Christian friends, your voices raise
Wake the day with gladness.
God himself to joy and praise
Turns our human sadness.
Joy that martyrs won their crown
Opened Heaven’s bright portal.
When they laid the mortal down for the life immortal.
– Song of Stephen The Martyr
“All who call on God in true faith, earnestly from the heart, will certainly be heard, and will receive what they have asked and desired, although not in the hour or in the measure, or the very thing which they ask. Yet they will obtain something greater and more glorious than they had dared to ask.” –Martin Luther
Stephen the Martyr has not always been on my top 5 most adored biblical figures list, but after researching his story in depth, I have discovered just how important his role was then and his story is now. (Click HERE to read his story in detail ). Stephen was the first Christian martyr to die for his faith, but he certainly was not the last. Stephen represents the very boldness we are to have as brothers and sisters of faith. Looking a very painful death in the face, he stayed true to what was right and even prayed for the men as they stoned him to death. Stephen knew that death was not to be feared, but anticipated because it meant he would be reunited with God.
Since Stephen’s death, countless Christians have died for their witness to the gospel. They set their eyes on Jesus and not on the world. They did not value the approval of people over the approval of their Savior. They refused to disown Jesus and because of their courage to stand up for the truth, Jesus promised to acknowledge them in the presence of His father in heaven.
So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.- Matthew 10:32,33
So many times I have watched people suppress the truth of a situation to avoid a confrontation or involvement in a problem that does not concern them directly. Very much like Judas, people are so quick to turn their back if it means they will dodge the bullet. Ironically one cannot dodge the bullets of truth by using false as their shield. Truth always finds a way and God is all that is true. Although we would like to think we have gotten away with something for a moment without being caught, that simply is not true. We were caught way before we even realized we were being chased. God is not absent in the moments you feel that no one is watching. He sees all we do and He has known our hearts before they even had a beat.
The book of Acts tells us that right after the violent death of Stephen, Saul continued the persecution of the faith by chasing down it’s members and sending them to jail for similar charges. Others were later persecuted by the Roman Emperor Nero so he could blame them for a fire which destroyed most of Rome.
Sound familiar? Have you ever felt that no matter how good you are, people will not give up in trying to prove you are rotten? Have you ever witnessed something very wrong, but rationalized why it was not your place to try to make it right? I HAVE. I used to lie all the time and so much that I started to believe my own, very twisted versions of the situation were true! I felt the knot in my stomach when I looked my family in the eye and told them I was doing great. I tried to dodge the bullets of the truth, but later when looking at myself in the mirror, they hit me dead on and it killed me. Literally, I did not know who I was looking at, but God knew that was just what it would take to destroy my version of reality and respect Him and His.
When we accept that we will face challenging times and people in regards to our faith, it becomes a huge demonstration of our trust and faith in God and what He has told us. When we cut corners and skip out the back in times of persecution, it reflects the opposite and it appears to God as if we think we can out smart Him or out run the truth of things. WRONG. We cannot hide from the One who attends to everything and is the power sustaining and guiding our destiny. Prepare yourself for these tests of faith so that when they arise you do not find yourself in a state of fear and regretting your choices later. If you hold tight to the truth, in any given situation, you will be holding on to God and cannot lose. Be like Stephen while fighting the good fight. Team Jesus! Guaranteed KO!
- Persecution is coming to America – Paul Washer (rodiagnusdei.wordpress.com)
- Crusade Prayer ( 21,22,23,24) (trusthismercy.wordpress.com)
- This is Good News – A Devotion (lthomason.wordpress.com)
- Called to be Witnesses (Martyrs!) (frted.wordpress.com)
- The Kiss of Judas (cfcspn.com)