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The online Bible teaching ministry of Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
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Friday, September 2, 2022

Hans Herr home in Lancaster Country PA
The 1719 Hans Herr homestead in Willow Street; the oldest homestead in Lancaster County. Hans joined the Swiss Brethren (later called Mennonites) and became a bishop, the first Mennonite bishop to immigrate to America.

"Coincidence Or Divine Providence?"

Message summary: We need to realize that God is at work in the details of our lives in the day by day situations that come our way including the adverse circumstances we deal with. Ultimately what may seem simply a coincidence may very well be God’s plan unfolding and His hand directing us in the larger and smaller details of life.

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Listen to this message on your audio player. Please note: The last couple of days I've had some problems with publishing the podcast. The issue has been corrected and should you want to listen to Thursday's message it is here and Wednesday's message is here.

“Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul” (Acts 7:58).

Events in life that may seem coincidental are in reality God’s way of working behind the scenes to accomplish His purpose. It has been stated, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous”.

The English dictionary says that coincidence is the occurrence of events that happen at the same time by accident but seem to have some connection; a chance occurrence of events remarkable either for being simultaneous or for apparently being connected; a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection.

Robert Morgan writes, "There are some words that just are not found in God’s dictionary, words like accident, chance, oops, and coincidence. He orders and ordains the events of our lives.

God’s providence is God’s caring provision for His people as He guides them in their journey of faith through life, accomplishing His purpose in them.

Stoning of StephenLet's consider Stephen's impact on Paul's life, before and after his conversion. He was the first Christian martyr recorded in Scripture and his sedulous persecutor Saul who, upon initially reading Stephen's account, was coincidentally present at his stoning.  Stephen was stoned after he preached his only recorded sermon, and what an outstanding sermon it was! He didn’t attend a homiletics class where student pastors learn methods to give an effective sermon and yet he delivered a powerful and inspired sermon that has been passed on to every generation since that historic event.

The daily text introduces Saul as being at the scene and according to Acts 8:1 he gave approval to the stoning. Saul heard the sermon and witnessed the outcome. But what did Saul (known later as Paul) and the others at Stephen’s stoning witness? The Scripture highlights two statements that Stephen made just before his death, both very similar to statements our Lord Jesus made as He was dying on the cross:

1) “While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit’” (Acts 7:59). This statement stands as a great contrast to the rage Stephen’s attackers shamelessly revealed as they gnashed their teeth at him, as they covered their ears and yelled to the top of their voices, as they rushed toward him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Of course we see another hate-filled setting and a very similar loving response that Jesus made when He hung from the Cross and cried out in a loud voice. (Luke 23:46)

2) “Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:60). I think the phrase “cried out” indicates he fully intended this to be heard by the very ones who wanted him dead. Here we see another contrast when those who gnashed their teeth and threw the deadly stones would now look upon one who died after he verbalized his forgiveness toward the angry mob. One can only wonder the impact this had on all who heard it, including Saul. Again Jesus made a practically identical statement from the Cross. (Luke 23:34)

Saul's conversionApart from conjecture we just don’t know the impact these final words and actions of Stephen had on Saul’s soul but we believe it was a powerful seed preparing him for the Damascus Road experience resulting in his conversion that radically changed his life's calling from that of a sedulous persecutor to that of a zealous evangelist. Can you just imagine how it would be witnessing Paul and Stephen physically meeting in heaven for the first time?

We need to realize that God is at work in the details of our lives in the day to day situations that come our way, including the adverse circumstances we deal with. Ultimately what may seem simply a coincidence may very well be God’s plan unfolding and His hand directing us in the larger and smaller details of life.

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, the story of Stephen’s stoning is filled with contrasts where we see good in the midst of evil, love in the midst of hate, expansion of the church in the midst of terrible persecution. You are always at work, always providing, always showing loving concern for Your very own. Enable us to fix our eyes on heaven’s throne in the midst of troubles that seek to weigh us down. Give us the faith to believe that You are working for our good even in the midst of circumstances that seem the opposite. The devil may deviously plot, but You have a loving plan, and it’s always for our good. And we thank You for it, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Some commentators feel that the daily verse may indicate that Saul had an authoritative role in Stephen’s stoning. However this is not clear. Either way, Saul was initially hardened by the experience and became an undeterred persecutor of the young church before his miraculous conversion.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Homecoming"  Video  Cory Asbury

Finally today:
JK HVAC installerThis morning I visited for a few minutes with a young HVAC installer at JK Mechanical in Willow Street. I don't see him regularly since he is usually on the field but he was doing light duty warehouse work due to an injury.

I inquired about the injury and he asked me if I knew what a PK was. I smiled and said, "Are you a preacher's kid?", assuming that's what he meant. Well, he looked at me a bit puzzled and informed me how he was hurt during a penalty kick (PK) when he was the goalie in a soccer match!

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Weber couple photo 7/3/22
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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