Blog, Influencers Devotionals

For the Sake of Men Like Stephen and Ananias by Bryan Craig

April 30, 2024


And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people.”  Acts 6:8

It’s Journey graduation season for many groups who were on the school year calendar.  It’s always a bit sad for a Journey group to end, after you have invested so much time, energy and love into a group.  And as a group has gone Vertical toward Jesus, they always find that they grow Horizontally, as well, with deep friendships developing.  There is almost always a sentiment to stay together, not to “break up the band” so to speak.  I love the sentiment and understand it, but I also believe our mission is too critical to focus on our individual desires.  I, for one, am so glad that the original 12 disciples didn’t decide to stay in their “holy huddle”, withholding their amazing experience from potential new disciples.  Where would we be?  Where would Stephen and Ananias be?

Yes, the other day, I was reading about just two of the men who became disciples after Jesus was gone.  Keep in mind that these two men were not discipled by Jesus, but by others, who discipled others, who discipled others, until it got to them.  Stephen was one of the men picked to assist the early church as the number of disciples was growing rapidly.  He was one of the Seven chosen to help in the food distribution program to those in need.  Many consider the Seven to be an early example of Deacons.  But listen to the description of Stephen:

  • A man full of faith, and of the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:5)
  • Full of grace and power, doing great wonders and signs among the people. (Acts 6:8)
  • They could not withstand his wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. (Acts 6:10)
  • Gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel. (Acts 6:15)

Stephen was making such an impact on the community that some of the Jews felt threatened and brought false witnesses against him.  When he was brought in for questioning, he gave the most amazing speech in Acts Chapter 7 that basically summarized the entire Old Testament and tied it into Jesus.  He spoke boldly and courageously, and it cost him his life.  In his final moment, he cried out to Lord Jesus and asked Him not to hold his killers’ sin against them. 

Do we think Stephen got the DNA that Jesus passed down to the original 12 disciples?  ABSOLUTELY!  Thankfully, there were men who were willing to disciple Stephen.

By the way, a persecutor of Christians, named Saul, was standing there, approving Stephen’s execution.

A few chapters later in Acts 9, Saul encounters Jesus’ Spirit, is struck blind and sent to the city.  Meanwhile, the Holy Spirit speaks to another man, named Ananias.  He was described as a Disciple from Damascus, and he was instructed to go find Saul, to pray for him so that he might regain his sight.

Ananias is scared.  He starts negotiating with the Lord, talking about how evil Saul is.  The Holy Spirit says, “Go!”  He tells Ananias that this Saul is a chosen instrument to bring the name of Jesus before the Gentiles and kings and children of Israel.  And it goes on to say that Ananias was obedient and immediately departed to find Saul.

I love how Ananias trusted the Lord, overcame his fears, was obedient, risked his life and walks right up to Saul and even calls him “Brother Saul.”  He believed everything the Spirit told him about Saul.  And God uses Ananias to restore Saul’s sight and launch Saul’s faith journey.

To me, Ananias seems like an ordinary man, but HE WAS A DISCIPLE, which made him EXTRA-ORDINARY! 

Once again, someone discipled Ananias, and he got to play an amazing life-changing role in the Apostle Paul’s life.  And it may have been someone behind the scenes, someone not even named in Scripture.  But I’m so glad he did not withhold the blessing of his discipleship from Ananias.

These are but two examples of hundreds of thousands, but the biggest example you should consider is YOU.  If someone took time to invest in you, to help make you a disciple, to change your life, why would you not want to share that with someone else?  The next Stephen, Ananias or the next Billy Graham may be an invitation to your Journey group away from finding their place in God’s plans.

As we embark upon making a movie about Journey to the Inner Chamber, we are believing God is preparing this ministry make disciples of hundreds of thousands of moviegoers who will want to go through The Journey.  We are asking every Influencer who has ever been through a Journey group to pray about becoming a Journey Guide to help us reach these people.

If you are thinking about this and negotiating with the Lord, hear the Lord’s word to Ananias, “GO!”