Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Acts 29: "a picture of growing trust"

The Word for today:
Acts 27:21-44
The book of Acts stops at chapter 28, verse 31. But the reader is left hanging in mid-air, with the definite impression that Acts may have stopped there, but it doesn't end there:
"The book of Acts is still being written. Like the Gospel of Luke, the book of Acts is yet another record of the things Jesus ‘began both to do and to teach.’ Jesus isn’t finished yet. He began His ministry in His human body, as recorded in the Gospels. He continued in His body, the church, through the book of Acts. He continues His ministry today through you and me and every other believer on the planet. The book of Acts will be completed someday. And when it is completed, you and I will have a chance to read it in glory, in eternity, when the plan of God has been fulfilled. When we read it, what will my part be in that great story? And what will yours be?" – Ray Stedman, Adventuring Through the Bible
Stand in the Rain is taking a long look at various aspects of believers' testimonies--the stories, in-the-making right now, that will someday appear in "Acts 29."
As we speak of these stories in general, we encourage you to think, in particular, about the tale your own life is telling--and to "edit" (where necessary) before publication!
Because your story of faith is the greatest gift you can give today--and will be your most significant legacy--Stand in the Rain has devoted space, here in the region of "Acts 29," to discuss what makes a testimony well-told.
God must have anticipated our efforts, because he shows us, in Psalm 23, an example of what we've been talking about! The 23rd Psalm is the model, par excellence, for our very own testimonies.
David is the Teller of his story, but he's not the Star--and it doesn't take him long to say so. He uses the first few words to establish the focus of his poem:
The LORD is my shepherd…
David is not the Actor but the Acted Upon. God initiates; David receives:
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake.
At the heart of the story is a relationship. There is a lot of action in Psalm 23, but the action only serves to highlight a relationship, built on trust, that is developing between the lines.
David illustrated the relationship with scenes from his own life.
I would not choose to communicate Jesus with rustic imagery--shepherd and pastures and streams. But David could because they were the authentic background of his relationship with the LORD. He most likely met the LORD in the solitude of the fields, among the sheep under shining stars.
There must have come, one night, the realization that he was to the LORD what the sheep were to him. He was valued, even prized; he was guided and guarded and provided for. But best of all he was in the presence of the LORD. He was in the presence of his enemies, to be sure, but the presence of the supernatural shepherd overwhelmed his natural fears…
Psalm 23 is the world's most famous poem, and for good reason: it's the world's best poem. Let its sublime simplicity inspire your efforts to live out a relationship of growing trust with the LORD--and to say so, with style, in the presence of friends and foes.
We'll return to these fields and streams and valleys tomorrow, in order to glean from David's story a few more things we can apply to our own.

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