Thoughts for Thursday 7th January 2021

Psalm 29; 1 Samuel 3:1-21; Acts 9:10-19a

Reading the Bible can be a bit confusing. Today, for example, we have an account of the story of Ananias in Acts. But there is also another version of this same story elsewhere in Acts, as well as two completely different stories of other people called Ananias in the self-same book. Please don’t be put off by this.

Some of the names in Scripture are used a number of times, and so as not to get them all jumbled up in our mind, one of the things I often find it’s helpful to do is to put the accounts we have of these different lives side by side. And if we think Ananias is confusing, then John and Mary are examples of names that are used even more frequently in the New Testament.

And so the first Ananias we come across in Acts is someone who’s married to Sapphira. Their story can be found at Acts 5:1-11, and it’s a shocking one. They want to follow Jesus, as others are, in the way we find described for us at Acts 2:44-45 (All the believers continued together in close fellowship and shared their belongings with one another. They would sell their property and possessions, and distribute the money among all, according to what each one needed.). But when it actually comes to it, they can’t quite go through with it. And the question I have for you with respect to this incident today is whether or not you think Peter might have dealt with the issue in a kinder, gentler, way – or not? That’s the first Ananias.

The second is Ananias who was High Priest. This is a story that can be found at Acts 23:1-5 and Acts 24:1. In the first of these two references Ananias orders Paul to be struck on the mouth, and Paul retaliates by calling him a ‘Whitwashed Wall’ (see Matthew 23:27). And in the second, Paul having been taken from Jerusalem to Caesarea to be tried in a higher court, Ananias then arrives as a member of the Prosecution Counsel. Categorised elsewhere as, ‘a violent, haughty, gluttonous, and rapacious man,’ and by the Jewish historian, Josephus, as having, ‘perished by the daggers of the Sicarii,’ this we can see is a completely different Ananias to the first Ananias. That’s the second Ananias.

The third being far more saintly. And as you read today’s passage from Acts can I ask you also to have a look at Acts 22:12-16 where you’ll find the story all over again; one of the things I really like about it being that it all takes place in the most wonderfully named, Straight Street.

     Dear heavenly Father, I praise you today for the multiple commands in the Bible to trust you. For in the times of trouble; in the out-of-my-control circumstances; on the crooked, dark, winding paths; and in the I-don’t-get-this days, we will look to something or someone to trust.

What relief, peace and assurance to know that you, alone, are trustworthy. You always command our good in your Word and in providence;, and you always empower our obedience with your grace and your Spirit. Hallelujah, many times over.

Father, first of all, for the many attempts I make not to need you and to be my own saviour—or at least a consulting partner to the Trinity, forgive me. I praise you for your kindness, patience and forbearance. I so look forward to the Day when I’m no longer averse to my weakness and allergic to your grace.

Even though I assume I will only be able to trust you with ALL my heart on the Day when Jesus returns, I will trust you today with as much of my heart as I can possibly muster.

Father, for the broken circumstances I’d love to fix, I surrender, palms up to you. I know you well enough to realize, that things are not as they appear to me, with my naked eye. Even when I try to look at some things with the eye of faith, I’m still smitten with astigmatism of the soul.

But you are in control when it seems like you’re not—or worse, when it seems like you don’t care. You are working in all things for your glory, and our good, even when it seems like you’re on hiatus or holiday. “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs (the weightiness) of them all (2 Cor. 4:17).

Father, for the broken people and broken relationships I’d love to fix, I surrender, palms up to you. I confess what you already know to be true. There are people (including myself) that I think, if you’d let me, I could fix in such beautiful and remarkable ways. But, once again, I’m confronted with my arrogance and my impatience; and my heart idols of control and a pain-free heart. I praise you, that in Jesus, I’m already forgiven and righteous; and one Day, I’ll be perfectly free and whole.

Father, as this day unfolds, I choose to lean on you, and not my understanding; I choose to step on the path of grace, and off the highway of my wilfulness; I choose to acknowledge you, and stop trying to inform and coach you. Bring your heart, hand and hope to bear. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ merciful and mighty name.

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Page last updated: 9th January 2021 12:08 PM