We will all face challenges in our life. God did not promise everything would be easy, but He did promise that He would always be with us. When we face struggles, they can either make us bitter or better. What has God been teaching you through this COVID-19 time? Maybe you are facing some big struggles or maybe you are in a good place right now. Either way, will you use this time to grow deeper and stronger in your faith in Jesus? God is doing something in your life that is bigger than you can see. Stay faithful! God is with you and for you. God loves you!
1. Spiritual challenges will come
I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33
- Being a Christ-follower is countercultural.
- Being a Christ-follower does not mean everything will be easy.
- Spiritual challenges make you stronger, and persecution makes the Church stronger.
2. Always be prepared to give an answer for the hope that you have.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect... 1 Peter 3:15
- Stephen was an ordinary guy that God used in an extraordinary way.
- Stephen was ready when people asked about his faith.
- Are you ready?
3. Stay faithful
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. Hebrews 11:39-40
- All the guys Stephen references are in the Faith Hall of Fame. (Hebrews 11)
- Stephen was faithful.
- God is doing something bigger in your life than you can see.
4. Grief can make you bitter or better.
We do not grieve as people who have no hope. 1 Thessalonians 4:13
- We grieve, but we have hope!
- The Church mourned for Stephen, but it made them even stronger in their faith in Jesus.
- COVID-19 has caused us all to grieve.
- There are five stages of grief - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and then acceptance.
- The sixth stage of grief is Finding Meaning. (David Kessler)
5. Invest in the things of God, and you will impact the world.
And Saul approved of their killing him. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Acts 8:1
- Saul eventually comes to know Jesus and becomes the Apostle Paul.
- Persecution against the Church caused the Gospel to spread throughout the world.
- God used Stephen to change the world. What a legacy!
What will you learn and what meaning will you find from this time in your life?