Acts 12 begins with this poignant—or pregnant with meaning—phrase, Κατ᾽ἐκ-εῖ-νον δὲ τὸν και-ρὸν,
“About that time…”
Words that, as you will hear in this PODCAST, could just as well have been translated,
“At the same time…”
“In the meantime…”
Meaning that while our old friend from last week, the Prophet Agabus, was in beautiful downtown Antioch 300 miles to the North, warning of a coming famine to Jerusalem and Judea in the South…
Meaning that while the predominantly non-Jewish believers in Jesus were taking up a love offering to help to alleviate mass starvation and woeful suffering among their Jewish brothers and sisters in Jesus in Jerusalem and throughout Judea…
Meaning that while this gloriously beautiful unity of all of these first-generation Christ-followers was being realized throughout Israel and beyond…
Κατ᾽ἐκ-εῖ-νον δὲ τὸν και-ρὸν, “In the meantime,” much was going on in Holy City of Jerusalem itself—gut-wrenching, faith-challenging, life-altering events that rocked the world of these early believers. Profound challenges that had nothing to do with Agabus’ future famine about which they didn’t yet know.
Our passage tonight—a modest four verses in total—goes to the very heart of the #1 longing of every human heart—including our own.
As well as the #1 question that has plagued the human race since time immemorial, including us.
Four short verses that describe what was going in lives of early believers particularly, and the residents of Jerusalem generally.
“About that time…”
All of this, ALL of this, so insightful for us, today, in our time.
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My beloved little Safe Haven family is really going through it right now. In a word, we are being broken.
To focus that just a bit, let me say that I am amazed at the significant struggles and overwhelming challenges that some of our precious people are experiencing — painful loses; seemingly senseless disappointments; literally excruciating physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual challenges that defy explanation. Storm clouds are billowing. I cannot help but to imagine the reasons why.
In talking to each of these individuals on multiple occasions, they are understandably wrestling with it all, yet all the while demonstrating a firm-if-sometimes-faltering faith in God’s good plans that leaves me in awe.
I know, I know, I know that God never breaks His people without some amazing purposes behind His breaking. Some of our dear Safe Haven family members are being broken — No doubt about that! — but to what good purposes only time will tell. (Emphasis upon that hope-filled word, “will.”) The stories are just now unfolding. Stories that will be told. Stories of God’s abiding grace and peace. Stories of God’s sustaining strength and power. Stories of how God will profoundly touch the world through the profound pain of my friends. Stories that will illustrate the unbreakable law of nature: We can’t enjoy a shimmering rainbow without some falling rain.
I also know that as God breaks my friends individually, He is also breaking Safe Haven collectively. He is breaking us as we share in these burdens together. A safe haven indeed — an unpretentious cadre of committed Christ-followers who desperately love Him and relentlessly love each other despite the unexpected trials and tribulations that life throws our way. It will be amazing, in the days and weeks ahead, to see not only what purposes lie behind God breaking certain individuals, but what purposes lie behind His breaking our family as a whole.
In the mean time, I have the unspeakable privilege of walking through these storms with some pretty special people whom I love with all my heart. It’s times like these that I am so incredibly thankful that God gave me the priceless privilege of being their pastor. But more than that, to be their friend.