Daily Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 23-24, Luke 19:1-27
Today’s reading in “The Story” is found in your book starting on the transition on page 397 (chapter 28) where we left off yesterday and ends before the transition on page 398, with the words, “…Are these charges true?”
If you do not have “The Story” you may read the passages in the NIV Bible: Acts 6:8-15; 7:1.
More and more, today we hear about people falsely accusing others of wrongdoing, simply because they don’t like what they are saying. We see in the news that people are accused of hate speech for simply speaking the truth about difficult matters. People no longer care to hear the truth. They only desire to hear things that make them feel good about themselves. They do not want to hear anything unpleasant. We live in a time that Paul described in 2 Timothy 4:3 “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.”
In our reading today we observe that Stephen was a man who was filled with the Holy Spirit and with wisdom in the word of God. So much so, that people were surprised by his ability to debate the faith and to tell people the message of the Gospel. Because of this, there were elements within the synagogue who became jealous of him and tried to accuse him of blasphemy. They alleged that he spoke against the law of God and against Moses. Those were some serious charges, and they were completely untrue.
But Stephen remembered the words of Jesus as we read in Matthew 5:11-12 “11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” He did not stop speaking the truth of the salvation message of Jesus, in spite of the false accusations.
Just as there were those who falsely charged Stephen with blasphemy, so people will denounce you and your message, if it is of God. Jesus said that His message would bring division. In Luke 12:51-52, Jesus says “51 Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52 From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three.” So it was for Jesús, so it was for Stephen, and so it is and will be for you and me. We will be wrongly accused, chastised, and ridiculed for the word of God.
But Jesus didn’t leave us alone to be falsely accused. He didn’t leave Stephen. He provided the Holy Spirit to Stephen to give him the strength he needed to persevere in the face of these false accusations. And Jesus promised us, along with His disciples in Matthew 28:20b “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
It wasn’t easy for Stephen and it isn’t easy for us, either. But Jesus promises to be with us always. With that encouragement from Jesus, go and tell someone today about what He has done for you in your life. You never know how the Holy Spirit will work in someone’s heart.
Prayer: Lord, sometimes I feel persecuted for my faith. Sometimes I feel wrongly accused by people who do not live you. Help me to be strong in the faith. Give me the full measure of Your Holy Spirit so that I may boldly speak the truth about Jesus to others. Amen.