Sunday, 18 October 2015

Daily Reading: Acts 9v31-43 'Peace and Purpose'

"31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.
32 Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralysed. 34 And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose. 35 And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.
36 Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas.[a] She was full of good works and acts of charity. 37 In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” 39 So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. 40 But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. 41 And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 43 And he stayed in Joppa for many days with one Simon, a tanner."
We don't think of peace as a potential threat to our faith.  In fact we tend to pray for it.  But peace must be purposeful for the church.  The church in Acts grow dramatically during a time of persecution, now the question is can it do the same in a time of peace.  Peace poses a different set of challenges to the church than persecution.  The fear is largely gone, the gospel is more acceptable, the potential to grow used to comfort and social status is more pronounced.  Peace can be a big a threat as persecution to our faith and the church.

But the early church invest their peace, just as they invested their persecution.  They live in fear of the Lord as much in peacetime as in persecution.  They use the time of peace to be built up or strengthened.  They don't take it easy, this is not a vacation, eternal life is still at stake, Jesus still need stop be proclaimed, there is a still a spiritual battle raging around us even if its visibility dialled down.

How am I investing the time of relative peace I enjoy?  How am I making the most of the opportunities afforded me?  The resources readily available?  The doors that currently are open but one day may well slam shut?  Am I still living on a spiritual war footing or am I lounging in comfort lulled into oblivion to the eternal plight of those around me?

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