Stephen Saw Heaven Open
"Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."Acts 7:56
Stephen was a disciple of Christ and was speaking the truth in opposition to the Freedmen. Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen (Acts 6:9). The Freedmen got false witnesses to testify against Stephen, and they took him to the Sanhedrin.
Stephen defended himself at the trial by giving a history of the Israelite people from Abraham to Jesus’ death. He accused the Sanhedrin and Pharisees of killing Jesus, just as their ancestors killed the prophets. When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him (Acts 7:54). The Sanhedrin became furious and they dragged Stephen out of city and stoned him to death.
As the stoning began, Stephen looked up and saw Heaven open and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. How did that affect Stephen’s ability to endure the stoning? Christ was telling Stephen that in few a minutes you will be in Heaven with me. Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep (Acts 7:60). Stephen’s heart was directed toward Heaven and he was going home. His soul was so close to the Lord that he was able to ask forgiveness for those stoning him. He went to his death with a heart of love, just as Jesus did when he asked the Father to forgive the Romans who were crucifying him.
We can be just like Jesus and Stephen when persecution comes to us. It may not be death or imprisonment, but it may be angry words of ridicule or criticism. If our souls are closely connected to the Lord and we are consciously aware of the Lord’s presence, he will give us his strength, courage, and wisdom to endure with a heart of love. God will strengthen you with his own great power so that you will not give up when troubles come, but you will be patient. And you will joyfully give thanks to the Father who has made you able to have a share in all that he has prepared for his people in the kingdom of light (Colossians 1:11-12).
Today, imagine seeing Christ at the right hand of God, looking down at you from Heaven with an encouraging smile, giving you his love, strength, and wisdom. This is exactly what he is doing. However, unless Heaven opens up like it did for Stephen, we have to visualize the truth in our imagination.
Let’s Pray: Lord, help me to realize you are always with me through the Spirit, and your love, power and strength will carry me through this life. Give me the wisdom to always trust you in every situation in life. Each day let your love increase in my heart and allow my faith to overcome any fear Satan places in my path. In Jesus’ name, Amen