Stephen from Acts 6-7 was full of the Spirit, full of depth, full of courage, and full of grace.
In my last couple of posts, we explored growing in the Spirit. Did you try the Examen? If you missed my last post, you can read it here.
Today, let’s take a look at three more areas where we all can intentionally experience growth over the course of this new year: spiritual depth, courage, and grace.
How are you currently growing in depth spiritually? Do you make time to read scripture? To soak in the life-giving words of the Bible? If you’ve never read through the Bible, consider using a reading plan (like the 5 Day Reading Program) and give it a go!
Or do you need to start by exploring what Christianity is all about with an overview that can help you process the basic truths of the Gospel? This is what The Alpha Course is all about. Consider being a part of Alpha next month. Alpha begins Monday, February 5 and is 8 weeks long. Register here.
One thing I’d love to encourage everyone to do is to pick up the weekly Message Resources on Sundays at Living Word. These trusty guides will take you on a much deeper journey of spiritual depth and maturity than if you just attend the Sunday services. With scripture to read, helpful and practical suggestions for spiritual growth, and questions to ponder and pray through, these will be a valuable aid as you grow in depth.
Finally, consider growing deeper in a Growth Group at Living Word.
Stephen displayed incredible courage in Acts 6-7.
If you want to grow in courage, you must spend time with the God we know in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
In Acts 4:13 it says: “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”
People recognized that Peter and John had been with Jesus. And here’s what people found amazing about the way Jesus taught. Unlike the scribes and the Pharisees, he spoke with authority. And now they saw this same boldness in Peter and John.
The more time you spend in something, the bolder and more confident you get. The same applies with the things that matter most in life. And spending time with Jesus will grow your boldness and your courage in powerful ways. Courage comes out of communion. And courage rarely comes instantly. It builds over time.
Where do you need courage this year? Start spending time with the Lord and watch your courage grow.
For this last area, I want to encourage you to pray The Lord’s Prayer this year. That pivotal line in the prayer: “Forgive us our sins – as we forgive those who sin against us” is of crucial importance to a Christ follower.
When you know how you have been forgiven, and how much you have been forgiven, it helps you see others through the eyes of grace.
Stephen had that rare blend of courage AND grace. He could declare what he believed with boldness, but was still able to look at others with tender love and kindheartedness. He was aware that he was the recipient of God’s amazing grace, and he treated everybody around him as objects of God’s grace as well.
Stephen’s final words were vastly different than David’s last words.
At the end of Stephen’s life, he was able to show grace. Contrast this with David’s charge to Solomon from his deathbed in 1 Kings 2:1-12. David’s last words were riddled with bitterness, anger, revenge, and unforgiveness. Although he was in many ways a great man, he didn’t end well here.
This year, remember the grace you have been shown in Jesus. Each day, recall the unmerited divine favor that you enjoy and let that very same grace be shown to the people you interact with every day. Show grace to your spouse, your children, your neighbors, your co-workers … everyone.
And may God bless you as you grow in his Spirit, in depth, in courage, and in grace.