Great Plains Daily Devotional for 12/26/2019

Today please be in prayer for

Overland Park: Central Korean UMC
Kansas City District
Overland Park: Central Korean UMC
Kansas City District
Overland Park: Heritage UMC
Kansas City District
Overland Park: Indian Heights UMC
Kansas City District

Today's Lectionary Text

Acts 6:8-15

Stephen, who stood out among the believers for the way God’s grace was at work in his life and for his exceptional endowment with divine power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. Opposition arose from some who belonged to the so-called Synagogue of Former Slaves. Members from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia, and Asia entered into debate with Stephen. However, they couldn’t resist the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke. Then they secretly enticed some people to claim, “We heard him insult Moses and God.” They stirred up the people, the elders, and the legal experts. They caught Stephen, dragged him away, and brought him before the Jerusalem Council. Before the council, they presented false witnesses who testified, “This man never stops speaking against this holy place and the Law. In fact, we heard him say that this man Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and alter the customary practices Moses gave us.” Everyone seated in the council stared at Stephen, and they saw that his face was radiant, just like an angel’s.

Today's Devotional

Just one day removed from our celebration of the birth of Christ, we come to this passage in the lectionary about Stephen. This follower of Jesus eventually will lose his life simply because he is a believer and, therefore, a threat to the establishment. In ensuing verses, Stephen will provide a brief history of the Chosen People and will explain how the Jewish leaders conducting this sham of a trial “… received the Law given by angels, but you haven’t kept it.”

This look in the mirror angers them greatly and prompts them to take Stephen outside the city and stone him to death, making him the first follower of Christ to be martyred.

It may seem kind of odd to have this passage appear right after the birth of Christ, but when you consider what Stephen did, it really makes sense. Yesterday, we celebrated the arrival of Jesus into our world. Today, we read about the expectations of those of us who proclaim Jesus as Lord as we live in our world. We are not to stay silent about this miraculous baby born in Bethlehem. We are to share with others the importance of Jesus’ birth and life.

Thankfully, most of us don’t have to worry about being killed because we worship Jesus the Christ. But that isn’t true everywhere. In some places, people are doing as Stephen did and are standing up to authority in the name of Christ. As they do, they are putting their lives in jeopardy. Yet, in the United States, where we can worship freely, we often fail to share our faith with others.

As we move on from the joy of Christmas and start to focus on the cross, may we all be like Stephen and openly share our faith with others.
   — Todd Seifert, director of communications

Prayer for Reflection

Gracious God, we thank you for the gift of Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Grant us the wisdom, strength and courage of Stephen to speak to others about you by sharing our faith. Please make others open to this most important of messages. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


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