“But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand.” Acts 7:55 (NLT)
Stephen, when surrounded by angry stone welding religious folks, chose to gaze upward into heaven instead of around him. He could have been caught in the moment of what was happening on earth but he chose to fix his eyes on God. And that is what he saw. The heavens opened up, right in the midst of his life-threatening moment and he saw the glory of God radiating from the throne and from Jesus, who was standing looking at him!
That same invitation is ours. If Stephen could do it in his life-threatening moment, so can we! We can choose to fix our gaze heavenward upon Jesus, or we can get caught up in the earthly theater. We are told in Proverbs that if we trust in the Lord with all our heart (the One who is in heaven above it all) and not lean on our own understanding (what’s going on around us) He will make our paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6). We are told to fix of eyes on Jesus instead of on the things that hinders and entangles us (Hebrews 12:1-2). We are told that when we fix our gaze on God’s glory, we are literally transformed by it (2 Corinthians 3:18). In other words, we have a choice of what we fix our thoughts, attention and gaze upon. If we gaze upon the things around us, the narrative, the evil, the darkness, we will be consumed by it. But if we intentionally choose to look heavenward, we will be transformed by His glory. When we think of the higher things, such as what Paul says are true, noble, pure, lovely, excellent and praiseworthy, such as Jesus, then the God of peace will be with us (Philippians 4:8-9). God’s peace, especially in our day, is otherworldly! God peace is heaven touching earth!
Cry out for grace to gaze on the glory of God today, no matter what else is vying for your attention. Choose to look heavenward. Specifically take some time and meditate on the Father, on Jesus, on the throne in heaven, upon His glory! Ask God to show you His glory, and begin making that the way you start your day. Pray for your pastor to fix his eyes on the things above, on Jesus and His glory. Pray that God would open heaven over your church as you take time in your worship services to gaze upon His glory! Pray that Athens would be a city where heaven opens up and is seen on earth!