They Had Been With Jesus

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February 13, 2022

  • Daily Devotional

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    DAY 1 – Acts 3

    Chapters 3 and 4 of Acts are a seamless story. Today is part one of that story. Chapter 3 has two main sections. First is the miracle of healing that takes place at the temple gate (vv. 1-11). Then there is the sermon Peter gives to the crowd about the healing. This healing takes you back to a similar miracle by Jesus ( John 5:1-15). Here are a few ideas to consider.

    Hurting people are all around and we get so use to seeing them, we stop seeing them. The man sees Peter and John and they see the man. The Spirit of God wants you to pay attention to the people who are often unseen.

    In Acts, the witness of the good news goes hand in hand with signs and wonders; there are miracles and healings. God was confirming the truth of Jesus by the power of Jesus (3:6). Be bold in prayers and even bolder in love that reaches out to connect with those in need.

    Peter uses this occasion to preach the Gospel of Jesus. There is a core belief system that is always communicated. Jesus was crucified and then risen from the dead. Resurrection is a constant theme in the sermons preached. Be sure to notice all that is said to describe Jesus. The apostles are witnesses that Jesus is alive. The healing is the confirmation that Jesus is alive and at work. Peter grounds the good news of Jesus in the story of Israel. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament promise.
    Peter asks for a response. Repent and turn to Jesus. The benefits of salvation are: 1) sins are wiped out, 2) times of refreshing come upon them, and 3) to bless them (3:26).

    Key Verses: Verse 6; verse 16.

    Take-Away Action Steps:

    Pray for your eyes to be opened to those in need around you.

    What do you have to give to those in need?

    Don’t ever hesitate to pray bold prayers for miracles. Who do you know that could use a miracle? Pray for them right now.

    DAY 2 – Acts 4

    There are three parts to this chapter. There is the confrontation with the Jewish leadership (1-22); there is the trust in God the Church demonstrates (23-31); and there is a summary statement about the Church growing (32-37).

    The disciples know there will be confrontation and consequences for preaching Jesus ( John 15:20-21). The Gospel Way of Life will contradict the ideologies of Empire—whether the Jewish religious empire or the Roman political empire. Preaching about resurrection leads to their imprisonment. At the same time, more people believe.
    Notice the specific positions and names of the Jewish leaders who are opposed to the apostles (4:1, 5, 6). These are the ones who crucified Jesus.

    Peter preaches another sermon and directly confronts those who crucified Jesus and repeats, “Jesus is alive.” In 13-17 the Jewish leaders don’t know what to do, other than threaten them not to talk about Jesus. Verse 19 is one of the most powerful words of faith in Jesus to stand against the authorities.

    Read the strong prayer and praise of verses 23-31. This is the Church at prayer. The Church of today needs to pray like this. Verses 32-35 repeat Acts 2:41-47. The Spirit is on the move, the Church is growing, and a new kind of community is emerging. And then the last two verses introduce a new person who will be core to the expansion of the Church.

    Key Verses: Verse 13 – ordinary people who have been with Jesus; verse 19 – we must obey God not man; verse 33 – God’s grace working powerfully.

    Take-Away Action Steps:

    Where do you need to have more boldness on behalf of Jesus and making him known?

    Begin to pray much more for God to be at work, moving and shaking us with his Spirit.

    DAY 3 – Acts 5

    There are two parts to this chapter. The first is a very tragic story of Ananias and Sapphira, who lie to the apostles about being generous. They both die. They are contrasted with the generosity of Barnabas in 4:36-37. The second part of the chapter describes a more serious attack from the Jewish leaders against the apostles preaching about Jesus.

    We’ll briefly touch on the Ananias and Sapphira tragedy. God’s holy presence is among his people. His people are becoming a new kind of compassionate community with each other and taking care of one another. This couple acts with full intention to deceive the Church. There are about eight phrases used to describe the condition of their soul.

    The rest of the chapter is about the power of the Spirit working through the new Church. It is growing rapidly, and the Jewish leaders are jealous and threatened. They respond with a more severe punishment. Peter and John are put in jail.

    God sets them free. They go right back to preaching Jesus. While the Jewish leadership does punish them more, they receive wise counsel from one of their members. Wait and see if God is in this.

    The apostles keep preaching and doing ministry and the Church keeps growing. Jesus is the Messiah.

    Key Verses: Verse 29 – we must obey God!; verses 38-39 – if God is in this, you can’t stop it; verse 41 – they rejoice that they were worthy to suffer for Jesus!

    Take-Away Action Steps:

    Realize that no matter what God does, some people will not believe and will oppose you.

    Will you trust that Jesus is Messiah and Lord and obey him in all things?

    The Church grows in spite of and sometimes because of opposition. Don’t be afraid of opposition.

    Don’t be afraid of consequences of following Jesus.

    DAY 4 – Acts 6

    This is a short chapter that sets the stage for a very long chapter. This chapter introduces a very significant leader who will have a very short ministry. The chapter also gives us some insights to the qualities needed for those who will provide leadership in the Church.

    The situation is that some widows of the Jews from the Greek world were being overlooked and favoritism was toward the Hebraic (or Jerusalem dwelling) widows. The apostles agree this is a problem. Surprise! The early Church is not perfect either. The Church always has problems and spiritual leadership is needed to deal with problems in ways that honor God and bless the Church.

    The apostles will keep their focus on their primary calling. They create a new organizational structure to deal with a new problem, and they need leaders to implement it.

    They choose seven additional leaders. Look at the qualifications that were set for these leaders (6:3, 5, 8, 10). Make a list of those qualities.

    New opposition arises against the Church. Now it is not from the established Jerusalem leadership, it is from Jews who live outside Jerusalem. They level very serious charges of blasphemy and heresy against Stephen (6:11-14). He is against the law, Moses, and the temple! They bring him before the Jerusalem leadership, the Sanhedrin.

    Take-Away Action Steps:

    Pray for the staff and other leadership of the church, that they would have the qualities described of Stephen.

    Don’t be shocked when the church has problems and challenges. That is life.

    Look for NEW and creative solutions. Old ways stop working and new ways are needed.

    To be prepared for your own leadership calling, seek to be full of faith, Spirit, grace, and power.

    DAY 5 – The Reformed Church Always Reforming

    I have been with Living Word from its very early days. If we could show you a movie of life at Living Word through the years, one thing would be very obvious. Living Word has changed immensely over the years.

    New leadership, new staff, new programs, new ministries, new facilities, new strategies, new ways of doing life, new ways of worship, new ways of teaching the Bible, new ways of doing children’s ministry, and the list could go on. Everything I just described is what Jesus refers to as “wineskins.” That is a metaphor for the structure and system.

    The Word of God stays the same, the Spirit of God stays the same, the good news of the gospel stays the same, the core mission of the Church remains the same, the essential beliefs of the faith remain the same. All this is the wine (see Matthew 9:17). But wineskins constantly change, and they need to change.

    But change is hard. Often change is resisted by the very people who will be helped by the change. Living Word has been blessed. Over the decades, we have held loosely to wineskins and held tight to the wine.

    As our world changes fast and hard, there are new changes we will make. Living Word Online is one of those changes. New ways of evangelism are needed. New ways of engaging our community are needed. Our Board is always working on the best way to be a leadership team that serves the church.

    It is a great comfort to know that the Book of Acts shows us a Church that is constantly changing. The Spirit of God leads them into new ways of being the people of God. Sometimes it is very hard. There are some who resist the change. But God is at work, and we seek to keep in step with the Spirit as he leads us into the future God has for us.

    Pray for the leadership of Living Word. We live in exciting and challenging times. May the Holy Spirit guide us in the ways of our Lord.

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