Scripture: “And the high priest said (to Stephen), “Are these things so (considering the lies and misrepresentations of the scribes)?” And Stephen said: “Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of Glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia…. (v1 and 2a)
(after a long explanation, Stephen concludes by citing from Ps 11 and Is 66):
“Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? Did not my hand make all these things?”
(Stephen continues) “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered—you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”” Acts 7:1-2; 49-53
Observation: Eloquent. Expansive. Citing the Gospel from the beginning to a conclusion. Can I do that or am I stuck with a few quick bumper sticker quotes to attempt to portray the beauty of the Gospel?
Analysis: The older I grow, the more I see the need for maturity in the knowledge and practical application of the Scriptures.
My wife observes that I can be a scripture snob. I wonder if that is true or is it that I lack the panache to make the Scriptures interesting? Am I stuck with the ability to sound condescending and condemning?
This past weekend my Mother was laid to rest. Through it all I was oddly at peace, though feeling empty. The thought of the Psalms was always present, like a shadow in the back of my mind; thinking again (like I have suggested in past postings) that the Psalms are descriptions of the practical expression of Christianity: the diary of David, the man after God’s own heart, and how he navigated life in Him.
These thoughts ruled my week, even though I neglected reading the Scriptures, begged off from posting in the Journal, even resisted praying out loud. I was up and down emotionally, and for a couple of days pretty abusive verbally to my wife. As people, acquaintances, and friends reached out, I was grateful in a hollow sort of way.
All in all, my bet is that David did these things as well, reading the history and the Psalms. It is no excuse (like David probably remembers) and shameful. It is another speed bump to navigate in the power of Grace through—seeds of lawlessness to remember and apply the Cross against.
This whole chapter (Acts 7) is an example of being able to preach the Gospel to myself (ourselves). Preaching the Gospel is an act of stirring up the hope that is within us; remembering what God did and is doing from before the foundation of the world; that God is not only macro in being Sovereign God over all creation (a mind-boggling thought), but also micro in a way only a caring Father can be.
Stephen was obviously buoyed by the majesty of the Gospel. certainly assisted by being able to run through the facets. I want to be able to do that as well.
Prayer: Father, thank you for sustaining me (and my vast family) during this past week.
Ricky Two Shoes