When I was a young boy, I traveled with my family all over the western United States. My dad was an evangelist and we were in church most every night. One night we got to a church early and there was a construction sight on the premises. Large steel beams had been placed and the walls were framed, which cast looming shadows across the framing and floors as we walked the sight. And I must admit, I got scared of those shadows. So i leaned into my dad and said “I hope a boogey man doesn’t come after us!” But then I said, “but I’m not scared because my daddy is with me.” My dad said at those words he could have taken on an entire army of boogey men. I was scared, but in the arms of my father I was comforted. And so it still is today…with my heavenly father. Remember this when trouble comes – “Fear not” he says. “for I am with you always.”
Acts 5 is an inspiring chapter to any worshiper because it tell several stories of the early church. The town church folks got really nervous at the explosive growth of Christianity, and so they threw the apostles in jail, only to have God open the prison doors that night and set them free. In prompt obedience, they walked out of prison and were right back at the temple teaching and preaching again the next morning. Thousands came to Christ as a result of their boldness and their trust in the Holy Spirit to guide them. At the end of the chapter, out of frustration, the High Council of Jewish leaders set them go, but beat them up in order to keep them quiet. You think for one second that worked? Of course not, these men were like timex watches…they got a licking, but kept on ticking. What would it take to get you to be silent about the hope you have in your heart? Are you willing to take some persecution in order to spread His word?
I wish i could have been there. I wish I could have been there to see Jesus call Lazarus from the grave. And I REALLY would have loved to see Lazarus walk out of that grave. He’d been dead for 4 days and everyone in town was grieving his death. But Martha meets Jesus as he enters town and says and displays great faith when she tells him that she still believes anything is possible with God. I really believe that Martha’s faith is one of the reasons Jesus responded with these words. “Your brother will rise again.” And then jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life.” In other words death has no power over me…even after it has done it’s deed. He proved this with Lazarus, and soon after, would prove it with His own resurrection. He holds the power of life and death in His hands. So worship the resurrected Lord today!
Have you ever done any long distance running? i was always blown away by the my peers in school who chose to be on the cross country team. I thought they were nuts because I’ve always disliked long distance running. But secretly, i was in awe of their endurance…the ability to withstand hardship or stress and come through it still standing! The writer of Hebrews encourages us to do that very thing in life..”to run with endurance the race that is set before us.” But then the writer tells us to “look to Jesus as our inspiration. It is Jesus who endured the cross, despising the shame and taking the weight of our sin on his shoulders. He is the only one who could do it because He is the author and finisher of our faith. And, what’s more, He did it with joy. Jesus endured the cross, with all its pain and with all the suffering, so that you and I might have joy and hope that is eternal.