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. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.
While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.
Lots of action in our reading today. However, as I read our scripture verses that focused on the Christian martyr, Stephen, two action words stood out to me. I was moved by the first thing Stephen did. He “LOOKED” up to heaven. Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit and wanted everyone to see and delight in what he saw when he looked….He saw Jesus “STANDING” at the right hand of God. Stephen was devoted to God and was ready and willing to STAND up for Him despite the dangerous oppositions he faced.
Normally, the Scriptures mention Jesus “sitting” at the right hand of God, having accomplished the work of our redemption (Heb. 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; Eph. 1:20). But in our reading from Acts, twice it says that Stephen saw Jesus “STANDING” at the right hand of God. Most commentators agree that Jesus was STANDING to welcome home His faithful witness. Jesus always STANDS with those who STAND for Him. He gave His courageous servant who was LOOKING up to Him and willing to die for Him a vision of the glory of heaven to support him in the difficult moments to follow.
Standing is a posture that represents many things. We stand to be seen, we stand to show respect, and we stand up after we fall. Standing is indeed a powerful posture. And that is why we are encouraged to “STAND firm in the faith” (1 Corinthians 16:13). We are not called to look down or sit down in our faith. We are not called to sit back and do nothing at all; rather, we are commanded by God to STAND. STAND for God and His Truth. STAND and make a difference.
Have you had the courage to STAND up for someone? What about God? Have you had the courage to stand for the truth even when you didn’t think the message would be received well? Let’s take some action steps today. Pray for the courage to LOOK up and get up! No matter what you are in the middle of right now, God’s there with you helping you STAND. Wherever the Holy Spirit leads, STAND for God…..serve, speak, share the truth. God’s got you!
Ezra 10:4; Habakkuk 1:5; Matthew 10:19b-20; Ephesians 4:12-16; 1 Corinthians 16:13
God as our Fortress,
When rocks are thrown against us, let us LOOK up to you and STAND for you, our Solid Rock. No matter the challenges we face today, we ask that the Holy Spirit fill us with your truths and empower us to STAND strong wherever we are called. In your son’s name I pray. Amen