I'm writing over at Internet Cafe Devotions today. I hope you'll join me over there.
“You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!” (Acts 7:51-52)
I’ve always had an independent streak.
Some might call me stubborn, difficult or rebellious. Others might say I’m self-sufficient, creative and non-traditional.
One thing I know is that I don’t like to be boxed in and told what to do. When this happens I stiffen and resist the perceived oppression.
Ancient farmers knew a thing or two about this. They plowed their fields using oxen harnessed to a yoke. Sometimes an independent-minded ox fought being restrained. It stiffened its neck to resist getting attached to the yoke. Hence the term stiff-necked.
This chronic condition appeared in God’s people, and throughout the Old Testament the Israelites were frequently labeled stiff-necked. From generation to generation they stubbornly chose their own way and refused to yield to the “yoke” of the Lord.
Chronic stiff-neckitis continued to afflict the Jewish people in the New Testament. In the beginning of Acts, as the church spread with an unstoppable fire, some received a Holy Spirit-induced adjustment and accepted Jesus. But many religious folks, especially the elite, felt challenged and threatened by this new way of looking at God. They reared up and resisted.
Caught in the cross-hairs of their anger was the apostle Stephen who was accused of blasphemy and brought before the powerful Sanhedrin to stand trial. <<Read more...>>