Acts 7:54-60

“Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”

Sermon Transcript:

Let’s take a minute here. Let’s just pray together again, just quiet our hearts before the Lord and jump into this passage father. We are so grateful to you for who you are. We’re grateful that you have given us your son. We’re grateful that we have eternal life because of him and Lord, as we look into your word today, remind us of the things of grace that we need to remember.

Remind us of how we are involved in our world. Remind us of you. I pray and take lots of yourself and burn it deeply into our hearts in Christ’s name. Amen. For those of you who may not know me, I’m Jim painter. I was one of the pastors here for some peoples at about a thousand years. I don’t think it was quite that long, but I was, I was here for about 30 years.

And so everybody makes fun of me because retirement, I still get to preach here some, and I’ve been in Guatemala and all sorts of things like that. Retirement, very simply. I don’t think I’ve said this before means I just don’t come into the office every day. And that’s a great thing. Um, so w our granddaughter Noel is with us.

And one of the things as you have a granddaughter with you, and at night, you’re wondering, I don’t know if you all do this or not, but after you have dinner on, you’re sitting there and you do the reading, or maybe we’re watching something on a movie or something, but suddenly then comes the snacks. And one thing that we’ve had, w we like ice cream, have you ever had a Klondike.

You remember the old, the old commercial, what would you do for a Klondike bar? Remember that if you don’t, you’re too young, what would you do for a client? And back to, I just, look, we have one more in our freezer. No, you can’t have it. I think it’s mine. And on there it says, what would you do? And they always have this little saying and the one that’s on the one in my freezer right now says I would play hide and seek by myself.

Okay. Well, what would you do for a client? The whole idea there is what would you give in order to have this, this delicious treat? There is a musical several years ago, Oliver, it’s the story of Oliver twist. And in the musical, there is a song that they’re artful Dodger and all of our scene to Nancy, the girl who kind of cares for them and who they really care about.

And the song is something like this. I do anything. And it’s back and forth that would you paint your face? Bright blue? I do anything really. You go to Tim buck two and back again, the whole idea. I would do anything for you, Nancy, because of, because of who you are. I mean, I’m telling you that because I think that’s a lot of what the human life and condition is really like.

We, we want to focus on things that matter to us. We want to see things that we can pour our lives into and something probably far more significant than a Klondike bar or even the musical Oliver as believers in Christ. If you are a follower of Jesus, if you know that you have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, I think we have to ask ourselves the same sort of question only at a much deeper level.

I mean, we have to say, what would I give my life for? What is most important to me? And these are, these are hard questions. If we’re honest with them. I mean, you, if I were to ask you that, what, what is the most important thing to you? You might come up with a lot of different answers. Some of you might say my family, some of you might say my job, some of you might say things that I have, you know, my house, my car, the skills that I have.

And as a follower of Jesus, somewhere in there is probably our faith. I mean, that’s what we hope and that’s what we desire. And that’s what we want to live for. We look at this passage that we’re coming to today and it’s a hard passage because there’s, it looks like the bad guys. We look at our faith and am I willing to give myself for this to know how to live and die by the grace of God, to, to impact influence my world?

My friends, my family, by declaring and sharing the good news of the gospel of Christ. I mean, those are things that become important to us when we really think about it as a follower of Jesus, as one who loves him, that has to probably be in there somewhere. Right. And that’s what we want to look at today is really interesting to me.

As I was starting to prepare for this, I did a lot of reading about martyrdom and different things like that. And I don’t know if you know this or not, because I didn’t June 29. Is designated as the day of the Christian martyr. Wow. I mean, it’s coming right up. This is pretty significant. And voice of the martyrs put it this way about that.

They said, according to church tradition, June 29th marks the martyrdom of the apostle Paul this month, they write, join Christians around the world to honor the fateful witness of those who like the apostle Paul have sacrificed their lives for the advancement of the gospel and to be inspired, to have that same boldness, to share Christ in your community.

I mean, that’s so that’s coming up and in one way, it makes really a lot of sense that we’re looking at this passage here right now, because of that, which is coming up many of us know the story or aware of five men who were martyred in 1956, Well, I’m making a first contact with the unreached tribe, with an unreached tribe in the Ecuadorian jungle.

These men, these five men as they went and, and died there on that beach, they had this Steve St. I think there was a picture there for that. Maybe. Yeah, there they are. Steve Saint or Nate state. I’m sorry, who was the pilot wrote this and these guys by the way, this is, most of them served in the armed forces during world war II, or just shortly after that.

And Nate wrote this, we know that there is only one answer when our country demands that we share in the price of freedom. Yet when the Lord asks us to pay the price for world evangelization, we often answer without a word. We cannot go. We say it costs too much. And yet. Some of, you may have heard of John Cho who’s killed, uh, November 16th, 2018, while he was trying to make contact with a remote tribe on north Sentinel island in the bay of being Gaul.

And John wrote these things and many more the night before he left the little boat he was on and went back onto the island. He wrote these sayings in his journal. And part of this is what he had to say. You guys might think I’m crazy and all this, but I think it’s worth it to declare Jesus to these people and a little bit more.

And I’ve had a chance to read a little bit of that journal and he talks about, and he said, yes, I am afraid. He said, God, I don’t want to die. Who will take my place if I do, when other current Walter and Donna pet sold their dairy farm in Wisconsin. And went to serve in Northern Uganda, using agriculture as a way to reach out to the Iringa people.

On the night of March 18th, 2004, they and a student were murdered by radical Islamists and voice the martyr record. Some of what was done after that inspired by the warriors of faith. That’s what they were called by the human bay or in UNE bay. That’s the town where they lived, who turned their grief and anger into a commitment to advancing God’s kingdom in a place that is hostile to the gospel, Saul and Ezra.

Those are the sons of the pets said they witnessed a depth of faith. They hadn’t experienced before in America. We think Christianity should make our lives easier and better. Saul said there most times Christianity makes their lives harder and they choose it. Anyway. That is something we don’t understand.

It all began with Stephen. We look at this passage here and it’s a stark passage that tells us so much of what went on last week. And pastor mark shared the message that Stephen had. And as he told the people there, and especially before the Sanhedrin answering the questions and there were false witnesses and everything, he tells them all the things that are true.

And then we get to this place and it’s in acts chapter seven, beginning with verse 54. Then you can either follow along here. I’m actually reading out of the NIV because I forgot to get the other one. It says this when they heard this, they were furious and gnash their teeth at him. But Stephen full of the holy spirit looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand.

Look, he said, I see heaven open. And the son of man standing at the right hand of God at this, they covered their ears and yelling at the top of their voices. They all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul while they were stoning him.

Stephen prayed, Lord Jesus receive my spirit. Then he fell on his knees and cried out. Lord do not hold this sin against them. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. He died. I don’t know what you think. When you read that passage, there are details here that that could strike terror and fear in the heart of many people of what.

I mean, just think here just for a minute of something here he is. He’s proclaiming what is true. He has some strong words that he says, and they responded and these people you’re actually the word it says when they are furious and Nash, the word furious means something like they took a SA how you would take a saw and saw yourself.

Have you ever cut yourself on a saw blade? Like a hands-on or something? It hurts and that’s the word they were furious. They were, it was like so much pain to them. And they gnash their teeth is like the grinding of the teeth, almost a growl sling. They were so furious and upset at Stephen of what he is saying here.

And then he declares what he. And that just sets them off anymore. He says they closed their ears and reef that is that what they would do. They’d take their ear flaps and take them and stick them in their ear like that. I can still hear like that, but that was, I don’t want to hear it. And then they rush him.

Can you imagine you standing there you’re Stephen and here comes this whole mob of people running at you and they grab you and they take you out of the city. And you know, you’re being taken out to be stone. What they are doing is illegal. They are, they don’t have that. Right. But somehow for some reason, the Roman authorities turned a blind eye to it and didn’t do anything they teach.

They take Stephen out there and stoning him. So many times you think of the picture of stoning? Some people like I always used to think people would take up like a rock and somebody down there and you throw it as hard as you can and try to hit them with it. And that is something that would happen. But at the beginning, Usually what they would do, they would take the person who’d be stoned.

Sometimes they would put him on a scaffold and then there was a pit and the people who were the witnesses and here, remember these guys were false witnesses. They knew what they’d said was not true. And they were still furious and they would take not stones, but boulders that you could barely pick up and take them and hit them with.

It usually would knock them off that scaffold. They would go down to the pit pit and they would still take those stones, those big ones and throw them down, trying to crush them and other people would come in. And some of them probably did have smaller stones and throw them and other big stones. It was a horrific thing.

And that’s what Steven faced because he loved Jesus. And the question that comes to my mind is why. Why did this have to happen? What can we learn? And I think there’s some things that we can learn as I was studying here. I came across something it’s called the it’s a theology of persecution and discipleship by gay guy named Glenn Penner, Benner.

I mean, he writes for voice of the martyrs, which is an organization that cares for and tries to reach out to people around the world who are being martyred, who are being persecuted and, and looking at this theology of persecution. He says some things that really resounded with me. And I know it’s kind of a long passage, but I want to read it because we’re going somewhere with this.

But he writes, as he thinks about the theology of persecution, he says this, and this is just a little portion of it. As we witnessed the testimonies of courageous persecuted, brothers and sisters in. Um, or the reports it is worthwhile to reflect on the words of Peter for this is a gracious thing. When mindful of God, one endures sorrows, while suffering unjustly that’s from first Peter, in these words, Peter defines grace as being enabled to endure suffering due to one’s faithfulness to God.

As we read the accounts of those who have suffered for the sake of Christ, we might be justified in saying that from the world’s perspective, those who endure persecution are heroic, but from God’s perspective, Peter reminds us, they are recipients of grace. Peter stresses that enduring suffering is evidence that God is at work in one’s life.

There is no glory for the sufferer, no hero worship, no merit. For those who are able to endure hardship, no boasting of one’s judgments. It is evidence of God’s grace. It is all a work of God from beginning to end. Is it any wonder that near the end of the first epistle of his first epistle, that’s Peter written, especially to instruct persecuted believers, to stand firm in their face, faith, the apostle writes, and after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you to him, be the dominion forever and ever.

Amen. And again, that’s in. Now that’s a lot. And I had to read that several times, but here’s what I want to do with this thinking about the stoniest Steven and what that means and how we can apply that. I would say very simply like this, it has everything to do with grace. And the first part here is standing by grace and two parts of that, living by grace and dying by grace, living by grace.

I think you see part of this and we understand what Stephen’s life must have been. Like. He loved the Lord. He followed after him. He was one who did miracles. He did all sorts of things for the sake of the gospel. But in this, as he’s standing there, he knows these people are furious at him and in some special way, and I don’t know how this happened, but suddenly he looks up and he sees whether it’s a vision or real, he doesn’t say, but he sees.

He says, I see the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand, not Jesus. He says the son of man standing at the right hand, that’s what he sees. And then that’s what he declares. I would suggest this as I look at it, what it has to do with grace, Stephen knew, I believe that point death was upon him and to stand there the way he did and still say, I’m living by grace.

You see, as he sees her, I see a picture here as he’s looking up there, the assurance of the worth and righteousness of God, when he says I see the glory of. I see him. I see who God is, remit remembering the old Testament you go back there and what the Israelites, there was something called the Shekhinah glory of God.

What that was was the presence of God is shown in some sort of glory that was over the tabernacle. It showed that God was with them. And I think that’s exactly what’s happening here. As Steven is here facing this mob of people, he is remembering, and he sees that God himself is right there with him. That the presence of God is with him.

I was say, this. That is how we all need to live. Isn’t it to understand and know that God himself for the presence of God is a work in our lives. He is there with us. If we don’t have. We become only depending on ourselves, we become under the circumstances rather than letting God work through things. It is, it is the assurance that God is with you.

Have you ever have you thought about that? The God of the universe, the one who has loved you more deeply than anything you can imagine is with you as a follower of Christ. That’s part of living by grace. That is that it is God with you. And not only that, then the assurance that Jesus, his presence was with him.

Jesus is standing there. And as I looked through quite a few different commentaries, there were some peoples that we don’t know what that means with him standing. Some of them say it doesn’t matter, but I looked and I think maybe it does matter a little bit, that Jesus is standing. You see the rest of the time, whenever it’s talking about Jesus sitting by the right hand of the father, it’s a great picture.

It’s a great picture that his death and resurrection was good enough for our salvation. The work was finished, it was complete. It’s a, it’s a great picture of what Jesus has done for us. But here he says, I see Jesus standing. And I would say this, that I think. That as Steven is, he sees what’s going on. He sees Jesus standing.

It’s almost like Jesus. Hey, I’m with you, man. Look, I’m ready for you. I have not forgotten you. I’m ready to receive you. You see, he was intimately involved with Jesus. That is Steven was, and Jesus was intimately involved with Stephen as his savior and Lord. And I can just see the picture can’t you of Jesus reaching down and I’m ready for you Stephen to remember that Jesus is there with us.

Always. Jesus, doesn’t forget who we are. Jesus. Doesn’t forget the things that we face. He is there. He understands. And he sees, and I would say in a very well re a real way, he embraces us in that and the assurance then that he was not alone. The Stephen was not alone because the truth is Jesus was right there with him, even when it felt like he was alone.

I don’t know if there were other people around. We don’t have record of that. Somehow we have record of some of the things that were said, but Steven was alone at this point. And seeing what he saw reminded him, that Jesus was with him. Absolutely. He didn’t leave him. Remember Jesus said, I will never leave you.

I will never forsake.

And I read stories. I’ve read even this last couple of weeks of people who have been martyred for their faith, some of them able to give testimony that Jesus is with them. That’s part of living by grace. Just knowing that you’re not on your own. You’re not by yourself. If you are a follower of Jesus, he is with you and he does not abandon you.

And even if hard things happen, you are still living by his grace, his working in your life that is standing by grace. That is how to live. Isn’t it. And then, and then the worst that some people would say happens. Drag him out of the city. And they stoned him and standing by grace, living by grace is absolutely essential in our life.

And, and for him dying by grace is part of it. And it’s a beautiful picture of what he does there. When he is stone, he’s there and he calls out he’s a Lord, Jesus receive my spirit. It’s a picture when you read it. And what it says, there is a settled peace there in his heart. He is not wrapped up in all sorts of things that have total despair.

It may have been scary. It may have not been fun, but he is this point, his eyes or towards Jesus against up to the Lord. He is embracing the truth of his salvage. She that salvation you remember came not because he was a good man, not because he was a deacon who had been chosen there and the church, not even because he did miracles.

That salvation was because he had put his faith and trust in Jesus Christ. And he was embracing that as the stones are coming, he is embracing that. And there was a deep peace in his heart. He’s embracing the truth of eternity because of who Jesus is because of what Jesus did for him. There is a settled peace to those of us who know the Lord,

even when hard things happen, he was willing to let his life go in order to gain that, which was far more internal than he was already experiencing the hope of the resurrection dying by grace. Uh, w would mean a least that I have a deep settled peace, not in myself, not in the circumstances, but in the salvation that is found in Jesus Christ alone.

I would say to you this morning, I mean, this, this message mostly is for those of us who know Jesus and need to challenge our hearts. But if you’re here this morning and you don’t know Jesus as your savior, that is where it all begins. That is the subtleness. The peace is because of what Jesus Christ has done for you.

He went to the cross, he died and paid for your sins. The Bible says, and the Bible says, as we trust him and him alone, he becomes our Redeemer, our savior, and we have life with him. Our sins are forgiven. That is what is there. And Steven understood that he embraced that and dying by grace would also.

Living, even at the end in resounding love. Some of us have probably read stories. I know I have of people who are being executed for their crimes and some of the things are recorded though, the fear or they have on those who are executing them or on their captors, how they stream and yell, even curse them violate as they are being put to death.

That is not what happens here with Steven. Steven is there. And at this point he somehow was on his knees and he says, this Lord, forgive them. He says, do not hold this sin against them. Forgiving out of a heart that understands grace, not captive to anger or vengeance, but desiring God’s work of grace, even in the lives of.

Who are killing him. That’s an amazing love, isn’t it? And that happens because he’s willing to live by grace and died by grace because it’s about Jesus at work in his life for giving because Christ has forgiven him. We forgive because Christ forgave us the five missionaries in Ecuador chose not to shoot their gun at the natives as they were attacked.

John Cho chose not to have any sort of defensive weapon with him. As he went on north Sentinel island, the pets had no weapon or desire to use it. Because they were living by grace and willing to die by grace. The forgiveness here, by the way, just a quick aside is that some people say that his last prayer, their Lord, forgive them.

Lord don’t lay this to their charge. Maybe was answered in one most spectacular way. And that is, there was one person there. You know, the story of the guy who was there, the coats were laid at his feet. As the witnesses were stoning him. It was Saul who became Saul, the persecutor, who by the grace of God became Paul, the apostle of Christ, maybe partly because of Steven’s prayer, standing by grace, living by grace and even dying by grace as we.

That is the lesson here when we see it. And, and there’s a little bit more with it because we see that part. We understand, and I hope we all understand that the significance of living by grace carries us through absolutely everything, whether we’re being persecuted or not that you and I need to live by the grace of God all the time that God is with us.

Jesus is here that we, that we embrace him and all these doing and trusting him to do his work. But there is another part of this living in grace, being firm in grace

Benner goes on to say this in his theology of persecution. It was this understanding that sacrifice, suffering shame and even death, or the normal cost of discipleship that fueled the evangelistic efforts of the first century church. They did not expect to experience all the blessings of heaven in this world.

They knew that by their faithfulness, even unto death, they were storing up rewards in heaven, contrary to the Western belief that it is a blessing not to be persecuted. They knew that it was the persecuted who are blessed. And that’s the other part I think we do need, honestly, look at, as we see here being from in the grace, I can say the product of persecution.

He talks about, remember when Jesus was talking there in Matthew chapter five, we call it the beatitudes. Remember that? Not your head, make me feel good. Of course you remember the beatitude, you know, the blessing are blessed. Are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who mourn blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness.

And then he says, and this, this is really, this is amazing. He said, blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed. Are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in heaven for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Wow, bless it. Are the persecuted. I mean, this is standing firm in grace. Why would he say that? I mean, the word blessed said, we would say a simple translation might be happy are those, but it goes deeper than. Actually Tim Timmons wrote a little book about the beatitudes and in it, he talks about the blessedness of persecution and he writes it this way, the wording of it, and especially that last part to rejoice and be glad he put it this way.

He says, go and throw a party because you’ve been because you’ve been persecuted that doesn’t even make sense. Why would I do that? Well, let me suggest this. A couple of things. One is maybe very simply because someone saw Christ in you, they saw Christ in you enough that either they were offended or they didn’t like you be happy about that, that someone actually saw Jesus and you, by the way, you.

Because you’ve been willing to be filled by the spirit of God and the way that you live points out the righteousness of God. Not that you’re perfect, but very simply that you are standing for that, which is true. And right. And people see that. And sometimes people are offended by righteousness. It doesn’t mean that you’re rubbing it in their face.

It doesn’t mean that you’re wandering around a being obnoxious. That’s not the point. The point is a very simply my life is showing the reality of Christ in me years ago, many years ago, now I worked with manpower. You know what that is? It’s an organization gets a little temporary jobs. I was down in Phoenix and I was unloading box cars of trains.

It was not a really great job, but. In there. As I got to know the people and I tried to share Christ, I tried to live in the way that would honor Christ. And at 1.1 guy started telling the story and say, and at the end he said, and Jim said this, and he used all sorts of different swear words, which God has delivered me on.

I don’t have that issue at all. And there was one person standing next to me and he turned, he looked at the guy, he said, Jim, didn’t say that. And the guy’s like, oh yeah, no, he doesn’t talk that way. Just the way we live might show Christ. And the way we talk the message that we share shows Jesus. It means that I’m taking the opportunity when opportunity arises to share the truth of God has revealed in the word of God that I’m saying what God has to say.

It’s not about myself. It’s not about some political thing. I think it’s not about what others are saying. It is what God has said according to his word. And I proclaim that and I proclaim that truthfully. I mean, there are times when I’ve been challenged, I’ve talked to people instead of talking about sin, for instance, and the Bible says that we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

And that is very offensive to some people. And, and, and I understand that, but that’s what the scripture says, sharing the scripture with some people that Jesus says that he is the way the truth and the life and some people, but that’s just so exclusive. And that’s what Jesus said. I’m just telling you what Jesus said, our message.

Points people to Jesus and do people respond negatively? Sometimes they do. Sometimes they do here around the world, maybe even more. But one of the things about the blessedness of persecution is very simply that Jesus has been shown in your life because of how you live and how you have spoken. That is standing firm in grace.

And Jesus goes on to say, great, is your reward in heaven? Somebody wrote it this way. He said, you’re in good company because look at what they did to the profits. The reward is in heaven. And in fact, in revelation talks about the crown of the martyrs reward because the grace of God has been shown in your life because you stood from the blessedness.

Of persecution and standing firm. Also the blessedness of persecution is that there are results of persecution. Jumping back to the passage in acts, you look at it here, the results, you know, what’s going on and it’s so significant. You read acts eight one, it goes on to say this and Saul was there giving approval to his death.

And then you get this on that day. A great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. God used this persecution and it happened all at once. Stephen was stone and the crowds went wild and drove him all over the place.

What happened was the beginning of the fulfillment of acts one eight, that you will be witnesses of me in Judea and Sumeria and to the ends of the earth. It began right here. The church is built and I don’t know how in some ways, but it seems like the church is built so often because of persecution.

Then you look at many of the accounts of, of deadly persecution and throughout history. So many times you will see where the church begins to grow in numbers. And in grace, you will see the believers are strengthened in their faith. When they see other standing for the sake of righteousness, living by grace, that their hearts are encouraged and they stand as well.

In some instances, many are called into different forms of ministry, either as missionaries or serving. The Lord are just being faithful and proclaiming the word of truth.

Results of persecution are. I read about a teenager in India. Samarra was his name who was murdered by Hindu extremists, just because he loved Jesus or another one. Abdu who continued to wear a cross around his neck to show his devotion to Jesus on May 21st, 2021 extremists attacked his village in the Mali Republic and shot him eight times.

That’s horrible, but the results, the family of Samarra sees his murderers from time to time and they pray for them continually. And the report is in that region of India, there are many people who have come to faith in Christ now because of that, the 40th Christian families in Abdul’s village. Of scattered.

And now they’re in all sorts of other villages, they’re in the Mali and they are reaching out to others in all these other areas with the gospel of Christ

being firm in grace, because the blessedness of persecution that Christ has been seen and out of this, the church continues to grow and God is shown to be absolutely full of grace. So how am I supposed to respond to this? It’s easy to respond. What would I do for a Klondike bar? That’d be easy. This might be a little harder.

How do I respond to people being, being persecuted to the point of death? Just because they love the Lord Jesus open doors ministries. Uh, has estimated this year that there are 13 people being killed every day, simply because they love Jesus that’s around the world. That means over 4,700 people annually, there are other groups that make it even higher.

How do I respond to that? I mean, what am I supposed to learn here from the story of Stephen? I would suggest two things. One is don’t forget then that there are brothers and sisters around the world who are facing harder persecution than you can imagine. And I would say that we need to be praying for them, you know, subscribed a voice of the martyrs or open doors or something like that.

Read the world news and know that are Christians are being impacted and pray for those dear ones. I think that’s one of the things as I was reading in my quiet time in Hebrews Hebrews talks about right at the end, saying, remember those who are persecuted, don’t forget about them and pray for them. The other thing is, as we look at this passage, remember that living by God’s grace is how we are to live as followers of Jesus.

That God is with us. That Jesus is with us as never left us, will never forsake us. And we can trust him even when things are hard. And I know some of you have faced hard things, not maybe in terms of persecution, although some of you have, some of you have faced other hard things. And the truth is the grace of God carries you through that in every situation, in every part of life.

And, and the admonition I believe here is that we continually live by. So when the time comes, if we have to die, we die by grace. Remember there’s a blessedness that comes with persecution, not the persecution itself, not the pain, but the fact is that when we stand and proclaim the truth, when we live godly lives in Christ, Jesus, Jesus Christ is shown to the people around us.

And that has great benefit for those who see it for those who hear it, it began with Steven.

It might continue with you or me as we proclaim the message of the gospel of Christ and live in the spirit that others might see him. Paul, the apostle, who was solving. Wrote to his friends and Philippians. And he said this for it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ. Not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him.

That’s our life living for him in grace, dying for him. If need be in grace, I’ve put one thing here. If you’re doing notes or anything, I wrote a little thing here says Lord helped me to blank because as I looked at this passage, there were so many things that went through my mind. What am I supposed to be learning from this?

And I’m going to urge you right now. Take a look at that either in your own heart, or maybe even write it down. As you think about the stoning of Stephen and everything that went with that, as you think about the standing in grace and being firm in grace and all of that, look at your own heart just for a minute.

Would you and write this down, Lord, help me. For me, what came to my mind again and again, learn to live by grace every day for others, it might be helping me to proclaim your truth, faithfully others. It just might be to really know you so that I stand in grace

when we get to heaven. I don’t know what Stephen will say. He will say, though, at least this God stood with me. Jesus was with me and it was worth it. Let’s pray father, as we come before you. I admit to you and you know, I’ve prayed this many times, this past couple of weeks. To me, this is a hard passage, but it’s also a glorious passage.

God work in our hearts. I pray to understand what it means to live by grace, to be firm in grace and to proclaim your truth, your word, your life, to people around us in Christ’s name. Amen. Now go and serve and stand for the Lord this week.