Day 1: Servant Leadership
Read Acts 6:1-7
In Acts chapter 6, we see a situation where the needs of the community were not being met. Specifically, there was a dispute between the Hellenistic and Hebraic Jews over the distribution of food to widows. This dispute could have easily escalated into a larger problem, but the apostles wisely appointed seven men to oversee the task of distributing the food, allowing them to continue to focus on prayer and the ministry of the word.
This passage reminds us of the importance of meeting the needs of our communities. Whether it is through providing physical sustenance or emotional support, we are called to be attentive to the needs of those around us. In this case, the apostles recognized the importance of addressing the dispute quickly and effectively in order to prevent it from becoming a larger issue.
As followers of Christ, we are called to be servants to those around us. This means being willing to put the needs of others before our own and being proactive in meeting those needs. We can ask ourselves: Who in our community needs our help? How can we use our time, resources, and skills to serve others? How can we work together with others to make a positive impact in our community?
Ultimately, as we seek to meet the needs of those around us, we can trust that the Holy Spirit will guide us and empower us to be agents of change in our world.
Dear God, We thank you for the reminder from Acts chapter 6 about the importance of meeting the needs of our community. We pray that you give us the wisdom and compassion to be attentive to the needs of those around us, and to be proactive in addressing those needs. Help us to be servants to others, putting their needs before our own, and working together with others to make a positive impact in our community.
Please guide us and empower us with your Holy Spirit, so that we may be effective agents of change in the world around us. We pray for those who are struggling with basic needs like food and shelter, so that they may receive the help and support they need. We also pray for those who are marginalized or overlooked in our society, that they may be treated with dignity and respect.
May we be inspired by the example of the apostles, who recognized the importance of addressing disputes and meeting the needs of their community. Help us to live out this example in our own lives, so that we may be a reflection of your love and compassion in the world.
We pray all of this in Jesus’ name, amen.
- In what ways can you practice servant leadership in your personal or professional life?
- How can you empower others to serve alongside you in meeting the needs of your community?
- How can you ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable members of your community are being met?
Day 2: Speaking the truth
Read Acts 7:1-53
In Acts chapter 7, we see Stephen, one of the seven appointed to oversee the distribution of food in the previous chapter, delivering a powerful speech to the Jewish leaders. He recounts the history of the Jewish people, highlighting their rebellion against God and the prophets who had been sent to them. He concludes by accusing the Jewish leaders of betraying and murdering the Righteous One, Jesus Christ.
Stephen’s speech ultimately leads to his stoning, but it serves as an important reminder for us as believers today. We are called to be faithful witnesses to the truth, even in the face of opposition and persecution. Stephen was unafraid to speak the truth, even though he knew it might cost him his life.
As followers of Christ, we may face opposition and criticism for our beliefs. However, we can take comfort in knowing that we are standing on the truth of God’s Word. We can ask ourselves: How can we remain faithful to God’s call in the face of opposition? How can we speak the truth in love, even to those who may not agree with us?
At the same time, we can also learn from Stephen’s example of forgiveness and compassion. Even as he was being stoned to death, he prayed for his persecutors, asking God to forgive them. This challenges us to examine our own hearts and attitudes toward those who may have hurt us or opposed us.
Ultimately, as we seek to remain faithful to God’s call and speak the truth in love, we can trust that the Holy Spirit will guide us and empower us to be faithful witnesses in the world.
Dear Heavenly Father, We thank you for the example of Stephen in Acts chapter 7. We pray that you would give us the courage and boldness to speak the truth, even when it is hard. Help us to remain steadfast in our convictions and to stand up for what is right, even in the face of opposition.
Lord, we recognize that speaking truth can sometimes be difficult, especially when we may face rejection or persecution. But we know that you have called us to be faithful witnesses, to share the Gospel message with those around us.
Please give us the strength and wisdom to communicate the truth in a way that is loving, gracious, and respectful. Help us to be effective ambassadors of your Kingdom, shining the light of your love and truth in a dark world.
We pray for the Holy Spirit to fill us with boldness, so that we may be courageous in our witness and unafraid to speak out against injustice and wrongdoing. May our words and actions reflect your love and compassion, and may we be guided by your wisdom in all that we do.
We ask this in the precious name of Jesus, Amen.
- Have you ever faced opposition or persecution for your faith? How did you respond?
- What can we learn from Stephen’s example about standing firm in the face of adversity?
- How can we encourage and support one another in times of difficulty or persecution?
Day 3 – Forgiveness and Compassion
Read Acts 7:54-60
In Acts 7:54-60, we see Stephen, one of the early deacons of the church, being stoned to death for his faith in Jesus Christ. This is a moment of great violence and persecution, yet Stephen’s response to his attackers is one of remarkable forgiveness and compassion.
As he is being stoned, Stephen prays to God, asking for forgiveness for his attackers and expressing concern for their souls. He says, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60). This response is striking because it demonstrates a deep and abiding faith in God’s love and grace, even in the midst of extreme suffering and persecution.
Stephen’s response challenges us to examine our own hearts and attitudes towards those who may have hurt us or wronged us in some way. Forgiveness can be a difficult and painful process, but it is also essential for our own healing and growth.
One key to cultivating forgiveness and compassion is to focus on the humanity of those who have hurt us. We can remind ourselves that every person is made in the image of God and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. We can also try to empathize with their perspective and consider the reasons behind their actions, even if we disagree with them.
Another important step in cultivating forgiveness and compassion is to remember the forgiveness that we have received from God through Christ. When we remember the incredible love and grace that God has shown us, even though we were undeserving, it can help us to extend that same love and grace to others.
As we reflect on Stephen’s example of forgiveness and compassion, we can ask ourselves: How can I extend forgiveness and compassion to those who have hurt me? How can I remember the forgiveness that I have received from God and extend that same forgiveness to others? How can I cultivate empathy and understanding for those who may have different perspectives or beliefs than me?
By seeking to cultivate forgiveness and compassion in our own lives, we can reflect the love and grace of Christ and be a witness to those around us.
Dear Lord, as we reflect on the example of Stephen, we are struck by his remarkable forgiveness and compassion in the face of extreme persecution. We pray that you would help us to cultivate these same qualities in our own hearts.
Lord, we know that forgiveness can be a difficult and painful process, but we also know that it is essential for our own healing and growth. Help us to focus on the humanity of those who may have hurt us, and to empathize with their perspective and consider the reasons behind their actions.
We also pray that you would help us to remember the forgiveness that we have received from you through Christ. When we remember the incredible love and grace that you have shown us, even though we were undeserving, it can help us to extend that same love and grace to others.
Finally, we ask that you would help us to cultivate empathy and understanding for those who may have different perspectives or beliefs than us. Give us the courage to listen with an open heart, to seek understanding, and to extend compassion and grace even when it is difficult.
Thank you for the example of Stephen and for the ways in which his life and death continue to inspire and challenge us. Help us to follow his example of forgiveness and compassion as we seek to reflect your love and grace to the world around us. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
- Have you ever struggled to forgive someone who has hurt you?
- How did you overcome this struggle?
- How can we cultivate compassion and empathy towards those who may have different perspectives or beliefs than us?
- How can we follow Stephen’s example of forgiveness and compassion in our own lives?
Day 4 – Chapter Summary
Acts 7 is a long and powerful sermon delivered by Stephen to a group of Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. In his speech, Stephen recounts the history of Israel from Abraham to Moses, highlighting the faithlessness and disobedience of the Israelites and their repeated rejection of God’s prophets. He then accuses his audience of following in this same pattern of disobedience, culminating in their rejection and crucifixion of Jesus, the Messiah.
Stephen’s words provoke a strong reaction from the Jewish leaders, who become enraged and ultimately stone him to death. Despite the violent and unjust end to his life, Stephen remains steadfast in his faith and displays remarkable forgiveness and compassion towards his persecutors.
Through Stephen’s sermon and his subsequent death, Acts 7 highlights the themes of faithfulness, obedience, and persecution, as well as the transformative power of the gospel and the importance of forgiveness and compassion in the face of adversity.
The life application of Acts chapter 7 is multifaceted. Here are some key takeaways:
- We are called to be faithful and obedient to God, even when it is difficult or unpopular.
- We are to trust in God’s plan and sovereignty, even in the midst of challenges.
- We are to be courageous in speaking the truth and sharing the gospel, even if it means facing opposition.
- We are to cultivate forgiveness and compassion in our hearts, even towards those who may have hurt us.
- We are to be mindful of our own spiritual journey and ensure that we are not following in the pattern of faithlessness and disobedience that Stephen warns against.
- We are to trust in the transforming power of the gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
- We are to seek God’s will and guidance in all things, and to remain committed to serving Him and advancing His kingdom.