Monday, March 27, 2017

Acts 7:30-34

Acts 7:30-34
English Standard Version (ESV) 

  What do you suppose Moses was thinking about for 40 years?  I can't imagine that he went into the wilderness with the sheep every day looking for divine intervention, waiting for God to do something dramatic.  At a certain point, he probably settled into a routine and simply took care of the sheep, long past the point of expecting God to do something dramatic in his life.  But God was still at work, still preparing, still moving.
  It's so strange to me to read the New Testament passages that talk about the urgency of discipleship.  The disciples all thought the end of the world would come any day, that Jesus would return straightaway.  After a while, they probably stopped waiting for dramatic action, stopping staring into the heavens and waiting for them to open.  They probably got on with life.  But God was still at work, still preparing, still moving.
  In our lives, we get on with the every day routines of life.  Most of us have long ago stopped waiting for the dramatic, because simply expect every day to be like the last  We forget about God's dynamic history, about how God has used people in every age to spur revival.  We forget to pray with a sense of wonder, and our hearts harden to the reality of God on the move in new ways, breathing life into old bones.  We grow accustomed to our routines and rituals, and we forget about the power of the Spirit moving among and within us.
  But God is still at work, still preparing, still moving.  My prayer for you today is that you might go into the world with the eyes of your heart open to the possibilities of God at work in the world into which you go.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Acts 7:17-29

Acts 7:17-29
New International Version (NIV)

  In the thick of a mess, it's hard to see how things are changing.  When we're sick, we tend to focus intensely on how badly we feel, and we sometimes miss how we are starting to feel better.  Only later, when we're well, do we look back and notice the moment when we started to improve.  It may actually be some time between when your body starts winning the battle and you notice the difference, but that doesn't mean things aren't changing for the better.
  In the same way, God is at work here in Egypt.  Moses is being prepared for leading the Israelites out of Egypt, out of slavery, but he's got a long way to go before he's going to confront Pharaoh.  It's going to be years, and the Israelites in slavery may not notice the change for years to come, but God is at work, preparing the people to lead them out of slavery.
  In your own life, God is at work.  We often don't notice how God is at work, and sometimes when we are in the worst of our stress, we tend to focus so closely on our problems that we may not notice when the tide begins to turn -- it might still feel like we're drowning.  Just because we aren't noticing what God is doing doesn't mean that God isn't actively at work in hearts and minds.  Trust in God, who loves you more than you can know or imagine -- he has never and will never abandon you.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Acts 7:9-16

Acts 7:9-16
English Standard Version (ESV)

  Looking back, it's easy to see how the brothers could have framed their decision to sell Joseph into slavery.  They could have said they were an unaware participant in God's greater plan, that their actions were simply laying the groundwork for God's greater actions later.  In summary, they could minimize their own sinfulness.
  I don't like to focus on my own sin.  I don't like to talk about it, and I'd just as soon pretend it's not part of the equation.  But I do sin.  I have sinned.  And I take ownership of that -- it's a part of me, whether I'm proud of it or not.  I think that God has taken some of those sins and used them for good later on, but it would have been better for me to not sin, right?  Just like it would have been better for Joseph's brothers to not sell him into slavery.  I think God would have still worked out a way for the end result to be the same.
  It's complicated to be a Christian, to know that we sin and yet that we are redeemed, forgiven and free.  Don't dwell on your sin, focusing so much on it that you lose sight of God.  But also don't forget that it's there -- it reminds us of who we once were, and it reminds us how great our God is and how great a debt we owe him.  Our sin should make us grateful, so that we may rejoice in the love of God our Savior.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Acts 7:1-8

Acts 7:1-8
English Standard Version (ESV) 

 One popular question in job interviews is 'tell me about yourself'.  At that moment, it's probably not best to start with your infancy and work your way to the modern day.
  When we tell the story of the Gospel, of God's liberating love, we have a choice to make.  Sometimes, we need to sum it up, to simply tell the story of how Christ died for sins so that we may have hope in him.
  Other times, though, we need to tell the whole story.  And that story doesn't begin in John 1 -- it begins in Genesis, with a God who creates out of pure and selfless love, with a God who is reaching out from the beginning, reaching out to include, to welcome others into his eternal love.  God doesn't decide in the New Testament to offer forgiveness and love -- it's a part of the whole story, the whole mission of God, to love in a way we can barely comprehend, so that we might be included in the Kingdom of God, wrapped up in his love and in a bigger story than we can imagine.
  You are a part of the story, so when you tell your own story, feel free to start with Abraham, with how God reached out to him in love, and how you are now a part of that amazing legacy.