There were a lot of great stories in this section and lessons to be learned (like: "Don't lie to God, it's a bad idea."). Two specific things stood out to me...
Most of the time when you look into heaven (through the Scriptures) you see Jesus seated at the right hand of God, the position of authority. As Stephen is being stoned and his death is immanent, he looks into heaven and sees Jesus standing at the right hand of God. I'll not make a doctrine of this, but I wonder if Jesus was standing to receive one of His servants into heaven. I wonder if Jesus stands to welcome those for whom He died. Think I'm crazy? Maybe. But it would be reflective of Psalm 116.15 - Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints. And it'd be one more reason not to fear death as a believer.
Also, I saw where the persecution that came upon the church after Stephen was martyred was used by God to push the church into new mission fields. He had told them that the Word would spread to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth (Acts 1.8). Persecution pushed them into places and their response wasn't complaint but "preaching the word" (8.4). So maybe when harder times come my way, I shouldn't gripe so much as look for avenues and opportunities to spread the Gospel.
And since it's Testament Tuesday (created by my awesome wife on her blog), I wanted to tell you of a brief experience and a brief reflection from a couple of days ago. Two Saturdays ago, I had the opportunity of doing a graveside memorial service for a friend and the family. He passed away a year ago or so, dedicated his body to science, and we had a memorial service for his ashes. His widow has been walking faithfully through grief and significant physical pain in the last 12 months. But she's been walking through it! She's prayed, shared, loved, cared and walked. The two stories above reminded me of her - God's preciousness in death and His ongoing desire to use us, even in our pain.
And that kind of life speaks to me. And I hope it speaks to you - you're never alone and never useless.
That's just me thinking thoughts...
P.S. Want to jump in on Testament Tuesdays? It's easy. Go to my wife's blog, fill out the information at the bottom of the Testament Tuesday post, and then testify to God's work!