“News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.”
Acts 11:22-24 NIV
How is it that in the Bible people were flocking to follow Jesus but in our society we struggle to keep people following Jesus. The temptation to focus on ourselves is subtly leading our hearts and minds away from the giver of life. In a time where the church is struggling to keep pace with the multitude of messages that are competing to bring us hope and worth, why was the message so attractive then that seems to have lost its lustre today.
At the time when them message was being given, it would have been different for a god to want to be among the people and giving to the people. It would have also been strange to forgive and not want people fear. And to think of someone dying for the sins of others and fulfilling promises given long ago. It was a message of hope, of love, and of grace. Hearing the message of Jesus’ death and resurrection was something great for the common people. There was hope for them.
Have we come so far that Jesus rising from the grave and forgiving our sins is so far from believable or relevant? Or have we gone so far from the Gospel that it is unbelievable.because our actions do not line up with what the Gospel is expressing.
Sending Barnabas showed the people that the message that had been preached to them was being followed by the many people who came to encourage people to follow Jesus. Barnabas’ presence and message gave validity to what they had already heard. The consistency and faithfulness that Barnabas lived by continued to bring hope to the new believers as he continued to teach them more about Jesus.
We need to be able to convey the hope of Jesus for our day and time. The message of Jesus should be able to continue to bring hope to all people. That the creator of the universe loves us and wants to give us the freedom from our sins. To offer us the hope of forgiveness and redemption. To be able to create community that cares for and supports each other in with the grace of God. To continue to work in the redemption of creation. To be a blessing to friends and strangers
“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”
John 16:13 NIV
Let us pray.
Lord Jesus, we thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit. We are blessed to have the gift of Your Spirit to guide us each day as we seek to do Your will. The truth that You have spoken into our lives is made clear and by Your Holy Spirit. We don’t always understand and at other times we don’t have the words to speak but Your Spirit speaks and our doubts and fears fade away. Lord enliven our lives to be filled with Your grace. When we are confronted by the troubles of this broken world we remember Your promise that Your Holy Spirit will comfort us.
Bless us Lord this day. Strengthen us with Your truth so that we may speak Your words of grace to all the people You lead us to today. Help us to understand the what seems to be impossible to us but is possible when it comes to You and the work You are doing. We want to be able to testify to Your great deeds of healing in the lives all around us. We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.””
Luke 19:10 NIV
Let us pray.
Lord Jesus we confess at times we feel lost and forgotten. Our hearts struggle to remember who we are in these troubled times. Our busyness seems to have no end and we have forgotten how to be still and know You are God. We have lost what it means to be children of God, redeemed by You Jesus. You have said that You have sent Your Holy Spirit but we don’t know how to receive Him and live life with Him. With so many different voices in this world we have tried to shut them all out including Your’s.
Help us Lord to hear You once again speaking into our lives. Your divine words of life are deeply needed so that we can thrive instead of settling for a shadow of who You redeemed us to be. Lord may Your blessing fall a new on Your people so that we could once again hear through our self imposed silence and the cacophony of voices trying to dictate false truths that would harm us and lead us away. Lord help us to patiently wait upon You and live for You and not false glory that will eventually suffocate us and silence our praises of You.
Lord we have heard of the miracles that You have done in the Gospels and throughout the Bible. We can even recognize miracles that happen in other people’s lives. To be honest Lord we are jealous. Lord help us to trust You even when our eyes tempt us to doubt Your faithfulness because we are insecure and impatient and do not recognize the blessings You have already placed in our lives. Lord Jesus, we pray this in Your Holy name, Amen.
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Psalms 23:4 NIV
Let us pray.
Lord Jesus, You know the many hearts that are crying out for justice and closer but they don’t find any. The hearts that are so troubled that they don’t think that anyone can understand them. The lives that have been torn apart by violence and life doesn’t make sense. Lord have mercy.
Lord You know the many people who want to heal but can’t seem to find the way. The bodies that have been broken and infected and struggle to be whole again. Lord have mercy.
Lord You know the grief that weighs down the minds of Your children. You know the lost dreams and the lives that were never fully lived. Lord have mercy.
Lord we pray for those who walk along side the hurting and the broken, may You grant them strength and comfort through the difficulties that they face day in and day out. Lord have mercy and grant Your peace and strength that we may experience Your healing. We pray this in Your name, Lord Jesus, Amen.
“After they had further proclaimed the word of the Lord and testified about Jesus, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages.”
Acts 8:25 NIV
The disciples who were with Jesus believed that it was their responsibility to use the gift that they had been given and to share the good news of Jesus Christ. The ministry that Peter and John did with Jesus was done north of Samaria up around Cana and Capernaum, so preaching and testify about Jesus to the Samaritans as they were returning to Jerusalem. They took the time to speak to those that they met along the journey back to Jerusalem. We don’t exactly know if they went out of their way or just took advantage of the villages that were on their way. Either way they were giving the blessing that they had been given from Jesus.
When it comes to us, are we more worried about the destination or the journey and the opportunities that present themselves? Jesus’ life was full of blessing others. He did not just go from Bethlehem to Calvary, He took time to help others even when it was difficult. Yet today some people are so focused on the destination that they miss the point of the journey to the destination. The journey allows times for ministry to happen. For joy to be shared. For healing to happen. For help to be given. For comfort to be administered. For the good news of Jesus Christ to be shared. We need to make sure that the we don’t loose sight of Christ which means following in His lead. Jesus who stopped on the side of the road for a blind man, who had time for children, who ministered to people who were not accepted by others. Take time to be holy. Take time to share the blessing that Jesus has given to you.
“Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.”
Acts 8:13 NIV
When it comes to receiving the Holy Spirit, is it something that you think about a great deal or is it something that you expect to just happen and it won’t change anything. Phillip shows us that living with the Holy Spirit is something that changed his life and began to change the lives of all those that Phillip was around. He did not stop to think about what others would think but he gave a clear proclamation of the Gospel and a clear demonstration of the power of Holy Spirit working in people’s lives.
When it came to Simon, he even believed and was baptized but he became jealous of Phillip and wanted to be like Peter and John. It is not to say that Phillip, Peter or John were not good people to be emulated but Simon did not want to emulate, he wanted to dictate. All Simon had know was control and power and suddenly he was left without either. Peter rejected Simon’s money as an abomination. Simon was for the first time on the outside. Simon saw receiving the Holy Spirit as a commodity and not a blessing from God. He was so obsessed with power that he tried to convert Peter from faithful servant to slave to Simon. Peter did not fall prey to Simon’s conniving, in fact Peter rebuked Simon.
Simon wanted to control others but he could not control the Holy Spirit. Neither can we. If we want to believe in Jesus and receive the Holy Spirit, it should not be about us, it should be about God and His grace and love for His people. Peter realized this and lived it out, Phillip realized this and lived it out, and people’s lives were forever changed by the Holy Spirit because Peter, John, and Phillip devoted their lives to honouring and loving God because of Jesus. Receive the Holy Spirit while benefits us, this should not be our focus because we are blessed we should share the blessing of God’s love for His people. We mustn’t cheapen it and turn it into love for only ourselves.
“and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.””
Acts 1:11 ESV
Let us pray.
Lord Jesus, we ponder Your ascension into heaven before the disciples and the mix of emotions and hope that must have coursed through their hearts. Having feared Your death and the loss of everything that they held dear, to then see You alive and the hope of what was thought lost. You commissioned them to life and faith and to go and share the good news filled with the Holy Spirit. As they watched You leave knowing that this was not the end but the beginning of something great and incredibly difficult but the disciples did not leave in despair but with renewed faith.
Lord, we like the disciples from so long ago, we await Your return with the expectation that has built up over the multitude of generations. Each follower has had the hope that they would be alive when You come back to bring in the new creation. We see the pain and destruction, the debilitating sicknesses of those we love and we wonder when Lord Jesus will You come to bring peace to desperate hearts. Lord remind of all that You will do when. You return so that we will not lose hope. Though we face the realities of this moment, we are not anchored here or even in the past, but in You Lord Jesus who is eternal. We will not lose heart or lose faith in You for You are the one whose promises we trust, no matter what we face. Thank-you Lord for the hope and faith that You have instilled in our hearts and minds.
Lord we pray this all in Your all powerful name. Amen.
““For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.”
Deuteronomy 7:6 ESV
Let us pray.
Lord Jesus, there are many who bear Your image that do not know You, who are hurting this day. Help them to see the light of Your love for each of them this day.
Lord too many are feeling the troubles of doubt and pain whose very heart cries out to You without even knowing Your name. Hear them, and speak the grounding words of life in the face of their chaos.
Lord the violence of sin troubles our world, it is ripping families about in their very homes. It is cutting out the young hearts so that they will never know innocence again in the future. It is cementing divides in communities. Lord have mercy on us all. Show us the ways of peace and healing, may we be consumed by them and filled with Your compassion for all of Your hurting creation. May the harm that has been done drop away and be replaced with redeemed lives to flourish because of the hope and stability that You give all of Your people.
Lord Jesus we pray all of these things and more that our hearts can bear to bring into words. Amen.
11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11 ESV)
Let us pray.
Lord Jesus, Your word brings light to our days and guides hearts to right living.
Temptations try to flourish but Your words of life reveal their true nature and lead us to You.
Hatred and anger attempt to derail Your grace but fall silent compared to the fullness of Your living love.
Depravity and lies attempt to influence our lives yet Your word cuts through the clutter and brings hope.
Loneliness is left to the outside as we warm ourselves in the company of Your loving grace.
Lord Jesus, bless our reading and our understanding so that they will find the fullness and blessing that we need to thrive in the life that You have given to us.
May Your Holy Spirit guide us to share blessing without fear of it running out or us being lost.
Your faithfulness in stills trust and hope in the face of apathy and fear.
Lord You are the solid ground that we need to walk the bath of life and to drink the living water that quenches our thirst.
We pray this in Your holy name, Amen.
“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”
Romans 12:3 ESV
Why is humility hard in a society that glorifies self interest? Strange question to ask, I know, but it is a real question that we should think about. When we put that question out there we need to think about how freely people can give their opinion, can speak up without thinking about what they are saying will affect others, not even aware of who could possibly be affected by what is been said or done. It can be copied and repeated over and over again. Sometimes it is the most innocuous things but in certain contexts it shows a complete unawareness of what others are experiencing because people are so focused on themselves.
Humility is not about weakness but having strength that does not invoke fear or a challenge. It is about trust and awareness. Humility can change a situation in an instant because the focus is not on the success, or self grandizement but an honouring of each person in the moment. We see this displayed with Jesus as He is interacting with people from different social standings, such as with the incident when a woman was brought before Him and the leaders said she was caught in adultery. Jesus was patient, did not rush into an answer or judgement, in fact He did the unexpected, He turned the tables on the on lookers and made them judge themselves. They didn’t end up judging the woman or Jesus.
We see this over and over throughout the Gospels. Jesus acts with humility. He does not act out of weakness or fear. Jesus acts trusting in the innate justice that God created to be present in this world and calls his people to live by. Jesus is not swayed by fear or anger but lives by truth and justice. Living humbly is rooted more in trusting God than in trusting in our own abilities to change the outcome. While living with humility can seem far fetched in a society that gives opportunities to glorify people, it is really a coming back to early stages of creation when we walked humbly with God.