Not a Sermon - Just a Thought - April 18, 2008
I struggle to manage my time efficiently, and I’m not the best at waiting. In my perfect world the stoplights are all green in my direction, the restaurant has already cooked what I want so it’s ready as I arrive, and things are always, always under my control. But control of time or anything or anyone beyond our personal behavior is an illusion.
The only way I’ve found to deal with my time management problems is to lean into the words of the Psalmist who sang to God, “My life is in your hands” and “My times are in your hands” (Ps 31.5, 15). A man named Stephen made a similar appeal to God at the time of his death. While the religious zealots were stoning him for blasphemy (and making him the first martyr of the New Testament church) he cried out for Jesus to receive his spirit and fell on his knees asking God to forgive his murderers, even as they stoned him. His trust in God to manage his crisis turned out for good for the church.
You can read all about the incident that led up to his death in Acts 7, but grant me the liberty to say quickly that Stephen truly allowed his life to be placed in God’s hands. So when you’re next frustrated with how long the line is, or how unmanageable your day seems just stop. Take a moment to whisper thanks to God that you’re alive and well, or pick up your cell phone and call an old friend, or simply ask God to speak to you in your frustration and busy-ness. Putting your life and your time in God’s hands is liberating and empowering, and it builds a faith that is built on trust in God and a willingness to sacrifice.
This Sunday I’ll be preaching a sermon about how Stephen’s example can teach us to put our lives in God’s hands and live more fully and freely than ever before. We gather for Bible study at 9:30 a.m. on Sundays and worship at 10:45 a.m. If you’re in Houston I hope you’ll join us!
Grace & Peace,
Not a Sermon – Just a Thought is a weekly email from me, Gary Long. I’m the pastor of Willow Meadows Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. You can subscribe or unsubscribe by emailing me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also read some more of my writing at my blog, To the Lees.
51"You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— 53you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it."
The Stoning of Stephen
54When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56"Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."
57At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.
59While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." 60Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep.