I was glad when they said to me,
"Let us go to the house of the Lord!"
2 Samuel 22:1-23:23
The last words of David. He speaks of the many times that he called out to God and God delivered him. He also says that his deliverance was a reward for his righteousness, that he never turned away from God's ordinances. I don't know what to say about this. David also recounts his experience as a warrior and expresses the claim that God has made an everlasting covenant with him.
The Holy Spirit appeared suddenly, loudly, and effectively. The reaction was mixed. Some were bewildered, amazed, astonished.
Even when they found themselves able to understand in their own languages what the recipients were saying, the first witnesses either didn't know what was happening or made up a reason that seemed reasonable--they must be drunk.
Miracles or any exciting phenomena do not necessarily generate faith.
Peter responded to the lack of understanding and the rude remark by preaching a sermon.
Nonbelievers will not agree with our explanations. At least right away. After all, why should they? Allowing experience to explain phenomena is not unexpected.
Be careful with those sermons. They don't always help the unbeliever. At least right away.
I'm wondering what fraction of the people listening to a sermon on any Sunday are unbelievers. I'm wondering what they think about what they see happening that we explain has come through the Lord.
I got the Greek Reader app for my iPhone and used it today to analyze some of the words in this passage. This analysis then raised questions and prompted suggestions:
apostles (apostolos apostle, messenger, delegate) Who are we listening to? Who does the sending; i.e., how do we decide to recognize the authority of the one we're listening to, or learning from?
sign (semeion sign, token) What do we see? What do we find convincing?
wonders (teras) What is happening that is so different from ordinary life that we notice it?
devoted (proskartereo persevered, adhered to, gave constant attention to) Imagine a buzzer going off at intervals.You're supposed to write down what you are doing or thinking at that moment. Try it, and see how closely you come to the description of this early Christian congregation.
What does the word "church" mean to us now? Is it restricted to that building that we gather in on Sunday morning? Or, does it mean more than that?
Looking at the Acts passage, I really cannot imagine a congregation selling all of their possessions and sharing the proceeds. I can and have seen great generosity but not to the extent that Luke describes. We seem to be more likely to complain about high taxes than we are to worry about the needs of those less fortunate than we are.
What should we do with this text?
It is better to be of a lowly spirit among the poor
than to divide the spoil with the proud.
Those who are attentive to a matter will prosper,
and happy are those who trust in the Lord.
Prayer for Today: O Lord our God, send your Spirit among us so that we can speak with each other and understand them when they speak to us. Show us how to share the gifts that you have bestowed upon us. Amen.