The Father prepared a ‘table’!
Scripture reading for February 1st: Acts 7, Psalm 23, Proverbs 23
Acts 7: 51-55 “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.. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him.”
Stephen was one of seven men chosen by the apostles to help serve widows in the early church. He was taken before the Sanhedrin and charged falsely of blasphemy. When asked to defend himself, Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, laid out the history of the Jews and their hard-heartedness towards the law of Moses, the prophets and Jesus Christ, God’s Son. He confronted those involved in the crucifixion of Jesus. God was offering them grace. This angered them and they ground their teeth! God opened heaven to show Stephen Jesus Christ standing at the Father’s right hand awaiting his home-going! It is almost as if the Father, in His great mercy, prepared the ‘table’ for Stephen’s martyrdom! The Father and Son were rejoicing in Stephen and his wisdom and courage in the face of enemies.
Psalm 23:5-6 “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Prayer: Father God, You are the Good Shepherd that leads Your people in every situation of life. Belonging to You, we are given grace to endure even death. Thank You for preparing this ‘table’ of glory in Your presence that we look forward to. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit that I might boldly proclaim truth to those who mock and scoff. With Stephen I declare, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”
Proverbs 23:24-25 “The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him. Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice.”