Today’s Reading: Click Here – Psalm 46; Genesis 45:25-46:7; Acts 5:33-42 (to open the scripture links – hover over the highlighted areas, right click, open hyperlink)
Psalm 46, a hymn of praise for the soprano choir, hailing the deliverance from enemy, foe and ruin. The Psalmist says here, that even if the world should end, we need not to fear, because in the face of wide-spread destruction and adversity, Psalm 46 expresses a quiet confidence, assurance and buoyancy in God’s ability to save us. What a peaceful assurance. When we consider the dark and daunting thoughts of the world crashing in around us, uncertain misfortunes and mishaps, and being consumed with fear is a natural response either way. But thank goodness we can find comfort and armor not only in this psalm, but all throughout scripture. We can rest assure that God is our shelter even in the midst of utter destruction. He is not merely a temporary fix for a moment of despair, but our eternal salvation, refuge and strength in EVERYDAY and ANY circumstance and situation we face. Sing out. Sing loud, and rejoice and give God praise!
Like Jacob, in our reading from Genesis today, we too can find it hard to take any breaking news, good or bad, without facts and proof, as truth. In this case, for Jacob, it was an incredible wave of good news; that his son, Joseph whom he had mourned for so deeply, could actually be alive. One can almost visualize this scene; the words, the circumstances, the mystery of indescribable feelings, wanting so much for it to be true. But for an instant, doubt and disbelief interfere, until facts and proof are unveiled that soon settle his unbelief. Perhaps, deep down, Jacob never lost hope that Joseph was alive and would return to him. It was his dying wish.
Our New Testament passage today from the book of Acts, is best understood if you start at the beginning of Chapter 5 which I included in the above scripture link. It continues the account of the Apostles’ arrest and trial. Their crime was preaching that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, that the Jewish leadership murdered Him, and that God has endorsed Jesus through the miraculous sign of the resurrection from the dead. Earlier in Chapter 5, (vs. 17-21) the Apostles were arrested and placed in a public prison and then sometime during the night an Angel came and rescued them and gave them a message from God…’Go back to the Temple and preach the message of eternal life’. Also, remember that it was the next morning when their trial was to begin that they could not be found in the prison but were found in the Temple teaching the people that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and that only through Jesus can one be made right with God. This teaching and the circumstances surrounding it greatly challenged the authority of the Jewish leadership…and they were seriously angered.
The primary claim of this text curtails 1 Corinthians 1:18 ‘For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God’.
For us, this passage directs us to consider our own cost of following Jesus Christ. What if we encounter trials, hardship or sufferings as a result of speaking the name of Jesus and peaching the good news of the Gospel? Because, truthfully, the initial effect the gospel has on the unbeliever, is uncertainty, anger and insulting because the message of the crucified, risen and exalted Savior is an offense to those who do not believe. Are we prepared, are we passionate in our walk and relationship with Jesus, to face such a magnitude of anguish and upset, yet believing wholeheartedly that is it NOT in vain? We pray, that upon hearing this good news, they would humble their hearts and put their faith in Jesus, or at the very least, the sowed seed of faith would take root.
We are called to speak this truth and to stand firm in the midst of persecution for Jesus’ name sake. (Luke 6:22) We too must seek power from on high, trusting that God, in every form, is every ounce of our strength and refuge as we work and move to do whatever is required of us to see that the name of Jesus is proclaimed to all the people and the nations.
One hardship that I endured early on in my faith walk, was the loss of a 40year old friendship over time. I knew that she did not believe in God and my new life seemed so disturbing to her, that her heart hardened towards me, to the point our friendship endured lengthy periods of silence and was never the same. As I mourned this friendship, what I really wanted to do was to lash out and give her a piece of my mind. But my heart was soon comforted by the words of (Matthew 5:10-12) . I have to believe seeds of faith were planted through my words and actions back then as a new Christian. It has been over 5years now since I last heard from her. I pray for her so often.
Maybe you are experiencing something difficult in result of your faithful life and actions. Whatever it may be, stay true to God’s word ‘Be Still, and KNOW that He is God’ and He will fill that void, heal that hurt and bring restitution of any situation to light, all for His glory and endless love for you.
Here are a few songs for your spiritual growth and listening pleasure:
Lord, I sing praise through the beautiful choruses of the Psalms. My heart is still, for I know you are with me. You set my feet on lofty places, and I will dwell with you now and forever. With your gentle nudge and fierce love, keep me on the straight and narrow path that leads to you, to life eternal. Let truth and trust be words for this day. I rest in you, and I am comforted. I speak your holy word to fall fresh on deaf ears. Things and people will come and go, but you Lord remain. You are my constant in every valley and mountain top. I praise you this day and everyday. In Jesus’ name I declare His victory. Amen.