Thursday, October 31, 2013

Stephen's Story

Day 5
Pray for the Christians who have been injured because of their faith. Pray for healing of body and soul, and for a forgiving spirit. Pray that they will be restored and be able to continue to provide for their families and pursue a relationship with Jesus.

Psalm 30:1-3
I will exalt you, LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. LORD my God, I call to you for help, and you healed me. You, LORD, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you  spared me from going down to the pit.

I love the line in the prayer request, "pray...for a forgiving spirit". It reminds me of a story in the bible of Stephen. Stephen was a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:5). He spoke the truth and it was difficult for the leaders to oppose the words which flowed from his mouth. Because of this and his love for Jesus he was seized. When asked if the charges were true he did not change his story, he continued to trust in his relationship with Jesus and obey him. So he was persecuted and stoned to death. But in the midst of the stones being hurled at his flesh, he prayed "Lord receive my spirit," then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them."

This was his last act of forgiveness... a true act of a forgiving spirit in times of persecution.

Lord Above,

The beauty of your love is so evident. How your servants serve you, how they are so willing to give their lives for the sake of your name... it means more than anything this world can offer. Your majesty, your strength, your gentleness and your grace are what bring people closer to you. For you are a God who loves his people, who wants them to have an eternal life with you. Yet, the sin of this world is so thick, and because we are sons and daughters of Adam the darkness in this world brings brother against brother. But you have found that when we are filled with your love there is no stopping us from sharing your truth. Your streams of living water flow from within you and into your faithful followers. From this your word is poured out into the nations, into the deep Amazon forests, into the dirty city streets, into cities that despise your name. But being filled with you gives a strength that restores any physical pain caused through persecution. You are the one who brings blind men to see, dumb to speak, dead to life. So I pray that you seek out healing to those who have sacrificed their bodies to physical pain just to shine your light. That through the injuries they sustain their families will not find hatred but beauty in your word because ultimately your son paid the highest price, taking on the sins  of the whole world and all humans that would ever walk it, and then he died with the burden of that darkness on his shoulders. But you are stronger than death, you are greater than any pain, and in that may those who suffer find hope... because it is in you and your Holy Spirit that your son's grave was found empty. It is in you that we have hope for the future, for eternity.

In that Lord, I find beauty in this tragedy.


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