By Jessie Moser
Today's Scripture: Acts 7:51-8:13
Central Thought: When we open our ears and remove the scales from our eyes, we will receive from God's Word what we need to live a life that makes an eternal difference for us and for others.
The Book of Acts provides historical accounts. Like a good screenplay, the back story is filled in during a great scene: Stephen's preaching and his eventual death by stoning. Like Jane Austen's skillful use of letters, the author of Acts (attributed to Luke) skillfully uses speeches to unfold the account of the history of Moses, the wandering years of the Israelites in the dessert, and the building of the temple by Solomon. But this historical retelling of the building of the temple is to point to a truth that many in Stephen's audience would not accept: that Jesus was the Messiah and that He died and rose again.
Picture an exhausted Stephen proclaiming one final point to a blood-thirsty crowd: the Most High does not live in houses made by men. The author of Acts seems to give us the good with the bad. After laying out the history of the Israelites in a compelling way, Stephen seems to freak out at the Sanhedrin, criticizing them, calling them stiff-necked, and accusing them of murdering the One the prophets had foretold. Why did he do this? It is as if Stephen knew that there were ears that would not hear, hearts that were closed to truth. Is this not true even today?
Sometimes God takes a hard line with us, especially when we are religious but it is as though we have scales on our eyes so that we are blinded to His Word. Let us pray that eyes will be opened as we examine our own heart so we will not be classified with those who are rebuked in Acts 7:51. God's Word is perfect, and there is a purpose and season for every word in the Bible. I pray over Stephen's words and the impact they may have on someone seeking their messiah today. May our prayer be that the Lord will soften the neck of the reader and circumcise hearts that desperately need Him.
Devotional Prayer: Thank You for Your Word that speaks to us again and again. Help me yield my heart to Your message. It is through your Word, God, that You speak to me with the exact message for the moment. Help us to not be stiff-necked but, rather, to yield our hearts and minds to Your Word that You may change us through it.
Today's Bible Reading: 1 Kings 8:1-66; Acts 7:51-8:13; Psalm 129:1-8; Proverbs 17:1