Philippians 1:21-24 (NIV) 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.
Knowing the possible fate that awaited him, Montoya still asked the church to send him to minister in this dangerous region. The risk was great, but the need for people to hear the Gospel was greater. Armed only with God’s love and a conviction to serve, he left the safety of the city to minister in rural, guerrilla-controlled communities. Faith had overcome fear as Francisco Montoya demonstrated the greatest love of all. (Foxe: Voice of the Martyrs: AD 33-Today, Kindle Location: 4,375)
This is supernatural death. It is not an otherworldly reality that is outside of our Christian norm. Rather, we are to daily live in the rhythm of living in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. Hence, like Stephen and Apostle Paul, it is to live full of the Holy Spirit, walking daily in the death of Jesus by being given over to loving God and loving others passionately. Stephen’s life was marked by empowered evangelism (healing, preaching, defending the gospel, serving the needy), which is the mark of the supernatural death in Christ.
Prayer: Lord, may we live daily in your supernatural life, death, and resurrection power. May our lives be marked by the fullness of your Holy Spirit and faith. May we be given over to loving you and others passionately. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Let’s worship to the song Surrender All by Jesus Culture. (Click Here)
Let’s read aloud together the Apostles’ and the following passage:
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit,
And born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried.
He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15 (NIV))
Let’s fix our eyes upon the Lord as we worship with the song Here with me by Tim Hughes. (Click Here)
Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Her ministry may seem short to human eyes, but in God’s eyes it lasted exactly the right amount of time. Her days had been numbered before the world was created; however, it is not the number that matters but how we use those days. Tinulele used her short time on earth to build something for eternity. (Foxe: Voice of the Martyrs: AD 33-Today, Kindle Location: 4,335)
The world around Stephen was full of chaos, anger, fury, and gnashing of teeth. However, Stephen was undergoing an incredible blessing where his gaze was fixed upon Jesus standing at the right hand of God. Stephen was seeing God’s very glory! Stephen’s trajectory of life and death is marked by God’s glory. This brings to the forefront of the constancy of what it means to be full of the Holy Spirit—which is a life that sees Jesus standing at the right hand of God, in daily living to the ending of our days.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, may we fix our eyes upon you, the pioneer and the perfecter of our faith. May we be filled with joy and perseverance as we follow you all of our days. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Let’s worship with the song Jesus only Jesus by Matt Redman.(Click Here)
Philippians 2:5-8 (NRSV)
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.
Rev. Wau knew the consequences of his very public faith and witness, but he had courageously chosen to speak about it to the people of Sumatra. He knew that every day he walked fearlessly with Christ was a day more people would come to know Christ and grow in their faith; he also knew that it was a day closer to the escalating danger. His last Lord’s Day was truly the best one for him, as it was the day that he entered for eternity into the Lord’s presence. (Foxe: Voice of the Martyrs: AD 33-Today, Kindle Location: 4,098)
Now in order for someone to be filled, there must also be an emptying. To be full of faith, there has to be dying to the doubt-filled thoughts and approach to life. In many ways, to live in doubt is about making common of that which is holy. Where doubt makes the holy things of God—of his kingdom, prayer, healing, salvation, into sin-formed common things by being consumed with our own thoughts, struggles, and issues. To be full of the Holy Spirit, there has to be a daily dying to ourselves—of our concerns, our desires, our preferences, and our self-preservation. We so often become full of ourselves—where it is all about us—what we want, what we care about, what we desire, even what we struggle with.
Prayer: Lord, may we be emptied of our doubt-filled and self-filled ways of living. We ask that we will be full of faith and of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Let’s worship with the song More Like Jesus by Kristian Stanfill. (Click Here)
Romans 8:35,38-39 (NIV) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?… 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Sharing in Christ’s sufferings and being found worthy to be beaten, imprisoned, or even killed for His sake is not a tragedy, a punishment, or an accident. Instead, it is the greatest privilege that a Christ-follower has. Neither is such sacrifice wasted in God’s eyes. (Foxe: Voice of the Martyrs: AD 33-Today, Kindle Location: 3,955)
This is the life that we have in Christ, where nothing will separate us from the love of Christ. All of our life/living and death/dying has now been redeemed by Christ. Hence, supernatural death is the invitation to truly live and be alive in Christ, wherein our daily living until the time of our dying is to be marked by God’s supernatural faith, hope, and love, that even in our death our passion is to give God glory.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we thank you that you have redeemed our living and our dying. Our prayer is that we will live for your glory with the whole of our lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Let’s worship with the song Your Love Never Fails with Jesus Culture. (Click Here)