And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people. But some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen, including both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and argued with Stephen.But they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.”And they stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes, and they came up to him and dragged him away and brought him before the Council.They put forward false witnesses who said, “This man incessantly speaks against this holy place and the Law;for we have heard him say that this Nazarene, Jesus, will destroy this place and alter the customs which Moses handed down to us.”And fixing their gaze on him, all who were sitting in the Council saw his face like the face of an angel. — Acts 6:8-15
Grace, power, wisdom through the Holy Spirit and seen by others. Is Jesus visible in you?
They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them.41 So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. — Acts 5:40-41
Wow. . . Rejoice? . . Really? After a whip beating? Here are apostles rejoicing over being beaten because they suffered shame for the name above all names, the name of Jesus. They rejoiced over being considered worthy to suffer? How real was their faith? So real they were willing to suffer for it.
I wonder. . . How real is my faith? Am I willing to suffer shame for the sake of my families salvation, my neighbors, my co-workers, etc.? Am I willing to suffer for the glory of the Lord? He was willing to suffer for me.
And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men.For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing.After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered.So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown;but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.” — Acts 5:35-39
What can you conclude from the influence of Christ and the word of Gamaliel? Jesus died (and rose from the grave) over 2000 years ago and He is still an influence today. Is the gospel a plan of action from God?
Heed the testimony of the disciples, the Word of God lest you be found fighting against God.
Hallelujah for the faithfulness and steadfast truth of our God who offers the gospel still today to whomever will hear and accept. He is not going away.
When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them,saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.”But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.The God of our fathers raised up Jesus,whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross.31 He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.” – Acts 5:27-32
Here we find Peter before the Council again with not just John but the”apostles” also. I love the fact that they shared the gospel message here before the Council. The circumstance did not dictate where or when they shared. They shared because “we must obey God rather than men”.
How important is obedience? The Holy Spirit is given to those who obey as a living witness in them. How we tend to miss that. Could that be why we are not effective witnesses for Christ? We are quick to come to salvation, for eternal well being, but when it comes to obedience that is another story. Could our disobedience quench the witness of the Holy Spirit* in us?
The apostles had no problem sharing the gospel wherever they happened to be by the power of the Holy Spirit by obedience to God. How’s the obedience factor going in your life?
When they had been released, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. — Acts 4:23
Peter and John had just been released after being arrested for speaking about Jesus. Where was their first stop? Immediately returning to other believers and telling them of the events that brought glory to God. Not only did this encounter cause those who witnessed it to praise the Lord, giving Him glory, but also brought glory to God in those who heard the testimony of Peter and John.
Testimonies bring about encouragement in the believer, salvation to nonbelievers, and glory to God. Are you sharing testimonies of Jesus’ work in your life? If not what is stopping you?
And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge;for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” — Acts 4:18-20
Do you ever think about what your response would be if confronted by the law and told not to share Jesus? Has Jesus made such an impression in your life that you are willing to risk imprisonment, ridicule, your very life? Is Jesus so alive in your life that you can’t stop speaking of what you have seen and heard?
If not, what needs to change about your walk with the Lord? Are you reading His Word, seeking Him through prayer, loving Him with ALL your heart, soul, mind, and strength and heeding His words in obedience?
Today is the day to make a change. Take time during worship to come face to face with where you are spiritually and humble yourself before the mighty God confessing, repenting and let the healing begin to bring you back into a right relationship with God so that you are effective for His glory.
My Name is Yanira Vargas. I am a Senior at Washington State University. I love all things expression and creative. I was in a relationship with my childhood and best friend of 4 years, who happens to have had stage 3 brain cancer. I still believe in God, and in the beauty of mircles. Join me and embark on this journey with me.