Friday, July 29, 2011

An Awesome Church Leader

Men of the Bible Series - Stephen was a great leader ... but not for too long.

Acts 6:5-15  The proposal pleased the whole company. So they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte from Antioch. 6 They had them stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

7 So the preaching about God flourished, the number of the disciples in Jerusalem multiplied greatly, and a large group of priests became obedient to the faith.

8 Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Then some from what is called the Freedmen’s Synagogue, composed of both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, came forward and disputed with Stephen. 10 But they were unable to stand up against his wisdom and the Spirit by whom he was speaking.

11 Then they persuaded some men to say, “We heard him speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God!” 12 They stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; so they came, dragged him off, and took him to the Sanhedrin. 13 They also presented false witnesses who said, “This man does not stop speaking blasphemous words against this holy place and the law. 14 For we heard him say that Jesus, this Nazarene, will destroy this place and change the customs that Moses handed down to us.” 15 And all who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at him and saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

Acts 7:59  They were stoning Stephen as he called out: "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!"

The first church was experiencing awesome growth and were expanding at an incredible rate. So fast that they had to decide on how to organize the work of the church, after-all the twelve disciples couldn't do everything that needed to be done.

Stephen became one of the first church leaders in this plan to organize the work of the church. This was not your average deacon, the Bible tells us that Stephen was:
  • Full of Faith - Acts 6:5
  • Full of Grace - Acts 6:8
  • Full of Power - Acts 6:8
  • Full of Light - Acts 6:15
  • Full of Scripture - Acts 7 (He preached a long sermon.)
  • Full of Wisdom - Acts 6:3, 10, James. 1:5
  • Full of Courage - Acts 7:51-56
  • Full of Love - Acts 7:60
Stephen was doing a great work for the Lord which some trouble makers couldn't stand. After they had words with Stephen and couldn't stand up to him they decided to stir up rumors about him.

Although he was a great leader that we would all do well to imitate, Stephen wasn't a leader for too long, God didn't protect him from his accusers. Like many of our church leaders he was a victim of slander and gossip, and when they couldn't stop him from his good works and his preaching they over took him and stoned him.

Thank you Lord for our church leaders and their sacrifice. I pray that you will bless them with people that will yield to their leadership. Help us all to be as Christ like as Stephen was.

You might like to read: Men of the Bible blog series.