devotion 6-22-15

Good Morning!Many thanks to all who participated in hosting and feeding the youth group, Elation!, last evening, and also to those who invited others in the community to come. We had a great turn-out, and everyone enjoyed the show, and the kids! (I will attach a photo)

Acts 6: 7-15

7The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

8Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. 9Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and others of those from Cilicia and Asia, stood up and argued with Stephen. 10But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. 11Then they secretly instigated some men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12They stirred up the people as well as the elders and the scribes; then they suddenly confronted him, seized him, and brought him before the council. 13They set up false witnesses who said, “This man never stops saying things against this holy place and the law; 14for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses handed on to us.” 15And all who sat in the council looked intently at him, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

Luke periodically introduces new topics by summarizing what is happening – here he tells us that the message of Jesus is spreading among the people in Jerusalem, the number of disciples is increasing, and even some of the priests have come to believe.

But trouble is brewing. One of those deacons chosen in the previous passage was a man named Stephen. He was a man of grace and power, and through him the Spirit was doing great wonders and signs. But in the synagogue where he participated, called the synagogue of the Freedmen, (a Hellenistic group, from other parts of the ancient world, rather than strictly natives of Jerusalem), there were those who disagreed. They stood up to argue with Stephen, but were beaten by his wisdom and the presence of the Spirit in his words. Being unable to defeat him in a debate, they found some false witnesses to testify that he had blasphemed Moses and God, and they stirred up the people to anger against them. If they couldn’t win with their arguments, they would win with lies. We know people like that today – could it be that we call them politicians?

And they brought Stephen before the Council, and brought out their false witnesses. Those who sat in the council saw that he had the face of an angel. But their anger burned deep – and we will continue the story tomorrow.

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