This is that Moses, who said to the children of Israel, 'The Lord our God will raise up a prophet for you from among your brothers, like me.'
This is he who was in the assembly in the wilderness with the angel that spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, who received living oracles to give to us, to whom our fathers wouldn't be obedient, but rejected him, and turned back in their hearts to Egypt, saying to Aaron, 'Make us gods that will go before us, for as for this Moses, who led us out of the land of Egypt, we don't know what has become of him.'
They made a calf in those days, and brought a sacrifice to the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their hands.
But God turned, and gave them up to serve the host of the sky, as it is written in the book of the prophets, 'Did you offer to me slain animals and sacrifices Forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel?
You took up the tent of Moloch, The star of your god Rephan, The figures which you made to worship. I will carry you away beyond Babylon.'
"Our fathers had the tent of the testimony in the wilderness, even as he who spoke to Moses commanded him to make it according to the pattern that he had seen;
which also our fathers, in their turn, brought in with Joshua when they entered into the possession of the nations, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers, to the days of David,
who found favor in the sight of God, and asked to find a habitation for the God of Jacob.
But Solomon built him a house.
However, the Most High doesn't dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says,
'heaven is my throne, And the earth a footstool for my feet. What kind of house will you build me?' says the Lord; 'Or what is the place of my rest?
Didn't my hand make all these things?'
"You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit! As your fathers did, so you do.
Which of the prophets didn't your fathers persecute? They killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One, of whom you have now become betrayers and murderers.
You received the law as it was ordained by angels, and didn't keep it!"
Now when they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth.
But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
and said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!"
But they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and rushed at him with one accord.
They threw him out of the city, and stoned him. The witnesses placed their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul.
They stoned Stephen as he called out, saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my Spirit!"
He kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, "Lord, don't hold this sin against them!" When he had said this, he fell asleep.
Insight- When Stephen told the rulers of the Jews that they were stiff-necked and uncircumcised in their heart and ears, always resisting the Holy Spirit, they were furious and threw him out of the city, and stoned him. While dying he prayed for his persecutors, "Lord, don't hold this sin against them!"
Stephen became the first Christian martyr.
Question- Have you encountered persecution in your Christian walk from family or society? How would you respond to persecution? Think about it.
Prayer- Dear Father in heaven, grant me grace to have the faith that Stephen had and to live a life faithful to you. In Jesus name. Amen.
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