During my time with God the other day, I came across a note that I wrote in my Bible alongside of the story of Daniel in the lions den.
Before I give ya the note, understand the the context. A new statute went out and was being enforced among the land that anyone who makes a petition to any god or man besides the king would be cast into the lions den for 30 days. Daniel knew very well the document was signed and was being enforced, yet he continued worshipping and giving thanks to God. Spoiler alert, he was thrown into the lions den.
But yo, check out this note!
The note said this…
“It’s not the amount of faith you have whether the lions eat you or not. It depends on what story God is telling.”
My mind went spinning; I was lost in thought. Remembering and relating this to other stories of people in the Bible with the same faith as Daniel but different outcomes. And, you know who stuck out the most?!
Peep this. Lemme tell you about this dude Stephen real quick.
Stephen was in the midst of the gospel expansion. The gospel was beginning to be heard throughout all of Jerusalem and it was because of Stephen’s boldness to take the risk to confront the darkness residing in culture at the time. He decided to be a light by being a contributor to culture and speaking truth to reshape culture. Culture was at war. Still is. But guess what? Another spoiler alert. Jesus declared victory already. He is just being patient to utterly silence the enemy completely so that we can recruit more on the winning team.
Anyways.. back to Stephen.
My dude Stephen was out proclaiming Truth and the darkness inside of culture was being offended and disturbed. People in the crowd began despising Stephen for the Truth that he allowed to flow through him. They began stoning him til’ death!
Same Faith, Different Story
Would you look at that? The same exact faith and perseverance to run their unique, yet similar races, had two very different outcomes.
Faith does not dictate your outcome here on this Earth, but it does secure your identity and eternity for the new Heaven and Earth!
Whether the lions eat you or God commands their mouths to be shut…
Whether the people stone you til’ death or God decides to be your shield…
It ALL depends on the STORY that God is TELLING.
You better check yo’self and your so-called faith. Because you can’t live in two-worlds. You either choose to live in this world that will be destroyed by fire the same way it was destroyed by the flood. OR. You can choose to live being persecuted by this world for the next world being made specifically for you. And you for dang sure better count the cost.
Because the cost may can lead to you being thrown into the lions den and God shutting the mouths of the lions. Yaaaa, that’s dope. How cool is God in that story?!
But, the cost could also mean that you are stoned to death like Stephen. How cool is God in that story?! What kind of God would do that?
Well, you gotta step back and see the bigger story being told because my God is the best story teller out there.
The Bigger Story
While Stephen was being stoned to death by that crowd, guess who was watching and approving his death?
Saul… Freakin’ Saul.
You know Saul. The dude also called Paul who wrote almost all the new testament and had a major influence in the movement of the gospel. Ya, that Saul.
Stephen was setting up Saul and many other’s journeys to expand the Gospel far greater than anything Stephen could have done by himself; but, it took his death to multiply his message. And yeaa, his message lived on. And yeaa, his message was all about God.
Because of the persecution that started with Stephen, the rest of the church were dispersed throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria.
The Gospel freakin’ Expansion ya’ll. That’s where we see Acts 1:8 come into fruition.
Jesus instructs us and warns us to count the cost.
So, Count It.
Is your faith to simply get the blessings in this life and to selfishly use God to get what you want?
Is your faith to see God’s story of Redemption come to fruition regardless of the outcome?
“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?”