WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 6
“Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!”
Acts 7:60 (NLT)
GOD USES OUR PRAYERS FOR UNBELIEVERS
Two little brothers, Harry and James, had finished supper and were playing until bedtime. Somehow, Harry hit James with a stick, and tears and bitter words followed. Charges and accusations were still being exchanged as their mother prepared them for bed. She said, “Now boys, what would happen if either of you died tonight and you never had the opportunity again to forgive one another?” James spoke up, “Well, OK, I’ll forgive him tonight, but if we’re both alive in the morning, he’d better look out.” (Lou Nicholes – Missionary/Author).
As Stephen is stoned, he paraphrases Jesus’ words from the cross (Luke 23:46; Acts 7:59). Stephen prays for the unbelievers. Stephen dies with a forgiving spirit. Stephen had a supernatural forgiveness. As an aside, it is always worth being at the bedside of a godly person when they die as you will likely hear words of utmost wisdom and truth. Stephen knew the people persecuting him had a heart problem. What they needed was a saving relationship with Christ.
David Guzik writes:
God answered Stephen’s prayer, and used it to touch the heart of a man who energetically agreed with his stoning – even though the man didn’t know the prayer was being answered. When we get to heaven, we should thank Stephen for every blessing brought through the ministry of Saul of Tarsus. God heard Stephen’s prayer, and Paul is the evidence of it. We have no idea how greatly God can use us in our times of suffering. Augustine said, “If Stephen had not prayed, the church would not have had Paul.” (Acts 7 Commentary)
We also need to offer supernatural forgiveness at times. Mike reminded us that God will use our prayers for unbelievers to win others to Christ. Jesus offered us forgiveness before we even asked to be forgiven. Who do you need to be willing to forgive? Praise God uses your forgiveness to show them the example of Christ and draw them closer to God.
God, teach us to love like this. Teach us to love people who would hurt us, people who have hurt us. God, we pray that you would keep us from the root of bitterness, unforgiveness, in our hearts.