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Have the Strength of Stephen – May 18, 2024

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.
Acts 7:59,60

Have the Strength of Stephen

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Daily Devotion – May 18, 2024

Devotion based on Acts 7:59,60

See series: Devotions

Stephen has the distinction of being the first Christian martyr. Illegally arrested, tried, and convicted by enemies of the Christian Church, Stephen was dragged outside the city of Jerusalem and pummeled with stones until he died.

Wouldn’t you like to be like Stephen? I’m not suggesting that any of us would revel in the idea of facing injustice, pain, and death. What I am suggesting is that any of us would revel in the idea of facing injustice, pain and death with the kind of strength Stephen displayed: “While they were stoning him…” While the stones bruised and cut his flesh, Stephen prayed for those throwing the stones. What did he pray? He prayed that Jesus would forgive them.

Whom do you have to forgive? Is it a relative, friend, or neighbor? Is it a teacher, student, or co-worker? Are you thinking, “I can’t forgive him for that?” What has the person done that is worse than stoning you to death? Stephen could forgive because he knew he had been forgiven. He knew he was no more deserving of God’s forgiveness than the men killing him were. And he knew he didn’t need to get even with them. It was in Jesus’ hands. He could trust Jesus to do what was right and just.

You have that same security. You don’t have to hold on to those grudges and that anger. Jesus is alive and well. Easter assures you of this. You can forgive those who have sinned against you, knowing that Jesus has forgiven you. You can forgive those who have sinned against you, knowing he is perfectly capable of doing what is just and right for those who have hurt you.

Wouldn’t you like to be like Stephen—strong enough to stand firm when persecuted and forgive those who persecute you? You are like Stephen. You have the same living Lord he had. And Jesus will give you the strength you need.

Dear Lord Jesus, I come to you in prayer because I know you are alive and ruling all things. Grant me the strength you gave your servant Stephen that I may stand firm against those who oppose you and that I may forgive those who hurt me. Amen.

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All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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