Monday, 13 August 2018

Grace Shadows

In Acts chapter 5 things rise to such a point that merely the shadow of Peter has to fall on someone for them to have the possibility of healing (see verse 15). Crowds gathered and pressed in to be part of the action, resembling the times when Jesus moved among the crowds and ministry took place.

An interesting feature of these episodes (both with Jesus and with Peter / the apostles) is that the healing / relief / comfort brought came liberally, seemingly with little head-knowledge interaction or stated belief. And with virtually zero doctrinal formula (except, when Peter did speak, the words 'In the name of Jesus ...').

So where was the repentance on the part of the recipient? Where was their prayer of commitment? In these incidents they seem to be missing.

Instead we see grace simply swiping across people, much as a shadow might swipe over someone as a person passes by. That is enough! God is at work, grace is being marvellously and liberally poured out.

The grace comes first ... things change ... living in a new way (lifestyle changes) hopefully come later (but note it is not guaranteed).

The religious establishment - the guardians of orthodoxy and 'correct' interpretation of scripture - couldn't seem to get their heads round these events. Their reaction was jealousy and (foolish) attempts to curtail.

Foolish because - as we all know - you simply cannot grasp hold of a shadow!

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Rain, Wells and Springing Up

The recent weather has made us sit up and take notice. Yes we do depend on the weather, and so yes we do depend on God - His grace and provision. It is not simply a case of continuing on as normal.

Promises in scripture suggest the same might be true of salvation - that is of seeing whole waves of people discovering the grace of God. Isaiah 12:3 talks of our joy of drawing water from the wells of salvation. This comes in the middle of a song celebrating God's ability to save - something to be made known to all the world.

Just as we have longed for a relief in the hot weather and particularly for rains, let us long for God to open new wells of salvation that we may be able to draw up from in our mission contexts.

Later in Isaiah 45:8 it says 'heavens above rain down my righteousness ... let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up'. A bit more of a curious passage here, since God says he will use a foreign king to advance his purposes. Yet again in the middle is this marvellous promise that with God showering His righteousness, it will be like salvation simply springing up from the ground. In other words popping up here and there without much intervention from us!

Let us wait on God, looking for another new wave where His work enables salvation to occur around us. Let us revel in the unpredictability of it - for it will be His doing rather than our programme.

Lord God, may you open new wells of salvation. May we see it spring up from the ground!