Wednesday, May 18, 2011

continuing the story

Good morning friends,
The Book of Acts tells the story of the early church. At one point some of the Christians were complaining that their widows weren't being adequately supported by the church. The apostles recognized that the social ministry of the church needed more attention than they could give it without neglecting the preaching ministry, which was their calling. They chose seven people who had powerful spiritual gifts to be deacons, or table-servers. One of these was Stephen, and Stephen was quickly arrested for his ministry and falsely accused of blasphemy (like Jesus). In our passage for the day, Stephen begins his defense. As you'll see, the basic outline of his defense is that the movement he's a part of is a natural extension of Judaism. I love how he tells the whole story of Israel.

Blessings as you continue your chapter of God's story,

Acts 7:1-16

Then the high priest asked him, “Are these things so?” 2And Stephen replied: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me. The God of glory appeared to our ancestor Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, 3and said to him, ‘Leave your country and your relatives and go to the land that I will show you.’ 4Then he left the country of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After his father died, God had him move from there to this country in which you are now living. 5He did not give him any of it as a heritage, not even a foot’s length, but promised to give it to him as his possession and to his descendants after him, even though he had no child. 6And God spoke in these terms, that his descendants would be resident aliens in a country belonging to others, who would enslave them and mistreat them during four hundred years. 7‘But I will judge the nation that they serve,’ said God, ‘and after that they shall come out and worship me in this place.’

8Then he gave him the covenant of circumcision. And so Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs. 9“The patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him, 10and rescued him from all his afflictions, and enabled him to win favor and to show wisdom when he stood before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who appointed him ruler over Egypt and over all his household.

11Now there came a famine throughout Egypt and Canaan, and great suffering, and our ancestors could find no food. 12But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our ancestors there on their first visit. 13On the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to Pharaoh. 14Then Joseph sent and invited his father Jacob and all his relatives to come to him, seventy-five in all; 15so Jacob went down to Egypt. He himself died there as well as our ancestors, 16and their bodies were brought back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.

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