#carmelprays – Acts 9:26-43
Opening Song: Let There Be Light
Read Scripture: Acts 9:26-43
The events leading up to today’s passage signal a tumultuous time for those building the Kingdom of the Lord. The apostles had been arrested and freed, Stephen had been stoned, Saul had been aggressively sabotaging the Church – so much had happened that there was every reason to lose hope. Yet, this passage turns things around, highlighting three separate instances of God’s glory and power on display, so much so that it drives people to turn to the Lord.
Post-transformation, Saul is making waves everywhere he goes. Through Saul, the church was being built up with peace (v31). The scenes jump to Peter here for a bit, where we see Peter also being empowered by Christ to heal and perform miracles. Aeneas rises after being paralysed and bedridden for eight years (v33-34). And once again, when many had seen him, they turned to the Lord (v35). Peter later moved on to Joppa, where he brought the well-loved Tabitha back from death to life. When he presented her as alive to the saints and widows, many believed in the Lord (v41).
Each of these instances follow a similar trajectory. The glory of God is boldly displayed, whether in preaching, or in healing, or in the restoring of life even. And thereafter many turn to the Lord.
The God we worship is unchanging. And so, the God who is working in these passages is definitely active and working even in today’s world, perhaps on the same scale but in many other different ways as well. The truth is that His act of drawing people to Himself remains unchanging, His glory has to be displayed, and then people turn to the Lord. How does the Church have to look like for this to happen? She has to be one that is walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit (v31).
This gives us a lot to think about in these crazy, and often very bleak times. Whether it is for the issues further away from home with the chaos in the USA, or the battles we have back home with the foreigners in our midst, or even the ever-increasing volume of angry, impassioned voices we hear in the virtual world wherever we are. There is so much darkness, and so much hatred. What has been on my heart lately is to ask, “how should the Church react to all we see today?”.
How should the Church react to all we see today?
As we have seen, the events of this passage are taking place in the wake of great persecution and intentional sabotage in the labour for the Lord. These accounts are glimmers of light amidst dark moments of persecution and even hatred for the Church. Still, the fear of the Lord runs through the Church, and they are filled with the comfort of the Holy Spirit (v31). That should be what the Church needs to look like now more than ever. Because in such a time as this, people are watching the Church; and how the Church reflects the glory of the Lord will either cause people to turn to the Lord or away from Him.
Perhaps what the Church needs to ask is if we are reacting with the fear of the Lord in our hearts and in our communities. Do we love others as if we would if we really feared the Lord, who with His love first loved us? Do we fear the Lord enough to speak and stand for the truth in love, rather than disengage nonchalantly or engage in fiery hatred and anger? Do we take tangible action in our own spheres of interaction and influence as though we lived to serve a holy Lord we feared? And this needs to be matched with the comfort of the Holy Spirit. Do we do all of the above consciously that we are not pushing our own agendas or making them ends in themselves? But instead rest in the comfort that we have in the Holy Spirit who is present with us, even amidst the chaos?
The God we serve is still working amidst darkness and hopelessness. So how do we, the Church, reflect this to the world? How do we in our words, deeds, and lives signal to the world and make it known that He is at work so that many believe and turn to the Lord? There is darkness, but if we fear the Lord and are filled with the comfort of the Holy Spirit amidst the chaos, we could just be that light in the dark.
Pray in Response
Our Sovereign and Glorious God, You are our ever faithful God, patient and gracious, desirous for every one to come to repentance and call Jesus as Saviour and Lord. In a world in darkness, penetrate Your light for the world to see. Shine Your light on us that Your church will be set ablaze with the power of Your Spirit to carry the light into the world! Cause Your church to lift Jesus high for all the world to see. Fill Your children with Your perfect love to cast out fears, to tear down walls, to build bridges of faith, hope and love in the mighty name of Jesus our Lord. Amen!
Response Song: God Is In Control
By Anne Hwarng