A “knowing smile” is one that implies that the person smiling is aware of circumstances that put him or her at an advantage in a situation. Watch the opening credits of the old Perry Mason series and you’ll see a great example. The judge hands Mason a manila folder, Mason looks at the contents, turns to the camera, and he smiles. The Bible doesn't come with pictures or video, but you might expect the apostle Paul flashed the same "knowing smile" in the episode before us this weekend, Acts 24. We’re glad you are part of the gathering today. May the Spirit bless you, maybe even with a knowing smile.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his powerful "We Shall Overcome" speech on March 16, 1966. It took two and half minutes. The refrain, "we shall overcome," didn't sugar-coat the suffering that might be necessary for some but expressed the hope that finally God's grace will lift us out of suffering and into glory. First suffering, then glory. First cross, then crown. It's been a refrain of God's children since the fall into sin. Is it your song? If not, praise God. Don't seek suffering. If it is, praise God. Children of God have this confidence: we shall overcome. We've reached the point in our study of the Book of Acts where the Apostle Paul is a prisoner. He'll never be free again. But in his suffering, he proclaims freedom from sin, death, and suffering through Christ. We’re glad you’re with us today to celebrate that, because of Christ, we shall overcome.
Audio used with permission, crossway.org
At one time or another, all of us have felt burnt out in some way. There are so many things happening to us and around us and around us that cause us to feel stressed and hurt and burdened. When we feel the weight of life and its burdens pressing down on s, we naturally look for something to give us rest and release, at least for a little bit. What is it for me? My career? My relationship? Friends? An addiction? It will look different for each of us, but the truth is, those sources of rest can't last forever. We need something better. And we have it. Hear Jesus' invitation of lasting rest, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
Don't let anyone look down on you because you are . . .
New? Inexperienced? Different? Short? Tall? How did you complete that sentence? The apostle Paul concluded that sentence this way when the Spirit inspired him to write to Timothy: "young." Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young. He wasn't feeding the young man's ego; he was pointing out how God gives gifts to young and old, and both can use them to fulfill his plan. While Paul was a prisoner in Jerusalem, his young nephew took bold steps to thwart a plot to kill him. You don't forget things like that, and Paul may well have had his nephew's example in mind when he wrote to a young Timothy. Young or old, we’re glad you’re here to give thanks for and value the gifts God gives his young followers.