9:26 And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28 So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out. 29 And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him. 30 When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus.
31 Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.
Life is a roller coaster. Last week I sat down with a woman who is 87 years old. She escaped east Germany in 1950 eight months pregnant and came to Canada. Her story is both fascinating and surreal. She made a comment I will never forget. She said "Life is interesting. Some parts are very intense and some very monotonous." I'm sure the prairie life north of Grande Prairie was pretty quiet compared to the war torn way her life began in Germany. Still the prairie life with winter storms and summer fires had it's moments too.
Like the life of an individual, the life of the early Christian church had it's own roller coaster ride. Jesus came on the scene of Jewish life and their monotony was shattered. After His death and resurrection it was really quiet for a few weeks and then the church small as it was received the Holy Spirit and turned the city upside down. Thousands who had heard and seen Jesus understood fully who He was and what they had done to Him. In and out of jail went the disciples until finally Gamaliel convinced the leadership to let this new religion takes it's course. For months peace returned to Jerusalem as the believers in Jesus grew and continued sharing.
Then a dispute between Stephen and some Jews lead to another flare up. Stephen found himself before the council. When asked to respond to the accusations against him Stephen began with Moses and explained from the sacred Jewish texts that Jesus was the Messiah. Refusing to surrender to what they knew was the truth they blocked their ears and ran at Stephen, eventually stoning him to death while Saul watched. Inspired by this event and zeal for the Jewish religion Saul became the leader of a fresh round of persecution. The temporary period of peace was over.
Then Saul himself encountered Jesus and the hunter became the hunted. So violent was the desire to kill Saul that the church sent him all the way to Tarsus and peace again returned in Judah and the surrounding region.
Storms and peace. Ups and downs. Tragedies and triumphs and the mundane. Life is not consistent. It is our nature to get complacent in times of peace and then we are overwhelmed by even the smallest of storms. The church had times of peace and they used them to push forward and share Jesus with as many people as possible. Athletes don't sit down in the off season, they train. Bamboo appears to not grow at all for the first seven years but underground it's roots are pushing deeper and wider and then suddenly the plant explodes and grows at an unbelievable rate.
Every day is a gift from God. Use your peaceful days wisely so that storms will only serve to show how deep your roots are and how strong your faith is. Despite the repeated resistance and opposition to faith in Jesus His church marches on. It may appear to be in poor condition right now but the coming storm will reveal who used these years of peace wisely.
Today. That's all we ever get. Today if you hear His voice do not harden your hearts...