Falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!”
Being filled with the Holy Spirit gives us some great benefits: power in times of temptation and direction in times of confusion. Third, the Holy Spirit gives us courage in times of opportunity. We see that courage illustrated in the life of Stephen, the first Christian martyr. He was one of the first deacons, and Acts 6:5 says he was “full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.” When Stephen was hauled before the Jewish ruling council for preaching the gospel, he said, “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit” (7:51). That is not the best way to win friends and acquittals! But Stephen was not interested in being popular; he was interested in faithfully preaching the message of Jesus Christ.
How did they respond? Look at verses 54-58: “They were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him. But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him. . . . They began stoning him.” In verse 60, we find Stephen’s astounding last words: “Falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them!’ Having said this, he fell asleep.”
How do you explain Stephen’s courage to use adversity as an opportunity to spread the gospel? What about the courage to stand up against people in authority, and then to forgive the people who were stoning him to death? That is the result of being filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will give you courage in times of opportunity if you allow Him to do so.
Finally, being filled with the Holy Spirit allows us to experience comfort in times of stress. I remember years ago going to see a couple who had received some bad news. The husband had been diagnosed with colon cancer, and it had metastasized into his brain. The couple was disappointed in the report from the doctor, but they said they knew God was still in control. And that evening they wanted to talk about the husband’s funeral service. He said, “I want to make sure my service exalts the Lord Jesus Christ.”
What gives somebody that kind of comfort? It is a byproduct of being filled with the Holy Spirit. When that doctor tells you the report is not good, when that employer tells you your services are no longer needed, when that mate tells you he or she no longer loves you, you have a choice as a Christian: you can either be filled with anger or fear, or you can allow the peace of God that passes all human comprehension to take control of your life.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “What The Holy Spirit Can Do For You” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.