At the end of chapter 6 we see Stephen dragged before the Sanhedrin with false accusations made against him; even that he was going to destroy the temple.
Stephen is asked to answer the charges against him. He speaks words that the Holy Spirit gives him and he reminds them of where they have come from; how God has spoken to people throughout time and yet Israel overall had turned against Godís word. How the patriarchs treated Joseph badly, how Moses was ignored and ran off, and then when he returned was listened to for a time until he was up on the mountain and then Israel asked for idols. Stephen goes on to give other examples of when Israel had not listened to prophets of old and rejected Godís way. He continues to say how this happened with Jesus. This speech is very similar to the one that Peter gives to the crowds when 3000 get saved on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). However this does not have as happy an ending. Verse 54 says: 'When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.'
Stephen then sees a vision of Christ stood at the right hand of God. Jesus himself was stood watching this all unfold, knowing that soon he would be welcoming Stephen into heaven, because when Stephen speaks out what he sees this tips the Sanhedrin over the edge. The crowd charge forward shouting and throwing stones, bludgeoning him to death.
Stephen was the first of what have now become millions of martyrs over the years. Yet God still moves; He still speaks to us and through us. We may not personally know suffering and death in the name of sharing the gospel but there are others around the world that this is a reality for.
Today lets pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are at this time joining Stephen in this list.