First, I hope and pray my message finds you well during this time. God is still watching over us as we deal with the birthing of a new season of life in the transitions related to COVID-19, continuous challenges in the global economy, protests against the sins of discrimination in their many forms, in particular against women and people of color, and black people, specifically. These days give us reason to know the truth in the phrase, "There is always something to pray for" and the freedom found in Luke 18:1, "men ought to always pray, and not to faint". These days are unlike any days that we have seen; but, these days are not a mystery to God.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, people, in general, and Christians, in particular, have always had difficult days. Even in the Garden of Eden, paradise on this side of glory, Adam and Eve could not keep it together well enough and long enough to even pass paradise on to their children. Temptation to embrace darkness instead of light, evil instead of good, sin instead of the righteousness of God has always existed. And, when it does, what do you do?
A couple of weeks ago, I taught and we journeyed through a Summer Mini Lesson entitled, "The Blessing Of Dealing With Difficult People". It was a blessing for me and I believe it was also for those who connected with us. I suggest you search through your emails and revisit the lesson from time to time as difficult people visit you from time to time. Somebody should be saying, "Amen" about now.
You see, beloved, your blessing in days like this comes from the difficult times and people giving you an opportunity to make a mind-blowing, life-altering, soul-stirring choice. Will you choose to look to and trust in God in spite of what you see in the world?
If you read Acts 7, you will find an interesting exchange. Please read it.
Stephen, one of the first deacons, spoke truth to his Jewish brethren, not strangers, those of the same blood, and they wanted to kill him. Is it not so odd how some people can be so nice to strangers and then turn around and repeatedly without hesitation, shame, or regard, hurt those who they should and sometimes say that they love?
Stephen, trying to shine some light on some darkness, spoke truth that his Jewish brethren would not receive because it was strong medicine for their souls that they needed but it was a bitter pill to swallow. Is it not so odd how some people will reject the truth you try to impart to them, hopefully and prayerfully in love, that would free them if they would receive it and they turn around and run back into their cages, cells, and prisons?
Stephen, seeking to evangelize those who needed to receive Jesus, spoke truth that the Messiah had come to his Jewish brethren and in spite of their heinous crime of murdering Jesus, He was still their only path to true salvation and they persisted in wanting to take the road to perdition. Is it not odd how some people can claim a righteousness in their lives while giving overwhelming evidence that their minds, hearts and spirits are far from it?
Well, what is odd is not so odd. There will be days like this and we are living in those days right now.
You see, at your lowest point, when others have rejected you for doing nothing but giving your best to them, you should continue to look to God.
For, after Stephen spoke truth to his Jewish brethren, Acts 7:54 reveals, "When they heard these things, they became enraged and ground their teeth at Stephen."
This rage eventually gave way to them stoning Stephen and killing him. Beloved, people may not physically kill you; but, they can hurt you with their words and actions that can seem very condemning.
But, because there is no condemnation in Christ, God has already provided a relief lever for you to pull. Look to Him.
In his moment of great distress, Acts 7:55 tells us this about Stephen, "But FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God."
Beloved, at his moment of greatest need, God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - showed up for Stephen as he walked faithfully through the most trying time in his life.
Stephen was made for that day. God made him for that day and we read his story today.
Beloved, you might think that you are going through something that could kill you or crush you. Know that no more is going to happen to you than what God will allow.
To be forewarned is to be forearmed. So, know that there will be days like this and God is there for you.
Keep looking to God and know that God will continue to be there for you in days like this.
I encourage you to be strengthened in the points of connection that Zion is offering. We have Noonday Prayer today. And, we have a Summer mini lesson this evening at 6:30pm. Both will help you through days like this. Connect and be with us as we desire to connect and be with you.
And, remember, God loves you and I love you too!