Extreme Mercy & Forgiveness

Extreme Mercy & Forgiveness

And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.  (Ac 7:59-60)

Focus on the extreme mercy and forgiveness that Stephen displayed!  Here are people in the process of killing him, and he forgives them and asks the Lord to forgive them.  Then he dies. What mercy!  What forgiveness!  Stephen went to heaven as a martyr for the gospel.

According to Daniel 9:9, mercy and forgiveness belong to God.  The Bible says (see below) that mercy and unlimited forgiveness belong to God.

O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, because with the Lord there is mercy and with Him there is unlimited forgiveness.  (Ps 130:7 GW)

In the church of Jerusalem, Stephen was chosen along with six other men to serve as deacons.  As deacons, they would take charge of the gifts of the people, and give assistance to those who were in need, including widows.  The criteria for choosing these men was that they had to have the Spirit of God and to have wisdom. 

Stephen not only cared for the poor, but he began to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone—Jews and Gentiles both.  This conduct enraged some of Jews, who plotted against him.

Clearly, as Stephen shared the Good News, the Holy Spirit used Stephen as an instrument for the Kingdom of God.  History records that Stephen, as he ministered to the people, performed signs, wonders, and miracles among them.  Glory to God!

Stephen clearly loved and obeyed Jesus Christ, his Savior and example in all things.  Stephen emulated the Lord Jesus Christ in his life, work, and even in death. 

This is a good moment to reflect upon our own lives; and to determine whether we are allowing mercy and forgiveness to operate in our lives, our responses, and our actions.

Share Your Testimony

Share Your Testimony

However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.”  (Mk 5:19)

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will declare what He has done for my soul.  (Ps 66:16)

“Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”  (Joh 4:29)

These passages all have one thing in common—they pertain to sharing your own testimony of what God has done for you.  We need to remember that our testimony is important.  We each have a testimony of how we came to accept Christ as our Savior and Lord. 

We also have additional testimonies of answered prayer—some of which are clearly in the realm of signs, wonders, and miracles.  We must be bold to joyously share the great things that God has done for us.

Why?

  • Your testimony is unlike anyone else’s. The honesty and reality of it will be used by the Holy Spirit to move in people’s hearts.
  • The Bible tells us share our testimony. (1 Pet 3:15-16)
  • All people love to hear stories. This is the age of superheroes, so introduce people to a true Hero—their Savior.
  • Your testimony strengthens the faith of all those who hear it—and will even strengthen and encourage your own faith as you remember what God has done for you in the past.
  • It will encourage other people who may be going through a similar situation. In this way, you may be able to help them carry their burden.  (Gal 6:2) 
  • Every time you retell how you came to know Christ as your Savior, you revive your experience of it. It helps to keep you connected and plugged into your first Love.  (Rev 2:4)
  • Your testimony gives glory to God because it points people to the Savior Jesus.

Have Confidence in the Lord

It is vital for us to have confidence in the Lord.  I’m talking about having the kind of confidence in the Lord that Paul had when he wrote this verse:

But I know that when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.  (Rom 15:29)

Paul could make this bold statement because he knew who he was in Christ.  He had confidence in the Word of God, and he had confidence in his relationship with Jesus, our Savior.  This is the same confidence that each and every one of us may have.  All we need to do is to nurture our confidence!

Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, 31 preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.  (Ac 28:30-31)

For the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught.  (Pro 3:26)

But “he who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”  (2 Cor 10:17)  Another word for “glories” is boasts.  So this verse reminds us to boast in the Lord.  Paul knew how to do that.

We know that when signs, wonders, and miracles take place in our ministry, it is the Lord who performs those wonders!  We know that He alone is the Healer and Deliverer.  Paul knew that it was natural and normal to expect good things from the God who is good all the time.  This is the kind of confidence that we want to nurture in our hearts.

We nurture our confidence in the Lord by reading and meditating upon the Scriptures.  We do it with praise and worship of our God on a regular and ongoing basis.  As our relationship with the Lord stands the test of time, we mature and grow in our faith as well as in our confidence.

Trust the Lord and His Word.  Rely upon His Word and believe it when it says of itself:

Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass. (Josh 21:45)

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.  (Mat 24:35)

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  (1 Cor 1:18)

Feed your confidence! 

Long Life

Long Life

Our God has promised to give His people long life as the verses shown below demonstrate.

  1. You shall walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess. (Deut 5:33 ESV)
  2. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him My salvation. (Ps 91:16)
  3. My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you. (Pro 3:1-2)
  4. The fear of the Lord prolongs life, but the years of the wicked will be short. (Pro 10:27)
  5. Who have been upheld by Me from birth, Who have been carried from the womb: even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you!  I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.  (Isa 46:3b, 4)

God enjoys blessing and protecting us for we are His people.  He has given us a calling and a mission to spread the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to make disciples.  (See Mat 28:18-20 & Mk 16:15)  This is HOW we are to use the long lives that He has given to us!

We’re called to be witnesses to the ends of the earth, telling others about Jesus’ atoning work on behalf of all mankind.  (See Acts 1:8)  Not only that, but the Lord wants us to share our own testimonies of what He has done for each one of us.  We all have testimonies to share of answered prayers and miracles that God has done on our behalf.

Making disciples is all about continuing the chain of redemption by passing on the faith that was passed to you.  (See Rom 10:14-15)  We are all called to use our long lives wisely on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Importance of Remembering

The Importance of Remembering

Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and judgments of His mouth . . .   (Ps 105:5)

The Lord is telling us to do something in this verse.  He tells us to remember the goodness of God. 

Remembering is of great consequence to God!  That’s why He instructed the Israelites to pile up stones in places where He did mighty works on their behalf.  That’s also why He instituted the many feasts that He wanted the Israelites to observe—so they wouldn’t forget Him and His mighty works on their behalf.  It also motivated them to share their testimonies about God with their children and grandchildren whenever they passed these memorial stones and celebrated their feasts.

Remembering and meditating upon: 1) the attributes of the Lord; 2) the miracles and blessings we’ve received from Him; 3) His Word; and 4) God’s personality deepens our relationship with God, and nurtures our faith.  It invigorates and galvanizes our faith!

David strengthened himself in the Lord by remembering all of the miracles that God had performed for David previously.  (1 Sam 30:6)

Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. (Psalm 37:3)  We feed on His faithfulness by remembering and sharing testimonies of His power and greatness.  This nurtures our faith and the faith of those around us.

That they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments . . . (Psalm 78:7 NKJV) This passage asks us to remember the works and wonders that God has performed for us in the past.  We’re also prompted to live a Kingdom lifestyle.  Jesus kept all of the commandments so that we wouldn’t need to be law-keepers, and we would have the privilege of living by grace through faith.  (Eph 2:8)

Rejoice in your blessings, and remember God’s past supernatural acts on your behalf.  You faith will be energized!

Power to Serve

Power to Serve

Here are a handful of Bible verses about:

  • God, who has power and uses it;
  • God gives strength and power to His people;
  • Jesus, who demonstrated his power by many mighty miracles; &
  • Jesus sharing His power with His disciples (and us).

O God, You are more awesome than Your holy places. The God of Israel is He who gives strength and power to His people. Blessed be God!  (Ps 68:35)

He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.  (Isa 40:29)

And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.  (Mt 10:1)

Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power.  (Mk 3:14-15)

And He called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits.  (Mk 6:7)

Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases.  (Lk 9:1)

Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.  (Lk 10:19)

For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.  (1 Cor 4:20)

Jesus called His disciples together to commission them to preach and to impart power to them.  Luke 9:1 says that He gave them power and authority; and Luke 10:19 says that our power can triumph over the enemy and protect us from harm.

We have been given this power to SERVE–in order to testify of Jesus and to preach Good News to all.  We are called to serve the Kingdom of God from the moment that we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

What a joy and a privilege to serve Jesus!

Does God Perform Miracles Today?

Does God Perform Miracles Today?

I’ve spent some time online recently reading published articles about whether God performs miracles today or not—in 2017.  What concerns me gravely is that many Christians who love God are of the decided opinion that miracles are NOT being performed now!  I want to read what the Bible has to say.

Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles.  (Acts 15:12)  Barnabas and Paul reminded the multitude that GOD worked the miracles and wonders—not man.  Yes, He worked through the apostles, but God is named as the Miracle Worker.

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.  (1 Cor 12:7-10)  This passage of the Bible names spiritual gifts given to the church by God.  The spiritual gifts given to believers names “the working of miracles.”  I don’t see a time limit on this nor a statement saying that this would only occur in a certain age of the church.  Notice that this passage opens with the statement that these spiritual gifts are given to individuals for the profit of ALL.  So, clearly the spiritual gifts are a blessing to the entire church.  Why would anyone desire that miracles stop?

This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?  Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.  Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.”  (Gal 3:2-8)  In this excerpt from the Bible, the Lord reminds us that He supplies the Spirit to us AND He works the miracles among us—all in response to faith on the part of human beings. 

Shall we who trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior now abandon faith?  Faith is clearly a prerequisite for the operation of any miracle.  Since God Himself, the Ancient of Days, is the One who performs miracles, who are we to dictate in what era He may  or may not perform them? 

I personally have experienced quite a number of miracles from my loving God.  I have seen the Lord perform miracles right in front of me, and I know other believers who have also received miracles from the Lord Jesus Christ.  I can say from my own knowledge and experience that the Lord does indeed perform miracles today.