Hi, I am still on a break away and writing and internet connection is not easy so these are some posts from the past but revamped,
This is the seventh in a series of eight posts based on Acts 6-7 and the martyrdom of Stephen exploring if it is a foreshadow of end-time persecution for the Church.
To go to the beginning of this series, to the first post, please click here.
Please either listen to the short audio clip above or read the notes below or both at the same time!
Stephen had the purest of hearts, right up until the last moment. He considered the needs of others rather than his own.
Acts 7:59 ‘Whilst they were stoning him Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them. “ When he had said this he fell asleep.’
Stephen was following the example of his Lord.
1 Peter 2:23 ‘When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.’
There is an important point to be made here. Stephen recognized that behind the scenes it was the enemy who was causing the persecution, rather than the people themselves. This is made clear in Revelation 2:10 where it is the devil who is responsible for the imprisonment of the Christians of Smyrna.
Revelation 2:10 ‘Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you…
This is a hard truth to take, that we should love and forgive those who hate and persecute us. Corrie Ten Boom described her struggles when she met a former guard from the concentration camp where so many of her family and friends were incarcerated. But yet God gave her the grace to love and forgive.
As I write these notes, the Taliban have taken Afghanistan and already we are hearing of cruel persecutions being inflicted upon the local people, especially in the rural area.
This is a hard truth to take, that we should love and forgive those who persecute us. But yet God will give us the grace and strength if we remain in His presence.
It is oh so easy for me, living in the relative comfort of Western Europe, to preach a sermon on forgiveness. But yet God would call all of us, no matter where we are, to forgive our enemies and to pray a blessing upon them. And God will give us the supernatural strength to do just that, if we remain firmly in His presence, looking to Him for purity and holiness of thought and attitudes.
Matthew 5:44 ‘But yet I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.’
The Church will be called to walk in perfect love and forgiveness. Even though it may seem that the Church is being brought to nothing, nevertheless our faith, the faith of Jesus upon the cross, will ensure the victory of King Jesus who will return in power and glory and destroy the enemy with just one breath!
Thank you for reading this.
- Revelation 15:3 A Deeper UnderstandingPlease click image to reaf full post and scroll down. If you struggle with the horror of Revelation then you are certainly not alone. The absolute horror reflects the weight of sin that has corrupted man to the core. But as we embrace these sacred truths, they will bring us deeper, far deeper than ever before, into an understanding of the heart, into an understanding of the perfect holiness of God.
- Revelation 15:3 Moses and JesusPlease tap image to see full post The mention of both Moses and Jesus the Lamb in the same sentence strengthens the idea that Jesus will be the perfect Moses, who will deliver Israel, imprisoned or exiled by the antichrist and lead them victoriously back to Jerusalem.
- Revelation 15:1 Glass and FireThe bitterness of martyrdom gives way to eternal celebration. Their victory has always been dependent upon the strength that God provides and this is reflected in the harps given to them by God. And what a glorious celebration. The enemy has been defeated and the bowls of wrath will bring this evil age to a conclusion. The joy of eternity awaits!
- Revelation 14:20 The battlefieldTo read full post please tap image and scroll down. There is a justice here, that as Christ Jesus was crucified outside of the city, so this battle will take place outside too. Those who hold to the idea that Jesus is a humble servant will be stretched by the description of Jesus as the mighty bloody warrior.
- Revelation 14:20 Trampled winepressTo read full post please click image and scroll down. In the past few posts we have explored the corn harvest which I suggested will be the harvest of the redeemed and then the grape harvest which is clearly the wrath of God being poured out upon the wicked. God will inspire the antichrist to march against Jerusalem but it will be a foolish move.