Spirit-filled Man's death with Focus on Savior Jesus Christ.

Saint Stephen's Vision and Jesus' Standing

DAILY DEVOTIONS

11/22/2023

Saint Stephen's Vision and Jesus' Standing

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. Acts 7:55-56

In Chapter 7, Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, speaks to the Jewish council, revisiting Israel's history from Abraham to Moses. He emphasizes God's faithfulness and the people's persistent disobedience. Stephen accuses the leaders of rejecting God, persecuting prophets, and ultimately betraying and murdering Jesus. In this devotional thought, our primary focus is on the mentioned verse as we view the entire narrative through the lens of the Bible.

In these verses, something amazing happens! Stephen, who is filled with the Holy Spirit, sees a special vision. He looks up to heaven and sees the glory of God, and guess what? Jesus is standing right next to God! This is a really important moment, and it makes us want to think more about why this vision is so special and what it means for our faith in God. It's like a super meaningful experience that teaches us a lot about who God is and how much Jesus cares about us. The vision Stephen had of seeing the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God just before his stoning was a divine source of comfort and strength. It reassured him of God's presence in his final moments, symbolizing Jesus' readiness to receive him. This powerful testimony of unwavering faith left a lasting impact on onlookers, highlighting God's perfect timing in providing grace and strength even in the face of persecution.

What was Stephen doing?

Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, engaged in a remarkable act—he fixed his gaze on heaven. Despite the impending threat of persecution and the hostile environment, Stephen's unwavering focus was on God. This challenges us to reflect on our own responses during trials. Do we, like Stephen, fix our eyes on God, finding strength and courage in Him, or do we let our circumstances overwhelm us?

How did Jesus honor His soldier, Stephen?

The vision of Jesus standing at the right hand of God served as a profound honor for Stephen's faithfulness. Jesus, the Commander of our faith, acknowledges and honors the dedication of His soldiers. By standing, He symbolically demonstrates His immediate attention and readiness to receive Stephen into His presence. It's a beautiful reminder that our actions for Christ, no matter how unseen by the world, are noticed by our Savior. In times of trial and sacrifice, Jesus stands ready to welcome us, acknowledging our faithfulness and commitment to Him.

Readers, this is the most interesting question, why did Jesus change His posture from sitting to standing?

The change in Jesus' posture holds profound meaning. In Psalm 110:1, it is foretold that the Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool." Additionally, Hebrews 10:12 emphasizes Jesus sitting down after completing His redemptive work. However, in Acts 7:55-56, Jesus stands. This shift is exceptional, signifying a unique moment. It's as if Jesus, the triumphant King, momentarily rises from His throne (Revelation 14), in anticipation and readiness to welcome home a faithful servant, Stephen, about to endure martyrdom. This standing position reflects the immediacy of Jesus' response and the honor He bestows upon Stephen.

As Stephen faced death, the Holy Spirit turned it into a moment of glory. Instead of seeing the scary side of death, Stephen saw the beauty of God and Jesus standing beside Him. Death tried to take away all the good things in life, like sunny mornings and pretty trees, but it ended up showing the glory of God. It threatened to separate us from our loved ones, but instead, it revealed Jesus ready to welcome us. Not everyone might see the exact same vision as Stephen, but when the Holy Spirit is with us in our final moments, He turns death into a way to see God's glory and Jesus. For those who love Jesus the most and desire God's glory above everything else, death loses its sting, and its power is broken. Whether we are 80-year-old scholar or a 20-year-old graduate, we can even call death something sweet. This is how the Holy Spirit worked for Stephen – he made death a window to show God's glory and Savior, Lord Jesus Christ.

Readers, the central narrative of this devotional thought revolves around Stephen. Our emphasis is on exploring Stephen's story. Stephen's prayer is recorded in Acts 7:59-60, and it happens during the moment of his martyrdom. As he was being stoned to death, Stephen called out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit," and he followed it with a prayer for those who were stoning him: "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." After saying this, he peacefully fell asleep (passed away). The impact of Stephen's prayer on Paul (then known as Saul) is significant. Saul was present at Stephen's execution, consenting to his death (Acts 8:1). The prayer of forgiveness uttered by Stephen had a lasting impact on Saul, even though he was not immediately converted. This event is considered a pivotal moment in Saul's journey toward becoming the Apostle Paul. Stephen's prayer for forgiveness mirrored the forgiveness Jesus had offered from the cross (Luke 23:34). It likely struck a chord with Saul's conscience, planting seeds of conviction. Later, in Acts 9, we read about Saul's dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus. The mercy and forgiveness displayed by Stephen may have played a role in softening Saul's heart, ultimately leading to his transformation into a fervent follower of Christ.

Lastly, the Spirit helps Stephen even in facing death by bringing out the beauty of acting like Jesus in tough times. In Acts 7:60, Stephen kneels down and shouts, "Lord, don't blame them for this!" When Jesus was dying, He asked God to forgive the people hurting Him (Luke 23:34). Death couldn't ruin Jesus' love and goodness. Now, because Stephen has the Spirit of Jesus, death can't win again. The devil wants your death to make you sad and bitter. But the Holy Spirit has a different plan. He beats death's power and turns it into a chance to show how wonderful Jesus is. "Lord, don't blame them for this." It's a big win for showing mercy, just like Jesus!

Right now, in this world, where do we find ourselves? Are we staying strong in our faith, just like Stephen did, even when things get tough? It's like asking if we're keeping our belief in Jesus strong, even when life gets hard. Remember how Stephen stood firm in his faith, even when he faced really difficult times? Even when life is tough, we can stand strong because of Jesus. He gives us hope and strength. So, let's stand firm, just like Stephen, trusting in Jesus for our hope.

The Holy Spirit is super important for helping believers stay strong in their faith and tell others about Jesus. It's a special power. When someone who believes in Christ passes away, it's like a curtain lifting, and they get to see their loved ones on the other side of this world. This is because God loves us so much. He gives us strength through the Holy Spirit's power so we can see things from a different perspective, where Jesus welcomes us. It's like a special way God takes care of us, even when things are hard. This connection tells us that the way to die with the help of the Holy Spirit is also the way to live with that same powerful help. It means that if we understand how to face death with the Holy Spirit's strength, we can also use that strength to live our everyday lives. So, it is special link between facing challenges and living with God's powerful support every day.

As Parents and guiders, it's essential to make sure the things we teach our children match up with the really important truths in God's Book. It's like making sure we give our children the best and most valuable knowledge that lasts forever. The Church holds a vital role not only in this aspect but in every part of our lives.

Heavenly Father, grant us the strength to stand firm in our faith, just as Stephen did. May the Holy Spirit empower us to live boldly for Christ, and may our teachings reflect the eternal truths of Your Word. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

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