Following the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7, Scripture reveals an important message to believers who face frightening and life-threatening situations. It seemed especially appropriate for believers in America and around the world in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attack.
On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria... Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. (Acts 8:1 & 4)
Perhaps the highest hurdle we will have to overcome in the days ahead will be getting back to doing the work at hand. Were weary of flying and attending large gatherings that might become targets for future terrorists. The heightened security in many places leaves us feeling frustrated and often more aware of how easy it can be to lose freedoms weve taken for granted. Many of us are feeling a great amount of anxiety over how the U.S. and other nations will respond militarily. How many lives will have to be lost? Will they be people we know and love? Will the fighting come to my city and home?
I believe that God is empathetic to all of our anxieties, concerns and pains. He knows what it means to be pursued and persecuted with your very life at stake (certainly Jesus must have felt these same things as those who wanted to take his life pursued him). He also knows how to keep these anxieties, concerns and pains from crippling... even paralyzing our lives. The receipt is simple yet takes a tremendous amount of faith and courage. Get back to the work at hand and trust him with your future and your life.
When those who preached Jesus were being killed, those who had been scattered preached Jesus. They reacted to the event but didnt lose sight of the God who lives beyond earthly events. The result in at least one city where Philip followed this receipt was that great joy was experienced (see Acts 8:8).
May God give us all the strength to do the work at hand. As we react to the event, may our mission be ever at hand in spite of our anxieties and fears!
Father, please help us to stay focused on the work at hand preaching Jesus to a lost world. When our lives may be on the line, help us stay focused on the finish line. In Jesus name. Amen.
© Copyright 2001, Mark Waltenbaugh. Used by permission. From "The Online Devotional" mailing list. To join, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "SUBSCRIBE TO DEVO."
Title: "The Work at Hand"
Author: Mark Waltenbaugh
Publication Date: September 28, 2001