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Friday, January 10, 2014

Acts 7:55

But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,

For further study - Acts 7:54-8:4

Our extended reading for today's devotional is the record of the first Christian martyr, Stephen, and the very first mention of the one who would be known as the Apostle Paul.

Stephen had been chosen as one of the first deacons, Acts 6:5, and was a man "full of faith and the Holy Spirit", verse 5.

Because the "Synagogue Council" was unable to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spoke, Acts 6:10, the Council brought this newly appointed deacon to address them with His own defense.

By the way, Dr Luke records that even the "Council" saw Stephen's "face as though it had been the face of an angel", Acts 6:15. Not only were the members of the Council present for Stephen's address but the High Priest at the Temple was there to hear Stephen speak as well, Acts 7:1.

What Stephen had to say, Acts 7:2-53, was so powerful that it "cut to the heart", verse 54, of those in the Council so that they rushed forward and "gnashed upon him with their teeth",verse 54.

Verse 55 has long been a puzzle to me, however, I think I figured out what was going on that day of Stephen's death. The verse tells us that Stephen, "just before he was cast out of the city and stoned", verse 58, looked up into heaven and saw the "glory of God and Jesus standing on the right hand of God", verse 55.

My confusion was because I read in Hebrews 1:38:1, and 12:2 that Jesus is now "seated" at the right of God in the heavens, Stephen saw Him "standing". I am not dogmatic but I believe that Jesus may well have stood up to greet Stephen, the first Christian martyr, as he entered heaven.

This record of Stephen seeing Jesus, whether "seated or standing", He is at the right hand of the Father, not seated on His throne, His "promised throne", since Jesus is not now "King" of His coming Kingdom.

God the Father will give the throne and the Kingdom to His Son after the Tribulation Period, at His Second Coming. Bible prophecy reveals that the time of His Second Coming is quickly approaching.

Verse 58 introduces us to an enemy of God. This is one who was fierce in his attacks on the Christians, the members of the Church at Jerusalem, 8:1. It was a man named "Saul" who would one day be a leader of these Christians.

Until that time Saul would bring about "great persecution" against the Church, 8:1, making "havoc of the Church", 8:3. Notice the positive aspect of persecution, verse 4, the Christians were "scattered abroad, going everywhere preaching the Word".

We can rejoice when persecution comes, it will allow us to change "opposition into opportunity".

PRAYER THOT: Thank you Lord for being there at the right hand of God the Father as my special provider, help me to be full of faith and the Holy Spirit as Stephen was, and to turn opposition into opportunity.