Today’s Reading: Acts 9:32–12:25
I was thinking quietly about Psalm 23:2-3 this morning – green pastures and quiet waters – and thanking Him for His promise even although often as here, there are still storm clouds on the horizon! How beautiful that Peter goes about, quietly spreading blessing and the wonderful message, and how he must have looked back later with joy at the wonderful things God was doing – in actual fact – miracles and blessing to others (isn’t blessing to others always a miracle done by God and not by our human efforts?!).
But now Peter is faced with a new turn in life and I suspect from my reading and thinking about it, he found it as hard as I do to change! But I am comforted with God’s patience and wisdom in not only introducing the change gently but also in a way in which Peter could understand and know without a doubt that God was bringing blessing to the Gentiles in a way which no one could ever doubt! And so when confronted with opposition by others, he is able to gently say, “I relate to your struggle,” (so to speak!) but he also points out that because God poured out His Holy Spirit on the Gentiles without the laying on of hands by Jews, so this was indeed a work sanctioned by God Himself! But the message was brought to them by a leading Jew, a disciple of Jesus, therefore avoiding division in the church between a Jewish church and a Gentile church! (Paul tells us later, “No, we are ONE body in Christ!” But the problem is sometimes I struggle with living out in reality that we really are ONE body in Christ!
I love the way, that again Barnabas steps in, and recognizes the gift of Paul in teaching, and couples with and supports Paul in the work at Antioch (was it Paul teaching and Barnabas encouraging?) but I am encouraged then and now too as I see brothers and sisters, members of the ONE body, working together and valuing one another! And even a third member joins the team to warn of a famine, and because of it, the Gentiles (who were strangers and outsiders before), join in loving concern for their Judean brothers and sisters!
Interesting enough, this morning I wasn’t paying attention to where I was reading and began with this section! I was thinking and envying Peter’s faith that finds him completely asleep in faith in God’s will, and the angels having to “strike him on the side” to wake him up to reality! I find that in my life I am liable to be more awake to “the reality of life,” than to the reality that my future is completely in the hands of my loving Saviour! Then I smile again at people trying to make things secure, only to find out they make the miracle more “brilliant” so to speak! Guards killed for sleeping and Peter sleeping and rising to the reality of God’s care – I am comforted by the hidden assurance of His love! I join Peter in saying, “NOW, I know without a doubt that the Lord sent His angel and rescued me…” (Not sure if I’m there yet in quiet faith, but thanks Lord, you’re there for me!” So he seeks his brothers and sisters and values them enough to want to tell them of God’s goodness, even although at first they don’t open the door to him? And he disappeared into the future, quietly continuing his work for His Lord and Master! Maybe, someday, I can disappear into His goodness, working quietly alongside my Saviour and Master!
I hesitate to say this again – but somehow a suitable ending to our day’s reading by seeing God quietly in action punishing someone so bold, that he would allow people to worship him as God – a ugly ending but most certainly what arrogance to allow people to worship him as God! God does have patience but it doesn’t last forever, because although He is love, He is also holy! Unfortunately, I don’t seem to always be in step with my loving and holy Saviour to know when that time has come! Perhaps I haven’t accepted the yoke yet that He longs to yoke Himself and me together in such a quiet close fellowship of humility and gentleness (Matt. 11:28-29)!
I’m hoping you and I have a quiet day in the wonderful assurance Peter had that gave him such a profound sleep, even when facing the uncertainty of tomorrow which for him meant perhaps even death!