Speak Up, Speak Out
by Judy Webb
"And the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith." (Acts 6:7)
There is so much going on here because of the apostles’ discerning leadership. They confronted a problem which had potential to divide the people; widows were hungry and in need of help. The apostles recognized this and worked to provide more workers for the vast amount of Kingdom work in front of them. They delegated others for this job so they could continue to pursue their central task, the Word of God and prayer.
The first deacon’s ministry formed by choosing seven men to solve this problem. And the word of God spread. Satan’s foiled plan of divisiveness backfired on him. First, the people learned how to care for each other, making provisions for the widows, and second the Gospel continued to spread.
One of the seven deacons was a man named Stephen. “Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.” (Acts 6:8) When I first read the story of Stephen, I saw my own inadequacies. Oh, to have that kind of faith and courage. Stephen debated with the Jews. Stephen, stood up to these men and their accusations. But the evil in their hearts would not hear the truth. They did everything possible to discredit him. "These men argued with Stephen, but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke." (Acts 6:9b-10)
Before Stephen succumbed to their lies, he shared the Gospel of Good News. Stephen’s testimony has made a difference. Possibly to some in attendance that day, and most certainly today, as new believers discover his story and soak it up.
As we read your Word and study the lives of people like Stephen, give us a desire to follow his example. Give us courage when we need it and provide wisdom when we are called to speak up and speak out!