Thursday, July 27, 2017

Acts 29: "surely"

The Word for today:
Acts 28:1-16
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!
The Bible tells us how by showing us how.
How should we live? God didn't just tell us how to live. He became flesh and dwelt among us so we could see a life as it should be lived.
How should we pray? God didn't just leave us with prayer precepts. His word is strewn with models of effective prayer (along with a few models of phony prayer that we should avoid.) Ultimately Jesus, when the disciples asked him how to pray, delivered a profound and memorable pattern for effective prayer: "Our Father," he began…
What does love look like? He showed us:
What does a personal testimony, well told, resemble? He showed us that as well:
The LORD is my shepherd, it began…
The 23rd Psalm can be seen as the Bible's prototypical testimony. Like Jesus' prototypical prayer, it starts with the name of God and "ends" with forever:
The LORD...forever.
It traces a relationship on the move: from faith to faith, from glory to glory, from trust to trust. (1)
It clearly defines the roles--the Savior and the saved--in the relationship. (That sheep didn't rescue himself!)
It employs milieu and metaphor that are personal and particular to convey the attributes of the universal God:
David's metaphor was rustic: shepherd, sheep, stream, meadow, and valley. Today, we might choose aeronautic, or atomic, or even athletic terms! Paul described his journey of faith in terms of a runner in pursuit of a trophy:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
Your testimony, like David's, will include conflict: dark valleys and enemies all around.
It will include irony: the rod of discipline and correction brings comfort as well.
It will include, perhaps, a wee bit o' prophecy as you peek into a future which surely will unfold in fulfillment of God's Word:
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD
We will finish our foray through "Acts 29"--and Psalm 23--tomorrow. See you then.
(1) see Romans 1:17; (2) see 2 Corinthians 3:18

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