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In His Steps

Notes & Transcripts

In His Steps

July 16, 2000                Acts 6:8-7:60

Introduction:

Differences between people on how they appear to be treated by God – or what course their faith may take them.

Charles M. Sheldon's book, "In His Steps," was written in 1896. It has been translated into at least 21 different languages and was the best selling book besides the Bible in its day. In that book, a Rev. Henry Maxwell was working on a sermon from the text of 1Pet. 2:21.

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. (1 Peter 2:21 NIVUS)

Stephen, the first martyr.

He wore the original WWJD bracelet/necklace/T-shirt.

Big Question:

What steps might the Holy Spirit require of us as we live out our faith in Christ?

I.       Cycle One

          A.      Narrative (vv. 6:8-10)

          B.      Implication

The H.S. may call upon us to present the truth of Christ to difficult people.

          C.      Illustration

 Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples.

  When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. "Where did this man get these things?" they asked. "What’s this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles!

  Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him.

 (Mark 6:1-3 NIVUS)

          D.      Application

Mark 8:38  If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels."

II.      Cycle Two

          A.      Narrative (vv. 6:11-15)

          B.      Implication

The H.S. may call upon us to suffer false accusation for the truth of Christ.

          C.      Illustration

 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death.

  But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward

  and declared, "This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’"

  Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, "Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?"

 (Matthew 26:59-62 NIVUS)

          D.      Application

Matthew 10:25  It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how  much more the members of his household!

III.    Cycle Three

          A.      Narrative (vv. 7:1-53)

The longer he talks, the more powerful and inspired he gets.

          B.      Implication

The H.S. may call upon us to defend the truth of Christ in the public arena.

          C.      Illustration

But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, "I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God."

  "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied. "But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." (Matthew 26:63-64 NIVUS)

          D.      Application

"But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name.

  This will result in your being witnesses to them.

  But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves.

  For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.

 (Luke 21:12-15 NIVUS)

IV.    Cycle Four

          A.      Narrative (vv. 7:54-60)

The whole purpose for your life may be to gain a hearing for the gospel.

          B.      Implication

The H.S. may call upon us to sacrifice our lives for the truth of Christ.

          C.      Illustration

 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, "He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy.

  What do you think?" "He is worthy of death," they answered.

 (Matthew 26:65-66 NIVUS)

          D.      Application

You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death.

  All men will hate you because of me.

  But not a hair of your head will perish.

  By standing firm you will gain life.

 (Luke 21:16-19 NIVUS)

Conclusion:

The Lord answered, "Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time?  It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns.  I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.  But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk.  The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.  "That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows.  But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. (Luke 12:42-48 NIVUS)

Big Answer:

What steps might the Holy Spirit require of us as we live out our faith in Christ?

The H.S. may call upon us to present the truth of Christ to difficult people.

The H.S. may call upon us to suffer false accusation for the truth of Christ.

The H.S. may call upon us to defend the truth of Christ in the public arena.

          The H.S. may call upon us to sacrifice our lives for the truth of Christ.

Timeless Truth:

The steps that the Holy Spirit may require of us as we live out our faith in Christ is to step in his footprints.

But we must always remember that Christ blazed the trail.

Our theme for VBS this year was "Training Champions for God".

A champion for God does not shrink from opposition.

A champion for God plays the game according to the Master's rules.

A champion for God walks in the footsteps of Jesus.

It is noteworthy that the first deacon became the first martyr.

We can learn from Stephen about being a champion for God – a champion of truth.

He spent all he had on The Company of Truth in the stock market of God's glory.

And Stephen could, "Look forward to great fortune and a new lease on life!"

          (This was my most recent fortune cookie message.)

You may not be called upon to be a martyr, but are you willing to obey whatever the H.S. requires of you?

You may not understand the reasons at the time.

It may seem you are being singled out unnecessarily by God – even unfairly.

"But God chooses whom he uses – to try his splendor out."

Stephen, the first martyr was "a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit" and "full of God's grace and power".

It was this man whom God chose to prompt the course of action that began to spread the church over the entire known world.

You don't hear many church growth experts preaching on the value of martyrdom to modern day Americans.

Stephen had the gift and the ministry of martyrdom.

And God used Stephen and his obedience to the H.S. to usher in a new phase of his kingdom plan for the growth of the church of our Lord Christ.

God's singular selections are singularly equipped – and rewarded.

If you want a face like the face of an angel to see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God, then, like Stephen, obey all that the H.S. requires of you for the cause of Christ.

When we see clearly enough to obey on earth, God will always show us clearly enough to receive from heaven.

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