Sunday, October 15, 2006

Living, Dying & Praying Like Stephen

"Lord Jesus, receive my spirit"
"Lord, do not charge them with this sin." ~ Acts 7:59, 60

Stephen was a good man, with a great reputation, a Spirit-filled Deacon who took care of the widows (Acts 6 & 7). When pushed in a corner, He stood up for and spoke out for Jesus, boldly challenging powerful Jewish leaders to repent. It cost him his life. He died with two exemplary prayers on his lips: "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" & "Lord, do not charge them with this sin" (Acts 7:59, 60). When rocked by life, persecuted for your beliefs & forced to choose safety or the Savior, put yourself in God’s hands & forgive your enemies.

Jesus’ Return Means:

* Deliverance for His own (1 Thess. 4-5; Matt. 25)
* Damnation for those who are not (Ps. 1:6; Matt. 25; 2 Ths. 2, 3)

"Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." (vs. 59)

Entrust yourself to him, put your life in His sovereign hands (Phil 1:20 ff).

We will die as we have lived. To die well, we must live well.

"As being stoned." Crises reveals character. Echoes Jesus on cross.

* Commitment / Reliance
* Contrition: all aid bare before eyes of the Lord – Heb. 4:13
* Submission: "Lord Jesus"

"Lord, do not charge them with this sin." (vs. 60)

Don’t hold against them, keep to their account. "Father, forgive…"

Fulfills the Lord’s prayer: "forgive us… as we…"

When we commit selves to Lord, we must do as He says: i.e. forgive

Forgiveness – no small topic / problem / need / request (Eph. 4:29 – 5:2)

Whom do you need to forgive?

Who do you require God to show justice to, as you cling to His mercy?

Notice Stephen’s Lofty View of Jesus:

* Saw Him in heaven at God’s right hand – the Son of Man (Dan. 7)
* He calls Him Lord – either worship or idolatry
* He asked Jesus to forgive – only God can do such

Final Thots from Stephen’s Final Words:

* How is your reputation? Are you filled with God’s Spirit (Eph. 5:18)?
* Who, at the end of it all, are you trusting, looking to for salvation?
* What will be on your lips, in your heart, on your mind at the end?
* Who is God telling you to release from your debt (forgive)?
* Will your death bring glory to God and spread the gospel (Acts 8:1-8)?

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