Sunday Sermon // King of Losers : Stephen Steps Up

King of Losers // Stephen Steps Up

[Lead Pastor, Scott Moore, ECC Covington Campus]

followmeWhat if Jesus really meant it when he said, “follow me!”??

What if Jesus asked his disciples to just identify with his name..not to change or tell anybody about him? Would we even be here today? Would the church even be here?

If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it. (‭Matthew‬ ‭10‬:‭39‬ NLT)

 

  • When needs go unmet people complain..

But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.” (‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭6‬:‭1-4‬ NLT)

There were accusations of discrimination. This was serious. The church was in danger of splitting.

The disciples gather to solve this problem. And they come up with a system where servant-leaders are able to distribute food and take care of the needs of the entire church body.

The pastors of Eastridge often feel the entire burden to care for peoples needs in the congregation. If the pastors are the only ones ministering to the body then many people are missing out. BUT if the church body is ministering to each other then everyone’s needs can be met.

When I step up, the church moves forward.

 

  • God has given us everything we need, in each other, to meet needs..

Everyone liked this idea, and they chose the following: Stephen (a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit), Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas of Antioch (an earlier convert to the Jewish faith). These seven were presented to the apostles, who prayed for them as they laid their hands on them. So God’s message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too. (‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭6‬:‭5-7‬ NLT)

The church is more effective when the body takes care of the body.

 

  • Stepping up involves sacrifice..

But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!” Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died. (‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭7‬:‭55-60‬ NLT)

Stephen did more than just identify with God in name only. He took on the character of Jesus. As he was being tortured he asked God not to hold his accusers and murders guilty. Just like Jesus did. He sacrificed.

Now listen to the words of Paul:

For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. (‭Philippians‬ ‭1‬:‭21‬ NLT)

But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? ” For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. (‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15‬:‭51-57‬ NLT)

Paul, who in Acts 7:58 was named Saul, watched and approved the stoning of Stephen. Then a little later Saul was transformed by Jesus. So he could speak with authority on the sacrifice of believers like Stephen.

When we, the believers, sacrifice to meet each others needs then the world takes notice..the mundane can become miraculous.

There is nothing better to live and DIE for than Jesus and his message of hope.

When I step up the church moves forward.

 

If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it. (‭Matthew‬ ‭10‬:‭39‬ NLT)

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