In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.
Thoughts for Today:How did the word of the Lord spread and grow in power? When two things happened previously:
* Verse 18, "Those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds;"
* Verse 19, "A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly."
Have you ever noticed how that works in your own life? Recently I went through a period of spiritual "dryness," a time when I just didn't feel the power and richness of the Lord residing within me. Unfortunately, I had dried out over a two month period of time so it wasn't quite clear to me how or why it happened. One thing I have found in life is it is a lot less important to understand why something happened than it is to do something about it. So I did something -- I got down on my knees and openly confessed my sins and asked the Lord to forgive me.
As I read today's passage, I realized that sin and unrepentance is what stops the Lord's word from growing within us and thereby manifesting itself as joy in our lives. When sin isn't addressed it chokes off the Lord's nourishment, and without nourishment we eventually find ourselves becoming more dry, brittle and lifeless. The Bible tells us repeatedly to repent and turn from our sin -- Acts 3:10, "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord." Previously in verse 18, we learned that confession is a really important component of repentance; and in verse 19, we saw the example of how the destruction of what was once used to sin is a big part of turning from that sin (sometimes it's as simple as turning off a thought or an activity). So what's the ultimate benefit? The time of refreshing -- and that's just what I needed. What about you? Are you thirsty, do you need a drink from the fountain of life?
Questions to Ponder:Jesus said, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." The key is "he who comes to me." How thirsty are you? Will you openly confess, repent and turn from your sin? Sometimes it can seem so hard, but it's really not -- in fact, do it with me right now -- get on your knees and ask for the Lord's redeeming grace. We often make things far too complex.