Twists and Turns
Father, sometimes I’m hard of hearing and don’t learn Your lessons of grace easily. I’m eager to learn today.
Read Acts 7:1-16
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Don’t expect God to reveal his will for you next week until you practice it today” (Alan Redpath).
We may know the twists and turns of biblical history so well that we lose sight of the fact that God often acts in a way that takes us by surprise. The story of Abraham, so venerated by the Jews, had become fossilized through familiarity. Stephen starts with the common ground that they share, and then breathes fresh air into it. They knew their history so well they had failed to be stirred by its unexpectedness.
Their history is full of drama. Again and again, God takes the initiative and leaves them breathless, struggling to know how to respond. There was no preparation for the extraordinary course of events that followed God’s appearance in Ur. Abraham had no training, no orientation and no initiation. When God calls, however, you must respond, even when it all seems uncomfortable and the outcome uncertain. God was on the move, and his long-term plan was the salvation of his people. It all seemed so confusing. Owning no land, Abraham was promised some; having no son, this elderly man was guaranteed descendants; set free from the confines of his stable life, he set out on a lonely journey in which God’s future plans included exile and slavery before deliverance would come.
Stephen spells out that God’s purposes faced repeated hostility from his own people, from Joseph’s brothers onwards. Those who would save the nation would face false accusation and rejection before becoming their deliverer. This was true for Joseph. He was abandoned, sold, betrayed, falsely accused and imprisoned. Yet he never allowed rejection to feed a sense of bitterness. His hands remained open to all who would receive, and the needs of his family were met. Stephen is laying the groundwork of his defense, not just playing for time. One greater than Joseph is here!
How can you rebuild a sense of expectation into your Bible reading so that familiar stories become alive and fresh?
Thank You, Lord, that You delight to do new things and are not trapped into tired ways of working. Renew in me a spirit of expectancy today.