Day 9 - Acts 7: 41 - 8:3 - 40 Days in the Book of Acts

What is the 20/20/20 method of Bible study?  

In a group setting, each person reads the same Scripture for twenty minutes. Then each person spends the next twenty minutes journaling what they learn using the SOAP method. The last twenty minutes is used for group discussion. 

In a personal setting, I recommend that you read the same Scripture for twenty minutes. Then journal what you learned using the SOAP method. Then pray and think about what you have learned answering the question, "How does this apply to my life?"

What is the SOAP method of Bible study? 

for Scripture
Open your Bible to the reading found under today's date of your Bible bookmark. Take time reading and allow God to speak to you. When you are done, look for a verse that particularly spoke to you that day, and write it in your journal. 

for Observation
What do you think God is saying to you in this scripture? Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you and reveal Jesus to you. Paraphrase and write this Scripture down in your own words in your journal.

for Application 
Personalize what you have read, by asking yourself how it applies to your life right now. Perhaps it is instruction, encouragement, revelation of a new promise, or corrections for a particular area of your life. Write how this Scripture can apply to you today.

for Prayer 

This can be as simple as asking God to help you use this Scripture, or it may be a greater insight on what He may be revealing to you. Remember, prayer is a two-way conversation, so be sure to listen to what God has to say! Now, write it out.

If you would like to know more, I recommend reading The Divine Mentor by Wayne Cordeiro

Now Day 9

Acts 7: 41 - 8:3 

41 And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. 42 Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? 43 Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.  

As Stephen was pointing out, their forefathers made a Golden Calf to worship while Moses was out of town, but it didn't end there.  He then mentions other false gods of neighboring nations.  Moloch of the Ammonites and Remphan, probably of the Assyrians.  That even though they were offering sacrifices at the temple, that the Israelites also had small concealable statues back in their tents.  They had rejected Moses and the Law - thus rejecting God too.  

Stephen doesn't come out and say that he is comparing their rejection of Jesus with their forefathers rejection of Moses, but that is what he is saying.  It is also good to note here that Jesus never came to change the Law of Moses.  But these priests, as their predecessors, were the ones who wanted to change the teachings of Moses.  

While I could write all day here, the premise is simple for us.  Have we ever "changed" what Jesus asks of us to fit our idea or lifestyle?  

44 “Our fathers had the tent of witness in the wilderness, just as he who spoke to Moses directed him to make it, according to the pattern that he had seen. 45 Our fathers in turn brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our fathers. So it was until the days of David, 46 who found favor in the sight of God and asked to find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. 47 But it was Solomon who built a house for him. 48 Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says,  49 “‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.  What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest?  50 Did not my hand make all these things?’

Next Stephen answers the accusation concerning the Temple.  Again he goes through the history of Israel as it relates to the temple.  That is was first a tabernacle in the wilderness, then it crossed the Jordan river with Joshua.  Then David desired to make a permanent place for it, but that it was his son Solomon who built it.  Stephens point is simple.  God has dwelled in the temple, but He cannot be limited to a building.  Solomon even agrees with this.  

The idea that God was contained in some kind of golden box was ridiculous even to the patriarchs and prophets.  Stephen simply points out that there was a day coming when things would change.  That day had arrived and it was through Jesus that they would gain access to the Kingdom of God.  

51 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”  54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Apparently things were not going well.  Because we switch from a defense to a rebuke.  Stephen calls them uncircumcised in heart and ears.  In other words they were thinking like Gentiles.  That wasn't a compliment.  

They were resisting the Holy Spirit.  Something that their forefathers had done to everyone one of the prophets before because they killed everyone who had proclaimed the coming of the Messiah.  

These men, the keepers of the Law, should have seen and recognized Jesus for who he was - but they killed Him too.  Well, that was it.  Their anger and rage only proved their resistance to the Holy Spirit.  But Stephen, being full of the Holy Spirit, now sees Jesus.  This isn't figurative language, it's literally.  it is as if Jesus was saying, "Welcome home Stephen".  There is no doubt in my mind that Stephen knew what was going to happen next.  The same men who had killed Jesus would have to do the same to him.  

When Stephen says, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” they lost it.  As according to law, the witnesses who testified against Stephen are allowed to cast the first stones.  They take their coats/cloaks off and leave them in the custody of a young man named Saul.  We will learn more about him later. 

As they are stoning Stephen, he called out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." and "Lord, do not hold this sin against them."  Stephen did not die with anger in his heart towards his executioners.  He was like Jesus.  

Now you know the story of the first Martyr for Christ.  Could you forgive those who would harm you for the cause of Christ?  Could you be so bold as to stand for Christ in the presence of those who stood against Him?  Is there anything different today about mankind attitude towards Christ and His followers of faith?  So many questions here we can ask.  

8 And Saul approved of his execution.  And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3 But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

Have you ever tried to put out a grease fire?  If you don't know, you don't throw water on it and you sure don't try to stamp it out.  The grease just flies everywhere starting little fires all over the place.  In the light of this persecution by Saul and others.  Christians are fleeing for their lives.  However, there is a upside to all of this.  Everywhere they went, the started where they left off.  These disciples of the Apostles were now the first generation missionaries to the the region and known world.  What Satan had intended for harm God turned into good. 

Stephen is now buried and as we can see here, they really missed him.  I'm sure that their were some who wanted to lash out at the Sanhedrin for what they did.  But Stephens witness stood true.  If he could forgive, so could they.  

Saul though, he was a mess.  He didn't have the wisdom of his teacher Gamaliel.  He wanted to extinguish this Gospel once and for all.  In fact, he would drag people out of their homes and have them thrown in prison.  Only then to have them put on trial and vote to have them killed too. 

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