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Treasure Digest: The Heavens Opened

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Treasure Digest

The Heavens Opened

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Stephen was a young man who was committed to serving God, and he seems to have been a potentially great leader in the growing Church. Yet God allowed him to be stoned to death! Standing there and consenting to this cruel act was Saul, who later became Paul the apostle (Acts 8:1 Acts 8:1And Saul was consenting to his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
American King James Version×
). No doubt remembering what Stephen had done gave Paul added impetus to do what seemed to have been the impossible in his lifetime. It prodded and inspired him to serve God in such a remarkable way. Paul wrote more about how to love and serve God than any other New Testament writer. It seems he suffered as much or more than other disciples (2 Corinthians 11:23-28 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 [23] Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. [24] Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. [25] Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; [26] In journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by my own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brothers; [27] In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. [28] Beside those things that are without, that which comes on me daily, the care of all the churches.
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). He went to his death with courage and conviction (2 Timothy 4:6-8 2 Timothy 4:6-8 [6] For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. [7] I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: [8] From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but to all them also that love his appearing.
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). As Stephen was being stoned, he saw "the heavens opened" (Acts 7:56 Acts 7:56And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
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) and witnessed a powerful sight that sustained him through the horrible ordeal. And so too for Paul—though in a different way—"the heavens opened." God gave him what he needed to make it through his trials. What about you and me? Will God give us the courage and strength we really need when we are facing the greatest trial in our existence? Will the "heavens open" for us too? Is there some sort of assurance God gladly gives to those who love Him and keep His commandments? God does not always grant a person a view into the heavens as young Stephen was given, but in other ways that do comfort and strengthen His children, He sends whatever they need to have the courage to stand fast at the point of their greatest trial. The words of Psalms 23:4 Psalms 23:4Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.
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are well known to anyone who reads the Scriptures. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." God has been called the "Father of mercies and God of all comfort" (2 Corinthians 1:3 2 Corinthians 1:3Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
American King James Version×
). He comforts us in all of our troubles. Even in the darkest moment for each of us, His "rod and staff" comfort us—the heavens open in some way—the way that is the very best for you and for me.