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.

We Need One Another

We Need One Another

Human beings need other human beings!  Everyone wants to be loved, welcomed, and valued.  There are times in life when sorrow or disappointments overtake us when we simply need human contact.  We may need a touch on the hand or a smile or hug.  We might need someone to encourage our faith.  Or we may simply need help moving a heavy dresser or bookcase.  The Scriptures give us insight into this topic.

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.  10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.  But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.  11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.  And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.  (Eccl 4:9-12)

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.  (Pro 17:17)

Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed.  Faithful are the wounds of a friend . . .  (Pro 27:5-6)

Ointment and perfume delight the heart, and the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel. 10 Do not forsake your own friend or your father’s friend,
nor go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity; better is a neighbor nearby than a brother far away.
 (Pro 27:9-10)

As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.  (Pro 27:17)

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.  (Jhn 15:13)

. . . that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.  (Rom 1:12)

People who have a lot of friends have proven themselves to be friendly. (Pro 18:24)

When the enemy wants to harm us, one of the tricks that he will use is to separate us from dearly loved friends or relatives.  (Pro 16:28; 17:9)  That is one of the enemy’s favorite past times—destruction.

Jesus is truly our best friend and Savior.  He loves us and pours out His blessings upon us as a result of His love.  One of the most beautiful gifts that He gives to people is the gift of friends!  Our faith is not intended to be lived out in the wilderness by ourselves.  We are intended to live within a community of faith, and an extended community of family and friends.

Friends give us wise counsel, warmth, help of all kinds, laughter, and encouragement.  Just knowing that we’ll be seeing a friend in a few days, can brighten our outlook and fill a person with joyful anticipation.  Often, when the Lord wants us to know how very much He loves us, He will send a caring friend (or several) to wrap their arms around us and tell us how very much they love us.  They may even send us an email, text, or greeting card to enumerate all of the things that they like about our friendship. 

Value your friends and remember to show your appreciation to them.  Don’t try to be a solo act; God intends us to have friends! 

The Touch of Faith

The Touch of Faith

. . . and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment.  And as many as touched it were made perfectly well.  (Matt 14:36 NKJV)

She came up behind Jesus and touched the tassel of his garment, and her bleeding stopped at once.  (Lk 8:44 ISV)

As we read these two different reports, you’ll notice that in one “the hem” of Jesus’ garment was mentioned; and in the other, “the tassel” of His garment was touched by the needy, faith-filled woman.

In the Mosaic Law, God instructed His people regarding the corners, or fringes, of their garments. Jews were to “make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a “cord of blue on the tassel of each corner” as a reminder that they were God’s people called to keep His commandments (Numbers 15:37-41). It seems like a strange instruction until we learn that in the Ancient Near East, the corner of a person’s garment represented his identity; it was a symbol of who he was and what he stood for.  (Source of above note:  https://biblemesh.com/blog/why-were-people-healed-from-touching-jesus-clothes/)

According to the above historical note about the tassels of a person’s clothing in Bible days, the tassels represented a person’s identity.  So, the woman with the issue of blood would have known that symbolism.

 It helps us to understand that the woman not only reached out in faith and in need, but she also reached out with a desire to identify and connect with Jesus’ identity.  She was humbly connecting with the Son of God, her Messiah.

In the same way, when we have a need, we would do well to follow this woman’s example.  Draw near to Jesus with a humble heart; recognize and appropriate His identity; and reach out and touch Him by faith.  In the biblical account of the woman healed of the issue of blood, Jesus established that He responded to this touch of faith!

He’s never too busy to perform a miracle for you!  

It’s Time to Reason With God

It’s Time to Reason With God

Do you have a need in your life?  Then, it’s time to reason with God!

I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.  Put Me in remembrance; let us contend together; state your case, that you may be acquitted.  [justified] – Isaiah 43:25, 26 NKJV, bracketed word added

The Lord wants us to “put Him in remembrance” and to reason with Him (Isa. 1:18) and to state our case for receiving the blessings of salvation.  Forgiveness and justification have been provided to us through Jesus, our Savior.  All of the blessings of salvation are ours through Jesus Christ. 

Take words with you, and return to the Lord; say to Him, “Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously, for we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.” – Hosea 14:2 NKJV

We are to take words with us to the Lord—His own words!  He also desires that we offer the sacrifices of our lips (our praise) to Him.  (Heb. 15:15)  He is pleased when we trust in His Word, obey it, and rely upon it.

And I have put My words in your mouth; I have covered you with the shadow of My hand.  – Isaiah 51:16a, b NKJV

Here the Lord says He has put His words in our mouths, and has covered us with the shadow of His hand.  As we remind Him of His Word, and tell Him that we know it’s true and that we’re relying upon it, He takes pleasure in our faith and our hope in Him.  As we speak God’s own words by faith, He provides all that we need in every area; and He protects us under His sheltering hand. Glory to God!

How Should I Pray for a Miracle?

How Should I Pray for a Miracle?

When faced with great need, either for ourselves or for others, we should begin by humbly seeking to know God’s will in the matter.  Jesus listened to the voice of His Father, and He watched Him. 

We serve the God of signs, wonders, and miracles.  (Heb 2:4)  Jesus demonstrated many miracles, signs, and wonders while He was on earth.  He is our example.    

This is an area where imitating Him will not only bring Him pleasure, but it will bless all those who receive answers to prayer, signs, wonders, and miracles!  And Jesus will receive all of the glory and honor for the miracles in which we are instrumental.  Praise God!

Ask the Lord to reveal His will to you, and then base your prayer upon the answer.  Praying for a miracle is welcoming a gift of the Holy Spirit to manifest.  When His will is to work a miracle, He’ll witness that to your heart.  Then you can ask Him to perform the miracle that you know He wants to bring about.

It’s often crucial to exercise a key to the miraculousthe spoken word.  God has given us authority over disease, demons, sickness, storms, and finances.  (Matt 10:1; Lk 10:19) 

He calls us to use His authority by using divinely empowered speech.  We may declare that authority in Jesus’ name:  we may command needed funds to come to us; command a storm to be stilled; command a demon to come out; command an affliction to leave; and command a sickness to depart. 

Jesus said in Mark 11:23 that we must believe in our hearts that it has already happened!  With the anointing of faith that God gives you, speak it out.  But remember that miracles come by faith in God’s present power, not by a ritual or a formula of human works or willpower.  God is the miracle worker.  Never lose sight of that!

Our faith in God is based upon the Word of God.  (Josh 21:45; Jer 1:12; Rom 10:17)  The Bible states that:

  • God’s Word stands forever (Isa 40:8);
  • That His Words do not pass away (Mat 24:35); and
  • That His Word is alive and powerful—and able to discern thoughts and motives of the heart.  (Heb 4:12)
  • That faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.  (Rom 10:17)

Test the Bible for yourself. Ask God to speak to you through his Word. Encounter the Bible on your own. You can’t inherit somebody else’s experience. You’ve got to have an authentic experience for yourself. 

Romans 1:16 reminds us that the GOSPEL (or the preaching of it) is the power of God unto salvation!  And Acts 14:3 announces that God worked with the apostles by bearing witness to the gospel by performing signs and wonders.  The Good News (gospel) and signs, wonders, and miracles have always been a dynamic combination in furthering the goals of the Kingdom. 

Study God’s Word and familiarize yourself with it as deeply as you can.  The more that you know the Word, the more that your faith will grow—especially, faith for miracles and wonders.  Launch out into the deep and believe God for miracles today!

How to Live In the Word

How to Live In the Word

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.”  (John 8:31)

How do you abide IN Jesus’ words?  First of all, the word abide may be defined as heed, acknowledge, or respect.  If our heart’s desire is to abide in His word, then we will depend upon the word as God intended us to do.  To depend on something means to rely upon it for support and help.

That means that whenever we have a concern, a need, or a challenge, we turn to the Scriptures to find a solution to our situation.  We look to the Lord and seek His face to hear what He has to say, and what wisdom He has to share.

Another way to receive God’s wisdom, of course, is to seek wise biblical counsel from a Pastor, an older believer, or a spouse or relative.  All of these advisors will be happy to refer to and to study the Word with you, searching for the help that only God can give. 

Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed; let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause.  (Ps 25:3)

Keep my soul, and deliver me; let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You.  (Ps 25:20)

For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”  (Rom 10:11)

When we rely upon the Lord and His word, we will never be put to shame.  Turning to the Word in our daily lives, and understanding that God has imbued it with His power so that it has active power to impact situations in our lives is living in His word.