Friday, March 23, 2012

Mar 23: Acts 7

Today's reading in our daily plan is Acts 7. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)

  • After being seized by the religious leaders, Stephen is questioned. He responds with Jewish History 101:
  • Abraham was chosen to leave his people and follow God. He was told his descendants would become a great nation, be enslaved and then freed. Abraham believed God and had a son, Isaac, who had a son named Jacob.
  • Jacob had twelve sons, one of whom was Joseph. Joseph made his brothers jealous, so they sold him into slavery (talk about sibling rivalry!). Joseph became a slave in Egypt and eventually worked his way up to being the highest-ranking leader under Pharaoh. Then a famine hit, which forced Jacob & Sons to travel to Egypt where Joseph took care of them.
  • Long after Joseph’s death, a new Pharaoh became ruler and enslaved Abraham’s descendants. Moses was saved from infanticide and grew up like an Egyptian. Later, he fled to the desert after committing murder. Years later, God appeared to him and sent him to set his people free.
  • Moses took God’s people out of Egypt as God sent plagues and parted the Red Sea. Moses tells the people that “God will send you a prophet like me from your own people,” which was a reference to Jesus. God gives them the Ten Commandments, but people didn’t obey. God had them make a large tent called the Tabernacle to be used for worship.
  • After Moses, a guy named Joshua led the people into Israel.
  • Years later, David became King of Israel and wanted to make a Temple for God. But God chose David’s son, Solomon, to build said Temple. Up to this point, the religious leaders are nodding their heads in approval of Stephen’s defense. But then Stephen lays the truth on his audience, saying that they resisted the Holy Spirit, murdered God’s prophet Jesus, and have not obeyed God’s laws.
  • The religious leaders and other Jews quickly turn into a mob, which kills Stephen by stoning.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)

  • This is the first instance of a Christian being martyred for their faith. You may be thinking: “This is crazy! Murder somebody by throwing rocks at them?! And Stephen would rather die than not follow Jesus?! Crazy!”

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)

  • So how far are you willing to follow Jesus? Let’s commit to following Jesus wherever he leads. Whether that’s health, wealth, and long life... or hard missionary travels that end in martyrdom.