Tuesday, May 24, 2011

May 24, 2011 … Stephen: Godliness in Suffering

Passage of the Day: Acts 7: 55 … But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

My Journal for Today: Revisiting the wondrous commitment of Stephen, being martyred for his faith, we read in today’s verse, that he was “full of the Holy Spirit;” and this is the key to Stephen being able to act in such a superhuman way as was chronicled in Acts 7.

In both today’s verse and Acts 6: 5a, covered yesterday, Stephen was described a being filled of God’s Spirit. The Greek term for “filled” is “pleres” (pronounced - “play-race”). This Greek term means to be full to overflowing or completed. It is the picture of a glass which is so full that any movement would cause it to overflow. And with that picture in mind, John MacArthur, in his Strength for Today devotional for this date, visits the old computer cliché, “Garbage in; Garbage out.” But in Stephen’s case it would be more accurate to say “God in; God out.”

When one is so full of God’s Spirit, as was Stephen, when he is pressured or jostled by life’s trials, God will flow outward from that one’s filled spirit, as godliness did when Stephen was stoned. But being filled with the world or the flesh, when we are jostled by life, it will be the flesh which expresses itself. It is the living expression of Proverbs 23: 7 (from the NKJV), which states, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” I’ve heard the great Baptist preacher Dr. Adrian Rogers say, “When one is so filled with God’s Spirit, the only thing that overflows when one is shaken is God.”

Paul exhorted Christians to “ … set your mind on things above, not the things on earth;” (see Col. 3: 1 – 2 or Phil. 4: 8) and Jesus provided His Spirit to ALL believers so that we could become Christians of character like Stephen (see John 14: 26 – 27).

SCRIPTURE: John 14: 26 – 2826 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Therefore, the more we humbly surrender to God’s Spirit, allowing our minds/hearts to be permeated by His sanctifying and filling grace, the more we will be filled to the brim with the Christlikeness [like that exhibited by a Stephen] when we are pressured or “stoned” by the world.

So, often I’m reminded of the old hymn which expresses this truth … [and I often sing it during devotionals in praise to God]; … in fact as I sit here – with God – this morning, I’ve gone to a recorded version of the old him, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” to be overtaken in this moment with God’s Spirit. In fact, … if you’re at your computer and reading here along with my journaling, you can go to this link, and let the Christian group, Hillsong, sing you the chorus from this wonderful old hymn on You Tube – words below …

Turn your eyes upon Jesus …
Look full in His wonderful face …
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim …
In the light of His glory and grace.

But in my living out of life, I have to confess that all too often I look inward for solutions when I get shaken up; and I don’t rely on God’s Spirit to give me discernment, direction, or power. And when I do this, the Holy Spirit cannot fill me with His grace. But the times when I allow God to fill me by surrendering to His Spirit in humility, I think things, say things, or do things that are just downright amazing to me, … way above my human level of performance. And that’s no different than what Stephen exhibited when he was martyred for his faith.

I don’t know about you, but I want more of those supernatural moments in my life. And so, I pray this day ...

My Prayer Today: Fill my heart, Lord, with Your Spirit. Help me to receive Your grace, Lord, and let it overflow from my heart … yes, even this day. Amen

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