August 16, 2018
Acts 6:8-15 The Message (MSG)
It is my prayer that everyone who reads this devotion makes a point to attend a weekly worship opportunity where the Spirit of God is actively moving through anointed spiritual gifts and the faith of the people growing. God calls everyone to experience the power of his presence during corporate worship; this power comes when the Word is spoken–the Son is exalted–and God’s Spirit rests on surrendered, hungry hearts to bring healing and a greater measure of wholeness.
When the powerful presence of God is not experienced in worship there are reasons for it. Maybe it is because the people attending the worship service grieve the Holy Spirit by their hard hearts; those who reject God’s Word as a Voice of authority or hinder the work of spiritual gifts. Maybe people are there to put in time and not really there hungry for an encounter with Truth that brings healing and growth. Maybe people gather but come expecting nothing, so they leave with nothing. Maybe the spiritual leaders themselves have grieved the Spirit and hindered the power and focus of Truth. I’m sure the list can go on and on, but the common thread for not experiencing the presence of God in worship is due to human disobedience or dishonor of Christ’s place as Head of the church. God is not to blame; we are.
An example of religious leaders who grieve the Spirit by dishonoring Christ’s place as Head of the church can be found in our passage, today. Stephen, a man chosen by God–anointed–full of grace and power in the Holy Spirit is falsely accused of blasphemy (disrespect of the holy). Signs, wonders, and changed lives follow the work of the Spirit through Stephen. He is so filled with the Spirit his face glows with the glory of God. And yet, a group of leaders feel justified to oppose him, encourage others to falsely accuse him, and in time silence the voice of the Spirit through Stephen. I imagine these folks went on with worship as usual once Stephen was gone; but I wonder how much of it God occupied with such resistance to his grace and power.
8-10 Stephen, brimming with God’s grace and energy, was doing wonderful things among the people, unmistakable signs that God was among them. But then some men from the meeting place…went up against him trying to argue him down. But they were no match for his wisdom and spirit when he spoke.
11 So in secret they bribed men to lie: “We heard him cursing Moses and God.”
12-14 That stirred up the people, the religious leaders, and religion scholars. They grabbed Stephen and took him before the High Council. They put forward their bribed witnesses to testify: “This man talks nonstop against this Holy Place and God’s Law. We even heard him say that Jesus of Nazareth would tear this place down and throw out all the customs Moses gave us.”
15 As all those who sat on the High Council looked at Stephen, they found they couldn’t take their eyes off him-his face was like the face of an angel!
Prayer: Lord, it is my heart to yield to your rightful place as the Head of your Church at Connect2Christ. Be lifted high and glorified. Bring people for worship that want more of you; add to our numbers each day. Bring the hungry and thirsty; I know you will spiritually feed them and quench their thirst in every dry place of the soul. In Jesus’ name. Amen.