Acts 4:12 | Focused Courage

jesus

If asked to describe yourself in one word what word would be used? If others described you what word would be used? At a funeral today for a relative that I did not know as closely as I would have liked there were several words about this person’s life that stood out from those who knew the individual well. Determined, driven, lived for the spotlight were a few. Funerals are a sobering event and I am reminded of the biblical wisdom about funerals.

Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties. After all, everyone dies—so the living should take this to heart. Ecclesiastes 7:2 NLT

The life finished and the life complete is an event that will overtake all people rich or poor. So take to heart that maybe we waste precious time in vain pursuits, selfish ambitions, and pointless unforgiveness. The disciples understood the gravity of a funeral and that knowledge fueled a focused courage. When their lives were done the one word used to describe them was disciple. They embraced Christ the first born of all creation and truly lived the words they shared to all people rich and poor.

12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 ESV

Salvation is an eternal treasure. Money is temporary. Salvation is final success. Liars gain for but a moment’s advantage. Salvation is a secured hope. Sexual lusts apart from God’s design secure lonely despair. Salvation serves the triumphant King of Kings. Politics serves a selfish movement that will eventually fail. The disciples grasped these truths and submitted to the one name under heaven that is in complete control. Jesus is the only name that saves.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

Courage is what the disciples demonstrated when they told their jailers that they would obey Jesus and not the jailer. The author of Hebrews drawing from their example tells me a would be disciple to take courage in the name of Jesus. Set aside the politics, the sexual identity, and the selfish ambition that are all fleeting and temporary. Throw off those chains and look to the one name, the one identity, that brings Glory to God and salvation to those who have placed their hope upon his eternal salvation.

16 saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” Acts 4:16-17 ESV

I pray for courage, and wisdom to speak the name of Jesus. There is no other name or identity only Christian. There is no other group to be called into fellowship only fellowship as a Disciple. What will you dear reader do when confronted to speak no more this name? I pray you are running the race now in such way that the answer will be Christ only always.

Ecclesiastes

Ecclesiastes. It is a very odd book and stands out from the rest of the bible.

The title Ecclesiastes is and odd word also. Apparently it is a Latin transliteration of the Greek title for the book and the Greek title is a translation of the original Hebrew. The meaning is to Assemble or Gather. So imagine a wise individual assembling a class to teach them about how the world works. The real nitty-gritty practical stuff. I imagine the wise professor gathering the class about to graduate and saying something like “Class today in practical terms we are going to talk about how most of the things in life, specifically your perception of life is just a waste of time.”

Then I said in my heart, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” And I said in my heart that this also is vanity. For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool! So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind. Ecclesiastes 2:15-17 ESV

Ecclesiastes really has some hard and sobering questions about the script that you have written for yourself and what you will do in life. It strikes right at our finite mortality forcing us to realize that this life is temporary. I challenge you to spend time in the Bible this week and read Ecclesiastes, become familiar with what God wants you to take away from this book.

There are many choice parts of Ecclesiastes to quote from, but one that has kind of haunted or challenged me more than others is from 7:2…

It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart. Ecclesiastes 7:2 ESV

You learn more at a funeral than at a feast—After all, that’s where we’ll end up. We might discover something from it. Ecclesiastes 7:2 MSG

The Teacher is telling me that it is better to go to a funeral than a party? On the face of that statement I am cringing because the last place I want to be is at a funeral, however on closer inspection the Teacher is reminding the students that all their striving and all their money will not go with them. Dave Ramsey the financial talk guy on the radio frequently says “I have never seen a U-Haul following a hearse”.

There is some hope provided in Ecclesiastes, but that hope is limited because the author is still waiting for Jesus to be revealed.

I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man. Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 ESV

While the best hope of Ecclesiastes is to be joyful in the toil of this land. We know that through Jesus we have a hope of salvation because Jesus has told us where the end of this life takes us.

For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. 1 Timothy 4:10 ESV