Season 7 Sweet Selah Moments Podcast, Sweet Selah Moments Podcast

Episode 108 – The Power of a Passionate Heart. Learning from Stephen

Season 7 Sweet Selah Moments Podcast
Season 7 Sweet Selah Moments Podcast
Episode 108 - The Power of a Passionate Heart. Learning from Stephen

Oh to have a passionate heart like Stephen, who was martyred for his faith in the early days of the church. Sharon and Nicole explore his story, together, seeing how the fruit of the Spirit enabled Stephen to have a heart of passion for those around him, even when that passion cost him his very life. It’s an amazing story and one full of surprises. Join us!

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Read the transcript for The Power of a Passionate Heart-Episode 108

Speaker 1 (00:01):

Welcome to a podcast designed to bring biblical encouragement to your weary soul. We are so glad you’re listening and we pray God blesses you and strengthens you in your walk with him. The Sweet Selah Moments Podcast is brought to you by the cooperative efforts of Sweet Selah Ministries and Word Radio. Sit back and enjoy.

Nicole (00:28):

Welcome to the Sweet Selah Moments Podcast. This is episode 108, The Power of a Passionate Heart. Today we’re going to look at the life of Stephen, a man who lost his life because of his faith in Christ, but showed a passion and a trust in Jesus to the very end. He’s an amazing example of being all in for the Lord, Sharon. He held nothing back, not even his own life.

Sharon (00:52):

I know, he’s an amazing example for us, Nicole. I am really excited to study him today. He’s mentioned in Acts chapters six through eight, and then a little mention in Acts 22. So let’s discover who this guy is. We meet him first in Acts chapter six in the midst of a controversy in the church. So let’s start by reading Acts 6:1-7. I’ll read verse one and we’ll go back and forth. So, “but”, it starts with but. “But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek speaking believers complained about the Hebrew speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food.”

Nicole (01:35):

“So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, we Apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program.”

Sharon (01:43):

“And so brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility.”

Nicole (01:53):

“Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.”

Sharon (01:56):

“Everyone liked this idea and they chose the following. Stephen, (our guy for today, Nicole) a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicholas of Antioch, an earlier convert to the Jewish faith.”

Nicole (02:14):

“These seven were presented to the apostles who prayed for them as they laid their hands on them.”

Sharon (02:18):

“So God’s message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem and many of the Jewish priests were converted too.” Oh, I kinda like that aside. (Nicole: Yeah) And you know why? All right, this is totally off topic, but I have always loved that the Jewish priests were converted too. You know my theory on this? (What?) When Jesus died the um, what do you call it? (The veil) The veil (Yeah) was ripped in two. (Yeah) This thick, thick veil that should never have been ripped in two, it just did. It ripped in two, and all of a sudden the Holy of Holies was visible. (Mmm) Wouldn’t that convert you?

Nicole (02:52):

It’d be rather shocking to see it all of a sudden when you were not expecting to.

Sharon (02:54):

I know. So I feel like things like that helped to convert some of the Jewish priests.

Nicole (02:59):

Oh yeah. Oh, that’s a cool side— I like that.

Sharon (03:01):

Yeah, side note. So, but back to the controversy in the church. What was it?

Nicole (03:06):

So you have these two different groups of new believers, of Jewish believers, the Greek speaking ones, and the Hebrew speaking believers. There was a little bit of angst between them before this. (Sharon: Uhhuh) So I think like Satan was using that and kind of adding this other little thing. Like one group thought the other was ‘holier than thou’. And the other one thought, ‘why are you so Greek’, you know, in your religion? So, cause they weren’t really called Christians yet. They were just the new, they’re mostly Jewish, believers at this point. (Yeah, yeah) Not a lot of Gentiles. So each group was annoyed that their widows were not getting their fair share.

Sharon (03:35):

Their share of food.

Nicole (03:36):

Of food. Poor widows.

Sharon (03:38):

I know. The poor widows in the midst of this thing. (Nicole: Yeah) So, but at least they knew to bring their complaint (Right) to the Apostles.

Nicole (03:43):

So they brought it to the disciples and asked. So that was good. They did it the right way. So.

Sharon (03:48):

They sure did. They sure did. And I’m very proud of them for that. (Nicole: Yeah) But it is interesting that even in a church situation, you have your groups. (Yes) You really do. So. (Be so careful about that) Right, right. Well, we learned something about Stephen here from this. They chose men who were ‘well-respected and full of the spirit and wisdom’. So that’s who Stephen evidently was. (Yeah) He was well respected, full of the Spirit and full of wisdom. That, that was kind of the criterion to distribute food, which is fascinating to me. Nothing about ‘what do you know about food’? Right?

Nicole (04:21):

Right. Isn’t that funny? Yeah. Oh, who has the biggest cart to drag the food? It was, oh, let’s find someone worthy and responsible. Yeah.

Sharon (04:27):

Who’s wise and responsible. And with food, you’ve gotta be responsible because people need to eat, like, daily.

Nicole (04:33):


Sharon (04:34):

So you’ve gotta always be responsible in the giving it out. I also kinda like that the Apostles knew they couldn’t do all the things themselves. (Nicole: Yes) We all have our gifts. It takes time, I am a witness. to prepare a talk. And it takes time to pray, to have prayer time. And they needed to devote themselves to prayer and this preaching of the word. (Yes) Because that was the gifting God had given them. And you cannot preach the word without praying first if you want it to be God-blessed. (Right) And not do it in your own strength. So I love that they divvied up the responsibilities like that. I thought was good.

Nicole (05:11):

Yeah. Cause when you first read it, you could be like, oh, that sounds a little bit like haughty, you know? But I think that their heart was, well, this is what God has gifted us and called us to, and they were wise enough to realize, we need to delegate this. Find responsible, good men to do that.

Sharon (05:24):

Exactly. Exactly.

Nicole (05:24):

So it’s very smart of them.

Sharon (05:25):

It was smart. It was very smart. Because what they’re saying is, we can’t do it all.

Nicole (05:30):


Sharon (05:30):

Which is basically our Sweet Selah message, isn’t it?

Nicole (05:32):

I was gonna say, that, that seems familiar to me.

Sharon (05:34):


Nicole (05:34):

We can’t do it all.

Sharon (05:35):

No. So what has God given me to do? But at the same time, they didn’t abandon the widows.

Nicole (05:41):

Right. They didn’t say, oh, that’s just not for me to do.

Sharon (05:43):

Right. They’ll figure it out.

Nicole (05:43):

Sorry. God will take care of them.

Sharon (05:45):

Right. You gotta pray. We need to talk about Jesus. We’re not feeding you. No. They found men who would be responsible, who were filled with the Spirit. So the Holy Spirit was working in them. (Nicole: Yeah) That fruit had to be there. The love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control had to be there. And that had wisdom in how to do it. So, so good.

Nicole (06:04):

They handled it well.

Sharon (06:04):

They did.

Nicole (06:07):

So let’s keep reading and see what happens to poor Steven now.

Sharon (06:10):

Oh yes.

Nicole (06:11):

We’re reading Acts 6:8-15, and I’ll start. “So Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed amazing miracles and signs among the people.”

Sharon (06:22):

“But one day some men from the Synagogue of Freed Slaves (as it was called) started a debate with him. They were Jews from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilisia and the province of Asia.”

Nicole (06:34):

“None of them could stand against the wisdom and the spirit with which Stephen spoke.”

Sharon (06:38):

“So they persuaded some men to lie about Stephen saying, we heard him blaspheme Moses and even God.”

Nicole (06:45):

“This roused the people, the elders and the teachers of religious law. So they arrested Stephen and brought him before the high council.”

Sharon (06:52):

“The lying witnesses said, this man is always speaking against the holy temple and against the law of Moses.”

Nicole (06:59):

“We have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy the temple and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”

Sharon (07:06):

“At this point, everyone in the high council stared at Stephen because his face became as bright as an angel’s.” Isn’t that wild?

Nicole (07:14):

That is interesting.

Sharon (07:16):

Yeah. It’s like, whoa, what happened to your face there?

Nicole (07:18):

Um, there’s something on your face.

Sharon (07:20):

Yes. Yes. It’s like light, like you’re glowing.

Nicole (07:23):

Yeah. That would’ve been startling.

Sharon (07:24):

Isn’t that–, Oh, it’s so fascinating. But let’s go back to the beginning. Why is Stephen being arrested?

Nicole (07:29):

Oh, don’t you feel like it’s stemming from jealousy? They were angry they couldn’t best him with their words of wisdom. (Sharon: Mm-hmm) Because it wasn’t Stephen fighting with his own knowledge. It was the Spirit. Clearly it says the Spirit filled him. (Yes) And he was speaking his words. (Yes) So you can’t go against the Spirit of God. (No) And I think they were really frustrated, maybe jealous. It’s just awful.

Sharon (07:46):

Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. I feel like it’s back to what happened with Jesus. They couldn’t defeat Jesus in arguments,

Nicole (07:54):

That’s true.

Sharon (07:54):

But they didn’t, they didn’t want Christianity to spread, so they had to stop Jesus. Well, here we’ve got Stephen. You can’t convince men in argument. He’s doing powerful miracles.

Nicole (08:04):

Oh, right.

Sharon (08:05):

You know, he’s converting people. And so part of it, I think was, we gotta stop this guy.

Nicole (08:11):

Yeah. Before he keeps spreading this message.

Sharon (08:13):

Right. Yeah, right. Instead of going, wow, he’s unstoppable. Maybe there’s something to his message. (Nicole: Right) It’s like, it’s not our message. So he’s gotta go. (Oh, it’s awful) It’s so sad. So, all right. Well now we come to Stephen’s unshakable faith and passion as we see what he says in the face of accusations and angry men. He defends himself by walking these accusers through the Old Testament reminding them of the history of the Jews, who again and again, disregarded God, even though God showed up and rescued over and over. So here’s how he starts. I’ll just read verses one through five and give us the idea of the history. I mean, it goes on for like 40 verses. We’re gonna read five, but just to get the gist. So the high priest asked Stephen, and now I’m reading from scripture, so I should— verse one, “Then the high priest asked Stephen, are these accusations true? This was Stephen’s reply, Brothers, fathers listen to me. Our glorious God appeared to our ancestor Abraham in Mesopotamia before he settled in Horan. God told him, leave your native land and your relatives and come into the land that I will show you. So Abraham left the land of the Caldeans and lived in Horan until his father died. And then God brought him here to the land where you now live. But God gave him no inheritance here. Not even one square foot of land. God did promise, however, that eventually the whole land would belong to Abraham and his descendants, even though he had no children yet.” Isn’t this fun Nicole? He starts by just saying, you know, brothers, fathers, he pulls them in. He’s like, I believe the same history you do.

Nicole (09:52):

Right. Oh yeah.

Sharon (09:53):

So he’s trying to disarm them, to start with ‘you guys, I believe in Abraham. I know the history of our nation’. So that’s how we begin.

Nicole (10:02):

I love that.

Sharon (10:03):


Nicole (10:04):

He’s so good. Well, Stephen goes on for a long time. So we’re gonna pick it back up with David in verse 46 and read into chapter eight, one through three. So I’ll start. “So David found favor with God and asked for the privilege of building a permanent temple for the God of Jacob.”

Sharon (10:19):

Okay. So he’s gone through Noah and all the different people and whatever.

Nicole (10:23):

Yes. And now we’re at David.

Sharon (10:23):

Now we’re up to David.

Sharon (10:25):

But verse 47, “It was Solomon who actually built it.”

Nicole (10:29):

“However, the most high doesn’t live in temples made by human hands. As the prophet says,”

Sharon (10:34):

“Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool. Could you build me a temple as good as that, asks the Lord? Could you build me such resting a place?”

Nicole (10:44):

“Didn’t my hands make both heaven and earth?”

Sharon (10:47):

“You stubborn people.” Okay, so now—

Nicole (10:50):

Now the gloves are coming off.

Sharon (10:51):

The gloves are off. “You stubborn people. You are heathen at heart and deaf to the truth. Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit? That’s what your ancestors did. And so do you.”

Nicole (11:04):

“Name one prophet your ancestors didn’t persecute, they even killed the ones who predicted the coming of the Righteous One, the Messiah, whom you betrayed and murdered.”

Sharon (11:14):

“You deliberately disobeyed God’s law even though you received it from the hands of angels.”

Nicole (11:19):

“The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen’s accusations and they shook their fist at him in rage.”

Sharon (11:24):

“But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God. And he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand.”

Nicole (11:38):

“And he told them, look, I see the heavens open and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand.”

Sharon (11:45):

“Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him.”

Nicole (11:49):

“And dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul.”

Sharon (11:58):

“As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, oh Lord Jesus receive my spirit.”

Nicole (12:03):

“He fell to his knees shouting, Lord, don’t charge them with the sin. And with that he died.”

Sharon (12:09):

“Saul was one of the witnesses and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen. A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem. And all the believers, except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria.”

Nicole (12:27):

“Some devout men came and buried Stephen with great mourning.”

Sharon (12:30):

“But Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison.” (Whoa)

Nicole (12:41):

That turned ugly quickly.

Sharon (12:42):

Whoa. It did. Stephen turns from reciting history to speaking to the men in front of him who are repeating that inglorious history of ignoring God in their midst. They’re just doing it over again. I think he got frustrated cause he’s like, I’m telling you all this stuff. You are looking at me with disgust. You’re still not hearing me.

Nicole (13:02):

You’re not getting it.

Sharon (13:03):

You stubborn people. Come on, listen. The Holy Spirit’s trying to tell you things. So, but they ignored God in the midst and he’s trying to, he passionately tries to shake some sense into them. (Nicole: Yes) Right?(Yep) So there’s his passion coming out. Well, it doesn’t work, does it?

Nicole (13:19):

No. They get so, I mean, the fact they cover their ears. It sounds like a toddler when I’m trying to tell my little one like what to do. (Sharon: Uhhuh) Even my six year old, they don’t wanna hear. They clamp their hands over their ears they are so determined not to even hear your words.

Sharon (13:31):

They don’t wanna even hear it.

Nicole (13:32):

That stubborn heart.

Sharon (13:33):

This is so sad. They would not listen. Even though Stephen has just walked them through all the times the Jewish people did not listen to their detriment. (Nicole: Right) And hello, we’re doing it again here. (Yeah) They still did not listen. It was so, so sad.

Nicole (13:46):

And they didn’t even respect the fact that, remember his face glowed. So there was some sort of like supernatural holy presence with him.

Sharon (13:53):

Absolutely, going on.

Nicole (13:54):

And they still chose to ignore all of that and all his words.

Sharon (13:57):

And all the signs and wonders, Stephen, he did powerful miracles.

Nicole (14:00):

That’s true.

Sharon (14:01):

They missed it all. So sad.

Nicole (14:03):

It is so sad.

Sharon (14:04):

Oh my word. I gotta tell you a quick story here. You know how Stephen saw Jesus before he died? (Nicole: Yeah) I mean he did. He’s like, whoa, receive me.

Nicole (14:12):

Right. Right.

Sharon (14:12):

He’s kind of made the death a little easier. Well, I had a friend named Barbara who I taught piano lessons and she was one of my adult students. (Nicole: Yeah) She had had cancer in her twenties with young children. And she prayed she could live at least to see her children through high school. (Oh) And she did. (Oh, that’s wonderful) And so she had a really wild sense of humor. She said, why didn’t I pray that I’d live to see my grandchildren? (Oh) Because what happened was the cancer came back and it was killing her. (Oh no) And so Barbara would come to me and instead of actually playing the piano a lot of times we would just talk. (Yes) Because it was hard for her to talk to her husband and her kids about it. They didn’t wanna talk about upcoming death. (Right) But she knew she was dying. (Yeah) And she had a couple of prayer requests. She wanted to walk until she died. She couldn’t stand the thought of being stuck in bed. (Right) And then I added one for her. I said, I want you to be like Stephen, Barbara. I want you to see Jesus before you die.

Nicole (15:10):

Oh my goodness.

Sharon (15:11):

So every single day I prayed that Barbara would walk till she died. (Nicole: Yeah) And that she would, like Stephen, the one we’re studying (Yes) see Jesus before she died. So, she did walk until the day before she died. (Wow) And then Ray and I got there early to the funeral home for the wake part of it. (Yea) And her husband and her son were there smiling. They said, you are not gonna believe what happened right before she died. (Oh, Sharon, you’re gonna make me cry) I’m gonna cry telling you this. They said she sat right up. She looked with her arms open and opened her smile wide.

Nicole (15:47):

Oh my goodness.

Sharon (15:48):

She did Nicole. God answered my prayer.

Nicole (15:50):

That is so beautiful.

Sharon (15:52):

Like Stephen, my Barbara saw Jesus before she died.

Nicole (15:55):

What a gift!

Sharon (15:55):

Isn’t that sweet? Because then you’re not scared. I mean, there he is. Right? There he is. (Nicole: Right. Oh, hi, I see you)

Nicole (16:01):

I just go right to you.

Sharon (16:04):

So I’m kinda praying that for me too.

Nicole (16:07):

I’m gonna add that to my list of things too.

Sharon (16:09):

Because obviously God does these things right?

Nicole (16:12):

Yes. Yeah.

Sharon (16:12):

So he could do it for you and me too.

Nicole (16:13):

Oh, what a beautiful way to go.

Sharon (16:14):

Anyway, I just had to tell that because that, that prayer came out of this story. Cause I knew God did that. Yeah.

Nicole (16:19):

Yeah. I wouldn’t even think to pray that unless—, yeah. Oh, I love it.

Sharon (16:20):


Nicole (16:20):

Oh wow. We have more passages to look at in Acts 22:18-21, as Paul reflects back on that horrible scene where Stephen was stoned and how he argued with God, who asked him to go and tell the Gentiles about the living Savior. This is what Paul had to say. So I’m reading now. “I saw a vision of Jesus saying to me, hurry, leave Jerusalem, for the people here won’t accept your testimony about me.”

Sharon (16:49):

“But Lord, I argued, they certainly know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and have beat those who believed in you.”

Nicole (16:56):

“And I was in complete agreement when your witness Stephen was killed. I stood by and kept the coats they took off when they stoned him.”

Sharon (17:03):

“But the Lord said to me, go for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.” Stephen’s death, and especially the way he died in joy must have made an impact on everyone who witnessed it.

Nicole (17:13):

Oh yeah.

Sharon (17:14):

I love that Paul refers to it again, reminding those who were listening of this wonderful man of passion. Paul must have never forgotten it. I’m sure he didn’t.

Nicole (17:21):

Yeah. He mentioned it again.

Sharon (17:22):

I mean, he’s standing there saying, gimme your coats. Go ahead and stone him. (Nicole: Yeah) And then you see Stephen’s joy, his forgiveness, all the things, A-mazing. (Mm-hmm) So Paul remembered it. He just did. So, okay, well now we’re gonna turn to the fruit of the Spirit. We already know from the fact that Stephen was chosen to hand out the food appropriately, that he was a man full of the Spirit because that was the criteria for the job he did. (That’s true) Nicole, this is what we should do all the time when we’re looking for people to fill positions at Sweet Selah Ministries. (Yeah) Are they full of the Spirit?

Nicole (17:54):

Oh my word. That would make things so easy.

Sharon (17:57):

Yeah. Yeah. Of course none of us are all the time. So maybe that would disqualify all of us.

Nicole (18:01):

You might not have taken me on then.

Sharon (18:03):

But I just love that it’s not like, so how are you at accounting? You know?

Nicole (18:08):


Sharon (18:09):

It’s, are you full of the Spirit? Do you have love and joy?

Nicole (18:12):

Not what are your gifts? What can you bring to the table, but what do you let God do through you?

Sharon (18:16):

What do you let God do through you? That is the thing. Absolutely. That’s the criteria. So let’s break it down. Character trait by character trait. How did our Stephen exhibit love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? I love those.

Nicole (18:37):

I know.

Sharon (18:38):

I actually like reciting them cause I need to a lot. To remember.

Nicole (18:42):

Yeah. And how do we keep forgetting them?And I’m like, oh yes.

Sharon (18:44):

Oh, no, no, no. Wait I’m supposed to be gentle. That’s right. Yeah.

Nicole (18:47):

It’s a good reminder.

Sharon (18:48):

Oh my goodness. So I’ll start with love. Okay, here we go. So well, love, he asked God to forgive them while they were pelting him with rocks. Yeah.

Nicole (18:55):

Yeah. That’s so hard to beat.

Sharon (18:56):

I rest my case.

Nicole (18:56):


Sharon (18:58):

I mean, come on. He’s, he’s on his knees because he’s been hit so hard he can’t stand anymore. (Nicole: Oh) And he is like, Lord, don’t hold this against them.

Nicole (19:06):

Oh. Just like Jesus did on the cross.

Sharon (19:07):


Nicole (19:08):

He was so Christ-like.

Sharon (19:08):

That’s agape love. That’s sacrificial love. That’s the love that isn’t I love you because you love me.

Nicole (19:15):

Right. What can I get out of it?

Sharon (19:15):

Right. Cause they were clearly not loving him at the moment. In fact, they were vicious. And they blocked their ears to not even hear when he’s trying to save them. (Nicole: Right) Right? (Oh) And yet he loved them enough to say, oh God, don’t hold this against them.

Nicole (19:30):

Hmm. That is love.

Sharon (19:31):

So yes. I feel like he had love.

Nicole (19:33):

I think so. So joy. Oh, Stephen was full of joy. He was excited when he was testifying in the, um, at his trial there. He had joy.

Sharon (19:42):

Then that’s really wild, isn’t it? Yeah.

Nicole (19:44):

That is. He had joy serving and then at the end, he had such joy when he saw Jesus.

Sharon (19:48):

I know.

Nicole (19:49):

Oh, my word. So.

Sharon (19:49):

I know, I know. And he shouted it out. Do you see him?

Nicole (19:52):

I know. He was so excited. He could have just enjoyed that private moment with all the other chaos. I’m just gonna look at Jesus. But he didn’t, he chose to share it.

Sharon (19:58):

Oh, I love it.

Nicole (19:59):

And his joy was very apparent.

Sharon (20:00):

I can’t Imagine.

Nicole (20:01):

Because Paul remembered it years later. So, he does show lots of joy.

Sharon (20:04):

Yeah. He’s shouting out, Lord, receive my spirit.

Nicole (20:06):

I know.

Sharon (20:07):

It’s like, okay, I’m ready.

Nicole (20:08):

I’m outta here.

Sharon (20:10):

Yes. Yes. Oh, I love the joy. Yeah. So peace. That’s the next one. Well, he was halfway to heaven while on earth looking at Jesus. So of course he had peace. (Nicole: Oh yeah). Right? Because he knew where he was going. Receive me. (Mm-hmm) So, and he also, you know, he had peace in just the way he was able to start from Abraham and walk them through. (Yeah. He wasn’t panicked) You know, he wasn’t rattled by the fact that he’s on trial for his life. I mean, he didn’t even talk short. I don’t know if I, I mean I usually have lots of words, but I don’t know if I would’ve had lots of words at that time. But he had the peace to carefully go through it all. (Yeah) So peace. He had peace.

Nicole (20:46):

Yes, he had peace. Patience too. I think kind of in that same thing, he showed great patience in listening to the accusations of the men and not screaming you’re a liar to them. I mean, they were (Sharon: That’s true) all telling falsehood. And you’d be so, I get so upset if someone says something wrong about me. But he let them go through the trial and he stood so calmly even though they’re trying to kill him.

Sharon (21:05):

That’s so true.

Nicole (21:06):

He was very patient. (Sharon: Yeah) Even when they clamped their ears and acted so ridiculous. He was so calm and he was just very patient with him.

Sharon (21:13):

I love that. You know, and thinking about it, instead of like defending himself, (Nicole: Yeah) Like, I did not say that about the temple. He just patiently takes them through their history. (Yeah) Trying one last time (Yeah) to turn their hearts toward Jesus.

Nicole (21:29):

Oh. He was focused on their hearts and not trying to save his own skin.

Sharon (21:32):

I know.

Nicole (21:32):

That’s beautiful.

Sharon (21:33):

Isn’t that something?

Nicole (21:34):

That’s not what would’ve been, that would not have been my thought. I would’ve been like, no, no, I didn’t do that.

Sharon (21:37):

Yeah. Yeah. No, he just, he’s like, okay, got another chance. Here it goes.

Nicole (21:41):

Yeah. Wow.

Sharon (21:41):

Not wasting it on defending myself. So

Nicole (21:44):

So he was very patient.

Sharon (21:45):

Yeah. And he was kind. Next attribute is kindness. Well, for starters, the healings, I mean, he healed when he saw people hurting through the power of the Spirit. He wanted them to be healed.

Nicole (21:58):

Oh yeah.

Sharon (21:58):

And so he reached out and healed all the time. I love that. I love that. And then he’s chosen to be one of the food distributors. Well you gotta be kind, you’ve gotta love widows. Right?

Nicole (22:10):

Oh, that’s true.

Sharon (22:11):

And you have to be kind about distribution. You can’t be like, well I’m Jewish, so let’s slip the Jewish widows a little extra. Right?

Nicole (22:19):


Sharon (22:19):

He was kind to the Greek widows too.

Nicole (22:22):

Oh good. Yeah. He was kind.

Sharon (22:23):

Go Stephen.

Nicole (22:25):

So for goodness I feel like he, his heart for God, you know and for God’s truth, that he was not afraid to speak of it despite facing death. And that, you know, that goodness of God was really shining through him, you know? (Sharon: Yeah) He just had such a goodness about him, again, with trying to serve and help the widows. (Yeah) And then again, focusing on the needs of others despite his impending doom.

Sharon (22:46):

Yes. Yes. That’s sheer goodness.

Nicole (22:48):

Yeah. That’s not something we can fake.

Sharon (22:49):

And that comes from the Spirit. (Nicole: Mm-hmm) Exactly. Exactly. Okay. Faithfulness. Well, I kind of already mentioned this before, but if you’re going to distribute food, people need to eat daily. (Yes) So you have to be faithful. (Yeah) You absolutely have to be faithful to it. You can’t just do it occasionally. You can’t just forget. (Right) You know, I do, I do have a few friends who are, you know, just sort of, they get wrapped up in what they’re doing. They, they forget to feed their husbands.

Nicole (23:15):

Oh no.

Sharon (23:16):

Literally, you know, they’re busy with whatevers, you know? That’s just their temperament. They just flit from one thing to another. So, but Stephen was faithful.

Nicole (23:27):

Yeah. And he didn’t forget. That’s good.

Sharon (23:28):

No he didn’t forget. Yeah. Yeah. So even our own Thursday food pantry at our church, we’re open on Thursdays and people depend on us to be open on Thursdays.

Nicole (23:36):

Right. Yeah. They need to have that stability to be able to , you know, eat, it’s important.

Sharon (23:40):

Yeah, exactly. So, okay.

Nicole (23:43):

Gentleness, goodness, he didn’t scream or throw rocks back at them.

Sharon (23:48):


Nicole (23:48):

He didn’t scream and holler and call down God’s rage and damnation on them when they were in the trial either. He was so gentle. (Sharon: Yeah. Yeah) And he started out, I love what you said about he tried to draw them in like, oh, brothers and fathers like, come here and listen to me. Like he showed that caring.

Sharon (24:04):

Listen to me. Exactly. Exactly. It wasn’t until the very end where he is like, you’re so stubborn. I’m trying to show you Jesus. Oh, wake up.

Nicole (24:12):

Right. But he had such a gentleness. And you know, and he said what he needed to say with gentleness up until the very end, even in his death, he asked God to forgive them. I just think that’s—

Sharon (24:23):


Nicole (24:23):

Real, Spirit-led gentleness.

Sharon (24:24):

It is. Absolutely. Yeah. And then of course, self-control. Who could preach a coherent message, right? When you’re about to be stoned to death. And yet he did.

Nicole (24:35):


Sharon (24:36):

And he took his time. It’s very long if you read it.

Nicole (24:38):

Yeah. Which you should. It’s lovely.

Sharon (24:41):

Yes. It’s a self-control thing.

Nicole (24:44):

Oh yeah.

Sharon (24:45):

So special. So can you think of a person in your life or in history that exhibited that kind of passion that Stephen had for you know, Christ at any cost?

Nicole (24:57):

Yeah, that’s a really good one. I was thinking, and there was a missionary at our last church, and I think her name was Sophie Janista. And she was a missionary up until she was in her eighties, I wanna say. She just faithfully kept, she’d come back, raise support, and go back(Sharon: And go right back out again) out faithfully serving the Lord no matter what. She had such a fire for Christ and for getting his message out to the world. (Yeah) And I know cause my great, great-Aunt Francis would always write her emails and see how she was doing and pray for her faithfully. (Uhhuh) And I thought like, wow, eighty-five, you could be like, (Retired on a beach) Sitting on the porch and just chilling. And no, she was, (Nope) she was serving the Lord up until the end. (Aww) I thought that was such a— I dunno know, she just, she’s a neat woman.

Sharon (25:33):

I think that’s a beautiful example of a passion that’s like, oh no, there’s no expiration date on my passion here.

Nicole (25:38):

Yeah. That’s the thing.

Sharon (25:39):

I need to keep sharing. I love these people that I’m working with. Yeah. (Nicole: I like that. How about you?) I I thought of Jim Elliott, of course. (Oh yeah) ‘He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose’. (Mm-hmm) I’ve always loved that quote. He’s like, so I give up my life. I’m not in charge of my life anyways. I could get run over tomorrow. Right. (Yeah) So he’s no fool to give up a life we’re not in charge of anyways. (Right) To gain what we can’t lose, A place with Christ. You know? So his example of just doing what God called him to do, knowing it could kill him, which it did.

Nicole (26:11):

Right. Yeah.

Sharon (26:13):

Yeah. So I love that one. And then I had, we called him Uncle Paul, but he wasn’t really my uncle. My dad when he was in the Air Force and living in England, which is where of course he met Mummy. (Nicole: Yeah) He was, I mean if you read his diaries, talk about a man of passion. My dad was a man of passion. Every single thing he saw as a gift from God. (Wow) So he had a habit of thumbing, you know, to get a ride cause he had no car. (Oh yeah) And then witnessing to everybody that picked him up. (Oh my goodness. How sweet) So Uncle Paul picked him up one day and Paul was an alcoholic about to lose his marriage, and my dad brought him to Christ. (Oh my goodness) So then Uncle Paul was so passionate about Christ that he was one of God’s smugglers. He, he not only smuggled Bibles into eastern Europe, he once smuggled a van in. And I’m like, well, how did you get back? Right? But I think it was— probably. I think he probably had somebody else that drove him back. But that was his mission. (Wow) He had such a passion and he gave up the drink and he was sold out to the point that he risked his life multiple times (Oh, that’s so beautiful) for the sake of the gospel. Yeah. So we have known people, haven’t we? (Yeah) That are like, nothing matters more than Jesus. Even if I die.

Nicole (27:29):

Right. I know. And that’s hard to say lightly.

Sharon (27:31):

That’s really hard to say.

Nicole (27:32):

That’s really hard to say.

Sharon (27:33):

You know what, it’s harder for you to say than for me too, because you have little ones that depend on you.

Nicole (27:37):

I know.

Sharon (27:38):

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I had a harder time with it as a young mom. (Nicole: Yeah) I did. I really did.

Nicole (27:42):

Cause it feels really selfish. You feel like you’re leaving?

Sharon (27:44):


Nicole (27:45):

Yeah. It’s hard.

Sharon (27:45):

Exactly. So hard. So I’m just super impressed with Stephen and everyone who has that kind of sure-knowing that Jesus is that real.

Nicole (27:53):

Mmm. Absolutely.

Sharon (27:55):

So let’s pray. Oh, Father, we love stories. Thank you for the, the life of Stephen. What a beautiful story. He loved you so much that even at his trial, he’s desperately trying to get them to see who you are, Lord Jesus. And maybe some of them did later, Lord like Saul did. Father help us, help us to love you that much, to want desperately for people to know you, to have the kind of kindness that wants to feed widows. Thank you for examples like this Lord and only by your Spirit can we do them. So fill us, fill us today, this week to go out in strength, the strength of your Spirit to preach the gospel to all who will listen. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Nicole (28:50):

Amen. This study of Stephen today is a challenging one. I love how God enabled Stephen to literally see him as he was dying. It’s so good to remember that if we are ever asked to literally lay down our lives for Christ, he is able to do the same for us. What an inspiration Stephen is, even after all these years later. We hoped you enjoyed studying him as much as we did. Next week we move on to episode 109, The Blessing of Encouragement. We’ll be looking at the life of Barnabas whose real name was actually Joseph, but everyone called him by his nickname Barnabas, which means son of encouragement because he was so gifted at that. I can’t wait to dig in. As always, find us at and consider donating by going to We’d love to hear from you. May God enable all of us to live out our faith fully like Stephen. Have a great week.

Speaker 1 (29:45):

We are so glad you stopped for a while with us. The Sweet Selah Moments Podcast is a cooperative production of Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries. More information about this podcast can be found Thank you for joining us.


You can download and print the transcript here.

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