Tag Archives: lockdown

Sunday Reflections: Listen and Understand

Listen and Understand.
A message for a lockdown Pentecost

At Bognor Regis, Felpham and Westergate, some of us have been reading the book of Acts throughout May and today we reach the last chapter.

Today is also Pentecost, the day we remember that the disciples were filled with God’s Spirit and were able to speak in many languages so that everyone could understand their message.

In this week’s Sunday Reflections, I think about Acts 28, Pentecost, how much God wants us all to know him, and the invitation we have to respond.

Many of us have been travelling through the book of Acts this May, and today we reach the final chapter Acts 28. In the last few chapters Paul has been arrested and put on trial for telling people how much he loves Jesus, and encouraging others to know him to, and now he’s been put on a ship to sail to Rome. Except the ship gets caught in a storm and they go adrift, landing on an unknown island, they later learn is called Malta.

After being on trial for some time, and travelling on the ship through dangerous storms, Paul must have been pretty glad to be safely on dry land. But he was in a new land, a land that wasn’t familiar.

Today is a special day when as Christians we celebrate the festival Pentecost. This festival takes us back to the start of Acts, when Jesus disciples were experiencing their own unfamiliar time.

Jesus death, resurrection and returning to his father was definitely not what they expected. They felt alone, living in a way that was unfamiliar to them.

I think there’s some similarities here to living I lockdown. The way we live, work, shop, learn, travel, interact with family, friends & neighbours has all changed. Even 10 weeks on, I still feel like I’m in a very unfamiliar land, and the uncertainty about the future doesn’t help either.

For Paul, for the disciples, and for all of us, the Spirit of God comes to us. The presence and power of God that supports us, encourages us, affirms us and say’s no matter how you feel, I am with you.

For Paul the presence of God with him was so strong that the natives of Malta thought he was a God. For the disciples the Spirit of God enabled them to speak in every language. For Peter he stood up and delivered a stonker of a sermon and convinced about 3000 people to join the Way – which is the early name for the people now known as Christians.

In Acts 28 Paul says:

“You will indeed listen, but never understand,
 and you will indeed look, but never perceive.”

Acts 28:26

Paul challenges the people that are listening to him. Will you seek to understand, will you seek to see, or will you just look and listen and then carry on as if what you’ve heard makes no difference?

I encourage you today to listen. To listen to what God’s Spirit is saying to you. Yes you. Just as God’s Spirit enabled the disciples to speak in every language, God’s Spirit speaks the language of your heart and mind.

God understand your worries.
God knows your strains and anxieties.
God knows this unfamiliar way of life, with all its uncertainties is tough at times.

Whether you’ve never had a care in the world about God until today,
or you’ve been a Christian all your life,
or you used to go, but you’ve not been much recently,
It really doesn’t matter.
What matters is if you’ll seek to see and understand today.

God is waiting for you, and I believe God’s Spirit is already with you, and in you, just waiting for you to see, whether for the first, 10th or 100th time.

If you want to know more about God and the difference God makes to the lives of many, including you, do get in touch with us or find a church near you can connect with.

Join the Conversation

How is God’s Spirit speaking to you this Pentecost?
If you’ve been reading through Acts this May, how has God spoken to you through it? What has been the standout verse or story for you? Please share in the comments below.

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Sunday Reflections: Pause

This week I reflect on Acts 21, and ask how Paul’s delay in visiting Jerusalem and the resulting encounter with Agabus might help us as we continue in coronavirus lockdown and the uncertainties of the future.

Many of us are travelling through the book of Acts this May, and today we reach Acts 21.

Acts 21 starts with Paul – who is on way to Jerusalem, and wanting to go to Jerusalem – we know that from Acts 20 where he seems to be desperately wanting to go. But we read that God’s Spirit tells Paul not to go. After being so desperate, that must have been painful for Paul.

So instead of going to Jerusalem, Paul goes to a number of other places, and while in Judea, meets a prophet called Agabus. Now Agabus comes and takes Paul’s belt, then ties his own hands a feet together and says – this is what the Spirit says will happen to the owner of this belt in Jerusalem.

I wonder how paul felt in that moment… anxious, worried, sacred?

A short while later, we read Paul and his team got ready and started headed towards Jerusalem. And, time for a trailer – God does great things through Paul in Jerusalem.

Reflecting on those snippets of this part of Paul’s story… I wonder if there’s something for us as we live in lockdown.

I wonder if, through pausing, and then encountering Agabus, Paul was more prepared for his destination, more ready for what would happen in Jerusalem, and therefore more able to deal with it. I wonder whether, after his encounter with Agabus, Paul saw his destination differently?

There’s been a lot of things happen we were not prepared for at the start of 2020. Lots of things are on pause, but it doesn’t mean things won’t happen. But as the world keeps saying, things will be different – to what extent we don’t know, but we’re being told to expect a new normal.

But just like for Paul who readied himself and carried on, I wonder if we too need to be open to readying ourselves for the new normal that is to come. Opening ourselves for the Spirit’s prompting.

To see lockdown as a space to listen to God’s Spirit as we pause, and allow God’s Spirit to make us ready for what is to come? To be ready for the great things of God that are to come.

Dear God,
As the uncertainties of lockdown continue,
help me to make space to pause and listen for your Spirit,
ready me for the future,
and fill me with excitement for the great things to come.


Join the conversation

Have you paused to listen to God recently?
Have you know God’s Spirit strengthen and preparing

Could you share the story of your encounter with us you?
Comment below – I’d love to hear from you.

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