Archive for October, 2010

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.

October 31, 2010

The title of this post is the last verse in chapter 22 of Revelation.  The grace of God was the focus of Toda in the Word’s devotional this month.  On many occasions, we took a different route in an indirect manner; however, we all, whether saved or not, are operating on the grace of God.  In this chapter though, God sends John an angel to tell him that the time of operating under God’s grace will come to an end.  He wants the word to get out about the grace of God as well as its end. 

Listen to what is said in verses 12 – 17:
      12“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and                  I will give to everyone according to what he has done. 
        13I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

 14“Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

 16“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

 17The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.

Grace will be extended to those who know Jesus as Lord and Savior.  All will receive the water of life and be able to eat from the tree of life.  He will give their reward according to what they have done with the gift of life and His Spirit while in this world.  Did we maximize our efforts to convey to people who God, Christ and the Spirit are real wanting to have fellowship or union with us to have us live a life of purpose, meaning and reward. 

While there is acknowledgement of those who do not follow the ways of the Lord in this chapter, the focus is not on them.  It is on the triune God and His people.  God has offered us all grace.  The grace to come into the knowledge and relationship with the living God.  We have a choice.  We can choice to live our lives for the Almighty God or ourselves.  What reward will we have for ourselves at the end of our lives?  None, I submit.  We are not disciplined and humble enough to reward ourselves.  We want to spend what we have now.  If we have no share in life, peace, grace, heaven, we are incapable of rewarding those things to ourselves.  I want a share in those which is why I want Christ.  Praise God for giving me the will and the ability to experience what He gave me the desire to do- know Him and the power of His resurrection, but I am still working on that, but that is the beauty of knowing God.  I can continue to work on it because God has said, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”  Hallelujah.


How does one stir up God’s wrath?

October 30, 2010

“Before I knowed it, I was sayin’ out loud, ‘The hell with it! There ain’t no sin and there ain’t no virtue. There’s just stuff people do. It’s all part of the same thing.’… I says, ‘What’s this call, this sperit?’ An’ I says, ‘It’s love. I love people so much I’m fit to bust, sometimes.’… I figgered, ‘Why do we got to hang it on God or Jesus? Maybe,’ I figgered, ‘maybe it’s all men an’ all women we love; maybe that’s the Holy Sperit-the human sperit-the whole shebang. Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.’ Now I sat there thinkin’ it, an’ all of a suddent-I knew it. I knew it so deep down that it was true, and I still know it.”
– John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Chapter 4

Throughout time and literature, people question God when circumstances in their lives appear to communicate that there is no God or at least he checked out for a moment.  In the text above the character assumes credit for something that God created.  It’s subtle idolatry.  When we assume that we can take on god-like attributes, we are in trouble with God.  Our text (John 3:31-36) today, thanks to brother Marcus Carter from church on Wednesday, has bounced around in my head for several days now.  It is John the Baptist responding because some men were attempting to stir up jealousy and envy over what Christ was doing versus what John was doing.  Here is the verse that struck me in my core.  Verse 36 says, in several versions:

36Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” NIV

36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” New King James Version

36And he who believes in (has faith in, clings to, relies on) the Son has (now possesses) eternal life. But whoever disobeys (is unbelieving toward, refuses to trust in, disregards, is not subject to) the Son will never see (experience) life, but [instead] the wrath of God abides on him. [God’s displeasure remains on him; His indignation hangs over him continually.]  Amplified Bible

36″Everyone who has faith in the Son has eternal life. But no one who rejects him will ever share in that life, and God will be angry with them forever.” Contemporary English Version

Wrath is defined on as:
1. strong, stern, or fierce anger; deeply resentful indignation; ire.
2. vengeance or punishment as the consequence of anger.

Regardless of how it’s defined, we know that wrath is not good.  Simply, those who do not accept Jesus as Lord and Savior will deal with God’s wrath/anger forever.  Let that soak in.  We have all sorts of notions about God.  One that distorts the character of God is that God is singularly loving not holding anyone into account for their disobedience.  Clearly, this verse, as well as many others, refute that heresy.

Listen, God will be angry with them forever.  We can’t conceive of that, but it’s a long time.  We know how anguished we are when we miss up.  This will last forever for those who believe that they can overcome the consequences of their sin on their own merits.  God does not give out brownie points.  Nothing we can do can make us right with God except Christ.  We see that in Romans 3:21-22 21″But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.”  If you don’t put your trust or faith in Christ as the Son of God, the Word of God says you can’t be made righteous.  Those wh0 are not made right with God will not be with God.

One stirs up the wrath of God by not believing in Christ as Lord and Savior.  Get right with God and rid yourself of experiencing the wrath of God.

Warning Against Refusing God

October 29, 2010

Read Hebrews 12:14-29

See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble. – Hebrews 12:15

A satirical newspaper once published an article titled: “Church splits over the correct spelling of Hallelujah.” While some church splits have ostensibly been over issues like the color of the carpet, anyone who has been through a church split can attest that the experience is no laughing matter. No matter what people think they’re arguing about, the root problems are often ego, control, selfishness, and bitterness.

Our passage today warns that rejecting the grace of God leads to bitterness, which can destroy the body of believers. We saw the example of Esau in our study yesterday, and today’s text expands on reasons why we should grow in the grace of God.

Following Christ compels us to “make every effort to live in peace with all men”; in contrast, refusing the grace of God creates a “bitter root” that “grows up to cause trouble” (vv. 14-15). The contrast between holiness and sexual immorality also indicates our spiritual condition. Our relationship with God is proved in our relationships with others—if we are responding to others with bitterness, trouble-making, or lust, we are ultimately missing the grace of God.

The warning comes starkly from verse 25: “See to it that you do not refuse him [God] who speaks.” We have no reason or excuse to refuse God’s grace. He does not speak to us harshly, causing us to tremble in fear; because of Jesus, we are invited into a “joyful assembly,” a community of believers surrounded by angels in worship to the Lord (vv. 18-24). Because God extends His grace to us in this way, with joy and love, the penalty for turning to selfishness and bitterness is even greater.

Instead, our response should be gratitude and worship. We understand the power and holiness of God, and we offer our praise and thanks “with reverence and awe” (v. 28). Even these warnings are a form of grace to His people. He does not try to trick us or manipulate people into worship, nor does He delight in abject fear. He invites us to an eternal life of rejoicing, guaranteed by the blood of Jesus.

Our text is bracketed with descriptions of how we should behave toward others and God: “Make every effort to live in peace with all men” and “worship God acceptably with reverence and awe” (vv. 14, 28). Does this describe your church, and your own attitude? If not, begin by confessing your own bitterness or selfishness and receive God’s grace to renew your walk in holiness. Pray also for your church, especially those with whom you disagree, that you will be reconciled.
from Today in the Word

Don’t receive God’s Grace in Vain

October 27, 2010

I must admit that I struggled over the text below.  The general gist of what I gained was that we can’t behave in any manner that contradicts the commitment to live a life for God regardless of the difficulties life or people present.  To do so will render receiving God’s grace in vain.  If we act like we don’t know Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to transform our lives, it nullifies, in the minds of onlookers, the life of Christ we received.  The text below is from Today in the Word.

Read: 2 Corinthians 6:1-13

As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. – 2 Corinthians 6:1


In 2003, the infamous “tech bubble” burst and flattened sectors of the American economy, particularly the stock value of technology companies. Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, canceled his stock options in the company in exchange for $75 million. Since Apple’s share price had fallen from $36 to $7, it seemed like a good financial strategy. Had he held those options, however, today they would be worth over $10 billion.

We might not encounter financial deals in the millions or billions of dollars, but spiritually we often have the same option: choose something that looks attractive now and forfeit valuable spiritual riches. Today we transition from our examination of extending grace to warnings about the grace offered to us. Growing in grace includes understanding what is at stake in the offer of God’s grace to us.

Our passage today warns us not to receive this grace in vain (v. 1). In order to see what that means, examine the context. In chapter 5, Paul had urged the Corinthian church to hear his message (5:11). He had many difficult matters to address with this church, and they were not inclined to hear the message of this apostle. He reminded them they shared the heritage of the gospel and the urgency of reconciliation that flowed from it (5:18-21).

By refusing to hear the admonition of Paul, the Corinthians were in danger of rejecting the grace offered to them. They were choosing comfort over conviction, rhetoric over repentance, and wealth over wisdom. They placed more value in immediate appearances than eternal priorities.

Paul described in detail how his message came from God and not his own ego: he was speaking “in truthful speech and in the power of God” with love for this church (v. 7). He was willing to suffer greatly in order to prod this church back to God’s grace (vv. 4-10). Their rejection of him wasn’t simply a bruise to his self-esteem. It was a refusal to accept the grace of God that would enable them to return to righteousness and be reconciled to the Lord, to Paul, and to each other.


How will you respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit? Paul took great pains to demonstrate that he is not trying to manipulate or control the Corinthians. His plea came out of “the Holy Spirit and in sincere love” (v. 6). If a godly person in your life is making such a plea with you, accept the grace of forgiveness and reconciliation being offered to God. Thank the Holy Spirit for stirring your heart to address any sin, and don’t take the grace of conviction in vain.

Let’s Make A Deal!

October 25, 2010

As a small boy, I loved to watch this game show called Let’s Make A Deal.  I am sure that some of you know the show; however, for those of you who are to young to have had the privilege to watch it, I wanted to provide this image before I briefly explained it.  As all game shows have,  Let’s Make A Deal had a host, Monty Hall.  In sheer excitement, a contestant would have a product given to him/her.  Mr. Hall would come to the contestant, call his/her name, and offer that person a deal.  The contestant would have the product and some unknown commodity behind the curtain or door.  The lure of the unknown coupled with the contestants desire to get something he/she truly longed for was too much for many contestants to over come.  There was one episode where a lady was given some Turtle wax and something behind the curtain.  Mr. Hall offered her $500, then $600, … a $1,000 finally $1,500.  She refused the money saying that she wanted the car despite not knowing if there was a car or not hidden from her view.  Then she switched stating that she wanted the money.  The desire to get something greater, even if you might lose it, was worth the risk of the opportunity cost for most contestants.  For her, it was not worth the risk.  She chose the money.  Mr. Hall revealed what was hidden.  It was a $4,000 car.  The lady tried to cope with her disappointment by stating that she needed the money and was happy.  I am sure what Proverbs says was true for her.  Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

Just like Let’s Make A Deal, life offers many opportunity cost decision but none as important and eternal as choosing between living your own life or living the life of righteousness that only comes through Christ (John 14:6). In our text for today, Matthew 7:12-15, Jesus shares how Monty Hall’s concept of Let’s Make A Deal was not a novel idea.  Matthew 7:13-14 says, “13“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  This is the choice between life and death.  Life is obeying and following God.  Death is disobeying and following someone or something other than God.  The Triune God had begun to offer man a deal when time began. 

Adam was offered the choice to choice between life and death.  Genesis 2:16-17 “And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” Implicit is the notion that if Adam did not choose to eat of that tree is that Adam would live. God told Adam that he could eat from any tree except one.  Which one did Adam choose?  The wrong one.  Life or Death is always before us. 

In a conversation with my daughter yesterday, we discussed the wide and narrow gate concept in Matthew 7:12-13.  Before anything else, Jesus tell us to enter through the narrow gate as He juxtaposes the two choices.  I explained to my daughter that this verse is the basis behind why I ask her to not follow the crowd, to not want to be accepted by the masses.  I am not sure if she understands now, but we all are old enough to understand that God is offering us a choice.  Our day is filled with choices to enter through the wide or narrow gate.  Behind one door is life; behind the other door is death.  Which will you choose?  When we say no to God, we are saying no to life, peace, joy, assurance, and so many of God’s other benefits.  Life will not go on like the contestant mentioned above.  Hear the voice of the Lord calling your name today saying, “Let’s Make A Deal”.    Remember, “hope deferred makes the heart sick.” Choose wisely!

No Discrimination in The Mystery

October 24, 2010

from Today in the Word
God shows us that there is no racial or ethnic discrimination in the receiving of His grace. 

Read  Ephesians 3
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit. – Ephesians 3:16

Most people who make important discoveries want to share the news as quickly as possible. Robert Peary sent a telegram after discovering the North Pole. Albert Einstein published a paper on Special Relativity. When Apollo 11 reached the moon, the words and pictures were broadcast around the world.

In our passage today, Paul described the great spiritual discovery or “mystery” that had been made clear to him. He wanted the church in Ephesus to know that this discovery was for the benefit of everyone, and that God’s grace enabled Paul to share it with the world.

This unveiled mystery was that the Gentiles were able to access the grace of God: “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise of Christ Jesus” (v. 6). We might miss how revolutionary this is, but it’s hard to imagine any contemporary divisions between people that are as deep and controversial as the rift between Jews and Gentiles at that time. This controversy had rocked the church since its earliest days (see Acts 10-11, 15). Many were willing to allow Gentiles into the faith—as long as they adopted a Jewish identity. Paul testified that the Gentiles came into the church not by becoming Jewish but through faith in the gospel (see Gal. 3:26).

Note how many times Paul used the word grace in this passage. The revelation of this truth was by grace; his status as an apostle was by grace; and his ability to preach was by grace. Paul didn’t claim the credit for this teaching. He recognized that God had graciously allowed the truth to be revealed and enabled Paul to spread the gospel to Gentiles throughout the world, showing them they had access to God through Jesus Christ (vv. 10-12).

This extension of grace meant that believers—whether of Jewish or Gentile origin—could experience the fullness of the love of God. No ethnic heritage was necessary to claim salvation in God. The power of the Lord was at work in the church in all times and places—including us today! (vv. 20-21).

The church today doesn’t struggle with Jew-Gentile tensions—do we? In fact, the tendency toward division still persists among God’s people. Our churches often divide along racial and economic lines. Some insist that certain gifts be demonstrated to qualify as full believers; others declare that all Christians should adopt their preferences for ways of dress or types of music. To extend God’s grace, we must follow Paul’s example and recognize that access to the family of God is based on faith in Christ.

Only Fear the LORD

October 23, 2010

We all have heard President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s quote from his inaugural address: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself“. In the post Do Not Fear!, we saw God directing His people not to fear as He addressed them in Isaiah 41 among other texts.  God was telling the people there was nothing for them to fear when I commissioned you or sent you to complete a divine task.  He tells us the same thing. I know that today’s post seem to be a contradiction, as some issues in the Word appear on the surface to be.  Rest assured, it is not!  God does not contradict Himself.  That would mean that He changes and lies.  We know that God does not change, nor does God lie.

For those who have surrendered their lives to Christ as Savior and Lord, God says “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity(fear), but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7  While that is true, there is one which God has directed us to fear.  God has commanded us to fear God.  We, as the created, have a penchant for fearing or serving the created rather than the creator.  We frequently pervert our worship of the only true God.  The book of 1 Samuel gives us a poignant example of our perversion. After the people sinned asking God for a king, listen to what God tells them through his prophet in 1 Samuel 12:24-25 “24 Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. 25 But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”

Here the word fear (yare’ from Strong’s H3372) means to fear, revere, honor, be afraid, stand in awe of God, Jehovah = “the existing One”.  God only wants us to honor Him as sovereign, respect who He is as creator, sovereign, judge, etc,  be afraid of Him, stand in awe of Him.  Some times, we give people, entities or things those God-desired responses.   God understands that we will face people and circumstance that will challenge us to give into fear.  He has commanded us not to yield to anything other than him.   List the things in which you are fearful of or in awe of.  If they are not attributes of God, repent. Ask God to strengthen you to trust only in Him and be at peace as a consequence of properly placing your trust in the Jehovah.

I will conclude with King Solomon’s words in Ecclesiastes 12:13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear (yare’) God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

Do Not Fear!

October 22, 2010

Man, for the past two days, I have been wanting to post about this phrase “God was with him”.  It first surfaced in my reading three days ago.  I saw it again when I was reading further about Stephen.  I did a search about text that has “with him” in it.  I was not sure  why I was not prompted to use that title, but the picture is a lot clearer this morning.

I hardly ever dream or at least I do not remember them.  My wife and my daughter dream all the time and they are very vivid yet bizarre.  Today, I dreamt.  It was weird.  One of my friends called me on the cell phone asking me what was going on.  He saw it was announced that Kevin Eubanks was named principal at the school where I currently work.  As I attempted to respond to him, I told him that I had not heard that.  I sat there on the phone just thinking.  Then I woke up.  This was very bizarre.  I don’t know a Kevin Eubanks.  I don’t know that I am moving on from my job, but I was challenged to control my imagination.  I was challenged to control the fear that was encroaching upon me.  I laid there a minute and talked to the Lord.  I got up and God brought the verse (Isaiah 41:10) that He gave me when He told me twenty years ago to go back to school to become a teacher.

You see, when I read that phrase God was with him, I was envious.  I even told God that I wanted Him to be with me.  I had forgotten  that God stated that He was with me then as well as when I first surrendered my life to God under the lordship of Jesus Christ.  In regards to my envy and longing, God reminded me today that He, not only was with me, but that He is living in me through the Holy Spirit.  God told me not to fear a job loss though it may be uncomfortable.  He told me the main thing for me to remember was that I should not fear because He was with me. Rest assured that I was not in life alone.  He is with me.  Wow!!! To have the God of creation to tell me that He is with me is amazing.

If you are facing something that is making you fearful, do not fear!   God is with you if you know Jesus as Lord and Savior.  As you prepare to face life this day, know that you can go forth in strength and boldness as you rely on the LORD God.  If you don’t know Him as Lord and Savior, then stop going in your own direction; commit to living by God’s standards which are outlined in His Word.   Speaking of His Word, here are a few verses for your encouragement.

Isaiah 41:10

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Deuteronomy 20:1 1 When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you.

Deuteronomy 20:4 For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

2 Chronicles 32:7-8 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. 8 With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said.

Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear?  The LORD is the stronghold of my life—  of whom shall I be afraid?

Isaiah 41:13 For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.

Isaiah 41:14 Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you,” declares the LORD,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.

Isaiah 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;  and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

Isaiah 43:5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.

We should only fear God.

The Disciples were first called Christians at Antioch

October 21, 2010


The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch. – Acts 11:26
Read: Acts 11:19-26

Muhammed Omar was forced to relocate to Kenya after violence spread in his native Somalia. He converted from Islam to faith in Jesus, and says this about reaching his people with the gospel: “Fifty years ago, Christians the world over were challenged to go to more difficult places like Somalia. Then the war started in 1991 and now with still no central government, many Somalis had scattered all over the world, mainly to Kenya. Today, we do not need to go to Somalia to reach Somalis. I thank the Lord that they come for treatment to Kenya’s Kijabe Hospital where I work as a volunteer chaplain.”

From the beginning, believers in Jesus have followed the Great Commission to spread the gospel to others (Matt. 28:19-20). God has redeemed even such evil as persecution and displacement in order to reach people with the good news that He loves them enough to send Jesus to die for their sins. Just as Muhammed Omar found that he could reach people from Somalia, people in our text for today spread the gospel to cities across the known world.

After Stephen’s death, persecution was unleashed against the church in Jerusalem (see Acts 8:1). One result is that Christians began to flee Jerusalem, taking the message of Christ with them to Phoenicia (in present-day Lebanon), Cyprus, and Antioch (in modern Turkey). Christianity was going global! The initial converts were Jewish, but then they shared the faith with their Gentile neighbors, who also believed (v. 20).

When the Jerusalem church heard about Gentile converts, they sent Barnabas to Antioch to investigate. Barnabas found that these believers exhibited the grace of God, the mark of all followers of Christ throughout time (v. 23). Whether Jew or Greek, American or Somali, evidence of God’s grace will identify true Christians.

This grace verified that Gentile converts were part of the family of God, and it also encouraged Barnabas. He committed a year to teaching the believers in Antioch so they could grow in the faith. The grace of God allows us to cross all social and cultural boundaries to share the gospel, and then embrace our brothers and sisters.
Missions has been part of the identity of the church from the beginning. Are you connected with a missions program or missionaries? Missionaries who have traveled from their homes need financial support and spiritual encouragement—even birthday cards or regular e-mails can be tremendously helpful. You don’t have to leave home to share the gospel. Do you have a heart for your own family or neighbors to know Christ? Pray that the grace God has given you will bring others to faith.

The Awesomeness of God

October 20, 2010

Today, I began reading the text for the post, Acts 6:1-15, but I could not stop.  I kept reading and reading.  Before I began, I asked the LORD God to allow me to meet with Him, to hear from Him.  I got more than I asked for.  As I read several more chapters after the text for today, I was captivated by how awesome God is. 

The text starts off with a problem that morphs into a bigger problem and yet into an even bigger problem.  Through the desperate treatment of a certain group of people (racism), the jealousy that led to the death of a very Spirit-filled man, the persecution and scattering of disciples, God continued to show that He, like always, was in control.  It is true that we will experience unfair and down right dirty treatment from people, some of whom we think we can trust or at least who know better.  Hear me, that is irrelevant to what God is doing in His body, the church.  God is working in us you all.

In portions of the text, the exile of the Israelites was referenced.  While their exile was due to their apostasy, God did not forfeit his promise to the descendants of Abraham, the Israelites.  God, as He did then,fulfills His promises through keeping His Word.  We will hurt.  We will suffer.  We will have distasteful things happen to us.  The most important thing is for us to have faith as we seek to walk in the Spirit.  The commonality between the Apostles, disciples, Stephen, Phillip and even Saul (Paul) is that they were filled with the Spirit.  It is through the Spirit of Christ that these men were enabled to complete the mission God gave them to do.  Ephesians 2:10  tell us “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Again, in Christ, we are enabled to do good works.  Imagine, we are God’s workmanship.  God has crafted us just as He wishes to do good works unto Him.  The Apostles, Stephen and others died giving their lives for the cause of Christ.  Whether hardships or death, we are to give our lives to Christ.  Then, we, like them, will be honored by our living God. 

That is an awesome thing to ponder.  God has and is working in me to make me him whom He has designed a good work.  What an awesome thing to realize that God has worked it out in me and for me to His glory.   Glorify the name of Jesus today.  Hallelujah, but watch out sin is crouching at our doors, it desires to have us, but we must master it.  In Christ, we can.