being open to God and God’s ways and working

When they heard these things, they became enraged and ground their teeth at Stephen. But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him, and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he died. And Saul approved of their killing him.

That day a severe persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria. Devout men buried Stephen and made loud lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church by entering house after house; dragging off both men and women, he committed them to prison.

Now those who were scattered went from place to place proclaiming the word.

Acts 7:54-8:4

Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one.

Acts 9:1-7

Oftentimes, or so it seems to me that alleged miracles and miracle workings are largely looked at as panaceas for whatever ills afflict humankind. And in a sense in the biblical witness, that’s part of the story, of what’s involved in God’s works. But to more fully understand God’s works, we need to focus on God and God’s ways.

[The LORD] made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.

Psalm 103:7

We have to keep our eyes on the ball so to speak. Not the “miracles” themselves, and they’re certainly not an end in themselves either, even though there’s a sense in which many of them occur solely out of God’s goodness and love. And in the end really everything comes from God’s goodness and love. We have to be committed to God, to Christ, to the way of Christ, and keep moving. Knowing that God will be active in all of that. In ways we may not comprehend or may not understand at the time. God is out to do what only God can do but includes us in that. Helping us and helping others even through us. In and through Jesus.


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