But it was Solomon who built a house for Him. Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made with human hands; as the prophet (Isaiah) says, ‘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?’ Acts 7:47-50
With the power of the Holy Spirit and the face of an angel Stephen points out that the Prophets have tutored that God dwells within our hearts, our souls, and is the center of our being. The Holy Presence of God is within believers through Jesus Christ. God Most Holy originated the news that He does not require a temple building in which to reside (Isaiah 66:1-2).
What does Almighty God want? Jesus tells us that our Heavenly Father wants our Holy Spirit-circumcised hearts and ears, our humbled lives, heartfelt obedience, and desires believers love Him dearly. Stephen is one of the best examples in Scripture of a bold response to what our Heavenly Father wants. He gives himself fully to the Holy Spirit and so much so that he appears to be all of Jesus Christ standing before the council speaking.
It is interesting that the Spirit takes the peaks of the council member’s historical memories yet does this not to give a timeline as such, but rather shows these men before Stephen that their habit has been to turn away from Almighty God and refuse to follow. They have killed the Prophets whom God’s Handiwork directed. They have killed the Author of Salvation Jesus Christ who offered love, mercy, justice, and uncomplicated redemption
Whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him (Moses) from them and in their hearts turned back into Egypt, Saying to Aaron , Make us gods to go before us; for this Moses, who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we know not what is become of him. And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice to the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their hands. Acts 7:39-42
Sitting before Stephen are a group of father and brothers on the council who disrespect Stephen. Stephen points to a group of our heritage fathers with Moses who stirred up some of the people when Moses was on Mt. Sinai with God –they were impatient, self-serving, and had determined to return to the Egypt slavery-oppression. Preparing for the journey back they made a golden calf to worship then make god figurines. God can get angry and He did. God turned from them in anger.
Sitting before Stephen are a group of father and brothers stirring up trouble for Stephen. They do not want him to succeed in leadership, refer to Christ Resurrected, nor do they want Stephen to refer to their faith failings. These are proud self-loving men who sit before Stephen. They are ‘suits’– what they show outwardly is not what they are inwardly. Jesus knows and cares. Jesus is the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Heavenly Father except through our Savior Jesus Christ.
You have given yourself to Jesus and He gives you the same Holy Spirit which is within Stephen. Stephen’s witness in Acts 7 is awesome. Holy Spirit is not a spirit of cowardice but a Spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. Stephen shows you how to use faith, speak with power, and to love even the toughest to love by relying the self-discipline of union with Holy Spirit. And sitting before Stephen are a group of withered hearted souls who anger God again.
Yet more than ever believers were added to the Lord, great numbers of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on cots and mats, in order that Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he came by. Acts 5:14-15
Seekers of Christ come also from nearby towns bringing the sick and those tormented by unclean spirits to be healed as they are cured by Jesus Christ our Lord. Through separate records we know that by 300 A.D. there are over a million Christians in the Roman Empire (Peter dies 64 A.D.). Peter has the Spirit Gifts in their fullness and Christ uses him to show His glorious Love. As the original disciples taught new disciples, these have been handed down to us generationally.
Peter, James, and John were in the inner circle of Jesus and have firsthand spiritual experiences with Jesus to witness to and share with new believers. New believers listen intently and pass exact stories on to one another. Men and women come to believe in Resurrected Christ through Peter’s sharing and healing prayers. The Presence of Christ through the Holy Spirit is so pure that even Peter’s shadow passing over a sick person prompts the Spirit to gift Christ’s healing.
Peter has abundant zest for being true to the Savior Jesus! He has already experienced the surge of spirituality from amazing Grace– Jesus forgave him three times for his thrice denial during Jesus’ unjust arrest and trial. So we ask, what is Peter doing that you and other believers can do in service for Christ? Fit people for heaven (like Peter does), on earth and hereafter, by zestfully bringing all into the Love of Christ Jesus’ Holy Presence.
While staying with them, He ordered them. Not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” He said, “is what you have heard from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:4-5
In our ‘Acts Of The Apostles’ Scriptures God’s Plan is launched when Jesus is truly and factually Resurrected from the dead then instructs the disciples to wait in Jerusalem, be baptized with the Holy Spirit, then spread the Spirit. This is Jesus’ commission to you personally and privately too, “Wait for the promise of the Father.” Jesus Christ Resurrected is your everything, giving His life to save you and through the power of the Holy Spirit He is victorious and magnificent in your life.
Look at the high spiritual level shown to us in Acts as truly Jesus Christ’s Resurrection is your central focus from Dr. Luke (author of Acts). Luke mentions 110 believers by name in Acts, and concentrates on Peter (chapters 1-7) then Paul (chapters 8-28). Jesus had promised the Holy Spirit in John 1:33, 7:37-39, 14:16-17, and 20:22. At Pentecost (Acts chapter 2) the Spirit is powerfully activated within believers. Every believer can be baptized with the Holy Spirit.
Old Reverend Robert Lee, Church of Scotland minister and professor of Biblical criticism at Edinburgh University, wrote in the 1800’s that the best title for Saint Luke’s book about the Apostles is, “The Acts of the Ascended and Glorified Lord.”. Lee said it best. Holy Spirit inspiration (deepening faith) by God’s Son who lived compassionately among us and who ignites faith within each and every believer through the power and influence of the Holy Spirit is given when you pray, “Come Holy Spirit, come and fill me to overflowing. I belong to Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. Come Holy Spirit, come.” Then wait.
Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2
So that you may discern the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect, renew your mind through Christ by abiding in His Presence. Sometimes we all have pain and sorrow, fear and negativity, anxious moments, and hopeless thoughts– Jesus rescues you from these. In His living Presence He resets your mind to a faith view.
Jesus is the best thing to ever happen to you. Rely on His compassion with your faith. Your assurance that Christ is powerfully moving to align your mind in God’s best gives you spiritual maturity. Trust Christ. Expect Him to transform your mind– it is His anointing, again and again, of the Holy Spirit. Discern Jesus’ holiness.
40 days before Easter, not including Sunday’s, we take time to start our spiritual preparation for the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection. It’s a day to be reminded how ordinarily human each of us are and to affirm our great need for our Savior. Find an Ash Wednesday service and participate. The ashes are composed of last year’s Palm Sunday palms, readied for the mark of the Cross on your forehead.
‘whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise’ John 5:19
The power of God is alive within you through Jesus Christ. To enliven Jesus’ Power, rest your heart and mind on Jesus. Love Jesus. Take long pauses to love Him and adore your Savior and this will form a habit. Through this habit Jesus is Able to align your will with His good and loving intent for your life.
Trust Jesus. Love Jesus.
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:4-6
Allow Jesus to help you to be lifted up with hope in Him. Hope looks forward, with a longer view, and has an anticipation of better days. With hope in each of our hearts we can help this world become a better place– sharing hope with others spreads Christ’s benefits.
Hope is expectant living in Love; invigorating and energy producing. What is Love? Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a