Stephen’s Martyrdom

Acts 7:51-8:1
Lesson 7 -- fourth quarter 2012
October 14, 2012
International Bible Lessons

Preparing My Heart

Too easily I approach a lesson like this as something far removed from my experience. I mean, really — how likely am I to face people like those Stephen faced? Perhaps more likely than I realize, but, that aside, I am no less called than he to give up my life for my faith.

The faith of Jesus finds little welcome in a life lived selfishly. So, for my faith in Jesus, I accept death to the flesh. Now to implement that bold statement by crucifying the flesh daily….

Making the Bible Personal

What is the present state of my heart and my ears?

Am I too attached to my spiritual heritage to upgrade out of its weaknesses?

How do I avoid the peril of receiving the Word…and forgetting?

How should I respond to a message of correction and reproof?

How do I treat those with an unwelcome message?

In what ways might I facilitate others’ sin without engaging in it myself?

Reviewing Basic Truths

Receiving God’s Word falls short of being sufficient.

Look to Jesus, always.

Faith frees us to forgive.

Never consent to another’s wrong.

Applying God’s Word to Me

Section omitted from free version; purchase entire quarter as PDF or for Kindle.

My body works. When it quits working, it will be dead and quite useless to me. One way to keep my body working is…to keep it working.

Faith works. If it quits working in this life, it too will be dead and useless to me. And, to a certain extent, if I don’t keep faith working, it won’t keep working.

I want my faith here to last as long as my life here. I want to continue faithfully in the faith as did Stephen. Eventually Jesus chose to finish Stephen’s faith. I want the finishing of my faith to likewise be of Jesus’ choosing and timing. I don’t want my faith to end prematurely!

Well, back to working faith. Notice in today’s text three demonstrations of Stephen’s faith at work.

Spoke truth. Stephen’s faith in the Gospel and its power surely factored into his bold presentation of it. Though he was speaking to adversaries, you can never know what wonders God’s Word might accomplish…

Looked up. His faith kept his focus on the Lord Jesus. All those distracting people and events around him didn’t…distract him. Not at all! He maintained His upward look.

Rejected vengeance. Jesus said His followers should opt for forgiveness instead of vengeance. Stephen believed that. So he did that, even as he died (that is, even as Jesus finished his faith).

So there you are — faith works!

But what am I to do when my faith wobbles and goes silent when it should be speaking? Or looks around when it should stay focused upward? Or yields to the vengeance demands of the flesh?

Go back to the Finisher of my faith; He is also its Author!

Musing More With Mark

This concludes my comments based on the passage for the International Bible Lesson. To read my comments on the alternate lesson developed by Christian Light Publications, click here: Suffering for Christ’s Sake.

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