A short reading and prayers for today
Some of the Jews, however, spurned God’s message and poisoned the minds of the Gentiles against Paul and Barnabas. But the apostles stayed there a long time, preaching boldly about the grace of the Lord. Acts 14:2-3 NLT
Paul and Barnabas were having an amazing time on their first missionary journey. A large number of people were accepting their message and becoming followers of Jesus. At the same time they were meeting fierce opposition. At Iconium, in central Turkey, the mob was stirred up against them and after a while the situation became so dangerous that they fled the city. There was every possibility that they were going to be stoned to death. But I love the fact that, amidst the intensity of the opposition, their message was one of grace. It must have been very tempting for them to turn on the crowd and to speak out a message of judgement and condemnation. But they chose to speak about the grace of the Lord.
Grace was a dominant theme in Paul’s ministry. In Ephesians 2.8 he wrote, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” There is nothing that we can do to gain salvation. It is completely outside our grasp. But because God is so incredibly generous, he was willing to do for us what we could never do for ourselves and set us free from our sins. And our gracious God goes on being generous to us. In our Christian lives we, sadly, continue to fall short of perfection. But our gracious God continues to love us and forgive us, setting us free to live lives of liberty and fulfilment.
We Christians have many things that we would like to proclaim to our society but, above everything else, we need to ensure that we are declaring boldly the grace of the Lord.
In what way would you explain the grace of God to someone who had never heard about it before?
Gracious God, thank you for your generosity to me. Help me to take every opportunity to tell other people of your amazing grace. Amen
God of salvation, who sent your Son to seek out and save what is lost, hear our prayers on behalf of those who are lost in our day, receiving these petitions and thanksgivings with your unending compassion. Redeeming Sustainer, visit your people and pour out your strength and courage upon us, that we may hurry to make you welcome not only in our concern for others, but by serving them generously and faithfully in your name. Amen.
O God, our guide and help in alien and contentious places: as Esther prayed faithfully and worked courageously for the deliverance of your people, strengthen us to confront the oppressor and free the oppressed, so that all people may know the justice and unity of your realm. Amen.