Passage: Acts 3:11-16
Point: Father, may we embrace the truth that Jesus is the only true way to complete wholeness. As the Prince of Life, he took on our weakness, sin, and sickness so that he could chart a path of life through the valley of the shadow of death for us all. He is the pioneer of new life out of the old broken down life we made of ourselves. He carried our guilt like an innocent Passover lamb, to become the servant and sovereign of resurrection life. He bore our injustice and was wounded with our impurity so that he might share his justice and holiness with us as a gift. O how utterly amazing, astonishing even, that we are afforded wholeness and healing from your hand, dear Lord! Through you, dear Jesus, that a new exodus out of slavery, to freedom, has been initiated. A new fire is speaking, not in flaming, unconsumed branches to Moses, but in cloven tongues from the Spirit of Jesus. A new bread of life is falling from heaven to feed our deepest hunger. A new water is parting to bring us out of our crippling bondage into the Promised Land of liberation and restoration! A new Lord is reigning over death, hell, and the grave, so that inwardly we are being renewed day by day until the completeness of your healing is fully experienced. Yes Jesus, it is indeed in your name, and through faith in your name, that this wholeness is enjoyed. Your name is mightier than magic, simply because it calls us to be in living and vibrant relationship with you. Not in manipulating secret, abracadabra spells, but in extending your power and living presence into real world needs. So may we be found busy with your work. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!
Passage: Acts 3:1-10
Point: This passage is a very popular passage. It is the first recorded healing done by the Apostles after the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. I can remember reading this as a young teenage Christian and thinking to myself, “That is how this is supposed to be!” We are supposed to have this power in us! To me this was ultimate street evangelism!!! I see a lot of folks buying into movements where this is all they do!! They walk around towns and bring the kingdom of God to the poor and the passer-by.
Hearing something like this might also scare you. Many times it scares me. What if I ask in the name of Jesus for God to heal someone and it doesn’t happen? Here is the fact, something did happen! It may not be what you thought you would SEE but something happened! God’s word never returns empty or stale!! There is still power in His Name! When we preach the kingdom of God, God changes things. I am sure there were instances not cataloged where Peter and John preached the kingdom and not much happened that they could see with their human eyes. But they never stopped. Why? Because they did not do it for results. They did it because they saw the Lord Jesus; they were apprehended by Him and could not but tell what His Kingdom was all about!!! With that mentality, great things happen both seen and unseen!
Ponder: Have you been called? Is your faith strong enough to speak with the authority of his Name regardless of the outcome?
Passage: Acts 2:42-47
Prayer: Father, teach us the power of the ordinariness of our faith. Since the Christian message and life have been around for over two thousand years, we too often grow bored with the normal and routine aspects of what makes our faith so vibrant, powerful, and deep. Like the basic human drive of eating, so too, we often go about our Christian experience without thinking of food’s significance until we haven’t eaten in a few days. So too, spiritual nutrition is essential for us to survive as believers. The young church has shown us the basic nutritional guide for us to survive in a shared life. It takes feeding on the apostolic truth on a daily, weekly basis. Without this, we will default to the mental molding of the pressures of our culture. It takes sharing our lives together as your people so that we do not become isolated and individualistic with our faith. Too often the solitary life is a shriveled life with an anemic faith. It takes breaking the bread of your body, dear Jesus, and drinking the cup of your sacrifice, to never forget the centrality of your Cross, your Resurrection, and your Return. Truly it is this meal that feeds us like none other. It also takes joining in prayer to keep our feet firmly planted in your heaven-invading-earth kingdom. Yes, Word, Fellowship, Communion, and Prayer are the recommended daily allowance of a shared life. These we must emphasize, revisit, refresh, and redo over and over again until you come back. Indeed, these “food groups” grow your church and empower its impact on our world. Without them, our community starves and the world is emptied of meaning and purpose. So may we ever be focused and fixed on this miraculous ordinariness. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!!
Ponder: Are you practicing the miraculous ordinariness of your faith with the body of Christ? Are you letting the Word of God, fellowship, communion, and prayer become a solid routine in your Christian walk?
Passage: Acts 2:37-41
Prayer: Father, why is it that too many of us fail to heed the warning signs you so clearly supply? Like Israel, who missed the time of her own visitation, we, too, miss our own deliverance. We get so convinced that “our way” is right, and even divinely sanctioned, that we careen down a slope that ends in a cliff! Wake us up, out of our own pride and dangerous over-confidence! Cut us to the heart, that we might see our own folly and be rescued from impending disaster! Shake us loose from the slumber of our comfortable cultural anesthesia, which has corrupted our thinking, muted our convictions, and paralyzed our passions! Father, we need rescue and we need it soon! We need intervention because the speed of this slope allows for no other solution. We cannot slow down. We cannot turn back. We cannot stop. All we can do is ask for rescue! So come quickly, Lord Jesus! Sadly, Israel never saw in Jesus their national deliverance. Instead, they went off the cliff. They refused to listen to the one who summed up all that they were and could be. But in their rejection of Jesus, the rescue plan was extended to the nations! Because You, dear Jesus, in taking on their judgment, took the “green tree” of your own righteousness and turned The Tree into salvation. Indeed on that dangerous slope is planted the way of rescue…the way of the Cross! So may we steer to its center in repentance! May we identify our very lives with it in baptism, so that the death you died, dear Lord, will become our death. So that the life you now live becomes our life. So that the Spirit you now give becomes our gift, even to all whom “the Lord our God will call!” In Jesus’ name, AMEN!
Ponder: How can we steer our hearts towards God’s clear rescue when we find ourselves careening down a slope with a tragic end? Don’t miss it!
Passage: Acts 2:22-36
Point: Peter switches gears in his speech, and it’s pretty important for the rest of the history of Christianity. The speech started with an explanation of the miracle that just happened in babbling tongues being heard as clear words in other languages. But now, Peter gives the why of the experience. The miracle wasn’t the point. The point is the One who made the miracle happen. This Jesus died and rose according to God’s plan, and in so doing, God has declared him to be Messiah and Lord! See, Christianity is not about the spiritual rush. It’s not about a personal experience, as important as that was for the apostles and those who heard the tongues. It is about Jesus. Our faith begins and ends with him, with his death and resurrection. Yes, our personal experience of the Spirit is vital to our relationship with God, but it must still be firmly established in the fact that Jesus is Lord, as confirmed by his death and resurrection. Otherwise, there is little difference between our faith and the ethereal spirituality of our day that forms God in the image of our own opinions and experiences. That is an empty faith in the end. Christianity is solid.
Ponder: In what ways do your experiences or emotions ebb and flow in your faith? Is your faith only as strong as how you are feeling day to day? Realize today that your faith is founded on the bedrock of Jesus Christ, the risen Lord.
Passage: Acts 2:14-21
Prayer: Father, what it must have felt like to have finally arrived at the day long anticipated and finally experienced! The disciples of Jesus had heard about this day over not only their lifetime but also their nation’s history. Their synagogues resounded with prophetic expectations from their precious Scriptures. Messianic fever was rising because of what those Scriptures pointed to and the nearness of their arrival. But all of this anticipation, expectation, and fever had finally arrived. Now a new age would begin and a new epoch would slowly, but surely, rise upon this planet. Now a kingdom that would never end—the living, unshakable kingdom of God would truly begin to come. And yet we still, to this day, anticipate its final culmination, its grand crescendo! But still it arrived in the person and power of Jesus, dear Father! It swept into our world like a mighty rushing Spirit-wind from your throne room! Yes, it started, not among the august Temple-serving priests, the back room violence-plotting revolutionaries, or the rabbinic-inspired synagogues, but among a small band of Jesus-loving, Spirit-saturated disciples! Now this small band will change the planet through the simple message of a resurrected Savior! Now a new creation, begun in the hearts and prayer-meetings of those sons and daughters, would slowly dawn with the warmth of the rising sun on the horizon of a clear day. No longer will class-dividing, age-separating, gender-bashing discrimination be tolerated, for now the “Spirit is poured out on all flesh.” And we, who live in the 21st century, who name Jesus as Lord and Savior, are part of this new creation, this rising kingdom-coming reality! In Jesus’ name, AMEN!
Passage: Acts 2:5-13
Prayer: Father, you have sent your Spirit again to hover over your creation, animating light out of darkness and life out of death. Through this kingdom-building Spirit, your sovereign, saving plan sweeps through the renewed nation of Israel, in the person of Jesus and his apostolic patriarchs. Even now, its surge keeps expanding into the vast sweep of the whole human race. And to think it all started in a quaint little upper room next door to a dead Temple, signaling its death knell and building a new temple from the living stones of every born-again, Spirit-empowered saint! From that upper room, an age-long curse was lifted, if only for a moment! The babel of tongues from the environs of the city of man, that once separated us into a thousand different dialects and languages, was replaced with another unifying “tongue” from the precincts of the city of God! And not only was it a miracle of speaking a new language, but it was a miracle of hearing each person’s mother tongue with exquisite clarity and deep conviction! Everyone heard the powerful deeds of God that you, Jesus, are doing. Everyone saw the good news of thousands of years of promise coming together. So may we carry this message forward with the Spirit-driven power and energy of that upper room. And may we never forget, dear Jesus, that you long for your message to be translated universally into every nation, kindred, tongue, and people until you come again! In Jesus’ name, AMEN!
Ponder: How can God use you, today, to translate his message into the vernacular of the people you interact with? How can your speech be more heavenly in the midst of the earthly environment you find yourself today?