Acts 7 Lesson

Sacrifice!

SACRIFICE

The word sacrifice means:

  • “To surrender or give up, or permit injury or disadvantage to, for the sake of something else.” (Source: dictionary.com)

As Christians, there are things in our lives that we need to give up. What these “things” are varies from person to person.   Maybe we give up our favorite tv show or sports competition to study God’s word?   Or perhaps we go without food for a day so that we can fast and pray?  

Whatever sacrifices we make, they will pale in comparison to the sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross!   And while that is certainly the case, it does not excuse us from making our own sacrifices.

Sacrifices are part of God's plan for us and are an essential part of being a Christian.   When we give something up to glorify God or serve others, we are becoming more like Jesus, which is exactly what we should be striving to do every day.

BIBLE VERSES ABOUT SACRIFICE

The Bible talks a lot about sacrifice.  A meaningful sacrifice requires two things:

  1. Effort,
  2. Thought.

It is a valuable and productive exercise to assess what areas of our lives are in balance with God’s commands, and where we need to improve. A great way to do this is to take a Spiritual Inventory of our lives. As you read the following four Bible verses, ask yourself what areas in your life are out of balance, and what sacrifices are necessary for you to take the next step in your faith:

  1. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” -John 15:13,
  2. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” - Philippians 2:3-4,
  3. Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” - Romans 12:1,
  4. “He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.” -  John 12:25.

THE EXAMPLE OF STEPHEN

In Acts 6, we read about the great works that Stephen was doing in and around Jerusalem.   Luke writes that Stephen was:

  • “Performing great wonders and signs among the people.” – Acts 6:8

Sadly, this stirred up jealousy and envy among the local leaders.   They coerced some of the locals to spread lies about what Stephen was doing and turned the people against him (even though Stephen had done nothing wrong).  

For this, Stephen rebuked the leaders strongly:

  • “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.  Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it.”Acts 7:51-53.

Stephen must have known that he was putting himself in danger by saying what he said. The unscrupulous leaders of the day became so angry that they stoned Stephen to the point of death!  

This was a sacrifice that Stephen would not back away from. It was a sacrifice that he was prepared to make because God was the top priority in his life. Being the faithful Christian that he was, he valued God’s opinion of him more than he valued his own safety. As Stephen was about to be martyred, he said three things:

  1. “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” – Acts 7:56,
  2. “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” – Acts 7:59,
  3. “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” – Acts 7:60.

Stephen’s entire world changed when he stepped up to become a deacon and serve the needs of the Church.   Once he committed to serve and to sacrifice, God opened doors for him that he never could have imagined.   As Luke writes, Stephen was performing:

  • Great wonders and signs among the people(Acts 6:8).”

And when the time came for him to make the most significant sacrifices, he did not hesitate.   He was prepared for the moment and was willing to put everything on the line to glorify God. His faith in Jesus and his love for the Lord gave him the courage and conviction to sacrifice and serve.

CONCLUSION

When we put God first in our lives and go to work to glorify Him and to serve others, He will open doors for us that we never thought were possible.   To please God, we need to make whatever sacrifices are necessary to follow His plan. This means allowing God’s Word and Spirit to dictate our actions and not the desires of the flesh or ways of the world.

Stephen provides a powerful example of sacrificing for the Lord. His courage and conviction are worthy of respect and are a wonderful example for us to learn from and try to emulate in our own lives.

We will conclude today’s lesson with the following three scriptures. They remind us to keep our eyes on the eternal prize of Heaven and to never give up!

  1. “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” - James 1:12,
  2. “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. ” - Mathew 5:11-12,
  3. “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” - Galatians 6:9.

Comments

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1) What did today’s Bible study make you think and feel?
2) How can you apply what you have just learned to something specific that is happening in your life?

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Virtual Bible Study

1) What did today’s Bible study make you think and feel?
2) How can you apply what you have just learned to something specific that is happening in your life?

***PLEASE POST YOUR QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS HERE***

Reply
Ed

Stephen was sassy

Reply
elizabeth

The way the world is going now, and how many people question my Love for God This was exactly what I needed. It's hard to understand why things happen. But like I tell my children. Its not for me to know why. It's for me to pray about it. It's for me to be understanding that I don't understand. That Gods plans are far bigger than I know. TRUST GOD!! :)
Have a wonderful day everyone!

Reply
John
elizabeth

Well said.

Have a great day also Elizabeth!

Reply
Vince

Can we hold true to our religion convictions under adversity? That, as much as anything else, reveals our character.

Reply
Michael
Vince

Amen Vince!

Reply