Silence and Centering
“Be still, and know that I am God; – Psalm 46:10
Eternal God, our Judge and Redeemer, we confess that we have tried to hide from You for we have done wrong. We have lived for ourselves and apart from You. We have turned from our neighbors and refused to bear the burdens of others. We have ignored the pain of the world and passed by the hungry, the poor, and the oppressed. In Your great mercy, forgive our sins and free us from selfishness. Help us to choose Your will and obey Your commandments through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
PAUSE FOR 2 MINUTES OF SILENCE
Reading & Devotional:
Scripture Reading — Acts 7:51-60
While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” — Acts 7:59
In our story today we face the grim reality that people with evil intentions can commit terrible crimes. The stoning of Stephen was the first recorded murder of someone in the early church of Christ.
Stephen’s speech to the religious leaders of his day was a powerful summary of God’s loving-kindness toward his people, but it was also a clever way of turning the accusers’ charges against them. Stephen passionately drew his listeners’ attention to the history of Abraham, Joseph, and Moses, and as he did that he showed how the accusers incriminated themselves as they repeatedly resisted the work of the Holy Spirit.
Then, furiously, these religious leaders exposed their bias against Christ and murdered Stephen. How could the high priest and the other leaders be so blind and so cruel? Their hearts of stone led them to cast stones.
Though his stoning was undeserved, Stephen showed that he had a heart filled with the Spirit of God. Nothing—not even stoning—could stamp out the Spirit-filled, Christlike trust that Stephen demonstrated.
If a moment like that ever comes for us, we can do the same—in God’s strength.
Devotional By Julia Prins Vanderveen
Lord, deliver us from whatever might harm us in body, mind, and soul. Forgive us when we unwittingly resist your Holy Spirit. Fill our hearts so that in every circumstance we will reflect the love of Jesus and stand firm in faith, by your power. Amen.
Question to consider: Which word or phrase stands out to you. What might God be saying to you?)
The Our Father (slowly pray this)
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, Amen.
Prayer: Conclude with Silence ( 2 Minutes)