By Charles Harris
Today's Scripture: Acts 7:1-29
Central Thought: God has chosen man to be His basic witness on earth.
The author once preached a series of evangelistic meetings in the second-floor court room of a small county court house. The building was located on the town square. Those sponsoring the services gained permission to use the room in efforts to plant a church in the city. It provided a perfect setting for preaching the last sermon on the subject of judgment day.
Stephen, one of the original seven deacons in the church at Jerusalem, had a similar setting for his preaching. However, he was on trial for his life. The charge was blasphemy against God, Moses, the law, and the temple. Commendably, though, he spent little time defending himself before the Sanhedrin, the High Court in Israel. He sought no acquittal for himself, no doubt realizing that would have been futile. Instead, he turned the court room into a giant evangelistic meeting hall.
In his message he rehearsed the story of Abraham with the intent of showing that the patriarch served God by faith before the law was given. He spoke of Joseph who related to God with the resurrection-type faith that the Lord desired. He reminded his audience that Moses declared that a prophet greater than he would come. That prophet was Jesus.
Though in real danger of being condemned to death, God's messenger on this occasion spoke without fear or panic. In a clear, calm, reasoned way he declared that his accusers are the real blasphemers. They, as well as their fathers, had refused to accept Jehovah's way of faith in relating to Him. They had committed the greatest of all offenses toward the Lord by rejecting His Son Jesus as their Savior. He demanded that they accept God's verdict on their unbelief, repent, and believe that the Messiah had come.
To this day, followers of Jesus have the privilege of bearing witness for Him in this world. He has not chosen angels to carry his message to mortal men. The testimony of one of their own should be more effective. As with Stephen, sometimes the occasion comes before a hostile audience. At such times and at all times they must be bold in their testimony for Him. Stephen serves as a good example for them to follow.
Devotional Prayer: Lord, give me holy boldness in my witness for You. Make me as bold as a lion; yet in the process make me as wise as a serpent and as harmless as a dove.
Bible Reading: 1 Kings 5:1-6:38; Acts 7:1-29; Psalm 127:1-5; Proverbs 16:28-30