Today’s Reading: Acts 14:21-22 NIV
21 They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.
I am grateful beyond words when I think of all the courageous men and women who put their lives on the line every day to defend and protect people. I knew there was something serious happening somewhere last night when my husband’s cell phone kept blinking on and off. Technology is so advanced now that, quite often, when a late breaking news flash comes across the wire, I am well aware of it even before I get up to check the web for email updates. I am not fond of waking up to flashing lights on the night stand; on the other hand, the incessant blinking prompts me to pray, because I know there is someone else out there who is not sleeping. They are up and running, working tirelessly, to protect all of us from harm.
I hope you’ve never had to face true hardship. In our human struggle for survival, we learn and grow from the adversities we experience. I’ve yet to be homeless or hungry, but am well aware that it could happen in just a mere matter of seconds. There are hundreds of thousands of families worldwide who have lost everything in the wake of hurricanes, fires, tornadoes and flooding. Our world’s economy seems to be crumbling before our very eyes, causing a human crisis greater than anything I’ve ever known before. People are diligently working to provide adequate food and shelter for families who have nowhere else to turn. Selfless souls continue to work tirelessly in food banks and church soup kitchens, providing meals for the hungry. Large quantities of clothing, food and medical supplies are being gathered and shipped to neighboring countries trying to heal from catastrophic disasters. People are reaching out, helping people everywhere. Many are risking their own lives to make a difference for someone else. Can you see the warning signs flashing right before your eyes? What can you personally do to ease the pain of another hurting heart today?
The Apostles were very concerned over the welfare and discipleship of new converts to the Way. So much so, they were willing to return to the places where they had been tortured and nearly put to death, to ensure the continued growth and teaching of those who had placed their lives into the hands of Jesus. They willingly returned to these cities, bringing His Word of encouragement and hope to those who desperately needed to hear it. Paul knew he would risk great hardship for the Gospel, yet never hesitated to protect and defend the early Church. He gave his whole heart to the work of our Lord, caring more about others than he did for himself. Paul was willing to lay down his life to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to hungry and homeless souls who needed to meet the Savior. Are you willing to set aside your life so that someone else might experience the love of Jesus today? Who stood in the gap for you, when you took that first step of faith?
Grace and peace,
Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO
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