As Stephen was being stoned to death, he prayed, “Do not hold this sin against them.”
In the meantime, a man named Saul stood nearby and watched as they stoned Stephen to death. (The definition of stoning is a method of capital punishment where a group throws stones at a person until the subject dies from blunt trauma.) To show his support to the murderers, Saul guarded the coats they took off when they prepared to kill Stephen. Now isn’t that something? They cared more about their clothes than they did a human life. Then, when a group of Godly men came to bury Stephen’s body, Saul in Acts 8:3, “went from house to house, arresting [believers in Christ, Jesus], and putting them in jail.” (Of course, I can’t deliver a message of this magnitude as well as my pastor, or any pastor for that matter, so I am going to give you the cliff notes version today. However, I hope you will take the time to read the book of Acts on your own. It’s good. It’s really good.) Now Saul was determined to arrest and ultimately kill any woman or man, who confessed Christ as their Savior, so the high priest gave him the authority to go to Damascus and arrest followers of Christ Jesus. However, on his way to Damascus, Saul had an encounter with Jesus and his life was never the same. (I’m telling you. It’s good. It’s really good. Read it.) A light came from heaven. Saul fell to his knees. Then Jesus asked him a question in Acts 9:4-6. He said, “Saul! Saul! Why are you so cruel to me?” Then Saul asked, “Who are you, Lord?” Jesus said, “I am the one you are so cruel to. Now get up and go into the city where you will be told what to do.” Now when Saul got up, he realized he was blind and had to be led into the city. Now isn’t that something?
Now a man named Ananias lived in the city of Damascus and he was a believer in Christ Jesus, so the Lord came to him in a vision. He told him where Saul was. Then, he asked him to go there and lay his hands on him, so he could see again. In Acts 9:13 Ananias replied, “Lord, a lot of people have told me about the terrible things this man has done to your followers in Jerusalem.” Then, Ananias had the nerve to talk to Jesus about the authority that the high priest gave Saul. Of course, I can’t blame Ananias. I’ve done that myself. Maybe you have too.
Maybe you’ve heard that someone was called into the ministry or maybe you were asked to assist someone in someway during the early stages of their call, but you couldn’t be supportive at the time because you were so focused on who that person used to be in the world?
During the election, I heard about transgressions that occurred in people’s lives in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s; however, they were plastered across the media as evidence against a person’s character in 2020. Now I understand why our future brothers and sisters would be hesitant to accept this kind of change in an individual, but those of us who’ve been touched and changed by the Father should know better. Note to self: Nicole, you should know better. Stop doubting what God can do in someone’s else life and ask him to do a work inside of your life. If Jesus could change Saul’s life on his way to persecuting Christians, he can change the hearts of a racist politician. He can change the hearts of a corrupt police officer. He can change the hearts of men who hate for reasons even they don’t fully understand. We just have to pray for a heart like Ananias. While he may have questioned Jesus, he went to the house and laid hands on Saul anyway because he realized that the call was bigger than his fear and unbelief. Then, the bible said something resembling scales fell from Saul’s eyes and he could see. Then, he was baptized.
As I reflected upon that scripture, it came to me: prayer and forgiveness positions our hearts to step out on faith and believe in our brothers and sisters, when God calls them forth. As Stephen was taking his last breath, he prayed for God not to hold the sin against those who took part in his death. As a result, I believe in my heart that God called Saul forth in part because of Stephen’s prayers. Saul was later called Paul and he preached the gospel until the day he died. By the way, it was Paul, who said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Just think about it. Then, go to our Father and pray about it. We have “Sauls” in the world and they are just waiting for our prayers.
#Soul Searching with Our Father#