Wednesday, 13 January 2021
“How stubborn you are!” Stephen went on to say. “How heathen your hearts, how deaf you are to God's message!…” -Acts 7:51 [GNT]
Our reading today is a portion of Stephen’s defence before the Sanhedrin Council in response to charges of blasphemy against the Temple and the Law. Addressing the High Priest’s question, Stephen – filled with the Holy Spirit, gave an account of Israel’s history from the time of Abraham’s calling to the crucifixion of Christ.
As we dwell on Stephen’s sermon we see a pattern of the nation’s continual rejection of God. When God raised up Moses as a ruler and deliverer for Israel, they chose to reject Him (Vs 35). Even after they had experienced the signs and wonders with which God led them out of the land of slavery, they rejected God and worshipped a golden calf (Vs 41). They actively resisted the Holy Spirit (Vs 51). They were unwilling to heed the message brought to them by the Holy Spirit through the prophets, Christ and His apostles. They persecuted and killed the prophets of God (Vs 52a) and ultimately, in their stubbornness, they crucified the Righteous One – Christ Jesus Himself (Vs 52b).
When we reflect on the above in our own lives, what is the condition of our heart? Have you rejected Christ and His message stubbornly all these years? Or are you a person who has rejected Christ not in any visible manner, but have done so in your heart like the Israelites? They had turned back to Egypt in their hearts—the turning back first started in the heart and then manifested in action! Are there ways in your life you have rejected Christ’s teachings in your heart and failed to obey all His commands? Then your life is one of partial commitment, not a life of absolute unconditional surrender to the Saviour. Israel – God’s chosen people, who had received the law from Him but failed to obey it, maintained a life of partial commitment. When they were in distress they cried out to the Lord, but in their good times they forgot God their Deliverer and turned to worship other gods.
We are called to a life of complete surrender— that is what is expected of us – to submit our all of our self, willingly to Christ’s lordship and for His glory. We are to cast off all selfish ambition and fully trust in His plan, His purpose and His timing in our lives. If you have been truly redeemed by Christ, would you as God’s children give yourselves wholly to Him? When we yield completely in the Master’s hands, He moulds us like clay in the hands of the potter to be vessels of honour!
Stephen’s life is an excellent example before us. He submitted to the Lord’s plan for his life and assisted in the daily distribution. The Holy Spirit was upon him and led him in wisdom and courage to speak to the Jews. He was faithful to the point that even when facing certain death, he was able to ask God to forgive his persecutors. Can we ask God to mould our character to have unwavering faith in the midst of affliction, to share the gospel in power and courage as we humbly submit to His plans for our lives?
Prayer: Abba Father, we ask that you would reveal to us anything in our life that separates us from You, that we may cast it all off and live in complete obedience to Your perfect will. In Jesus’ name. Amen