Hi again. Today’s story is form Acts 6 and 7.
Stephen was one of the seven men chosen to help make sure everyone had enough food. He had God’s Holy Spirit in his heart and he did great wonders and miracles. Some people didn’t like him though and started arguing with him, trying to trick him. But they could not stand up against the words the Spirit gave him as he spoke.
So they secretly told some men to say, “We have heard Stephen speak bad words about Moses and about God.”
They got everyone to believe Stephen was a bad guy, saying bad things about God. They took Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin (the court). They had fake witnesses, who said, “This man never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. We heard him say that this Jesus will destroy this place and change everything Moses told us.”
All who were sitting in the court looked at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
Then the high priest asked Stephen, “Is what these people say true? Do you speak against Moses and against God?”
Stephen had God’s Spirit and he was filled with courage and and he answered. He told everyone the story from Abraham to King Solomon and reminded them that even though they had been given the law from Moses, they didn’t really follow it. They knew everything God wanted them to do, but they didn’t do it! He told them they were always mean to people who reminded them what God said and they were especially mean to people who talked about Jesus, they even killed Jesus. Do you think the leaders liked Stephen saying these things? (They WERE true…the people DIDN’T obey God and they WERE mean to people who talked about Jesus…but they didn’t like Stephen telling them they were wrong!)
*****Elongated version: Stephen replied: “Listen to me! Remember God told Abraham ‘Leave your country and your people and go to the land I will show you.’ So he left and God sent him to this land where you are now living. God promised him that he and his descendants (children and grandchildren and great grandchildren) would own this land, even though at that time Abraham had no children. God said: ‘For four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be salves and be treated badly. But afterward they will come out of that country and worship me in this place.’ Then Abraham became the father of Isaac and later Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob became the father of twelve boys, the tribes of Israel.
Because 11 of the brothers were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him and rescued him from all his troubles. Pharaoh made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace. Then a famine struck and our ancestors could not find food. Joseph sent for his whole family and they all lived in Egypt together.
After that, the number of our people in Egypt was growing and growing. Then a new king came to power in Egypt. He was mean to our people and killed all the baby boys. That’s when Moses was born. Pharaoh’s daughter took him and brought him up as her own son so Moses was taught all the wisdom of the Egyptians and he was very powerful.
When Moses was a grown up, God came to him in the flames of a burning bush in the desert. Through the burning bush God said, ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I have seen the way my people suffer in Egypt. I will send you to set them free. The people at first did not accept Moses, but God used him in amazing ways and he led them out of Egypt and performed miracles and signs in Egypt and in the wilderness. Moses was with God in the wilderness, he was with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and God gave him words to pass on to us. But our people did not obey him. So God turned away from them for a while.
Our people were given the tabernacle and the ark which held God’s covenant law. (God’s promise to always be with them and love them.) Joshua led the people and they brought it with them when they took back this land. It stayed in the tabernacle until the time of King David, who wanted to build a real church for God, but it was Solomon who built a house for him.
You people! You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a leader you weren’t mean to? Your ancestors (grandparents and great grandparents) even killed those who talked about the coming of the Righteous One, Jesus. And now you have betrayed and murdered Him! You have been given the law but have not obeyed it.”****
When the people in the court heard this, they were furious. They didn’t want Stephen to tell them the bad things they were doing. They covered their ears and, yelled at the top of their voices, then they all ran toward him, dragged him out of the city and started throwing rocks at him. They took off their coats and put them down in front of a man named Saul who was happy Stephen was being hurt.
While they were throwing rocks at him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, forgive them.” Then he died.
The people had so forgotten God’s words. They knew all about God, but they didn’t love Him and they didn’t love other people.
This seems like a very sad story, but God will use it for Good. One of the people that day would come to love God and do great things for Him. Sometimes when we tell people about God, they won’t want to hear it and that’s very sad. But we still need to try. We can still tell God’s story and we can show God’s love. Even though the people weren’t being nice to Stephen, he trusted God and he even asked God to forgive the people.
Thanks for joining us again. Love to you all!