“Begin Again”: A Weekly Devotional for a New Year, Week 39

“The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written:

“ ‘After this I will return

and rebuild David’s fallen tent.

Its ruins I will rebuild,

and I will restore it,

that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,

even all the Gentiles who bear my name,

says the Lord, who does these things’ –

things known from long ago.’”

Acts 15:12-18

Have you ever reached a point where you took a big step back, and wondered: “Okay, I’ve been doing this for awhile now. I think I’m supposed to be doing this. Have I been doing it the right way?”

The Book of Acts is all about new beginnings: the start of the church; the first work of the Apostles beyond the boundaries of Israel; the first attempts at sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with people who knew nothing about Him or Israel.

Eventually, that effort to introduce Jesus to people who didn’t know him, ran up against significant pushback – so much pushback, in fact, that the church had to regroup and ask: “Are we doing this right? Have we missed something? Have we gone beyond what God really wants us to do?”

They answered those questions by digging into their collective memory, and discovered that Yes, the prophets said to expect this day; to expect this new thing that God was determined to do! The new day had finally dawned: All of humanity is now the object of God’s dedicated affection. “The words of the prophet are in agreement with this…”

As we move into the final quarter of this year, we should ask ourselves a similar question: Are we on the right track? Are we doing what God called us to do?

It is possible to have a very good sense that we are doing the thing we should be doing, at work, at home, and in the world. We generally get feedback from those around us in each of those areas, that indicate if we’re on the right track. The trouble is that we can often get so dug into those areas, that we miss God’s voice, as he says to us: “I want you to make this adjustment, here, and that adjustment, there.”

We should – of course – listen carefully to our spouses, children, colleagues, and communities. But without an ear trained to listen for the voice of God, we can miss changes God wants to make that will bring more beauty into our callings as parents, spouses, workers, and friends.

Prayer: Lord, help me to begin to hear your voice again. I love what you’ve called me to do and to be, and I want to be sure that I’m letting in as much beauty as possible, into my life as a parent, a spouse, in the work I do, and the friends I have. Amen.

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