5 Lessons From The Life Of Stephen

 Stephen was one of the most prominent leaders of the early church and the first martyr. However, Stephen was exemplary in both his life and death. We find the story of Stephen in the book of Acts 6-7. This book introduces a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit. It is noteworthy that there have always been those faithful believers whose love for and commitment to the lord seem to shine greatly that others around them notice, and Stephen was such a man. Nothing is known about his personal life - his parents, siblings or whether he had a wife or children ; however , what is known about him is what is truly important . He was faithful , even when he faced death.

Stephen's ministry was shortlived as it was a catalyst that propelled the church to move out of Jerusalem into Judea and Samaria which would then become the gateway to the rest of the world. 

Let us explore 5 object lessons from the life of St Stephen 

1. Faithfulness in service 

St Stephen was chosen to serve tables in the early Christian community but became known for his faith. Stephen served as a bridge to bigger and better things for the church.  His role as a deacon in the early church was to serve the community, ensuring that the needs of the members are met. 

Stephen also remained steadfast in proclaiming the truth of the Gospel , even in the face of opposition and persecution . He fearlessly preached Christ and defended his beliefs regardless of the consequences 

2. Bold Witness

Stephen fearlessly proclaimed the message of Jesus and his courage reminds us to boldly stand for our beliefs . One of the most significant moments showcasing Stephen's bold witness is found in Acts 7 , where he delivers a powerful speech before the Jewish religious leaders . In his speech, Stephen fearlessly confronts the religious authorities , recounting the of Israel's rejection of God's messengers and Jesus Christ. He boldly accuses them of resisting the holy spirit. Despite knowing the consequences of his words, Stephen remained steadfast in his conviction and did not water down his message to appease his audience. His unwavering commitment to the truth serves as an inspiring example of bold witness

3. Suffering and Perseverance

Stephen's story demonstrates the power of perseverance in the face of adversity. Despite the false accusations against him, he remained committed to his faith and boldly proclaimed the truth about Jesus Christ. Even as he was being stoned to death, he prayed for his persecutors, asking God to forgive them. Through Stephen's example of perseverance , we can learn to fix our eyes on Jesus. Stephen's focus was on Jesus not on his circumstances. He knew Jesus was with Him, even in his suffering.

4. A life of Obedience

Stephen's life was characterized by obedience to God. He was willing to do whatever God asked of him, even if it meant facing persecution and death. 

Stephen's life of obedience is a beautiful example of how we should live as christians. He was willing to obey God's commands even when it was difficult. When he was given the opportunity to escape from his persecutors, he chose to stay and face death rather than deny his faith ( Acts 7: 59-60).

His obedience is a testament to the faithfulness of God and it has inspired many christians for centuries.

5. Martyrdom is tragic but an extraordinary victory for Christ

We can look at martyrdom as absolute tragedy and it is for those who suffer at the hands of terrorist and for those they leave behind. However, God's glory shines through the martyrs in ways we cannot explain.

The stoning of Stephen is a powerful reminder to those of us with faith to remember that God can use us in extraordinary ways if we are filled with the holy spirit.

Stephen preached to people about Jesus and God and some of the Jews got so angry about this that they told lies about Stephen and had him taken before the Jewish court ( Sanhedrin). Stephen bravely preached a sermon about how people like them had rejected God before. And now they had rejected Jesus, the one God wanted Israel to follow as their leader and king. Some of the Jews became so angry at Stephen that they threw stones at him until he died.

Stephen was the first martyr of the christian faith and from this time forward, the followers of Jesus Christ were treated very badly and many left Jerusalem to live in other places. Everywhere they went, they proclaimed Jesus.

As believers, we should proclaim the gospel of Jesus wherever we go. And this can be done by;

1. We can share our testimony of how Jesus has changed our lives.

2. We can share the good news of the gospel in our conversations with others

3. We can share the love of Christ by serving others in practical ways 

4. We can be a living example of what it means to follow Jesus Christ

5. We can let our actions reflect love, kindness, and compassion , embodying the teachings of Jesus Christ

6. We can look for opportunities to serve those in our community. Acts of service can open doors for for sharing the gospel.

7. We can invest time in building genuine relationships with people around us. Through these relationships, we can share the gospel.

8. We can support missionaries or ministries that are sharing the gospel 

9. We can ask God to give us boldness and courage to share the gospel with others.

Stephen did everything right and he still ended up dead. Why? We do not always know why God allows people to suffer. But we do know that the sermons we preach in our pain are louder than the ones we preach in our prosperity. Stephen's most effective contribution to the kingdom of God came through his martyrdom.

The life of Stephen teaches us that we should be willing to proclaim the gospel no matter the cost. We should be bold and unashamed of our faith. We should also trust God to give us strength and the courage that we need to stand for what is right, even in the times of opposition.

Stephen's life is a powerful example of what it means to follow Jesus and to live a life that is pleasing to him. It is not always easy to follow Jesus, but it is always worth it. If we are willing to preserve through difficulty and to trust in God, we can experience his blessings and live a life that is full of meaning and purpose. 

Stephen was also filled with the holy spirit which empowered him to speak with boldness and clarity. His reliance on the holy spirit challenges us a christians to seek the guidance and strength of the holy spirit in our own lives and ministries.

Also, Stephen's ministry among the early christians highlights the importance of unity amidst diversity within the body of Christ. Stephen served alongside others with different backgrounds and gifts, emphasizing the unity found in the body of Christ despite cultural or social differences. The church of Christ in our world today should also emulate this. 

Most importantly, we should remember that our ultimate purpose in life is to glorify God and to make him known to the world. Be ready to live a life like Stephen's.

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