Get ready for a fresh visitation from above

Our small homegroup was due to meet midmorning in our house. We always enjoy these times of fellowship and prayer. As I sat quietly in my armchair after breakfast I wondered: on what should we focus our prayers today? Then I remembered a couple of recent nudges I had felt from the Lord.

From among my Bible passages for that day I recalled Acts 28, especially the story in verses 1-10 that I had read in the New Living Translation, telling what happened to the crew and passengers on the ship carrying Paul the prisoner from Jerusalem to Rome that, instead, had become ‘smashed by the force of the waves and began to break apart’. But everyone who had been on board ‘escaped safely to [the] shore’ of the island of Malta – some ‘who could swim’ and ‘others [who] held on to planks and debris from the broken ship’ (Acts 17:41-44).

They all managed to survive’ and everyone scrambled to the shore uninjured’ (Acts 27:14 tells us in The Passion Translation). However, a venomous snake was driven out of the heat . . .[of] the fire’ that the Maltese inhabitants ‘had built because it was cold and rainy.’ It ‘latched on to Paul’s hand with its fangs.’ The islanders’ first conclusion was: ‘this guy is a murderer. Even though he escaped death at sea, Justice has now caught up with him! . . . But Paul shook the snake off, flung it in to the fire’, and suffered no harm at all. Then, on second thoughts, they reckoned he was a god!

After all, Jesus had commissioned the apostles following his resurrection: ‘As you go into all the world [to] preach . . . the wonderful news of the gospel . . . these miracle signs will accompany those who believe . . . They will be supernaturally protected from snakes. . . And they will lay hands on the sick and heal them’ (see Mark 16:15-20). It was ‘the Lord himself [who] worked with them, validating the message they preached with miracle signs that accompanied them.’

How can we bless our generation?

Nowadays many folks claim to be spiritual but also seem to be sentimental. With a few hours to spare that morning I indulged in some catch-up of a television programme I’d missed the previous evening: The Repair Shop. Although I had made many virtual visits to the restorers’ barn. I found myself reflecting on the regular mixture of reality and unreality shown by customers on this show.

The Gospel surely offers restoration to broken lives. But I began to notice that those who brought treasured objects for renewal were often elderly, hoping to recapture memories of their childhood when, perhaps, a long-deceased dad or uncle had made these worn-out toys for them. Their eyes would moisten on their return visit at the unveiling of some restored treasure.

Be prepared to stay aware

The Baptist churches in our home area recently opened a drop-in centre on our local high street. At my time of writing the ministry is still in its very early days, but it is a welcome haven constantly soaked in prayer. At its recent official launch we were encouraged to pray in pairs, and later in fours, then in groups of eight. After I had prayed for a need of a sister next to me I remembered the nudge the Lord had given me to be more alert to God’s opportunities to pray for the sick, and asked her to pray about that over me. Who knows whether that will be on the street, in ‘Renewal’s’ premises, in church or in homes (or in all of the above)?

[] So, I exhort myself: tune in, and watch this space!

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