“Begin Again”: A Weekly Devotional for a New Year, Week 37

“Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. And when they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia, and from there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had fulfilled. And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. And they remained no little time with the disciples.”

Acts 14: 24-28

Pisidia to Pamphylia, then to Perga and Attalia, and finally to Antioch – phew! The church in the Book of Acts – the brand new, on the go, on the move Church – seems barely to have time enough to stop, rest, or even wait in one place. And that makes sense, doesn’t it? Jesus gave the Great Commission to the first disciples (Matthew 28:16-20), and they heard him loud and clear: “Go!”  So they went, and went, and went some more. They covered Jerusalem to Rome – about 2800 miles.

It is hard to imagine growing if we are not, in some sense, always on the go. The early church, certainly, understood this, and so has the church during periods of renewal, rebuilding, and of confident steps forward.

No one can guarantee that if we are diligent about being “on the go”, exciting, new, ground-breaking things will happen when we want them to – God’s timing is God’s timing. But we can guarantee that if we are never on the go (or hardly ever), God will not use us.

So, one of the greatest lessons we can take from the Book of Acts, is that we should always seek to be on the go. In the church, that looks like: Gathering for worship; serving our neighbors in need; extending pastoral care to our members; serving our brothers and sisters; taking the Word more deeply into our hearts; and, finding people God wants to draw into the Kingdom.

And yet, we must also spend periods of our life together just resting  – as Luke put it in our passage from Acts 14: “they remained no little time…”  It’s a subtle way of saying: They rested for a good, long while.  Sabbath time – we all need it.

Our pace of life, together, can have more regular intervals of rest than the early church: We don’t necessarily need to go and go for months at a time, with little to no rest. We can build rest into our week – in fact, we should, not only during the day, but especially on Sunday. Sunday is the Sabbath – that day of rest and re-centering in the Lord; the day of greeting one another in his Name, and extending care, concern, and joy to one another; the day when we hear God’s Word preached, which he promises will not return to him empty (Isaiah 55:11).

In this next season of life look at how you can continue to be “on the go” – where the new thing God wants to do in and through you, is. And ready to rest: To build Sabbath times of silence and stillness, so that you can gather the strength that only God provides.

Prayer: Father, I sense that you want to begin something new in me and through me. I want to get up and go, and get started. But help me, Lord, also to wait on you – to build into this new, exciting season of life, Sabbath times of silence and stillness. Whatever you want me to do, I don’t want to do it without you. Amen.

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