Daily Read - 1 Kings 8:1-66; Acts 7:51-8:13; Psalm 129:1-8; Proverbs 17:1
And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on
God and saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice,
"Lord, do not charge them with this sin."
And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
In the midst of his death, Stephen exemplified the character and fortitude of one sold out and abandoned to Christ. The only explanation for such a display of God's love during this unbelievable time is that Stephen learned how to allow his spirit man to rule and reign in his life.
The story of Stephen is one of many found within the pages of the Bible that inspire and challenge us to look deep within and ask questions of ourselves we have avoided asking in the past. The Holy Spirit presses us into face-to-face encounters with the truth of our spiritual walk.
What would we do if faced with the same situation as Stephen? Would we compromise our stance in Christ or would we courageously stand our ground and receive the resulting consequences with grace and forgiveness? Could we stand up under the intense persecution or would we buckle underneath the pressure? These questions pose quite the dilemma for the believer for it causes serious introspection and contemplation forcing us out from our comfort zone and into the glory zone.
Take a few minutes and reflect on this powerful story of Stephen in Acts 6-7. He was the first Christian martyred for his faith and as a result, the seeds of love and forgiveness he planted at his death took root and brought forth a harvest in Saul of Tarsus. God took a man who witnessed and approved of Stephen's stoning and transformed him into one of the most powerful men on earth, the apostle Paul.
We may never fully understand the impact our words and reactions have on those around us. Even in the most trying of times, there are people observing our behavior. Will they see the light of Christ shining from our faces?
During your prayer time today, allow the Holy Spirit to delve into those deep places in your heart that remain locked down in soulish comfort zones. Give Him permission to shift you bringing you into a new level of radical abandonment to Him. We all need to come to the place where we are willing to lay it all on the line for Him.
He alone is worthy!