Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Daniel Meets His Great-Great Uncle and Aunt

My uncle and aunt from the Portland, Oregon area came up for a visit this afternoon to meet Daniel.  Thought it would be fun for you to see a few pictures...  The cute red-head is my cousin Carla.  Daniel was ready for a nap by the time he made it to her lap...and he was the farthest away from his mama too!  Fun afternoon!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Make Every Effort ...

The believer has been given such an abundance of divine grace.  God's power grants us everything pertaining to life and godliness.  Such blessing calls us to total dedication to Him.  The Christian life cannot be lived to the honor of God without effort.  The Holy Spirit through Peter tells us we are to make every effort towards these seven virtues...
  • Moral excellence
  • Knowledge
  • Self-control
  • Perseverance
  • Godliness
  • Brotherly kindness
  • Love
We should make every effort to live a virtuous life. 

We should make every effort to increase in our knowledge of God's character and His will.  This requires diligent study, setting aside time to be in His Word.  We should be after the pursuit of truth in the Word of God.

We should make every effort to hold ourselves in, to strengthen our power of self-control.  (It begins with how we think...)

We should make every effort to enlarge our capacity for patience in doing what is right, not giving into temptation, to have steadfast endurance under adversity.  We want to be willing to die before we give in.  Perseverance is a virtue that can endure with vibrant hope, when the mind is set with an eternal perspective.

We should make every effort to live reverently, loyally, and obediently toward God.  We want to make every effort to develop a heart for God.

We should make every effort to grow warm in our affection for fellow believers, to be concerned for other's needs.

We should make every effort to exercise "you before me" love, sacrificial love, the love of the will.

These qualities are not merely to be possessed but are to be held in increasing measure.  There is to be a growth in grace on our part.  If these things have stopped becoming our earnest concern, we have forgotten the beauty of the Lord Jesus Himself.  We have forgotten the joy of being forgiven.  If the flame of effort is on low or has grown cold, we can ignite it by setting our minds on Him.  He loves us with lavish grace...we should love Him with maximum effort. Go all out for Him!

2 Peter 1:11 - "For in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you."

Friday, March 26, 2010

"In your faith supply moral excellence..."

A person's response to God's election and the convicting work of the Holy Spirit is faith.  Faith, the capacity to believe, is the expression of the human side of salvation.  God must grant the capacity to believe however, because man is dead to spiritual things, because of his sin - Eph. 2:1.  (When thinking on this one time while my mom was visiting, I asked her if a dead person can do anything, just to see how she would respond.  She came right back with this quick wit, which is so my mom, "A dead person can stink!")  Once God grants faith, that faith is permanent.  (God has to grant it because the only thing a dead person can do is stink!)  Genuine, God energized faith will never die because God continues to preserve it and protect it by His power.  God keeps us secure through the faith He gives us - 1 Peter 1:5.

After God grants faith, what are we to do next?  The Holy Spirit says through Peter that we are to strive to become godly...

"...applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love" - 2 Peter 1:5-7.

Peter says in verse three that God has given power for godliness....

"...seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness..."

We are to labor and work for virtue because God has already labored for us.  Once we make a profession of faith in Christ, we are not to drift along in the current of corruption we just escaped - 2 Peter 1:4.  We are to strive, we are to labor, we are to pursue, we are to make the maximum effort to live for the honor of God.

I love what John Piper says is Peter's point here in these verses, "God is for us with divine power. Of that we may be sure. Now, in the confidence of that power, take pains not to live unworthily of His love." 

Verses eight through eleven basically tell us that if the qualities listed in verses five through seven are ours and are increasing, we can have confidence that we are God's elect.  Piper says it this way, "The evidence that God's power has been given to you by faith is that you are now making every effort (as verse five says) to advance in the qualities of Christ."  In other words, if we have made a profession of faith but have never put forth the effort to then live Christ-like lives, or we have stopped making the effort, we can have no confidence that God began a good work in us. 

In my next post...we'll take a closer look at those qualities listed in verses five through seven.  May we take great pains for Him not to live unworthily of His love for us!  Consider what the love of Jesus did for us - He bore the wrath of God on our behalf.  Let that be the catalyst of our love for Him and may we pursue hard after being like Him!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

", who are protected... the power of God through faith..." - 1 Peter 1:4b, 5a

Genuine faith endures because faith is sustained by the power of God, not by us. Fantastic truth, isn't it? Faith is His gift to us (Eph. 2:8) and then He sustains that faith by His power. 

So, what are we responsible for? 

Plenty...and that is what I will looking at over the next few posts.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pure Fun - The Happy Hiker

My husband and daughter went for a hike on Monday.  They stopped to rest a bit and some small, annoying bugs came flitting around.  Annie started to blow at them and Daniel thought that was the funniest thing.  Annie played it up to get more laughter.  Tim caught some video of it.  You'll see why I call Daniel a "Heart-melter!"

(I think you'll get a kick out of his gloves, too.  They stayed on his hands better than regular gloves...)

Sunday, March 21, 2010


...what God wants you to be, at home, first and foremost.

Ephesians 5:22-6:4

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Annie's Race

What a gorgeous day we had here today in the Puget Sound!  A perfect day for Annie to run her first 5k race.  The event was held at Warren Magnuson Park in Seattle, right on Lake Washington.  There were probably a couple hundred participants.  It was still jacket weather when we arrived at 9 AM but by race time at 10, coats were shed and we were soaking in the sunshine.  The album begins at the park for the race and after the race we drove to Golden Gardens Park and Shilshole Bay for lunch.  We had an amazing view of the snow-capped Olympic mountains.   

So proud of you Annie!  What a fun, fun day!  
(Lots and lots of Daniel pics too...enjoy!)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Proverbs 13:20

Last night I gave the Council Time message at Awana.  I talked about friendship with the kids. I began by having the kids imagine that their favorite uncle showed up at their house on the morning of their birthday.  He hands you an envelope.  In it are four tickets to Disneyland.  One is for you, the other three are for friends.  You go to school and everyone hears about your tickets.  All of a sudden you have friends that you never knew you had!  We call these friends "fair-weather friends."

I told the kids the Bible is a handbook on friendship.  We talked about what qualities to look for in a good friend.  What it means to be a good friend.  I shared verses that describe what foolish people are like.  Below are some of the verses "paraphrased." 
  •  A foolish person doesn't believe in God
  •  A foolish person thinks his mother is disgusting  (you should have seen the faces on this one!) 
  •  It is better to meet up with a mother bear robbed of her cubs than a fool in his foolishness
  • A foolish person likes to listen to himself talk to show other people how much he knows (or really doesn't know)
  • A foolish person loses his temper all the time  (I asked the kids if they knew anyone like this.  In hindsight, perhaps not the best question to ask.  Some nodded their heads yes but one little boy who was sitting right in front, just opposite of me said, "My mother.")
I read Proverbs 13:20 to them, "He who walks with wise man will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm."  Bottom line, a foolish person does not make for a good friend!

I ended with John 15:13 - "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends."

Being a good friend is showing "you before me love", even to the point of giving up your life for that friend. And of course, Jesus is the best friend of all to have! 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

For You Gals - 9

 When I drove school buses, I was required to do a brake inspection on my air brakes before I left the yard.  This included going through a series of different steps to ensure that the air pressure in the air tanks would build up in a certain amount of time and that the air tanks were not leaking.  I shudder to think of what could happen if I lost my brakes on some of the hills around Gig Harbor.  Thank the Lord, it never happened.  But, there are other times when  "my brakes have failed."  Let me explain what I mean.

Last night our Titus 2:4 gals group met.  We had a great time looking at the word "sensible" in Titus 2:5.  The Greek word is "sophron."  It's a compound word, formed from "sozo" (to save) and "phren" (mind).  It describes a woman who is sober minded and coolheaded.  (Being sensible is mentioned four times in Titus, and is also applied to pastors, older men, and younger men.  None of us are off the hook.)  In Titus 2:5 the older women are to encourage the younger women to be sensible, or to be sober minded and coolheaded.  Common sense and good judgment should improve with age, but they should also be evident in early adulthood.  The sensible woman is in command of her mind.  When we are in command of our minds we are in control of the things we think about and do. We are also in control of our feelings.  The older women are to encourage the younger women to use self-control and self-control always starts with how we think.  When we have gotten out of control with our behavior or our attitudes, our speech, or our moods, we need to ask ourselves, "Where in my thought life did I fail to put on the brakes?"  (Now you know where I was going with my bus story.)  Gals, we are like a bus without brakes when we fail to apply the brakes of self-control and a bus out of control can cause great damage.  Being sensible is having the ability to apply the brakes to our life - to our thoughts, to our attitudes, our behavior, our speech, and our moods, sparing others the damage a lack of self-control can cause. 

Since the older women are to encourage the younger women to sound minds, to coolheadedness, and to self-controlled thinking, this implies we've gained some experience in mastering our thought life.  We aren't perfect at it by any means, but younger gals, gaining control over your thought life comes from taking periodic inventory of what you spend your time thinking about.  Also, we gain control over our thoughts when we spend the majority of our time talking to ourselves rather than listening to ourselves.  (Think about that one for a minute...)

A sound mind also results from being saturated with God's mind by being in His Word.  As we stay close to the Lord in His Word, He is our mind stabilizer.


 Put on the brakes, for Him.

Put off the bad and then set your mind on what pleases the Lord. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Church's Divine Engagement Ring

" were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance..." Ephesians 1:13b-14a

Men break promises all the time.  God never does.  His word should be sufficient for us, but He is so gracious in that He makes His promises even more certain (if that were possible) by giving us His own guarantees.  When a person becomes a Christian, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in his/her life.  The Holy Spirit empowers us and equips us for ministry.  He protects and encourages us.  He also guarantees our inheritance in Jesus Christ.  The Spirit of God is our securing force, our guarantee.  When we are sealed with the Holy Spirit, we are marked out as God's own possession.  From the moment the Holy Spirit takes our lifeless arms and wraps them around God's gift of faith, we entirely and eternally belong to Him.  I love how John MacArthur puts it - "The Holy Spirit is the church's irrevocable pledge, her divine engagement ring, as it were, that, as Christ's bride, she will never be neglected or forsaken."

We will never walk away from the Savior's love either.  We won't because we can't.  To say we can is to say we are bigger than God. 

Rejoice in His covenant-keeping love for you today!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Preserving Unity and Peace

In Ephesians 4:1-3, Paul gives us four virtues that when lived out in the church body, unity and peace will be preserved.  I think we can say the same holds true in families as well.

"I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
A lack of humility says I'm better than you. A lack of gentleness says I'll walk rough-shod over you.   Impatience says I don't have time for you.  A lack of forbearance says I am unwilling to tolerate any short comings you might have.  

Yes, unity and peace in the body of Christ (and families) is definitely broken when we lack these virtues. 

The humble person says I am sinful and flawed and in need of God's mercy and grace every moment of every day.  Humility says I see the log in my own eye.  Gentleness says I will treat you with tenderness and care.  Patience says I will slow down and take time for you.  I will listen to what you have to say and consider it as important because I know it is important to you.  Forbearance says I will throw a blanket over your short-comings.  I will not hold them against you.    

What unity and peace would reign in our churches and families if we consistently chose to walk in these virtues!

Love is the umbrella that covers all of these qualities.  Love is "you before me."  Christ modeled these virtues for us and has loved us perfectly with these virtues.  He submitted to the Father's will and put our needs before His own.  He treats us with tenderness and care.  He is very patient with us and oh the things He tolerates from us!  He commands that we do the same for others.  The great thing is that He has provided the Holy Spirit so we have the power to love as He loved.  It is possible, Beloved, and Jesus Christ is glorified in our churches and in our homes, when we choose to walk in that same love.

Thomas Cranmer

Ok, so I learned something over the last twenty-four hours.  I love having an outlet for when my heart and mind collide with the truth of God's Word.  I also enjoy posting what I am learning and I enjoy passing along nuggets from the books I am reading.  I thought I would be at peace about taking a break.  Turns out, I was wrong, and yeah, I do love my little blogging family! 

A few more things from "The Power of Suffering" which I finished up yesterday.  It is a great book.  It certainly has enlarged my view of God and has given better understanding as to why God has included suffering in His plan for us.

In chapter six John MacArthur gives the account of the martyrdom of Thomas Cranmer.  He was first Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury and author of the First and Second Prayer Books and the Thirtynine Articles of the Church of England.  He experienced the overcoming grace and strength of the Holy Spirit at the end of his life, when he faced his greatest crisis.  He was burned at the stake because he would not renounce his Protestant beliefs.  An iron chain was used to fasten him to the stake.  The wood was kindled and the fire began to burn near him.  He stretched out his right hand and held it in the flames.  He never even flinched.  His hand burned before the fire touched the rest of his body.  He uttered no cry, he was so patient and steadfast.  He seemed to move no more than the stake to which he was bound.  He lifted up his eyes to heaven and he kept repeating, "This was the hand that wrote it [a previous disavowal of Protestantism, an action he had since reversed]."  As long as his voice allowed him he called his right hand, "unworthy."  He also said like Stephen, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" till the fury of the flames silenced him. 

Thomas Cranmer modeled for us that God gives grace that is unique to the requirements of our suffering and our suffering can never break our faith nor sever us from His love.

Friday, March 12, 2010

I do have one more for you...  :)

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? 
Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer 
through Him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels,
nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, 
nor powers,nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, 
shall be able to separate us from the love of God,
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Romans 8:35-39

Thursday, March 11, 2010

"Watch for the Signs, Then Look for My Return"

I've been thinking about this for a couple of months now.  I want to take a break from posting, but I haven't been able to bring myself to actually break away.  I just need to make the choice to do it.  I'm using one of my favorite quotes of yours, Kristen, for this blog title.  It communicates the whole reason I began blogging...

Need to know where those signs are?  You'll find them in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21.

I'll still be reading and commenting on my favorite blogs, I'm not disappearing completely.

Thanks, dear friends...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Silence of the Lamb of God

Here are several paragraphs from chapter four in John MacArthur's book, "The Power of Suffering."  (Such a great book!)

"According to Peter (1 Peter 2:20-23), Christians are at odds with the world, simply because they have been called by Christ.  By standing with Christ, sooner or later we will suffer some form of unjust rejection, punishment, criticism, or persecution.  We offend the world when we take a stand for righteousness or manifest a lifestyle that reflects Christ.  That's why we have to expect suffering.  Jesus Himself promised believers that their union with Him would elicit the hostility of the world."  (John 15:18-21)  

"Our Lord Jesus Christ, in His own suffering and death, is an unequalled example of the reality that one can be completely in the will of God, supremely gifted and used by God in ministry, and perfectly righteous and obedient toward God, and still undergo tremendous suffering.  Jesus was tried and executed as a criminal, yet He had done nothing wrong.  He was the ultimate subject of unjust suffering and punishment, and He thereby gave us the standard for how to respond to our unjust persecution."

"Peter and Isaiah compare the suffering Christ, the Good Shepherd, to a sheep...That portrayal emphasizes the model our Lord displayed for endurance through suffering.  He reveals His humility as He puts Himself at the mercy of His enemies.  They reviled Him and provoked Him and abused Him repeatedly, nearly to the breaking point, but they couldn't make Him end His silence in a sinful way."

"Christ's example of saying nothing and not answering in kind to unjust abuse seems like an impossible one to follow.  But Peter shows us how Christ was able to achieve such a high standard:  He "kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously" (1 Peter 2:23).  That's how Jesus found the strength to endure suffering, and that's how we are to do it as well.  "Entrusting" comes from paradidomi, which means "to hand over to someone to keep."  Literally, Jesus kept handing Himself and the circumstance of every unjust suffering over to God."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

John Piper on Why Little Children Suffer and Die

John Piper has written some excellent thoughts on his blog today about suffering, sin, and death.  Check it out by clicking here.

Monday, March 8, 2010


Rejoicing!  My son's wife, Huong, was granted a visa to come to the United States.  This is my sweet daughter in the faith, and my daughter-in-law.  Thank you, Lord!

Psalm 145:4

"One generation shall praise Thy works to another, and shall declare Thy mighty acts."

We all have childhood memories that we cherish, don't we?  My most cherished childhood memories are having devotions after breakfast with my grandparents who lived next door.  This would often lead into talks about heaven.  I loved sitting in the Sunday School classes and the VBS classes that my mother taught.  From Psalm 145:4 we see that it is the Biblical duty of every generation to make sure the next generation hears the mighty acts of God. God's ordinary way of spreading Biblical truth is through families.  Psalm 145:4 doesn't say teach, although that also is our responsibility as parents.  We are to get the truth of God's Word into the heads of our children and grandchildren so that the Holy Spirit can ignite this truth with the gift of faith so that hearts can explode with love for God.  When Ben and Annie were little I used to put a praise record on and we would march around the living room with our hands raised high singing at the top of our voices, "Joy is the flag flown high from the castle of my heart...when the King is in residence there!"

God is calling out true worshipers in each generation.

When you pass on the truth to your children and grandchildren, show the magnificent value of its worth by exulting in and praising God's truth into the lives of your children and grandchildren!

(I still have that record-can't wait to do the same with Daniel!)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Paul: A Profile in Suffering

Acts 16:23-25 - "When they struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, and fastened their feet in stocks.  But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them."

In chapter three of "The Power of Suffering," John MacArthur gives a profile of Paul's suffering.  Paul is one of the great models to us of how to victoriously endure sufferings, trials, and persecutions.  He suffered every kind of hardship and encountered every kind of extreme danger.  He was assaulted.  He was scourged.  He was beaten.  He was stoned.  He suffered hunger.  He was left for dead.   But he never, ever lost his joy.  In the account above, we see him and Silas praying and singing praises to God (while in stocks) after being hit with not just a few blows, but many blows.  No where does the New Testament record Paul ever allowing any circumstance to take away his joy in the Lord.  Why?  Because he continually set his mind on things above, on his calling, on his ministry, on Christ.  He sacrificed his own pleasures, his own comfort, his own ease, to preach Christ.  His overriding devotion was to the Person and cause of Christ.  He looked beyond himself and his circumstances.  The key to Paul's success, which is the key to our success as well, is to maintain our focus and our devotion on Christ.  (For Paul to live was Christ - Phil. 1:21.)  And like Paul did, we too can draw from God's complete supply of spiritual resources:  His Word, His Spirit, His Son, and the prayers of fellow believers. 

(I love the end of the story of Paul and Silas' prison account.  After they went out of prison they went to Lydia's house, and when they saw the brethren, they encouraged the brethren before they left!) 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Excerpts from "Women Helping Women" By Elyse Fitzpatrick/Carol Cornish

"Christians believe there is a God and He is in control.  Some Christians believe God allows certain events, while others believe God ordains everything.  Whichever you believe, the reality for every Christian is that there is a God who is able to control every circumstance and could have prevented or stopped abuse if He had chosen to do so.  Of course, He has not obligated Himself to do so and therefore anger at God is not justified.  The sovereignty of God should stop a person from believing that he or she is inherently a 'victim.' "

"Whether you believe God ordains or merely allows trials, you must believe God will work out His glorious plan in your life if you love Him and have been called by Him.  His plan does not necessarily include earthly comfort or protection from suffering.  We have hope because we know it includes something better.  Nothing in life is chaotic or meaningless.  Under the care of the Master's loving hand every tear, every sorrow, every bruising is meant for our ultimate good.  What is the good that He has in mind?  That our lives might be conformed to the image of His perfect Son.  God wants us to be like Christ.  That's His goal.  Hope grows in the light of this glorious thought!  God ordains events so that we are continually turned toward Him and away from idols, self-protection, self-indulgence, man-pleasing, and manipulation.  He is continually working to free us, not for ourselves (although we do benefit), but for His ultimate glory.  Amazing grace!"

"The wickedness of man is brought into the service of God and establishes His glory and righteousness."  (Love this one!)

"God has a plan to use every adverse circumstance in the lives of His children for His ultimate purpose and glory.  The Christian can learn to rejoice in the knowledge that there is not one tear shed nor one instance of suffering that is outside of God's purpose or authority.  Although adversity may originate from others, by the time suffering gets to us, it is God's will."

I agree with each of the above statements.  I am in the camp that believes God ordains suffering.  He ordained the suffering of our Savior before He even created the world.  He used the wickedness of man and brought it into His service, for our benefit and His glory.  I believe one of the reasons He ordains the suffering of His saints is to put on display His gift of faith - that it is so much stronger than any evil that man can do against His beloved children.  Our faith may falter and waver in the middle of suffering, but it will never fail, because of its source.  The final outcome will be its refinement into the glorious praise and exaltation of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.  It really is all about Him.  

Job 13:15 - "Though He slay me, I will hope in Him." 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Examples of Faith in the Fire - Stephen

In chapter two of John MacArthur's book, "The Power of Suffering," we meet five role models who set examples for us on how to deal with suffering - Stephen, the first martyr, Daniel, and his three friends.

We are told that Stephen was "a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 6:5) and that he was also "full of grace and power." (Acts 6:8)  Every believer is given the gift of faith and sealed with the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation, but not every believer is always filled with faith and the Holy Spirit.  I am 100% convinced that this filling with faith and the Holy Spirit is directly related to the time we spend in the Word and also when we walk in obedience to it.  One who lets the Word dwell in them richly and walks in submission to God's will is one who is controlled and filled by the Holy Spirit.  They will then exhibit the fruit of the Spirit consistently in their lives.  Compare these two speaks to being filled with the Spirit and the other letting the Word dwell in you richly.  Then look at what results...

Ephesians 5:18 - "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord."

Colossians 3:16 - "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God."

We find Stephen's story of faith in Acts 6 and  7.  As the church began to grow, a complaint surfaced from the Hellenistic Jewish believers.  (Complaining in the is not new thing...)  They said their widows were being overlooked as far as being cared for with food, compared to the native Jewish widows.  The complaint came to the attention of the apostles whose time was spent being devoted to prayer for the body and the ministry of the word.  The apostles determined that this is where their priority needed to remain.  They instructed the disciples to choose out men from the congregation who had good reputations, who were full of the Spirit and of wisdom, to deal with these kinds of issues that would come up.  Stephen was the first chosen among seven men because the congregation recognized that he was a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit.  He was a man who set his mind in the Word and on things above; he submitted his will to the Father's; he was filled with the Holy Spirit; and his life was characterized by the grace of lovingkindness to others.

He quickly moved from being a deacon to being an evangelist.

Being the man of character that he was, he was also a prime target of attack by Satan.  A fierce one came to him from some men from what was called the "Synagogue of the Freedmen."  They were witnesses to the power and effectiveness of Stephen's ministry and they were alarmed by it.  It was threatening to them and their system of belief.  They argued with Stephen but found they were no match for his God-given wisdom.  Being unable to defeat Stephen in a debate they changed their tactics. They recruited false witnesses who accused him of  speaking blasphemy against Moses and God, twisting what Stephen said.  A mob came and dragged him away.  A trial before the Sanhedrin ensued.   The false witnesses repeated the charges against Stephen, putting a slant on his words.  At the beginning of the trial we are told that those who were sitting in the Council saw Stephen's face shine like an angel.  God Himself answered their charges by putting His very own glory on Stephen.

All throughout the ordeal Stephen was courageous.  He brilliantly dealt with their false accusations and at the end boldly rebuked the Sanhedrin, calling them "men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and having ears that are always resisting the Holy Spirit."

Stephen was great in God's sight.  Why?  Because his heart was completely sold out to do the will of the Father, at all costs, never fearing what might happen to him.  He walked in the Word and in grace, being continuously filled with the Holy Spirit.

The normal response which many believers exhibit in similar circumstances would include anxiety, stress, and perhaps even anger.  Stephen only exhibited tranquility and grace.  The response of the Council was to take him out and stone him.  They were cut to the quick by his words.  They wanted to hear no more from him.  Their hearts were like the stones which they used to kill him.  Stephen, still filled with the Holy  Spirit,  gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus.  As they smashed rocks into his body the last words of Stephen were still filled with grace, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them."  He was basically praying for their salvation as he lay battered and dying, and as one young man named Saul looked on, approvingly. 

Stephen never had to make any adjustments, even as he took his final breath.  He apparently lived a consistently Spirit-filled life ever since he became a believer.  Was Stephen perfect?  Of course not.  But what an example for us!  To be faithfully in the Word, lining up our will with God's will, walking in obedience.  If we are in the habit now, when suffering and the hard things in life come at us, we will not have to make any big adjustments.  Stephen definitely adhered to one of my favorite passages of scripture: 

Psalm 16:8-11 - "I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.  Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will dwell securely.  For Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Sheol; neither wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One to see the pit.  Thou wilt make known to me the path of life; in Thy presence is fulness of joy; in Thy right hand there are pleasures forever."

The Lord answered Stephen's prayer at least in regard to Saul.  Can you even imagine what the meeting between Paul and Stephen was like when Paul's life ended here on earth?!