Tuesday, December 27, 2011
"LOVE IS FORGIVING"
Good Evening to All!
Israel Resists the Holy Spirit
"You stiff-necked (stubborn) and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. (52) Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murders, (53) who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it." (Acts 7:51-53 NKJV)
Stephen the Martyr
(54) When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. (55) But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, (56) and said, "Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!" (57) Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears , and ran at him with one accord; (58) and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man name Saul. (59) And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, " Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. (60) Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, Lord, do not charge them with this sin." and when he had said this, he fell asleep (died). (Acts 54-60 NKJV)
We don't read much about Stephen, but he was one of seven men chosen by the apostles in Jerusalem to serve tables and distribute food to widows when the church gathered. He also had received power from the Holy Ghost to perform signs and wonders among the people.
Just as in Jesus' case the Jewish leaders, antagonistic toward faith in Jesus, got men to lie and bring Stephen before the Jewish council. Because of appearance of Stephen being filled with the Holy Ghost, his compelling defense that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, and the vision of heaven that God gave Stephen as he testified the council got riled up and reacted with violence.
In following Jesus' example, Stephen's last words and act before he died was to forgive his murderers.
True and absolute love entails forgiveness of all things. I know it can be the hardest thing we as humans ever do. Oh, we say "I forgive you", but do we really? Or are we just pushing their trespass or betrayal to the back of our minds? I've wondered that so many times. I had a couple of friends explain to me that when you (or I) forgive someone for whatever they did, we should not bring it up ever again. I have had my friends tell me that I must "still be bothered about certain things or I would not bring them up in conversation.
God's Word says "when we confess our sins to Him, He casts them as far as east is from the west into the sea of forgetfulness". He doesn't remember our sins after He has forgiven us, so we should do the same.
I pray for strength in this area constantly, because even though I forgive, I haven't learned how to "forget" yet. Therefore, I haven't truly forgiven. It makes me wonder about my level of loving. Don't get me wrong. I do love, I love my husband and my sisters, but we throw that word around pretty often and pretty loosely. I know I do. Especially after reading the devotion for tonight. Jesus and Stephen knew how to "LOVE". Their's was an absolute kind of love. Pure with no doubts. I don't know if I could do what they did.
I could if I knew the people personally, but I doubt if Stephen knew all of his accusers. Jesus (being God), I'm sure He did know the people. I think forgiving would be easier if the people were townspeople which they had personal contact with.
The more I think about this, I would think it would be harder for Stephen to forgive because, Jesus is God and God IS LOVE, therefore, Jesus can have nothing but love in His Spirit.
This is one area I REALLY need to work on because I do know that God will not forgive those who don't forgive others, and I doubt if my way of forgiving meets His standards.
Do you love purely enough to forgive those who have wronged you, or do you keep in in the back of your mind ?
How are you at forgiving?
Good Night To All and May God Bless!