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Daily Devotionals

Day 68 – Issue 37

todayMay 1, 2015 4

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Be Still Know

READ: Acts 7.59-60 NLT

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.

Stephen was one of the seven people who were appointed to handle the distribution of food to the widows. Chapter 7 reveals that he was also a very fine preacher. He delivered a careful exposition of the Old Testament story which showed that God had repeatedly raised up men to act as deliverers of his people, and the Jews had systematically rejected them. And now they had murdered the Righteous one, Jesus himself. The sermon did not go down well. His Jewish audience was infuriated and shook their fists at
him. They covered their ears, yelled at the top of their voices and rushed at him, dragging him out of the city where they stoned him to death. He was the first Christian martyr.

As he died Stephen used words that remind us what Jesus had said as he breathed his last, but his words were interestingly different. Jesus had placed himself in his Father’s hands and now Stephen asks Jesus to receive his spirit. He clearly recognised that Jesus was God himself and he places his life securely in his Master’s hands. And then his final words were to ask the Lord not to charge his murderers with their sin. They were words of mercy and grace, which are just further evidence of how wise and full of the Holy Spirit Stephen was.

Martyrdom probably feels unimaginable to most of us. We cannot imagine a set of circumstances in which it might happen to us. But it is wise for us to stop for a moment and remind ourselves that there were more Christian martyrs last century than in all the previous centuries of church history put together. Even today there are Christians who are living under threat of losing their lives and it is important that we keep them in our prayers. May the Lord give them the courage, grace and wisdom that he gave so long ago to Stephen as he died.

QUESTIONS: What do you learn from Stephen’s example?

PRAYER: Lord God our Father we pray today for those who risk their lives out of their love for you. Fill them afresh with your Holy Spirit and grant the strength to face every challenge. Amen

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Written by: Matt Weet

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