Church of the Good Shepherd
Christmas night 1776
- The night before the famous crossing of the Delaware River
- Washington and his troops were encamped nine miles from Trenton on the banks of the Delaware preparing for a surprise attack
- The soldiers were beyond weary.
- no tents or proper winter clothing
- the weather had turned bitterly cold
- They were losing battle after battle.
Gathered the officers together and read them an essay that had just been written on the back of a drumhead…
These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but "to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER" and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God. – Thomas Paine, The American Crisis
Speaking to a volunteer army – untrained amateurs
Trying to remind them of why they were fighting … their identity.
As I told that story, some of us were moved.
That’s not just the story of a rag-tag army 200 years ago; it’s our nation’s story.
Sometimes it’s helpful to hear old stories so we can remember who we really are.
When we understand our story, we see our identity, our mission & purpose.
Everyone Has A Story
God is a story-teller.
Creation èFall è Redemption è Restoration
God is all-powerful, shaping this story so that we are all caught up in it.
You’ll never meet a person that God isn’t working on.
You’ll never talk to anyone whose life-story isn’t being shaped by God’s story.
Next week … LISTENING to those stories
“Everyone has a story, a really big story. Their story is driving their every move. … [in fact] people are stories. If people matter to God, how much more do their stories matter? If their stories matter, how can those stories help us help them?” – Ed Stetzer
The Story of the God of Glory
Context of Stephen’s Speech
On Trial for Blasphemy against:
- the Law
- the Temple
This answer … a re-telling of the story of Israel
- This is life or death for Stephen
- The end-result is that they’ll stone him to death
- I’d do one of two things:
- Defend my Life
- Or Preach Jesus (like Peter in Acts 2 or Paul in Acts 24)
- He does neither
- Instead he re-tells the story of Israel
- If you better understood your own story, you’d understand Jesus
- Especially this story
- Because Jesus is EVERYWHERE in your story.
GOD OF GLORY
Lessons from Stephen’s Speech
#1. The Bible Tells One Story (the Unity of the Bible)
The whole story of the Old Testament points to Jesus
“And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. ” (Luke 24:25–27, ESV)
Sovereign God was intentional about this.
#2. God is On the Move
All the main visitations of God happen on the move.
Outside the Promised Land (Israel)
- Abraham – Mesopotamia
- Joseph – Egypt
- Moses – Midian
Don’t worry about the Temple … it was just a reminder that God wanted to be with us.
#3. You Didn’t Recognize Jesus …that’s Par for the Course
- Didn’t recognize Joseph as God’s chosen
- Moses was rejected … people didn’t recognize God’s leadership on him
- David was rejected as youngest son, out in the fields
God is Already At Work in Every Culture and in Every Life
- Paul @ Mars Hill in Acts 17
- Pearl Jam in Orlando
- Isaiah’s Kids
- Ezekiel’s Wife
- ““Son of man, behold, I am about to take the delight of your eyes away from you at a stroke; yet you shall not mourn or weep, nor shall your tears run down. Sigh, but not aloud; make no mourning for the dead. Bind on your turban, and put your shoes on your feet; do not cover your lips, nor eat the bread of men.” ” (Ezekiel 24:16–17, ESV)
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