Saturday, 9 January 2010

the reactions of the saints

Just a simple personal testimony today.

Reactions are interesting things. I suppose they are the product of character and experience. They say that a child is born only with the fear and consequently the appropriate actions for loud noises and falling. A memory comes to mind. When one of our babies was just a few days old and sleeping in her cot we were visited by a local doctor. While he was attending our dog began to bark. I ‘shushed’ her and said ‘you will wake the baby’. But the baby didn’t wake. I asked the doctor why. His answer was that she had ‘grown up with it’, meaning that her months in the womb had accustomed her to the barking of a dog. No doubt other noises would have woken her.

I have had some interesting reactions myself in the last couple of weeks. I have been diagnosed with fairly serious health issues. So what is the ‘reaction’ to such news? Well, a degree of shock certainly but also an instinctive rising of the heart God-wards and an instinctive reaching out to the saints. Some others might instinctively reach out to other means of support, a medical textbook... or a bottle. At such times you long for safety and instinctively the saint knows that he will find it among the saints. This is not the first time I have been the happy recipient of generous love and the assurance of prayer; it is impossible to measure how precious it is. Paul once commented on his trial of imprisonment with the comment; For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, Phil 1:19 NKJV It is really quite a remarkable comment. We might have thought that the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ would be all that anyone could possibly need but Paul makes a couplet of it, ‘through your prayer AND the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ’. He knew he needed the prayers of the saints. We all do, and yet so often we give the impression of such self-sufficiency that we isolate ourselves from the supply that the saints are to provide.

One of the signs of regeneration is a genuine change in our reactions. Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. 1 Pet 2:24–25 NKJV Did you notice the tense there? ‘you were like sheep going astray’? Literally, ‘you used to be like sheep going astray’. That was the old unregenerate instinct and reaction, ‘prone to wander’. But regeneration effects a radical change in nature and with a new nature come new reactions. The instinct now, even if we should sin, is not to break lose but to huddle closer to a Shepherd who bore our sins in his own body on the tree. Trials which encourage such reactions are truly blessings in disguise.

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