the Lord Jesus
-he did not have a long list of converts – but certainly he impacted many
-altho the people judged Stephen a blasphemer and killed him -- he was one of the noblest and most powerful Christian men who ever lived
-no exaggeration to put him on par with Ab/Moses/Elijah/David/John Baptist
b. it was a great gain in Heaven
-he did not die before accomplishing the mission God laid out for him
7:56 .. Jesus was standing to welcome him home
Psa 116:15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
-when you die – will you be greatly missed ??
*IL* some are missed because they were our loved ones –
-our goal ought to be – to be missed because of our value to the work of God
CONC – trust the example
-example of Stephen should serve as challenge to all of us – SPIRIT-FILLED
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