15 “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

We all wish we could forget some of those moments in our lives when we made decisions that were not wise, decisions that hurt us or someone else. Come to think of it, I have made some pretty stupid mistakes in my lifetime, poor choices, rash decisions, things that did not honor God. I am going to step out on a limb and say that we have all done things we regret.

The good news is that we serve a God that loves us, sent His son to spill His blood for us. Ready to give us a second chance. With God it is never three strikes and you are out. 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is just, he is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from all wickedness.”

The Bible admonishes us to ‘be careful how we live’ because our lives impact everyone around us. We cannot live the Christian life without the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” I am reminded of Stephen, the first martyr. In Acts 6:5 it states “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” Let me give you a little background on how his ministry got started. In Acts 6: 1-4 as the church grew exponentially there were problems. Some people were discontent. In a nutshell, the Greek speaking believers complained about the Hebrew speaking believers, that they were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food. In those days when you accepted Christ as your Lord, you were ostracized by your family. In my lifetime I have seen this happen. It happened to Dottie and me.

The apostles said we need to spend our time teaching the word and praying. “Choose seven men who are respected, full of wisdom and the Holy Spirit. Enters Stephen ~ He answered the call to help run the church pantry but it did not end there. We need to bloom where we are planted. For Stephen that would be just the beginning. God had other plans for him. He was a man of faith and integrity. He was also anointed as a preacher. You can read one of the greatest historical sermons you will ever read in Acts, Chapter 7. It was delivered to a hostile crowd, the Jewish high council. Those words stung and ultimately lead to his stoning. His final words showed how much like Jesus he had become. He prayed for their forgiveness. Even in death he made a lasting impact on a young man named Saul of Tarsus.

Later Saul became known at Paul. You see Paul witnessed it all. He approved of Stephen’s stoning but in that death he saw something in ‘the way’ that young man died. It impacted his life. Paul had his own experience on his journey to Damascus. When the Lord spoke to him in Acts 9:4 he went from a violent persecutor of the faith to the greatest champion of the gospel of Jesus Christ that the church has ever known.

My prayer is that God will give us faith, boldness and a fresh infusion of the Holy Spirit. At the end of the day it is not how much of the Holy Spirit I have but how much does of the Holy Spirit have of me!

Pastor Josh Bonventre