Saturday, October 7
When the members of the Sanhedrin 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 open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.
While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.
Stephen just finished defending the Christian faith (see Acts 7:2-53), by summarizing the Old Testament. Stephen showed (through Scripture) that Christ was sent by the Father. Stephen went on to say that those rejecting the message of Scripture were in fact resisting the Holy Spirit and do not belong to God. This spirit of resistance existed in those who persecuted the prophets of old, those who murdered Jesus and now those who are stoning Stephen. The common thread is that hatred for God translates into hatred towards His believers.
Yet, we see Stephen’s attitude towards them. His life was a testament to the goodness of God. He cared enough to share the truth with them (knowing full-well it would end in his death). And even with his final breath, he showed Christ-like compassion for his enemies (to include a young man named Saul). Stephen was ready to die for Christ because Jesus was all he lived for.
Jesus taught us not to hate our enemies, but to love them. Stephen was killed for his faith… just like Jesus. Stephen chose to forgive his executioners… just like Jesus. Stephen’s identity was in Christ. Meaning whoever Jesus is, that’s who Stephen aimed to be. If Jesus shared the faith, so would he. If Jesus loved His enemies, so would he. If Jesus forgave those who hurt Him, so would he.
Father, I want to live a life of faith. I want to follow You in all I do. I am weak without You; but I am strong with You. Help me to have an attitude like Jesus. Amen.
Today, LIVE in a new way We all have certain people in our lives that can get a little under our skin sometimes. Some of us may even have an enemy or two. Consider choosing one difficult person that comes to mind. Choose to forgive them. By the grace of God, forgive that person in your heart and also with the words of your mouth. Next (and this is important) choose to treat them well.
And realize, you’re not doing any of this because they deserve it. You are choosing to do this because it is what your Savior does. Understand, this is exactly how God has loved each of us.