The best life is a God First life

Category: Focus

Even in death, Stephen was Teaching!

As I listened to a lesson by Kyle Rye this past Sunday, the following thoughts came to mind. In all that we do to the end of this worldly life, Christians should strive to follow the example of Stephen and teach God’s Word in all we do down to the very end. Even in death, Stephen was teaching!

Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Acts 7:58-60

In Acts 7:59, we are told: “And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

  1. Here we see by Stephen’s words and example what faith, trust and commitment entails as he called out “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
    • Stephen did not beg them to stop or try to take back his words but rather; demonstrated by example his belief and trust in God.
  2. With a loud voice Stephen teaches them and us as he identifies their action as Sin
    • In verse 58 we find that Saul, later named Paul was present.
    • In verse 59 whether Stephan’s killers knew at the moment or realized it sometime later, Their actions were NOT Justice, but Sin. Among his last words Stephen called them out on this. Certainly, this did not escape Paul as he later grew in understanding.
  3. In death Stephen teaches forgiveness
    • In verse 60 we find Stephen asking God not to hold this sin against them. In making this statment we learn Steven did not leave this world with a grudge or hating those who were taking his life, but rather; Stephen left demonstrating compassion for their ignorance and love for his murderes, as he appealed to God for them to be forgiven of this sin.

I can only imagine how Paul may have reflected on these memories later in life. How they may have burned in his heart, knowing he could not change what he’d been part of, yet these memories likely became fuel. Heartfelt fuel that helped push him to teach and share Jesus no matter what the worldly consequences may be.

Paul later stated: “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:15-17)

God First!

  • Colossians 3:13
  • 1 John 2:15-17
  • Hebrews 13:14-16
  • Matthew 6:21
  • Mark 16:15

Missing the mark so closely can have dramatic results.

One day while cutting down a tree on our property, I ”missed the mark” by a couple of inches and dropped a large dead tree in the opposite direction of my intention. My cut was slightly below the wedge I’d removed. I didn’t realize it until the tree clamped down on my chainsaw and became stuck in the tree. I shut it off and walked away with my brother. As we contemplated the next step, a branch fell from the tree. Shortly after, we watched as the whole tree slowly leaned and fell. The bar on my chainsaw now looks like a twisted metal pretzel.

It’s amazing to think about how “missing the mark” so closely changed the results so dramatically.

Thankfully, the result of that day’s mistake didn’t matter much, and nobody got hurt, but it sure reinforces the importance of “hitting the mark” when missing so closely can result in disaster.

It’s also important that we “hit the mark” in doing the will of God; being careless as I was today can have dire consequences.

In Matthew 7:21, Jesus said:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

We really have no excuses for not doing the will of God according to God’s will as we have the complete word of God (The Bible) readily available. However, we can only know scripture through study. It’s so important that we really can’t allow others to do it for us. We all need understanding as we are each responsible for working out our own salvation.

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” Philippians 2:12 ESV.

God First!

Important rhetorical questions

What action are we as individuals taking to advance the message of Christ?

  • To edify others?
  • To help the Poor?
  • To help Widows?
  • To help Orphans?
  •  Etc., etc., etc.

Could we, or should we, be doing more? As I ask myself this question, the answer is obvious.  Not nearly enough!

I hope for you the answer is much greater than the one I must admit. The theme at the congregation of the Lord’s Church I attend is “Go and Do,” So for me, I will strive after pondering these questions again this year to do more.

God First

Trudge and gain

Sometimes situations in life are tough, but we simply trudge forward with God’s help and our unwavering faith. Eventually, those tough times become part of our wisdom and strength until the good times bless us again.

For if God is with us, who can be against?

God First!

I use to carry the equivalent of these 4 bowling balls everywhere I went

On January 6, 2019, blood clots were found in my lungs and legs, and my blood sugar was 465 with an A1C of 11.6, which crash-landed me in the ICU.
 
It feels more prolonged, but tomorrow is two years and three months since I experienced this life-changing moment. I was sent home taking 4 insulin shots and 2 blood thinner shots daily.  2 months later, I originally posted the following on FB…
 
”I have stopped joking around about my health and began working on it. I have begun replacing bad eating habits with new ones.
I gave myself goals for the year.
 
1. Be 25 again by year’s end (😉)
2. Lose weight
3. get off insulin
4. Get off the blood thinner
 
I had previously joked about my obesity. It was easier than serious effort. I enjoyed my gluttony of foods, and though I wanted to change, I wanted it without real effort. I actually think I had settled into and accepted the idea that losing 45 lbs would never happen, so why try?
 
However; As of 4/5/2019, I had lost 45 lbs, which put me at about the weight I was when I was 25 yrs of age.
 
I have been off the insulin since March of 2019, but they did put me on metformin. I have now cut that dosage of metformin in half. I feel great and have energy again.” It’s amazing what you can do with God’s help when you put both your mind and heart into it.
 
I am so thankful that I had this wake-up call two years ago tomorrow – It was a life-changing moment indeed!”
 

Update to this update:

I went on to lose a total of 60 lbs by June 2019 (4 bowling balls), putting me right at 200lbs. I am still on a blood thinner and 1/2 the metformin dosage.
 
At the start of my recent Covid19/pneumonia experience, which started 3/3/21, I had slacked up during the winter and gained about 12 lbs but recently saw 198lbs. (The only plus from covid)
 
As with most of my other shares, my intent for sharing this story is not to brag but somewhat out of hope. I hope to inspire those in similar situations. To help them realize they can also accomplish similar goals.
 
If doing it for yourself is not enough, think about how negatively the impact of your absence would affect those you love, Those who need you. Ask yourself a couple of questions.
 
Do you really want to take a chance of leaving them without you?
Would you be happy to take several shots a day or tons of meds when you can avoid it by changing habits instead?
 
I did not want my wife or family to have to live without me; We are all needed by those that love us, those whom we love. So, Wheresoever it’s within our power to do so, let’s do what we can by replacing bad habits with healthy habits.

Focus on the good

With so much evil in this world to distract our hearts and minds, let us NOT lose focus of all the good that surrounds us (often in humble quietness).

 Let us work to keep our hearts and minds open and focus on the good; let us think and practice the words we find in Philippians.

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” ~ Philippians 4:8

Let us be a light to others and recognize the shining lights in our lives; let us give thanks and say Thank-you today to those whose quest to live righteously inspires us to do the same.

  • Matthew 5:16 (let your light shine)
  • Galatians 6:9 (Never give up on doing good)

God First!

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