“In a world that blames God for disasters, yet credits luck for life’s blessings, we need reminding that the Lord alone is the universal Maestro. Evil and suffering are not from his hand, yet he is mighty enough to work the worst of circumstances for our ultimate good and his own exalted glory. It is ours to choose whether we will cooperate with his unfolding redemptive drama—whether we will submit our lives to his will. Each step taken and a word spoken should be a confession of just who is crafting our life’s story.”
Above is an excerpt from the book: The Epic of God – by Michael Whitworth; the book is an in-depth look at Genesis that I found very interesting. I introduced the book to my wife and happened to reread the introduction when the above excerpt stuck out to me. I posted the above in 2016 on Facebook – I wonder now as I see it in my FB memories if God knew I would need this reminder later in life and that I would share it with all who read my articles (of course, he did).
- Psalm 139:4
- 1 John 3:20
- Hebrews 4:13
- Isaiah 51:3
- Psalm 119:76
- Matthew 5:4
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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
- Colossians 3:13
- 1 John 2:15-17
- Hebrews 13:14-16
- Matthew 6:21
- Mark 16:15