Summary: “And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit’” Acts 7:59.
Lord Jesus, receive my spirit
Today is Saint Stephens’s Day when we remember the first martyr of the Christian Church. His death in the service of Christ, taking place a day after Christmas, reminds us of the cost involved in discipleship. We cannot serve Christ through the preaching of the gospel without encountering opposition. Today because of our fear of opposition, instead of obeying Christ, we rather tell Him to do all the things we are to do as Christian believers. We pray for Him to visit the poor and needy, comfort the feeble, bless and provide for the destitute, encourage those in prison, sustain the weak and witness to unbelievers. We have developed a religion of convenience and want God to do all these things while we only pray. Although prayer is important Christ cannot do anything here without a body to operate through. Christ had a physical body when He visited humanity and with the presence of the Holy Spirit in us we become His body. Christ ministers through His body today the same way He ministered through a human body 2000 years ago. Today the Holy Spirit lives in our new created spirit and makes us His body. Christ can do nothing except through His body and we are His body until the time when like Stephen we can also say “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit”.
Every disciple is commanded to preach the Word of God. In the words of Timothy we are to “preach the word in season and out of season”. (2 Tim. 4:2) We are not to say what we want to say but what God wants us to say. There are many topics in the world that one can talk about but when it comes to preaching the focus is on the Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. Like Paul we should not be ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. (Rom. 1:16) Christ must have a body to minister through. Paul and many saints throughout the ages, and now you and I, are His body and we are to preach the gospel. We are to preach Christ crucified, Christ Buried, and Christ risen from the Dead.
God has ordained that human beings are the ones to preach the gospel. If they do not it shall not be proclaimed and souls shall be lost. The preaching of the gospel and all phases of Christian living depends on our willingness to step out and allow Him to work through us. Christ cannot visit those in prison unless He can go in your body. Christ cannot reach the lost with the gospel unless He can go in your body. Preaching the gospel has always been very costly. History records the Jewish hostility that met the twelve disciples and later the Christians on their mission. They were brought before Jews, Gentiles, governors and kings. The preaching of the gospel has always been at great cost but this should be no surprise as Jesus, our Master paid a very great price Himself. Stephen knew this and preached even as he was being stoned. Like His Saviour and Lord Stephen prayed for their forgiveness. His forgiveness of Paul led to God’s forgiveness and his service to God. What a life? Christ rose up from His throne to receive him into heaven. As His disciples today our main message should also be the gospel no matter the cost. There may be times when we need to speak out against certain issues but we should never ignore the Gospel Message. It is the only message with the power to save. Every Christian believer has to fulfil certain responsibilities. He has to visit the poor and needy, comfort the feeble, bless and provide for the destitute, encourage those in prison, sustain the weak and preach the gospel to unbelievers.
Preaching the Gospel message goes hand in hand with meeting the needs of the people. Healing those who need healing confirms the truth of what we are preaching and this is the reason why Christ has empowered all believers. Our actions are to bear testimony to the truth of the message. There are many in the world today who are hurting. Many end up in psychiatric hospitals or end up committing suicide. We can and should bring deliverance to those who are hurting because of loneliness and because of a feeling of hopelessness.
We can bring healing and deliverance as we allow Christ to minister through us. As the Word of God takes its proper place in the lives of the people, their minds would be renewed and this ultimately brings healing and deliverance. We all know the popular saying “As he thinks so he is”. This is true and by focusing on the words of God we become who God says we are. When you feel defeated and sorry for yourself, you need to see yourself as Christ sees you - that in Christ you are more than a conqueror. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself because you have various needs you need to be assured that Christ shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. We need to always remember John 6:63 that “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life”. People will never see God except they see Him in you. Christ’s love can only be manifested through the life of a believer. Let us live His live of compassion and concern that is able to impact our communities.