All who sat in the council, fastening their eyes on him [Stephen], saw his face like it was the face of an angel.Â Â Â Â Acts 6:15 (WEB, my paraphrase)
They stoned Stephen as he called out, saying, â€œLord Jesus, receive my spirit!â€ He knelt down, and cried with a loud voice, â€œLord, donâ€™t hold this sin against them!â€ When he had said this, he fell asleep [died].Â Â Â Â Â Â Acts 7:59-60 (WEB, my paraphrase)
Now about that time, King Herod stretched out his hands to oppress some of the assembly. He killed James, the brother of John, with the sword. When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also.Â Â Â Â Â Acts 12:1-3 (WEB)
I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. Yesterday I experienced several snapshots of what that statement really means.
In the morning I went to my Bible study group. I love that time with these awesome women! We are using Stormie Omartianâ€™s book, Power of the Praying Parent, as our â€˜jumping off pointâ€™ for our study, discussion, and prayer. These times of fellowship with Believers are vital to my spiritual growth. I have learned a lot from these women. I have felt tempered in their flame.
Next my husband and I spent several hours with a couple that we have known for several years who are missionaries. I cannot tell you which country they are in as it would be dangerous. They are following in Jesusâ€™ footsteps, building relationships, walking out their lives with people who are seeing Jesus for the first time…in them. There is a small fellowship of Believers that they also co-pastor. It is the only Christian fellowship for 6-8 hours in any direction. They are trusting God for so much, not the least of which is their financial support. When I asked what they needed, do you know what their immediate answer was? It wasnâ€™t money. It was encouragement. The darkness of the country in which they serve is so oppressively dark that dis-couragement usually breaks down a missionary in two years. I am praying about how God wants me to answer this request.
We know another couple who take missionaries trips twice a year to another country that I cannot name because it was also be dangerous. That is not overstating or exaggerating. A few days after one of their trips, their translator was killed. (He was a Believer.) He knew by agreeing to be a translator to a Christian teacher that he was in danger. Several days later, he was intentionally hunted down and murdered. He is a disciple of Jesus Christ. He is now in heaven.
Becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ is no less than signing up for military service. It is acknowledging that you are accepting all the rights and responsibilities of a soldier in the Army of God. You have a Commander. You are provided with all equipment that you will require to successfully complete any mission you are given. And you are also aware that you may be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice.
But these things donâ€™t count; nor do I hold my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to fully testify to the Good News of the grace of God.Â Â Â Â Â Â Acts 20:24 (WEB)