Thursday, January 27, 2011

Great truth from the greatest Table Waiter that ever lived!

In Acts chapter 6, the Apostles decide they’ve had enough of the ‘table waiting’ and decided to seek out someone among them full of the Holy Spirit. They decided on Stephen, a man who fit the bill and who was ‘wise’, ‘full of Grace’, ‘power’ and who did many miracles, to boot. I don’t know how long he got to be a waiter, but we know he was murdered, not long after. He was killed by a bunch of Jews called the ‘Synagogue of the Freedman’. Just their name is scary but what’s really scary is that they rejected Jesus Christ. Stephen told them as much, as they falsely accused him of blasphemy against Moses and God. They dragged Stephen to the Sanhedrin to accuse him. One of the priests stood up and asked “Are these charges true?” and what follows is a huge dissertation of all that God had done for them over the years, only to be rejected time and time again.

I’m not going to list all of it here, but I do want to list two sections of it that I found to be very interesting:

Acts 7:20-27

"At that time Moses was born, and he was no ordinary child. For three months he was cared for in his father's house. When he was placed outside, Pharaoh's daughter took him and brought him up as her own son. Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action. (Interesting that Moses said he WAS NOT later on, to God!) "When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his fellow Israelites. He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defense and avenged him by killing the Egyptian. Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not. The next day Moses came upon two Israelites who were fighting. He tried to reconcile them by saying, 'Men, you are brothers; why do you want to hurt each other?' "But the man who was mistreating the other pushed Moses aside and said, 'Who made you ruler and judge over us? (NIV)

And then:

Acts 7:34-35

I have indeed seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groaning and have come down to set them free. Now come, I will send you back to Egypt.' "This is the same Moses whom they had rejected with the words, 'Who made you ruler and judge?' He was sent to be their ruler and deliverer by God himself, through the angel who appeared to him in the bush. (NIV)

I find it interesting that Moses just assumed that his people would know he was trying to bring them justice and set them free. But they did not. I’m sure he must have already sensed that God was enabling him to do so and was calling him to do so. Through Stephen’s message, we find a little bit more about the original Exodus story. A little more insight into the ‘why’. This man Stephen, who was FILLED with the Holy Spirit, and being prophetically used by God, gives a little glimpse of that Why. It says that ‘Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them’ and set them free. But they did not recognize it!. I find that extremely interesting and insightful. Maybe Moses jumped the gun and felt the calling of God, and decided to take matters into his own hands. Maybe God was ready at that time, or about to be ready at that time and Moses quit on God by fleeing. I’m sure there are different ways to look at that.
But the main thing I wanted to concentrate on is the fact that GOD’s OWN PEOPLE KEPT REJECTING HIM and His work. This is the point Stephen was trying to make. Look at how many times, you who are supposed to know God, look at how many times, over and over again, you have rejected Him and what He was TRYING to do. In the 2nd passage of scripture above, Acts 7:35, it says and God himself sent Moses to be both their ruler and their judge! How funny that the Hebrew asked Moses “who made you ruler and judge?”. God answers this 40 years later with a resounding “God did!....that’s who!!!”.

I’m not so sure it was wrong of Moses to kill the Egyptian. I’m not going to definitively say it was or was not. I know that’s just a personal opinion of mine, and probably one that doesn’t fit with the majority, but King David was going to kill Abigail’s husband and every male they saw just for refusing to give his men some food and help for protecting their livestock. That sounds wrong doesn’t it? Abigail changes David’s mind but God finishes what David was going to start anyway, just a few weeks later. So you see, we can’t mess with God’s anointed! Am I saying God is a mobster we can summon at any moment to rub people out we don’t like? Of course not, lol. But my point is that God cares about the things His people care about and He is trying to be IN their lives. I wish we would try to be in God’s life as much as He tries to be in ours.

Oh and please don’t send me emails about how I’m advocating murder, but if you must, my email address is:

I’m simply saying, I’m not so sure God wasn’t using Moses to start the delivery even at that point. You have to remember, God is using Stephen during this talk, and this part of the story is a key point in God’s over all point of “How they kept rejecting Him”. It doesn’t say one thing about Moses being wrong, or about Him doing something he should not have, but rather, about the people doing something wrong in response to what Moses did. They did not recognize that God was trying to deliver them.

All throughout this chapter, the people are told of one event and miraculous sign after another of how God was trying to deliver…..but yet He was being rejected over and over. He would send a prophet who would be stoned, beaten and killed. Over and over again, even until the end when Jesus himself was rejected. The final, great rejection! Stephen, in Acts 7:51 said “You are just like your Fathers! YOU ALWAYS RESIST THE HOLY SPIRIT”. In 52 he continued on “Was there EVER a prophet you did not persecute?”

How do we, reject the Holy Spirit? I think we’re stiff necked too. I think we reject the work of the Holy Spirit way too often.
That’s scary and sad at the same time. God wants to move, but we ‘will not’.
Jesus himself said:

Matt 23:29-39:

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers! You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'" (NIV)

I think MOST of this if not all of it, was directed towards those that were NOT believers, and who He knew never would be, but even for the believers, the question is:

How do we kill the prophets (people in our lives who are prophetically used by God to help us ) and stone those that are sent to us (God’s still, small voice speaking to our hearts through His Holy Spirit)? We often kill God’s move in our lives with our disobedience. We kill the words he speaks to our hearts. The ‘Divine appointments’ John Pettus spoke of, we often dismiss. The word God gives us, we often drop and just continue on as if He never spoke. The mission God gave us, we sometimes live as if He never gave a single command. The house he left us in charge of, is not in the shape it should be because we far too often refuse to follow Him.

Of course, I’m not saying we don’t ever do anything right, but I hope we will each examine our own ways and consider them more closely. God is gracious and full of mercy, but my goodness we sure are mule-headed people. It’s amazing He puts up with us. We have to start living as if God himself really does care about every single thing we are doing in this life. Everything we do is either building up or tearing down. We need to embrace the move of God and remember He is trying to help us grow, direct us and perform something mighty in our lives.

Now I think of this Table Waiter Stephen who was performing miracles in Jesus’ power and who was full of the Holy Spirit and love, speaking to these people in the boldness of God himself and in HIS awesome authority and even as he lay dying from the hands of the crowd asked God to NOT hold this sin against them.

If you’re living for Jesus, you live a dangerous life. You probably aren’t going to have very many friends and you’re probably going to ruffle a lot of feathers. Not because you’re trying to, but because the Kingdom of God suffers violence and violent men take it by force.

Maybe we need more Table Waiters at church! The great truth is: Let’s embrace the move of God and be sure NOT to reject what He’s trying to do through us and in us.