I have started reading Acts in my daily Bible reading. Today I read the account of the early church choosing leaders to serve the widows and how Stephen was chosen along with six others. In the sixth chapter we learn that Stephen was full of grace and power and that he was performing great wonders and signs among the people.
He was brought before the Council for blasphemy and several false witnesses brought charges against him. But in verse 15 says, “And fixing their gaze on him, all who were sitting in the Council saw his face like the face of an angel.”
Continuing into chapter 7, Stephen gives an overview of the history of their fathers, beginning with Abraham through David. He told them how stiff-necked they had become in their heart and ears for resisting the Holy Spirit. As he said these things, the people were outraged and drove him out of the city and stoned him.
All during this time, we read that Stephen’s demeanor never changed. He knew that he was going to die. He gazed into heaven and calling upon the Lord said, “Receive my spirit!” and then falling on his knees cried out, “do not hold this sin against them!”
When I read those words I recalled some of the last words of Jesus as he was being crucified. He asked Father to “forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
I must admit that I was awed by Stephen’s composure and his demeanor during his stoning. He realized what was happening, yet he did not waver in his commitment to the Lord. I had to ask myself, “What about you, Joe? Are you sold out to the cause of Christ? Are you willing to completely place your life in His Hands?”
These can be hard questions to answer. There have been times when I have questioned my commitment to Him? Sometimes I get so busy “doing” ministry that I don’t realize that I am neglecting the most important aspect of a Christian’s life…fellowship with our creator. So this morning, after I read the account of Stephen I spent some great time praising the Father for who He is and what He means to me. It is the most valuable relationship I have and the purpose for my existence.