Tag: Jesus Standing

Confronting the crucifiers

Scripture reading for April 14th: Acts 7

Key Scriptures: Acts 7:51-57 “”You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” Now when they heard these things, they were enraged and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him.”

Stephen, one of the seven chosen to serve the widows, was arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin. He was falsely accused of speaking against the holy place and God’s law. When asked by the high priest if this was so, Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit was given a wonderful ability to lovingly confront the religious leaders who had crucified Jesus. He shared Israel’s history of rejecting the prophets and confronted them of their complicity. Instead of listening and humbly repenting, they hardened their hearts and stopped their ears. As Stephen was about to be stoned, he saw a vision of Jesus Christ, standing at God’s right hand, ready to receive him! This was the trigger that moved the crowd to stone him. Before he ‘fell asleep’ he prayed, “Lord, don’t hold this sin against them.” Saul, (Paul) was holding the coats of the stoners and was included in his prayer. God used Stephen to confront the ‘crucifiers’ of Jesus in another act of mercy seeking their repentance, and then took him home as Jesus stood to welcome him.

Acts 7:59-60 “And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord do not hold this sin against them.” And when he said this, he fell asleep.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, what a moving testimony of Your grace and loving appeal to those who crucified You and stoned Your disciple. Help me to show that love and mercy to those I encounter today and turn evil around to work for good. I look forward to seeing You in glory!

Genesis 50:20 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Joseph to his betraying brothers)

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“I see heaven open!”

Scripture reading for May 14th:  Acts 7

One of the new ‘deacons’ was Stephen, a man “full of God’s grace and power.”  (Acts 6:8)  Stephen served the widows but also used the anointing he received to do great wonders and miraculous signs!  This caused controversy among the Jews and Stephen began to fall under persecution and false accusations.  Finally, they seized him and brought him before the Sanhedrin on false charges of blasphemy against Moses and God. (Acts 6:11-14)

As Stephen stood before this hostile group of Jewish leaders, they noticed that “his face was like the face of an angel.” (Acts 6:15)   They asked him if the charges against him were true and as he opened his mouth to speak, he presented an anointed teaching about God’s grace to the Israelites to lead them and speak to them through the Patriarchs and Moses.  He told how the Israelites had rejected Moses the first time questioning his authority!  They also rejected him again when they refused to obey him at Mt. Sinai.  Stephen told how God had judged them for their idolatry and eventually sent them to Babylon.  (Acts 7:39-43)

Stephen’s final point from his explanation concerned those present to accuse him falsely: “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears!  You are just like your fathers:  You always resist the Holy Spirit!  Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute?  The even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One.  And now you have betrayed and murdered Him–. . .”  (Acts 7:51-52)  This speaking of truth made the crowd furious and they gnashed their teeth at him.  “But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. . .”  (Acts 7:55)  As they rushed him and began to stone him,  Stephen gave his spirit to the Lord and prayed for their forgiveness!

 

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Moses and Christ!

Scripture reading for June 9th: Acts 7:1-29

Luke next records the story of one of the first deacons.  Stephen was full of faith and the Holy Spirit and used in miraculous signs and wonders.  You would think that this would make him a popular preacher, but there were those religious Jews that did not appreciate his message or miracles.  They stirred up some people to testify falsely that he was speaking blasphemy against Moses and God.  (Acts 6:11-14)  They brought him before the Sanhedrin for questioning.  As they looked at him, Stephen’s face took on the characteristics of an angel.

When asked if he were guilty of the charges, Stephen began to speak under the anointing of the Holy Spirit  to the elders and leaders he was standing before.  He spoke about the Holy Scriptures that Moses had written, showing his knowledge and respect for that written record.  He began in Genesis with Abraham and God’s call and quickly took them through the history of the Jewish people up to the time of  Moses.

As Stephen mentioned the story of Joseph, he emphasized how the patriarchs were jealous of him and sold him into slavery.  Stephen was trying to get these religious leaders to see that their own jealousy of God’s plan and vision through Christ was a problem.  (Acts 7:9-10)  God raised Joseph up to be ruler over Egypt and the one who would save Israel and the world from a great famine, but he was rejected by his people.

Moses was also raised up by the hand of God and raised in Pharaoh’s household.  He was a Jew but given all the wisdom of the Egyptians.  At forty years of age, he saw an Israelite being mistreated by an Egyptian and killed him.  Moses was surprised to learn that his act was not appreciated by the Israelites!  He fled to Midian for forty years and tended sheep while the vision to deliver God’s people went dormant. (Acts 7:20-29)

God was trying to speak to these Jews who were jealous of the power of this follower of Jesus.  He was showing them that the Jews had a history of missing what God was doing.  He wanted them to listen and learn from the past.  These Old Testament stories showed truth.  Are you open to learn today?  Are you reading God’s word with a teachable heart?  God is speaking today!

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Jesus Standing!

Scripture reading for November 8th: Acts 5-7

Stephen was a young deacon in the early church.  He was a man full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom and was chosen to help serve the Grecian widows who were being neglected in the daily food distribution and to insure no partiality.  (Acts 6:1-5)  His work was to take a load off of the Apostles so that they could give attention to prayer and ministry of the Word.  The Apostles prayed over Stephen and the others, laying hands on them to consecrate them for their task.  What a wonderful blessing it must have been to be so close to those who walked with Jesus and to be called to serve!  In fact, we are all told that setting our heart on being a deacon or overseer is to desire a noble task! (1st Timothy 3:1)

Acts records that Stephen did many signs and wonders among the people.  (Acts 6:8-14)  This brought opposition from the Jews and they brought false charges against Stephen.  They had him arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish religious council.  False witnesses accused Stephen of speaking against the Temple and the law of God.  As Stephen faced these religious rulers, it is recorded that “his face was like the face of an angel.” (Acts 6:15)

Stephen preached to them in the power of the Holy Spirit, recounting the history of God’s people from Abraham to Jesus Christ.  He showed them how God’s people had rejected God’s leader, Moses, and broken His laws.  He then spoke plainly to them about their complicity in crucifying Jesus.  “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears!  You are just like your fathers:  You always resist the Holy Spirit!  Was their ever a prophet your father’s did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One.  And now you have betrayed and murdered Him–“ (Acts 7:51-52)

“When they heard this they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.  But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.  “Look,” he said, I see heaven opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”” At this, they stoned Stephen to death as he prayed for their pardon to the One standing to receive him!  It’s a noble task to be a deacon!

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