Ok – I’ll get serious in a minute… But first….  (seriuosly… it’s been freezing rain and icy all day, how could I not get stuck at the word “beach”) 

Acts 16 – 26…  Within in these scriptures are the only mentions in the bible of one of my loves in life… The beach… (mentioned 3 times) More specific – praying at the beach!  (Acts 21:5) 

At least once a year (I’m spoiled, I know!) my husband indulges me and takes me to the beach.  I can seriously lay there for hours singing and praying and lost in my own little world with God.  Day after day!  If I didn’t have kids… I’m thinking it might be an issue! 

Now mind you, Paul is heading into a horribly dangerous situation (and the other 2 times it is mentioned, is in the midst of that situation).  What becomes clear to me, is that he is answering God’s call.  When they prayed for him at the beach, it wasn’t just for sunshine and warmth.  It was for God to lead in a major sense of the word lead!   As a vacationer, this evokes a sense of calmness and relaxation.  For Paul, the beach was the calm before and during the storm, and prayers of protection were overflowing.  As a simple Iowa girl, who only sees the beach on vacation, it’s hard to imagine. 

The other thing that sticks out to me in this verse is his intentional mention of women. 

Acts 21:5

When it was time to leave, we left and continued on our way. All of them, including wives and children, accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray.

At various times throughout Acts, Paul is intentional about mentioning women.  (Acts 16, 17,18, …)  Jesus also had these tendencies, to specifically mention women, so as to purpose their cause and place in society.  They were always welcome, as were the children.  Acts 21:9 – the four unmarried daughters who prophesied (thus indicating that women had their important place to take part in God’s work.) are a bold statement for that time period.  That they should receive directly from God!

I’d also be feeling bad if I didn’t mention that the Simply Grace (Acts 20:24) is in this section.  Testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. 

– Or the verse that we give to Tom every year for Christmas – 20:35 – “we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said:  “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”

I could go on and on about these Chapters.  For some reason, as I write this, the word “focus” is in my heart.  So many of these verses are about where our focus is.  (or is not…)  
 
“God, I pray that you make give me clarity as I try to focus on you.  Remove my distractions, my pride, my inequity, and just allow me to focus on you.  Even in times of trial (which we know are coming!), may I stand firm like Paul, focus on you and your perfect will, and proclaim you boldly!”