Sharing Love: A Servant Speaks

By Karla Schettenhelm, Children's Ministry
In today’s lesson we will learn about Stephen. He was a helper in the early church. The Holy Spirit helped Stephen to boldly speak the truth of God’s Word as he served God.

The Story

The account below is taken from the Enduring Faith Bible Curriculum Unit 3, Lesson 10. You can read the account in Acts 6-7.

As the twelve apostles taught about Jesus in the temple, many Jews believed and were baptized. The Early Church started to grow very quickly. Among the Christians, there were many widows, women whose husbands had died and who didn’t have money to take care of themselves. The Christians took up offerings to buy food for them. This helped some of the widows, but not all of them.

When the apostles learned about it, they were concerned. They wanted to make sure everyone who needed help got it, but Jesus had sent them to preach the Good News, not to serve food. They said, “Brothers, pick out seven men who are full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty.” These men would make sure every person got help. One of those seven men was named Stephen.

Stephen was full of grace and power by the Holy Spirit. He did great miracles, just like the apostles were doing. When some Jews who didn’t believe in Jesus started arguing with him, the Holy Spirit made Stephen so wise he proved they were wrong. Sadly, they didn’t believe Stephen. They just got more angry with him.

They took Stephen to the high priest, Caiaphas, and also to the same Jewish court that had decided to put Jesus to death. The Jewish court looked at Stephen and noticed that his face was glowing and showed that he had talked to God.

The Holy Spirit made Stephen very wise. Stephen told the Jewish leaders about all the times in the Old Testament when God had raised up a leader for His people Israel, but the Israelites had refused to follow him.

He talked about leaders like Joseph, Moses, and King David – and how the Israelites had grumbled against them and refused to obey them. And now, when God had sent His own promised Son, they had done even worse to Him – they had betrayed and murdered Jesus.

When the priests and other leaders heard this, they got so mad they put their fingers in their ears, rushed together at Stephen, dragged him outside, and picked up big stones and rocks to throw at him and kill him.

As Stephen was being stoned, he prayed to Jesus, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He said, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Then Stephen died, and his spirit went to heaven.

Watch

For young children watch from The Holy Tales Bible Stories
For older children watch God’s Story: Stephen from Crossroads Kids’ Club  (this is a good quick review for adults too)

Things to consider

  • The last few weeks the church has focused on Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Do you see any similarities in this account of Stephen and what happened to Jesus? 
    • There are several, but for one, look at the words Stephen prayed at the end of the account.
  • How did Stephen help the early church? Stephen was chosen to help care for the people.
    • Can you think of people in our church or people you know who help others?
    • What kinds of things do they do? 
    • What kinds of things can you do?
  • Stephen reviewed God’s plan of salvation, beginning with God’s call to Abraham. 
    • Read Acts 7:2-53 to review His plan.
    • What did Stephen do when people were mean to him? 
    • What does Jesus help us do? (Forgive one another)

In the Lord’s Prayer, we say, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” When we say, “Forgive our trespasses” we are talking about our sins and we think about Jesus dying on the cross to forgive us. When we say the second part, we think about the people who have hurt us and we ask God to forgive them and help us to forgive them too.
  • Can you think of any sins you are asking God to forgive right now?
  • Is there anyone you need to forgive?

Arts & Crafts

  • Make a portrait of Stephen using both words and pictures. 
    • Draw what Stephen might have looked like and then put words on your paper that describe him or tell what he did. 
  • Make a portrait of yourself the same way with a picture and words to describe you!
In Acts 7:55-56 it tells us what Stephen saw when he looked up to heaven, the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. We do not know a lot about what heaven looks like. It is fun to imagine and consider what it will be like when we are with God waiting for Jesus return.
  • Draw or paint a picture of what you think it looked like to Stephen.
  • Draw or paint crosses on some rocks.  
    • You can also write things like “Jesus loves you”, “Jesus lives”, “Jesus forgives”.  
    • Put these rocks at a park or another place where others can find them to share Jesus’ love.  
Stephen showed love for others and told people about Jesus. The Holy Spirit was with Stephen and gave him the power to live for God. The Holy Spirit helps us live as God’s children too.

Showing Love

The Bible verse for this week is Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another.

We show our love for Jesus when we do kind things for others.
  • If someone is sick, what kind things could you do?
  • If someone is hungry or thirsty, what could you do to help?
  • If someone is sad, what kind things could you do?

Read Galatians 5:13 and 1 Peter 4:10 and see what God’s word tells us about serving others.
  • What are some kind things you can do for others in your house this week?
  • Once we can start going out again, what kind things can you do to help others?
  • Are there kind things you can do for people in your neighborhood without getting too close?

Telling Others

Everyone—not just pastors and church workers—can talk about Jesus and spread the Good News of the Gospel!

Think about how you share things in life that you find fun or important. When you find something you really enjoy, like some kind of food or a toy or a song, you want to tell your friends about it so they can enjoy it too. You can do the same with your faith!

Is there a certain Bible verse that speaks to you? Share it with a friend. Did you enjoy the worship service or a Sunday school lesson? Invite a friend to try it out. Do you find comfort and joy in talking to God in prayer? Offer to pray with a friend.

If your friend isn’t sure about Christianity, just say, “Come and see.” And let the Holy Spirit do His work.

Songs

Prayer

Dear Jesus, You have done so much for us. Help us do something for You too, by doing kind things for others. Help us grow strong in faith. Please give us willing hearts to serve and tell others about You. Amen.

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