Updated: Sep 3, 2020
Stephen was chosen by the apostles to be one of seven men who would serve the Lord by caring for the many physical needs of the church. This would enable the apostles to focus on prayer and the teaching of the Word. For example, these men would oversee the distribution of food. These types of ministries are often led by those with the spiritual gifts of service and helps (1 Corinthians 12:28; Romans 12:7). We need to be careful not to say: “That is not my spiritual gift so I am not going to spend my time ministering in this way.” Typically, we are to spend the bulk of our time operating within our spiritual gifts. However, there are several ways that we are all called to serve God, even though it may not be our spiritual gift. We are all commissioned to give generously, evangelize those around us, pray for people for healing, and reach out to help and serve others.
Stephen was a man who demonstrated serving and loving God with his whole heart, mind, and soul. He was chosen to be a leader in the church because he was full of the Spirit, faith, and wisdom (Acts 6:3,5). As he walked in the power of the Spirit, he was able to do amazing things for the Kingdom of God. “Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people” (Acts 6:8).
What does it mean to be “full of grace”? This is displayed by someone who responds to others with the kind of love that Christ displayed while on earth. He loved people regardless of their social status, race, education, abilities, religious works, or reputation. He knew that all of us are sinners and equally in need of a Savior. No one is superior to another. All of us are equally significant and loved in God’s eyes. Stephen did not try to change people by addressing their behavior; instead, he focused on their hearts. Paul shows this same kind of humility and grace when he says: “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). Stephen knew that in love, God had “freely given him redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace which He lavished upon him” (Ephesians 1:6-8). Therefore, he was motivated to pour out this same grace and love to others.
Stephen was also “full of power” (Acts 6:8). Many of us pray and ask God to guide us and help us, but how often do we pray for His power? Jesus tells us: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). As believers, God’s Spirit dwells in us. However, we need to call on God’s Spirit through prayer to work in and through us. Like Stephen, we can trust Him to do supernatural things through our lives to minister to others. Do not limit the power of God. It was the Spirit working through Stephen that enabled him to do “great wonders and miraculous signs” (Acts 6:8). These acts helped people believe his testimony about Jesus.
It is important to spend time each morning in prayer and reading the Word of God. This will help you hear or sense the Spirit’s leading throughout the day. Ask the Lord to prepare your heart for whatever you will face that day. Worshiping in song or praying through a Psalm can help you focus on God. Pray that He will give you all the power, wisdom, and love that you will need. Each morning, pray for the Spirit to empower and direct you. Then, throughout the day, call on the Lord for His strength and guidance. Ask Him to give you faith even in how you pray. Let your prayers demonstrate a faith that believes God for big things. When you speak to others, ask the Lord to give you wisdom in what to say, faith to say it boldly, and love to act and communicate with compassion and kindness.
Today’s Bible Reading: Acts 1:8; Acts 6:1-8; 1 Corinthians 4:7-16