Acts 7:55-60 (NASB)
55 But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; 56 and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse. 58 When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 60 Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep.
We just celebrated Christmas yesterday; we were filled with joy and awe at the birth of Jesus as a tiny babe to save us from our sins. We’re still in the Christmas season, and suddenly we’re remembering the martyrdom of St. Stephen. We may wonder why we aren’t still hearing about angelic music and worshipping shepherds on this second day of Christmas, but perhaps God wants to remind us that serving that babe isn’t all about hearing angels sing and watching shepherds worship. It’s about standing for Him when the world turns against us. We aren’t likely to be stoned to death, but in this world we will face trials and pain. Many won’t share our love of Jesus, our faith in the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. When we face those difficulties, we need to do what Stephen did–look up into Heaven to see Jesus standing at the right hand of God. We need to remember that He is no longer that weak and tiny human being. He is the Lord, and He will come again in judgment. Instead of fearing the pain we face here on earth, let us look to Heaven for our salvation.
Lord, keep us looking upward, focused on You, rather than at the circumstances of life. In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.
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