April 20, 2008 am    Standing By    Acts 7:48-60

By Ronald E. George Jr. at the Fayetteville Baptist.org

Have you ever stood by and waited for just the right time or have you stood by and not tried to make a difference when you should have.  We are about to have an election.  Will you stand up and vote or will you stand by as many do when they have the opportunity to make a difference.  Remember someone is standing up for you. 

Acts 7:48  However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men. As the prophet says: 49 “‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be? 50 Has not my hand made all these things?’l
                51 “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— 53 you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it.”
54 When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
                57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.
59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 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.

Who is standing by?   Are you standing by? 

1.  God is standing by.  Hear His Message: 

2.  The Jews were standing by and heard the message from God.
God sent his messenger to the Jews in the form of one of the first deacons.  They arrested Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin.  There Stephen answered the trumped up charges against him. 

3.  Saul was standing by.  He was a persecutor of the Christians.  He condoned the killing of the man of God.  He stood by and watched as the others killed an innocent man.  He could have helped, but he didn’t want to get into trouble.  He assisted by allowing it to happen.  Don’t stand by and allow folks to be killed and go to hell.  He was an innocent by stander who could have made a difference, but his indifference to the death of an innocent man caused him to be guilty.

4.  Stephen was standing by.  Stephen stood by his beliefs and his God.  He stood by the message that God had put on his heart.  He gave that message to those who needed to hear it.  He stood by the fact that he was going to taken care of by God.  Even though the people were going to kill him, it seems he provoked the attack.  Thus, he caused the persecution of the Christians to grow and then the believers had to scatter and spread the gospel message. 

5.  Jesus was standing by.  Jesus will stand by those who stand up for him and for those who He cares about.  He cares about the lost the lonely and the least.  He cares about the Stephens, the Jews, and the Pharisees.  He cares that they would live, so then He sends His messengers who will stand by the message.  This message upset the Jews so much that they stoned Stephen who became the first martyr. 

 

Have you heard the message?  Are you just standing by?  Are you ready to take the right action to answer the Lord’s call in your life?  Why was Stephen and Saul or Paul willing to die for this message?  It is worth it?  What will you give to the Lord?  Will you give Him your life?

l Isaiah 66:1,2

The Holy Bible : New International Version (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984). Ac 7:48-60.