Monday, May 23, 2011

May 23, 2011 … Stephen: Grace & Serenity in Suffering

Passage of the Day: Acts 6: 5a and Acts 6: 8a … 5a … Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; … 8a … Now Stephen, a man full of God's grace and power, …

My Journal for Today: In these past days [see my devotional blogs], I’ve (we’ve) been looking at what it takes to live as a Christian in this caldron of world opposition and/or personal tribulation. And when it comes to having what it takes, the biblical model of Stephen, the first recorded Christian martyr, is a good one to put before Christians. As we see in our two text passages for today, Stephen was described by Luke, the Author of Acts, as “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit [Acts 6: 5a]” and one “full of God’s grace and power. [Acts 6: 8a].” And Stephen certainly demonstrated all of these character traits when he witnessed strongly for Christ to the Sanhedrin and then became the first biblically recorded Christian martyr (see Acts 7). Toward the end of that chapter we see Stephen’s resolve when he, while being stoned to death, was willing and able to mimic his Savior and forgive his fellow Jews who were stoning him to death [see Acts 7: 60].

SCRIPTURE: Acts 7: 60Then he [Stephen] fell on his knees [while being stoned] and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep.

In Stephen we see what it takes for Christians to be able to handle even the most extreme trials with the character of Christ being lived out in the believer. Stephen’s belief became Stephen’s life. Stephen’s worship of his Lord became his life; and that is what it takes for any of us who are challenged by this world or our own flesh … yes, even to the point of opposition or death.

I may never be called upon to witness to my faith in the way of Stephen or the way Cassie Bernall did at Columbine High School, where a disturbed young man held a gun to her head and asked if she was a Christian. Without hesitating, she quietly proclaimed, “Yes;” and with that witness of faith, she was assassinated by that deranged teenager. When any Christian is challenged in the pubic arena, we need to call upon the same strength of character which martyrs like Stephen and Cassie Bernall exhibited. And we can, because we, being born-again Christians, have the same Holy Spirit in our hearts as did these strong witnesses for Christ. The truth of the promises of 2nd Cor. 12: 9 and 1st Cor. 10: 13, which carried the day for Cassie and Stephen, carry the day for me [and you]. Yes, I am weak; but my God is strong; and He is faithful to never allow me into any situation where, with His help/strength, I cannot be triumphant in His Name.

Are we ready to be Christ’s light in a dark world today? Are we ready to call up the grace and strength of a Stephen should we face the fiery trials of a hostile world and a weak flesh today? To that end … I pray …

My Prayer Today: O Lord, give me Your grace to witness in the world as did Stephen. Amen

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