Be still and know – the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is here with you – through Jesus. Remember the mountain-top meeting? “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him.”
Peace is the word that floods my mind – “not as the world gives it, but peace IN Me – I have come to bring Peace and Rest – that is what the Sabbath celebration was to be a reminder of – My Rest which I give you – the world is restless – everyone is so busy, so occupied, so distracted, even when they are trying to rest, but in Me you find true peace – representing the harmony you have with Me. Even when the waves are rolling towards you – they won’t engulf you – you are held safe in My peace.”
I see a stormy sea with huge breaking swells and then in the midst a strong light shining down and where it is shining the water is totally calm – there is Jesus beckoning – “Come here into my peace – you will only find it here with Me – here IN Me = listen to Me”. I am still and I receive your peace dear Lord.
I start reading in Acts Ch 14, intending to read only the first 7 vv, however the narrative carries me along and I end up reading the whole chapter. There is a lot going on, but as I sort of stand back, I am once again struck by the interest and progress the preaching of the gospel brings and yet each time the growing specter of violent opposition. Without discussing the chapter in detail, a few things grabbed my attention.
Firstly the little word at the beginning of vs 3 – “so”. “But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there”. Its almost as if the very opposition of these people spurred Paul and Barnabas on to make disciples, spending some time there to see that these people who believed were also grounded in their faith and would not be distracted once they left.
Then there is the reminder of the importance of the exercising of faith. Luke says in Vs 9: ‘Paul, while he was preaching looked at the crippled man and “seeing that he had faith to be healed (remember the Greek word for heal is the same as save or be made complete – ‘sozo’), called out to him…” Here is the continued enigma of our response to the gospel both in terms of physical as well as spiritual completion He had faith when he heard Paul’s message. In the same way we need to exercise faith, yet we cannot do this without the intervention of the very one in whom we are to have faith in. This is a mystery we will only be able to understand when we meet the Lord face to face. Also in vs 23 the people who constitute the new church are described as those who had put their trust in the Lord. Trust is the key element of our relationship with Jesus, it is the dynamic connection between us and God Himself.
Another vs struck me, especially in the light of a request by Elise to pray for rain in the critically drought stricken Eastern Cape, Port Elizabeth area – vs 17 “He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in seasons; He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy”. So yes everything we have is a gift form God because of the Lord’s kindness to us. But then what happens when we don’t receive rain? A sign of God withholding His kindness? There can be a lot written about drought as it is played out in the Old Testament, however it seems to me that the withholding of His blessing at any time is something that God does for a variety of reasons which we may not necessarily grasp. But maybe though, in today’s context, could mainly be intended to teach us continued humble dependence on Him and to help us to grow in that vital trust. Something like allowing the new converts of Paul in our passage today to experience serious opposition. This is also a strong reminder to the many who feel totally independent from God. They need to see they do not have complete control over their whole lives as they presume, that on the contrary their whole lives are actually completely in God’s hands, under His control. We understand we fall short of understanding everything, like with the Covid pandemic, but the one thing that does stand out clearly: God wants us to join Him in His team in growing His kingdom and we can all do this by exercising the huge gift of prayer, which lifts us up onto a different plane into His very presence, as it were..
For me Jesus seems to be reminding me of the fact that we live in a world of turmoil and many would seek to blame God for it, however in all this there is the huge desire by God that we join Him in the ‘campaign for the kingdom, by every means possible, starting with prayer high on the list.
So my friends how many of your thoughts and purposes are aimed at being part of that great commission? We never need to be stagnant.