Acts 7:51-60 ERV; Then Stephen said, “You stubborn Jewish leaders! You refuse to give your hearts to God or even listen to him. You are always against what the Holy Spirit wants you to do. That’s how your ancestors were, and you are just like them! They persecuted every prophet who ever lived. They even killed those who long ago said that the Righteous One would come. And now you have turned against that Righteous One and killed him. You are the people who received God’s law, which he gave you through his angels. But you don’t obey it!”
When those in the council meeting heard this, they became very angry. They were so mad they were grinding their teeth at him. But Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit. He looked up into heaven and saw the glory of God. And he saw Jesus standing at God’s right side. Stephen said, “Look! I see heaven open. And I see the Son of Man standing at God’s right side.”
Everyone there started shouting loudly, covering their ears with their hands. Together they all ran at Stephen. They took him out of the city and began throwing stones at him. The men who told lies against Stephen gave their coats to a young man named Saul. As they were throwing the stones at him, Stephen was praying. He said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” He fell on his knees and shouted, “Lord, don’t blame them for this sin!” These were his last words before he died.
As I read these verses this morning, I saw so many in traditional churches who have all but cut out of their bibles, any reference of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues, refusing the work of the Holy Spirit because they just can’t control it. I’ve personally seen some become angry and adamant that those things passed away with the disciples, they’re not for the church today. Listen, my friends; if this is you, if you’re not convinced that the Holy Spirit is still at work in the lives of believers everywhere, you’re sorely mistaken.
God took me out of a traditional church, baptized me in the Holy Spirit with the utterance of tongues and I didn’t know anything about it. I was 15 years old, 2 1/2 years after my dad had died, angry at God, angry at everyone, trying to get lost in the world because I didn’t want to serve a God who took our dad away. I was asked to go to a revival service where a woman evangelist spoke a message of a powerful God who wanted to do more than just save us from sin, but give us power to live a life for God. I wanted that! I didn’t want to run to the altar every weekend, confessing the sin I couldn’t keep myself from doing that week.
Two weeks later, I knelt at an altar with my sisters and cousins crying out for more. When you come hungry before God, he will always feed you. Suddenly, it was like I was in a tunnel, I couldn’t hear anything at all for seconds, than my hearing returned and I was speaking in a language I’d never heard or learned. I wasn’t seeking tongues, I was seeking for more of God. Luke 11:13 says it this way; “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
The more I prayed in the Spirit, the bolder and stronger in my faith I became. I couldn’t read the Word enough. I couldn’t talk about God enough. I wanted everyone to know Him like I knew Him. Like Stephen in Acts, not everyone listened. Some were angry that I would talk about it, even family argued that it wasn’t of God, but you can’t take away from someone what they have experienced nor can you convince them that they have no foundation on their belief when it clearly talks about it in the Bible.
I can say this; it’s for everyone who will believe. If you don’t want it, God won’t force you to take the gift He offers. But I’d be careful what you refuse based on what you’ve been taught by man. It could be the very best thing that’s ever happened to you. If Jesus said he would send the Holy Spirit as our helper, than we’d better understand that we need help! I need the Holy Spirits wisdom everyday. I can’t imagine where I’d be today without it. I, like Paul, pray in tongues everyday, but I pray in English as well. The only difference is this; I pray in tongues first because He knows how I should pray better than I do and I need His perfect will to be done in my life.