“Fits of anger generate an illusion that we are strong, simply because it feels like strength; it’s not, it’s actually a terrible weakness.” – David Kupelian, How Evil Works (Paraphrased)
Anytime we ally with the enemy we’re partnering with weakness; how different life would be if we could recognize such a truth.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be complete, lacking in nothing.1James 1:2-4 ESV
Points to ponder:
Is temptation not a trial?
Not succumbing to temptation, is that not a test of our faith?
If we do fail, does repentance not also test our faith?
At the moment of conviction, are we not positioned to be set free from the bondage of the enemy through confession and agreement with God?21Jo 1:9 AV If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Is not faith required for us to come boldly into the presence of God?3Heb 4:16 AV Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in the time of need.
Is it possible that no matter the outcome, if we remain in relationship with God, we are on the road to steadfastness?4Ro 8:28 AV And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.
Can we have a greater hope; is this not the hope of the gospel?52Tim 1:8-12 NIV So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.
My Prayer: Thank you God for loving us unconditionally. Thank you for providing us the way back to unbroken relationship with you. Thank you for the grace to respond to your calling. We are so richly blessed by you! Amen.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.6Pr 3:5-6 NIV
Consider: When I lean on my own understanding, in addition to not trusting God, am I not also closing my ears towards God?
We acknowledge him by agreeing with and speaking the truth. Is confession not agreeing with God? Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.2Joh 14:6 NIV Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me. The enemy wants me to fear punishment and hide my sins.3Joh 3:20-21 NIV Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” The truth sets me free!4Joh 8:32 AV And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.The truth enables me to boldly come to the throne of grace and obtain mercy.5Heb 4:16 AV Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Do I not need mercy when I am at my worst?6Ro 5:6-11 NIV You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.Paul knew this so he counted everything as lost to be saturated in the mercy and grace of God.71Ti 1:15-16 NIV Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.8Php 3:8-9 NIV What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.God’s power is made perfect in weakness.92Co 12:9 NIV But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.102Co 4:7 NIV But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.11Pr 3:7 NIV
Consider:“Fear the Lord and shun evil” –do we shun evil out of fear? Don’t we choose sin because we think it to be good in some way? Choosing what I think is good –isn’t that being wise in my own eyes?
My Confession: I find myself on my knees nearly every night confessing my sins and failures through out the day. Today I asked the Lord why I keep doing the same things over and over.12Pr 26:11 NIV As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.He simply replied, “You can start your day on your knees or end it on your knees.” After contemplating His response, I realized the outcome is radically different! One focuses on God and the other on self; the one acknowledges a dependence on God and the other how “I” mismanaged “my” day.
My Prayer: God, I desire to start on my knees and give You the first fruits of everyday!13Pr 3:9-10 AV Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.Please forgive me for leaning on my own understanding, trusting in myself and being wise in my own eyes. Please teach me to acknowledge you in all of my ways and give you the glory and honor that you alone deserve. Please direct my paths, to shun evil and not turn to the right or the left but instead, to walk in your ways.14De 5:32-33 NIV So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.
The bible teaches that those who have been forgiven much will love much.15Lu 7:47 NIV “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven— for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” Stephan loves much. 21Co 13:4-5 NIV Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.I struggle to understood how Stephan could forgive while being hit with rocks that were intended to kill him.3Ac7:59-60 NIV While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.Of course, I knew it was possible with God. 4Mr 10:27 NIV Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”5Lu 18:27 NIV Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”
Revelation: We are the temple of God. 62Co 6:16 NIV What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” When we sin, we assault the temple of God. When someone sins against us, they assault the temple of God. Perhaps Stephen had and internal dialogue with God that went something like this:
“Lord, they are attacking your temple, the very same temple that I have assaulted many times, please forgive them just like you forgave me.”7Lu 6:45 NIV The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.82Cor 1:3-5 NIV Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.
My prayer: Lord, help me to love you with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and ALL OF MY STRENGTH,9Mr 12:30 NIV “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”so that, like Stephen, using all my strength to love you, I haven’t the strength to pick up a rock.10Mt 25:40,45 AV And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. –Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.