Sunday - Persecution and Growth
Series: The Mvmnt
Message: Persecution and Growth
Preacher: Alex Bryan
Reflection: Japhet De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Zan Long
Live Purpose: Jessyka Albert
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin today in prayer. Ask God for understanding through the Holy Spirit and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Acts 5:17-42 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Whether or not this is the first time you’ve read it, you have to admit that it is quite a specular story. It would be enough of an epic story if there were simply a court battle between the apostles and the Sadducees and a jury later released them of all charges. However, the Gospel was not birthed in the midst of tranquility and clean satin sheets. The Gospel arrived in the midst of chaos and turmoil. It would be accepted by some and rejected by others (Matthew 10:14). Luke, living inside this tension and understanding its implications, crafted this story to raise hope against all odds.
I have noticed that when people have a new idea, most notably a new ministry idea, the first thing they do is brand it. They will design a logo, choose a name, maybe even craft a tagline as well. The Apostles had no brand when they started their journey. They soon would be called followers of the Way (Acts 9:2) and went on to eventually be called Christians (Acts 11:26). At this juncture in the birth of the movement, the angel of the Lord, after releasing them from prison, commanded that they continue doing what they had been imprisoned for: preaching about “this life” (Acts 5:20). Can you imagine how transformative the Gospel was through the power of the Holy Spirit? It spoke to “this life,” not to a life in the past or a life to come in the distant future but to this life—the life they were living.
It was eighteen years ago on this very day, that I held my firstborn son, Joshua. I find it hard to describe what it was like to hold that baby boy on my chest and feel his heart racing and know that he could hear the love in my voice as I spoke softly to him. That moment was “this life.” He turns eighteen today and embarks on the dawn of a new chapter in this life. I hope that his life stays focused on Jesus. What greater purpose is there than to know Jesus in all we are and in all we do? We wish the same for all those we love.
Recalibrate: Has the Gospel transformed your life into “this life”?
Respond: Pray for the Spirit of transformation.
Research: Does your local faith community have a name that is connected to “this life”?
There is nothing more life-changing than the birth or death of a child. While we dream (or dread) these times, the reality is often more than overwhelming. Take a time out today to remind yourself that God is in control.
In the grocery store, how can you tell the difference between salt and sugar without tasting it? Can you tell because the package has a label telling you what it is? Sometimes labels can be helpful in telling us what something is. What are some of your labels (son/daughter, brother/sister, friend, etc.)? How can someone tell that your most important label is “follower of Jesus”?
Think about a time when a big change was about to happen in your life. Were you excited? Nervous? Angry? Now think about a big change that is about to happen. Graduation? A new relationship? Maybe even a break up? Take a piece of paper and write down five ways this shift is revealing that God has something bigger in store for you.