3 Courageous Examples from the Life and Death of the First Martyr
Stephen was one of the seven men the Apostles selected to care for widows through the “even distribution of food.” And he was described as:
“Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed amazing miracles and signs among the people.”Acts 6:8
And because of that . . . there were some synagogue leaders who opposed him with lies.
“We heard him blaspheme Moses, and even God.” This roused the people, the elders, and the teachers of religious law. So they arrested Stephen and brought him before the high council.Acts 6:11b–12
That’s where Acts 7 picks up.
Many Scholars believe that Stephen was only about 30-years-old when he was executed for his faith in the Lord Jesus. Since then, many have died for their faith, but based on Scripture we believe Stephen was the first. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Stephen)
While his time on earth was relatively brief, his testimony still inspires us 2,000 years later. There are a several lessons we can learn from Stephen’s statement of faith.
- He did not let fear silence him. He was standing before the same people who had killed his Savior. So, he knew his earthly life was in their hands . . . yet he boldly spoke the truth with faith.
“Name one prophet your ancestors didn’t persecute! They even killed the ones who predicted the coming of the Righteous One—the Messiah whom you betrayed and murdered. You deliberately disobeyed God’s law, even though you received it from the hands of angels.”Acts 7:52–53
2. He had an eternal perspective.
The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen’s accusation, and they shook their fists at him in rage. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God…Acts 7:54–55a
3. He responded to the hatred of his accusers and those throwing stones at him, with astonishing grace and mercy.
As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.Acts 7:59–60
May you and I live Stephen’s example by living each day with:
- courageous life of faith.
- an eternal perspective.
- and hearts filled with grace and forgiveness.
A Prayer to Live a Courageous Life of Faith
Lord Jesus, the idea of suffering for my faith is a hard thing to think about. I know people have died because they stood strong on the truth of who You are. And You willingly gave Your life that I might LIVE. I can say thank you and go to church to worship You but that hardly seems like enough. Your Word says that You want me to be a “living and holy sacrifice” by letting You transform me inside and out. (Romans 12:1)
And that transformation includes living a courageous life of faith. It includes knowing that I am secure in Your love. It means living each day with an eternal perspective. And it means serving others with grace and loving them with forgiveness.
I can often feel like the father who cried out, “Lord, I believe. Help me overcome my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24) Please fill me with Your Spirit and increase my faith. I love You, Lord, and I pray that by Your mercy and grace, I might share Your love by living a courageous life trusting that You will never leave or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5), that You are preparing a future home for me in heaven (John 14:2), and that when I live my life SEEKing You, You will give me everything I need (Matthew 6:33). I ask this in Your holy name. Amen.
Stephen believed in and trusted Jesus, the Messiah. And by the power of the Holy Spirit, his faith made it possible for him to say:
Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!Acts 7:56
May we keep our focus on Jesus today and every day to boldly live a courageous life of faith even when the enemy uses fear and intimidation to silence us.
On today’s note write:
With God’s help, I will live a courageous life of faith.
May God bless you today and give you everything you need as you place your faith and hope in Jesus.
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Stephen’s story is one of courage and inspiration for all of us. May we have the same faith that this precious saint demonstrated.
Amen, Martha! What an inspiration for us all.
Wow! Stephen is such an incredible inspiration. Lord, bless us with his faith and courage. Thanks for this, Deb!
May our faith and belief in Christ be as steadfast and strong as Stephen’s.
Amen, Laila! That is my prayer as well. God bless you!