In 1816, his family was forced out of their home in Kentucky. In 1818, his mother died when he was only 9 years old and he helped his father make the wooden coffin. In 1831 his father's business failed and they were forced to start over. In 1832, he ran for state legislature and lost. In 1833, he borrowed some money from a friend to begin a business and by the end of the year he was bankrupt. He spent many years of his life paying off these debts. In 1835, engaged to be married, his sweetheart died and his heart was broken. From 1834-1858, he ran for elected office ten times, only winning two times. In 1860, President Abraham Lincoln became the sixteenth president of the United States of America.
This past Sunday, we took a look at Stephen's sermon in Acts 7. In his sermon, Stephen (1) Reminded his persecutors what God had already done -- he recounted God's mighty works with Abraham, the Patriarchs, Jospeh, Moses, Joshua, and David, (2) He reminded them of who God really is (Acts 7:48) -- God is not just a temple dweller; He is the creator and sustainer of the universe, (3) He called them to repent of hard-heartedness (7:51-53), and (4) He raised up Jesus -- he kept Jesus at the center of his message (7:56).
It might be easy to read Stephen's sermon as any other sermon until you notice the context. Stephen had been working with the Spirit to advance the kingdom and the church. Great things were happening and then opposition arose. IT was in the midst of opposition that Stephen gave his greatest sermon and his life.
Being on trial or going through a test is no fun; but it's how we gain a testimony and grow to trust God more!. Trial or trouble can cause us to get a broken heart and to become bitter or it can cause us to lean on God and learn to trust him more! Stephen is a great example of someone who chose to stand with the Spirt under trail. May the Lord help you and me stand with the Spirit and proclaim the goodness of God in Christ Jesus no matter the test or the trail.