PROVIDENCE

WEEK THREE, DAY FIVE, COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE COMPANION

WEEK THREE THEME: COMMUNITY

DAY FIVE THEME: MIGHTY WORKS

SCRIPTURE: ACTS 4:31-35 (CEB)

“After they prayed, the place where they were gathered was shaken.  They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking God’s word with confidence. 

The community of believers was one in heart and mind.  None of them would say, “This is mine!” about any of their possessions, but held everything in common. 

The apostles continued to bear powerful witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and an abundance of grace was at work among them all.

There were no needy persons among them.  Those who owned properties or houses would sell them, bring the  proceeds from the sales and place them in the care and under the authority of the apostles.  Then it was distributed to anyone who was in need.”

THE WORD OF GOD FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD – THANKS BE TO GOD!

SOAKING IT IN: In the Kingdom of God, providence is ample.  It began in the Garden of Eden, where every need was met and everything there was for the usefulness and benefit of its inhabitants. 

Here with the Apostles in Acts a huge shift of this same providence is experienced after the filling of the Holy Spirit. These individual persons have united in the spirit of mutual love and concern for each other.  Previously they were united in darkness and fear behind closed doors. The entry of the Holy Spirit brought one heart and one mind, and when those two are alined, there are no such words of “this is mine!”.  Instead the peaceful attitude of ‘all that I have is yours and all that you have is mine and we are blessed’ prevails.  This is miraculous! It is contrary to our human condition of “survival of the fittest”!

In this state of “Spirit living” as one sees a need they do all that they can to meet that need…see the need, do the deed! If what is in my possession is helpful for you, I want you to have it – no strings attached – it is yours.  If the finances are strained and I have something that I can sell – I sell it and give over every penny for the common good.  The spirit of greed and the need of possessions has vanished and is replaced with the desire for the good of all.  With full participation and selflessness, there are no longer needs – the Garden of Eden!

When I think of Adam and Eve and the joy they surely had as they lived blissfully in the Garden of Eden, the ease of their day to day, their unconcern for material and unnecessary things, their ability to just be and do without stress or obligation, the privilege of visiting and sharing in a personal, face to face relationship with God – I believe it defines Heaven. 

Now the Apostles have a very similar living scenario.  But just like with Adam and Eve, the work comes from staying in that personal, face-to-face relationship with God or else the tempter, who is always on the watch for weakness will sneak on in and destroy our confidence and our focus.  Our only job as we live within God’s Spirit is to continue in the light and never dabble in the darkness.  If one ounce of greed is allowed to creep in and foster ‘reasoning and justification’ we are in danger of rebelling against the Spirit of God in favor of what is good for me personally – MINE!

In our world today, controversies abound! There is hardly one topic around which we can share in full and open conversation without tempers flaring and discord winning. Is wearing a mask protecting you or killing me? Is Covid a conspiracy or real? Whose leadership do we listen to and follow? Why focus on black lives matter – don’t all lives matter, doesn’t my life matter? Harmony in our world as a whole today is totally lacking and heartbreaking. I’ve listened to comments far and wide on all the topics above and so much more. The biggest fear I have is that our own entitlement to have our on “righteous” opinion heard and recognized will ultimately sink us – kick us out of the Garden.

I hate that churches are having to be cautious for the sake of the whole, that we are not able to “rub elbows” with others of our faith and be reassured publicly by God’s Word in person. But I am reminded through these scriptures, and on-goingly through so many others, that our work as Christians was never meant to be easy. Our work as Christians is always to be powered by the Holy Spirit, who with Jesus makes our burden light. With Christ, all things are possible – even taming our own entitlements and biases, putting aside self – opening our hearts to others – ever learning and moving forward.

The Apostles were totally different people once receiving the Holy Spirit – setting the world on fire for Christ and birthing the Church. Let our work together as Christians be likewise – not hidden and fearful, but outspoken and bold. May we give leadership in our living through prayer, witness, communal living. May we see the need and do the deed based on all that God has given to us. What the world needs now is God’s Love – Sweet Love – let us show it – NO, LET’S DO IT!

Watchfulness and prayer are our greatest tools for remaining in God’s perfect peace! May we take time to hear and see and know all the while listening to that “still, small voice” within us to guide our every step!

We are blessed to be a blessing – let’s get on with it in spite of all that is going on in the world around us! We are VESSELS! GET CREATIVE!

GOD WILL PROVIDE!

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