“While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on hi knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts7:59-60)
In essence, Stephen prayed Christ’s firs and last prayers on the cross in reverse order. Believers can face death in confidence and good conscience by following Christ’s example.
Jesus referred to physical death as sleep on a number of occasions. The point was not to teach an idea of “soul sleep,” or unconscious existence after death and prior to resurrection. Jesus’ other teachings about death disallow this. Rather, the concern was to teach an idea of death for a believer as something to be no more feared than falling asleep. At death, believers are given quiet rest from life’s pains and labors.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY:
Precious Abba, Stephen the first Deacon of the Christian church was being stoned to death; yet, in the midst of his being pelted with stones, he asked Jesus to receive his spirit, and then cried out to the Lord not to hold the peoples sins against them. We know through many accounts of people near the point of death, that they are given Your peace, and they pass from this life to the next in comfort and in expectation of entering the kingdom. Thanks You, precious Abba, for your compassion, strength, wisdom, and love. Amen
THOUGHT OF THE DAY:
“Some hearts need a pacemaker, but all hearts need the Peacemaker.”
“At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth.” (2nd Timothy4:16-17)
Paul was fully confident in God’s strength. His presence can be so strong that even betrayal by trusted friends will not shake a believer’s faith and endurance. God can rescue us from any earthly dangers if He chooses to do so. He will bring us safely to our heavenly reward. We do not rely on earthly, human help. God is our source of all help.
Even if all people desert us, God will stand by us and strengthen us for the task of sharing Christ. He is able to deliver us and make our witness for Christ effectual in winning people to our Lord.
“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’ He said to them, When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’” (Luke11:1-4)
The Old Testament had been full of examples of prayer and teaching on prayer. John had taught on prayer, but Jesus’ example was unique. It inspired the disciples to ask Him to teach them to pray as He prayed. The Model Prayer as given here is slightly shortened from the version in Matthew 6:9-13.
The Model Prayer provides a form for unison prayer in public worship but is much more. It illustrates the relationships and subjects of prayer. It encourages us to learn through practice and imitation how to pray openly to the Father for His kingdom purposes.
Second Thought of the Day:
“When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself o pray. When evening came, he was there alone.” (Matthew14:13–14, 23)
John’s disciples arrived and told Jesus what had happened to John, that on Herod’s birthday, his step-daughter had asked for John’s head on a platter, and she would dance for him. Jesus was about to leave to a place of privacy to both rest and teach His disciples. Upon hearing the news of John, the crowds pressed in seeking help. At that moment, Jesus surrendered the opportunity to meet His needs because He cared for the needy multitudes. He miraculously healed the sick and them supplied food for the hungry, despite the unbelieving protests of His followers.
Bible scholars have tired to give a natural reason of the feeding miracle; in so doing they go against the plain biblical statement. Christ was able to do what even His own disciples thought thought was impossible. A needy world continues to wait for a church to have faith to meet their needs. What Jesus did was to show compassion on the people following him, prompting Him to use His divine power, to meet their needs.