55-56: "But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!’" - Stephen has just accused the Sanhedrin of not adhering to the "law as ordained by angels" and being the murderers of Christ. These words of Stephen show that he had been speaking the truth as inspired by the Holy Spirit.
57-58: "But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. 58Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul." - Self-righteousness has a way of not listening to the truth.
59-60: "While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ 60Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he died." - Blasphemy, according the law of Leviticus, was punishable by death by stoning. As Stephen dies he utters a similar prayer to Jesus' dieing words.
Points to Contemplate:
Are you filled with the Holy Spirit?
How can you tell? Has He inspired you to say and do things that you would have never been able to do by yourself? Has He given you strength and perseverance in the face of opposition? Has He revealed His truth in order to provide you with certainty and assurance? Has He revealed the presence of God in your life? Provided you with insight and inspiration? Given you peace in times of stress? Sent comfort in times of need? Are you filled with the Holy Spirit?
Are you covering your ears? Is God sending messages to you that you would rather not hear? Is He calling you into a ministry to which you do not want to go? Has He revealed a truth that you refuse to hear? Are you refusing to listen to God and choosing, instead, to go with whatever the mob around you is doing? Are you "stiff-necked or uncircumcised in (your) heart?" (Acts 7:51) Is your self righteousness keeping you from seeing the glory of God even when it is laid at your feet?
How far are you willing to go? Stephen was a simple man. He administered a feeding program for the widows of early Christendom. It was an important task but relatively minor as compared to some of the other disciples. And then a moment came before the Sanhedrin when he stepped out in faith and willingly gave his life for Christ. When circumstances in your life suddenly pile up against you, are you still willing to take a risk and preach the good news as Christ would have you? Are you willing to go out on a limb in order to right a wrong or reveal a truth? Do you trust God enough that you are willing to do what ever He asks of you no matter the consequences? Promises of the Gospel:
The circumstances of Stephen's life brought him to a crossroads - a crossroads of life and death. It would have been understandable if he would have chosen the safer path; after all, he was involved in an important ministry. There was much more he could accomplish. Instead, Stephen had learned to trust in the leading of the Holy Spirit and because of this amazing things were accomplished in the name of God. Yes, unfortunately, Stephen lost his life but how many lives throughout history have been changed because of his stance? We know it had an affect on a man named Saul. So the question remains on our hearts: How far are we willing to go for God? Are we capable of completely trusting in His Spirit in every aspect of our lives? Are we willing to open our hearts to the infilling of the Holy Spirit and to be led where ever He leads? Through Stephen's example we learn that when we do this, amazing things will happen.
Oh yes, amazing things most certainly do happen! There is nothing more satisfying than having the Holy Spirit reveal Himself to be IN you. It is a blessed assurance that is immeasurable to anything else that ever happens in our lives. It's so real that it's nearly dumbfounding. And then people wonder why we become "fanatics." Oh, if they could but just taste!!! Always a blessing to me Brother, always. Love, Treava