Day 30


Acts 6:1-15, Acts 7:1-60, Psalm 23:4

BY Erin Davis

God’s people are to be filled people. Not barely-enough people or just-a-trickle people, but filled to overflowing. The apostle Stephen knows what I mean.

Perhaps your frame of reference for him is “Stephen the Martyr,” the one who died at the hands of an angry religious mob just as the Church was being birthed. I don’t dispute the facts; Stephen did, in fact, become the first Christian martyr when he was mercilessly killed for his faith. It’s Stephen’s legacy I take issue with. As I look again at the details of Stephen’s life, recorded in Acts 6–7, it’s not his death that reaches through the pages and grabs my heart. It’s his life—his filled-to-overflowing life.

Scripture records that Stephen was a man “full of faith and the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5). He didn’t have a teensy measure of faith, or enough faith to get by. Stephen was full of faith, and because of his faith in Jesus, he was also full of the Holy Spirit. Fast forward a few verses and we read that Stephen was “full of grace and power” (v.8), and again, the image is more than enough.

When pressed by the religious leaders, Stephen started preaching. Boy howdy, did that boy preach! His powerful words show us that he was full of wisdom and full of the truth found in Scripture. When his opponents became enraged and moved to silence once and for all, Scripture records:

Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven.
He saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
He said, “Look, I see the heavens opened
and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” (Acts 7:55–56).

As he breathed his final breaths, Stephen cried out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” and asked that God would “not hold this sin against” those who’d killed him (vv.59–60). Sound familiar? If so, that’s because they echo the words Jesus uttered as He hung and died on the cross (Luke 23:46, 34). It’s as if Stephen was so filled with God’s words that they were at the very surface of his heart. When Stephen was squeezed, it was Jesus’s words that spilled out.

Oh, do not picture our brother Stephen buried and bloodied, for that is not all he was. Stephen’s heart was filled with love for his Savior because he was running over with wisdom, grace, and power. Because of Christ’s work for us and in us, we can be filled up too. Didn’t the apostle Paul urge us to “be filled with the Spirit”? (Ephesians 5:18). Doesn’t Scripture record that we can be “filled with encouragement” and “overflowing with joy [even] in all our afflictions”? (2Corinthians 7:4). Didn’t the prophet Micah proclaim that he was “filled with power by the Spirit of the LORD”? (Micah 3:8). Yes, God’s people are to be filled people.

Lord Jesus, make us more like Stephen, filled to overflowing with you.

Post Comments (44)

44 thoughts on "Stephen"

  1. Kenzie Lorene says:

    The story of Stephen is one of my very favorites. His sermon is one of the passages in the Bible I can clearly see and feel. I can feel his urgency. I can imagine him standing there surrounded and letting God and His words flow out of every pore. No sugar coating from Stephen. No mincing words. He called a spade a spade. Is there a prophet your fathers didn’t persecute? Jesus walked among you, and you killed Him. Almost as to say, what more do you all need? Look at the chances you’ve been given, what more are you looking for? There’s no counter argument given from the Sanhedrin. They don’t even form a rebuttal. They allow him to be dragged into the street and stoned. They mention Saul at the end, I wonder if he heard Stephen’s sermon and scoffed, only later to have his eyes opened (or closed more like it)
    I guess I love his sermon because he presents factual evidence that the people are bonkers. Look in scripture here, and here, and here, and here! LOOK AT IT! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!! And yet, the high priests who are suppose to know everything about the law and scripture, respond with blind anger, they don’t even respond. The emperor has no clothes.
    Stephen is awesome. Stoned for his faith but also bold and brash and was given the confidence to the Lord to essentially bible slap everyone standing there who was listening. An incredible grand stand moment. Epic. Though his story is ends in his death, it ends with him going home to Jesus, which is the best ending for Stephen we could imagine.

  2. Glory Love says:

    Love this passage ! I struggle with completely giving it all to God. I mind starts racing but I’m praying for wisdom and knowledge when that happens

  3. Faith Kendrick says:

    It’s amazing that Stephen prayed for his enemies while they were killing him. I had to ask myself, do I love my enemies like that? And do I even love my neighbors like that? Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and that includes those who conspire against us. I also wanted to point out the young man Saul mentioned at the end of the reading. Saul murdered many Christians and then God changed his life and he became the apostle Paul. I’m looking forward to reading about him soon!

  4. Taylor says:

    Lord, fill me to overflowing that I may be bold and unafraid in proclaiming your life-giving news to those who need it most. Thank you Erin and everyone for your insights and comments, I wrote many down in my journal! Praying for you Dorothy and for your son and daughter-in-law for safe travels to Colorado. Praying for you Angie for healing for your foot and your car. Praying for a safe labor and delivery KC!

  5. Audrey Flores says:

    Wow… gives me a lot to think about

  6. Dorothy says:

    I knew of the way Stephen died and that he was one of the apostles but I never knew his whole story until today. This study has been so enlightening. Stephen saw God and Christ wow. He gave a shortened version of the linage of Christ to the Jewish higher ups. Erin makes a point at the end of the devotion of what we should remember about Stephen, “Oh, do not picture our brother Stephen buried and bloodied, for that is not all he was. Stephen’s heart was filled with love for his Savior because he was running over with wisdom, grace, and power. Because of Christ’s work for us and in us, we can be filled up too.”
    Sisters, please pray for me and my son and daughter-in-law. My son and daughter-in-law are going to be traveling by car to Colorado and I just keep having these terrible thoughts that something awful is going to happen to them. I think it comes from my niece dying in a car accident recently and then my car accident right after that. Pray that their trip is safe and that these thoughts go away.

  7. Ashley P. says:

    Oh, I needed this today! Lately, I feel I’ve been more “full of tears” and “full of anxiety” than “full of grace and power.” I’m an elementary teacher and last week we were told we have to go into our classrooms and remove all of our personal belongings in the next 2 weeks, and that all furniture will be removed other than student desks spaced 6ft apart and a teacher table. I won’t even have bookshelves or a filling cabinet. My heart has been so heavy ever since hearing that. I can’t imagine teaching 7-year-olds in an empty room with only desks. I’ve been going back and forth between heartbreak, anger, and anxiety. I’ve also been struggling emotionally because I really just want to talk and cry with and hug someone who understands but I haven’t had that opportunity. Even so, God is gracious and compassionate, and He is who I have been clinging to and crying out to. I’d be so lost without Him. Now I’m going to add to my prayers that He would fill me up with grace and power, that I would be filled with Him instead of discouragement and anxiety.

    1. Liz A says:

      Ashley I am a teacher as well and I’m right there with you! Sending you a virtual hug of understanding

    2. Becky Kuiper says:

      I pray for great blessings this school year for you and the students! I pray for God’s favor on all teachers and students that this would be a very good school year.

  8. Angie says:

    Robert Wheeler, from HRT today states, “The circumstances that bring great joy to us or cause the deepest sense of shame can be found in our perception of what constitutes the good life, and how our own life story is aligning with that perception.”

    That statement really struck me.

    The people who stoned Stephen saw him and his message as a threat to their perceived good life.

    Stephen’s concept of a good life was serving God and presenting the message of salvation in Jesus Christ. To be martyred while standing firm for Jesus was not shameful, it was a victorious end for his faithful journey. He got to see Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father. The doorway was open and he was going home in the full view of his Savior.

    I needed the statement by Robert Wheeler today. I have been a little emotional. A wrecked car and fractured foot, while both temporary inconveniences, the details in those inconveniences and discomforts can leave me very tired and negative if I am not careful. My perceived “good life” is being messed with. But what should constitute my “good life?” Ease? Convenience? I fear as I get older, those things have crept in more strongly. Instead I need to find my “good life” like Stephen, in God alone. Love God. Load up and Live His Word. Love people. His blessings are all around. Open my eyes Lord. Empty my heart of everything except Your will. Thank you for your mercy. Thank you for your love. Thank you for brothers and sisters in Christ who like Stephen find their “good life” in You alone.

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