May 29, 2020

Doing This One Small Thing May Get You Stoned

Acts 7:1–53

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Stephen's Speech

And the high priest said, “Are these things so?” And Stephen said:

“Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.’ Then he went out from the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran. And after his father died, God removed him from there into this land in which you are now living. Yet he gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot's length, but promised to give it to him as a possession and to his offspring after him, though he had no child. And God spoke to this effect—that his offspring would be sojourners in a land belonging to others, who would enslave them and afflict them four hundred years. ‘But I will judge the nation that they serve,’ said God, ‘and after that they shall come out and worship me in this place.’ And he gave him the covenant of circumcision. And so Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day, and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.

“And the patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him 10 and rescued him out of all his afflictions and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt and over all his household. 11 Now there came a famine throughout all Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction, and our fathers could find no food. 12 But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent out our fathers on their first visit. 13 And on the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph's family became known to Pharaoh. 14 And Joseph sent and summoned Jacob his father and all his kindred, seventy-five persons in all. 15 And Jacob went down into Egypt, and he died, he and our fathers, 16 and they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.

17 “But as the time of the promise drew near, which God had granted to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt 18 until there arose over Egypt another king who did not know Joseph. 19 He dealt shrewdly with our race and forced our fathers to expose their infants, so that they would not be kept alive. 20 At this time Moses was born; and he was beautiful in God's sight. And he was brought up for three months in his father's house, 21 and when he was exposed, Pharaoh's daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. 22 And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds.

23 “When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel. 24 And seeing one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. 25 He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand. 26 And on the following day he appeared to them as they were quarreling and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers. Why do you wrong each other?’ 27 But the man who was wronging his neighbor thrust him aside, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? 28 Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ 29 At this retort Moses fled and became an exile in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons.

30 “Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush. 31 When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight, and as he drew near to look, there came the voice of the Lord: 32 ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob.’ And Moses trembled and did not dare to look. 33 Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34 I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.’

35 “This Moses, whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’—this man God sent as both ruler and redeemer by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36 This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in Egypt and at the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years. 37 This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.’ 38 This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles to give to us. 39 Our fathers refused to obey him, but thrust him aside, and in their hearts they turned to Egypt, 40 saying to Aaron, ‘Make for us gods who will go before us. As for this Moses who led us out from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 41 And they made a calf in those days, and offered a sacrifice to the idol and were rejoicing in the works of their hands. 42 But God turned away and gave them over to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets:

  “‘Did you bring to me slain beasts and sacrifices,
    during the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel?
43   You took up the tent of Moloch
    and the star of your god Rephan,
    the images that you made to worship;
  and I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.’

44 “Our fathers had the tent of witness in the wilderness, just as he who spoke to Moses directed him to make it, according to the pattern that he had seen. 45 Our fathers in turn brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our fathers. So it was until the days of David, 46 who found favor in the sight of God and asked to find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.1 47 But it was Solomon who built a house for him. 48 Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says,

49   “‘Heaven is my throne,
    and the earth is my footstool.
  What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord,
    or what is the place of my rest?
50   Did not my hand make all these things?’

51 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”

Footnotes

[1] 7:46 Some manuscripts for the house of Jacob

Doing This One Small Thing May Get You Stoned



Key Verse | Acts 7:51

"You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you."

Bio | Jay Kreusch

I'm the husband of Caren, the woman God knew would be the only one who could put up with me. I'm also the father of four boys: Jack (14), Peter (9), MAK (8), and Gracie Ray (4). We don't have any pets, but since the kids act like animals, I'll count them in that column as well. I'm a lover of audiobooks and have sucked my kids into this as well by only playing books in my car. I may have a slight addiction to the audiobook of Romans from this, but I'll count that as a healthy addiction.

Central Truth

We are not alone in resisting the Holy Spirit. There is an entire collection of books called the Old Testament that testifies to this fact. Despite its almost countless stories of people resisting God and despite our own personal resistance as well, God sent His Son to reconcile us anyway.

Devotional | Acts 7:1–53

I'm becoming more aware of my age as I dive deeper into my forties. While not an "old man" by most measures, having a 14-year-old son is a reminder of how time flies. I am old enough to remember and...

I'm becoming more aware of my age as I dive deeper into my forties. While not an "old man" by most measures, having a 14-year-old son is a reminder of how time flies. I am old enough to remember and have used Cliff Notes, which my children have no concept of. For those who are too young to know what Cliff Notes are, they are condensed summaries of classic works of fiction. If you were too lazy to actually read the book, Cliff Notes could help you pass the test. Nowadays, if you want a summary, you can just search on YouTube, and someone will tell you about the book—you don't even have to be able to read!

Acts 7:1-53 is the "Cliff Notes" summary of the Old Testament (okay, mostly Genesis and Exodus) as told by Stephen. It is what he uses as a final testimony to those persecuting him to highlight the truth of Jesus as foretold in the Old Testament. It gets him stoned, just as Jesus predicted that His disciples will be persecuted for bearing witness to Him. Some will be put to death, but they will ultimately gain their lives (Luke 21:12-19).

As I think back on my life—from what I hope is about the halfway point—I wonder how an independent observer would write the "Cliff Notes" summary of my life. I hope and pray that there would be more than a few pages dedicated to my conversion and how Christ has changed me into a better husband, father, friend, and employee. I also hope it has a big section on how I told lots of people the "Cliff Notes" version of the Old and New Testaments and how that testimony caused at least a few people to think about Jesus, even if just for a moment. Will it end with me being stoned? Probably not. But I do know 100 percent that the "Cliff Notes" summary of my life will result in me not perishing but having eternal life.

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Discussion Questions

1. Are you able to give a summary of the Old Testament as concisely as Stephen did? Could you do the same for the New Testament?

2. What part would Jesus play in the "Cliff Notes" summary of your life?

3. Would you be willing to be stoned for telling a summary of what Jesus did for us?

5 Comments available

Greg Jones about 17 hours ago

Great bio:-)I wanna hang at your house.

“Stephen’s speech,“ like many of the accounts of Paul’s various trials as told in Acts, is not from a trial transcript. The variation to detail is not a mistake, changing the past story slightly is how you talk about new vision.

The bone seems to be, the “freedmen” want to isolate within the walls of Jerusalem and the temple to protect the nation from further outside influence. Stephen considers the synagogues and communities that have existed from North Africa, Asia, and Europe as having influence on the areas. The Freedmen would have identified with Matthew’s expressed Jerusalem/Judea sermon on the mound based gospel. Stephen is Luke’s Luke6:23 representative in Jesus’s sermon on level ground Luke6:17.

Sermon on mound/sermon on level ground, Luke didn’t get the detail wrong, it’s how you communicated challenging a view based on, in this case, a Matthew gospel.

Linda Lilley about 17 hours ago

Excellent devotional and comment. Thank you.

Maryann Adams about 17 hours ago

Thank you for this great devo, Jay! I read it without knowing your “Key Verse” and chose the same one.

The 7 minutes of response time Stephen had been given struck me. To hold an antagonistic audience captive through words alone, for that length of time, is a miracle from God!

God entrusts time to us to speak for Him to a captive audience to the degree we are “full of the Holy Spirit”. That motivates me to soul-search this morning, identifying any hidden area of “resisting the Holy Spirit” so I can repent, be filled with the Holy Spirit, and be compelled to speak/pray with passion for God and compassion for people.

Shawn Foster about 17 hours ago

Hi There! Love the recollection & analogy of cliff notes. While I would struggle to communicate as concise as Stephen, here’s a plug for Watermark’s equipping course called cover to cover. Blake & Bobby do a supreme job of waking us through the Bible from beginning to present day. Jesus plays a huge role in my cliff notes: redeemer, rescuer, Lord, Savior, guide, comforter, Director, life and purpose giver. Thank you & Bless you for leading by example Jay!

Hugh Stephenson about 24 hours ago

I am amazed at the boldness that the Holy Spirit gives Stephen. Backing up one verse, (Acts 6:15), I picture Stephen’s face. What were the leaders in the council thinking? Given the false witnesses, did they make the link between Stephen and Jesus?

Reflecting on verse 9 referring to Joseph, “…but God was with him…”. Did some in the council make the link between Joseph’s persecution and Stephens?

Presumably Nicodemus, Gamaliel and Joseph of Arimathea were there. Given what we know now, what might they have been thinking? Why did they and others not speak up?

What would I do in a similar situation? With that many powerful people opposing me, would I speak up if someone was being aggressively and unfairly persecuted for their faith?

Would I know God so well that I would live by Matthew 10:28?

Father, may I count the cost of discipleship and answer “yes”.

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