From a very early age, I have had a simple faith. One where it was very rare for me to question what I believed, I just believed. I'm so thankful for that, and thankful that even through some of the most difficult situations a person can face in this life, things that I have personally gone through, it has never crossed my mind to walk away from my faith. Don't get me wrong, I've definitely had my rebellious moments, many of them, in different shapes and forms, and have struggled to believe, at times, that my relationship with the Lord should be the most important thing in my life, but, I can honestly say that even then, I still believed in Christ, in the gospel, in the resurrection of His Son on the cross, and in my need for a Savior.
During my quiet time today, I was reading about Stephen in Acts 6. It's an account of his last days, and the trials he went through because of what He believed, and taught. Stephen is not the first person I think of when I think about who suffered for the sake of Christ, that would be Paul, who is actually the person that my bible study is focused on. Yet today, it was all about Stephen. And thank goodness it was!
In Acts 6:8 , it describes Stephen in this way, "And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people." Unfortunately, that's about as "nice" as this little section of scripture gets. To sum up verses 8-15, Stephen, a devoted follower and teacher of Christ, who preached truth with grace and power, had enemies withing the synagogue of the Freedmen, Cyrenians, the Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia, who wanted to dispute everything Stephen stood for. "They could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking." (vs. 10). A little jealous, are we?!? It gets worse, they secretly plotted against Stephen, had him arrested and set up false witnesses against him in front of the elders and scribes and the council.
I love what happened next, "And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel." In my study, Beth Moore speaks to this verse with this..."I wonder if they (the council) thought of Moses. Scripture says when he came down from Mount Sinai, 'his face shone as a result of his speaking with the Lord' (Exodus 34:29). Or did they recognize the marks of wisdom as indicated by King Solomon: 'A man's wisdom brightens his face, and the sternness of his face is changed'? (Eccles. 8:1).
Can you imagine what Stephen must have looked like, standing there on trial for things he didn't say and do, and seeing his face glowing like an angel. How can you deny physical proof such as that?!? Unfortunately, such evidence did not free him, instead he was taken to be stoned. What a sad ending, yet, it's so encouraging to read how Stephen's legacy, was a key contributing factor in Saul' story. Stephen's life did not go unused, and it's because the more Stephen poured out his life for Christ, the more Christ poured His life into Stephen.
I was humbly reminded through a glimmer of Stephen's story, what it looks like to be fully yielded to the Holy Spirit. "Stephen was full of faith, full of God's grace and power. Only a person full of the Holy Spirit can possess the kind of power Stephen displayed and yet remain full of God's grace. You see, a person full of the Holy Spirit cannot be full of self. Pride never accompanies power in the fully yielded life. Stephen showed biblical meekness -- the power of God in a loving package."
Since I have started this study (I'm only on day 7 out of 90), I have not only seen where my spiritual life is lacking, but have been given a true picture of what it looks like to be fully yielded to the work of the Holy Spirit, in and through me. Oh how I long to be as yielded to the Spirit as Stephen was.
Lord, show me the areas in my life that I have not fully given to you. Show me where I need to grow in my walk with you, and give me the strength, courage and discipline to do so, not so that I can "show off" how solid I am in my faith, but to bring You and only You all the glory. That I may be used by You. Humble me, strip me of my pride and selfishness, and fill me with your Spirit.
Be Blessed and Encouraged!