The Wounded Healer

(A nod to Henri Nouwen for today’s use of the phrase “Wounded Healer.” Thank you for the gift, Nouwen, of this concept. My reference to this work is implied in today’s post.)

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S (Scripture): Acts 13:26 [Paul said:] “Brothers, children of Abraham’s family, and you Gentile God-worshippers, the message about this salvation has been sent to us. 27 The people in Jerusalem and their leaders didn’t recognize Jesus. By condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. 28 Even though they didn’t find a single legal basis for the death penalty, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 When they finished doing everything that had been written about him, they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead! 31 He appeared over many days to those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to the people.

32 “We proclaim to you the good news. What God promised to our ancestors, 33 he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it was written in the second psalm, You are my son; today I have become your father.

O (Observation): Paul and Barnabas are in Antioch, and Paul is describing to the God-followers there God’s salvation for the world. Paul hopes to convey to Jews and Gentiles (“children of Abraham’s family, and you Gentile God-worshippers“) that the salvation we all seek – and that God promised Israel – has come to fruition in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Resurrection matters as a fulfillment of what God promised and establishes hope for all people.

A (Application): Even when all the world rejects Jesus, God embraces him. I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to think that God embraces us in our time of need. Anyone who turns to God in time of need can expect some sort of response – directly, indirectly, a sign…something.

Practicing listening to God’s voice and training your eyes to see what God is up to can take a lifetime. The people of Antioch need Paul to help them see what God was up to.

Now, you and I are to help others receive the Good News: hope for the hopeless, healing for the wounded.

P (Prayer): Lord, Heal us…that we might become wounded healers. Amen.

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The Lord’s Power…Not Ours

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S (Scripture): Acts 11:19 Now those who were scattered as a result of the trouble that occurred because of Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch. They proclaimed the word only to Jews. 20 Among them were some people from Cyprus and Cyrene. They entered Antioch and began to proclaim the good news about the Lord Jesus also to Gentiles. 21 The Lord’s power was with them, and a large number came to believe and turned to the Lord.

O (Observation): Stephen was stoned to death for witnessing to the people regarding Jesus as God’s Son. The Jews that stoned him stood their ground on their understanding of who God is and believed calling Jesus “Lord” was blasphemy.

As a result of this terrible act of hatred, Jesus’ believers were scattered. Well, only God could turn tragedy into triumph. Having been scattered after Stephen’s death, Stephen’s cohorts continued to share God’s Good News of hope and salvation for ALL people into the towns of Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch. The result: more believers!

And the key is in v. 21:

Acts11:21 The Lord’s power was with them, and a large number came to believe and turned to the Lord.

God was at work in the midst of the witness of Jesus’ followers.

A (Application): How often do we believe that “we” bring God’s presence into the room?

When I go to visit someone at the hospital, I must realize that God was there before me, is there with me, and remains with the person when I leave.

When I preach, I’m not starting from nothing: God’s presence is there already.

When I talk to a stranger about my faith, I need not worry, for God will prepare the words for me to say (though it’s a good idea to practice some words in the meantime : )

We have the distinct privilege and advantage knowing that – like Stephen’s cohorts – that the Lord is doing the work through us. We use our energy and senses to carry the Gospel, but God’s power is what changes hearts and minds.

So, we prepare…we show up…we do the work we are called to do…and the Lord’s power moves from there.

P (Prayer): Lord, Work your power through us, in us, even in spite of us. Amen.