This week's devotional was provided by Earl Fashbaugh.
Scripture References: Acts 6:13-15 (Stephen's Accusers); Acts 7:1-53 (Stephen's
Defense), John 4:7-42 (The woman of Samaria)
Sit in a restaurant and observe children and you will soon discover how technology has become their source of entertainment. They have hand-held computers that are more powerful than the calculators that were used to place the first men on the moon. But there was a time when kids had small books with numbered dots. Simply, connect the dots and see the picture, sometimes there were over 100 numbered dots used to draw an image. Younger children cannot connect the dots and they simply scribble over the page.
In the 7th chapter of Acts, we find the character, Stephen, who had been slandered before the Sanhedrin (Acts 6:13), with serious charges of using blasphemous words pertaining to the Laws of Moses. Stephen was asked, and gave a defense, that would connect the dots for the accusers. He provides a historic background of the Hebrew faith, starting with Abraham (Acts 7:2). Dot-by-dot, Stephen traces the history of the Jewish faith. He reminds everyone of their bondage under Egyptian rule when the Hebrews were slaves (Acts 7:6) and expounds upon the selection of Moses who, at God's direction, performed miracles that would help his people survive in a harsh environment (Acts 7:36). The plaintiffs may have stood with their arms crossed, wondering why all this history was being reviewed. Then, Stephen reminds the accusers that God referred to the likes of them as stiff-necked and uncircumcised in the heart (Acts 7:51). He draws lines between the dots by declaring that their ancestors killed the prophets and even killed the Righteous One, the Messiah, the One that they were waiting for. Stephen rests his defense by declaring that the ultimate Law was crucified by the accusers. The final picture presented by Stephen, after all the dots were connected, was a crucified Lord of Lords. Stephen was put to death because the leadership did not like the connected dots.
Contrast this with the woman who Jesus met at the well (John 4). Jesus told her that Living water was available. He went on to tell her that she had five husbands and the man she was with was not really a husband (John 4:18). The discussion that followed demonstrated that she wanted to see the dots connected and she saw a picture of Christ, available to her and to all people who seek the Living Water (John 4:10). She told others about the picture she saw in Christ and a multitude of Samaritans asked Him to stay with them (John 4:40). What a contrast we see between the woman at the well who truly wanted to see the image of the savior and those that wanted nothing to do with Him in Acts 7.
We are asked daily to connect the dots. Do we make available our explanation of how this Jesus came to an imperfect people with a perfect plan of salvation, or do we scribble on the page and show a confused drawing of what Christ is and His truly liberating power to free us from sin? We can take a lesson from Stephen and learn from the scriptures, simultaneously calling on the Spirit of the God, in Jesus, to clarify the image drawn, allowing Him to connect the dots.