BEFORE THE LORD

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DAY 79

He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” “Who are you, lord?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

Acts 9:4-6

JOSH K:
As I read this passage again how much we can trust God with our whole lives, that even though He is the Creator of all things and has every right to condemn us, He approaches us with a question not an accusation.

 

The encounter though was not powerless. Saul could no longer see. Saul was blinded by the light of God so that all He could see was Jesus. He was no longer led by his pride and human wisdom, but rather by humility and reliance on the grace of Jesus. All of us need not only a eye-opening experience with Jesus but also a blinding experience where we stop thinking we know everything and begin to truly surrender to the glory of Christ.

FILMORE B:
I love the point about the blinding experience. It’s so true. Paul, who thought he saw clearly for the majority of his life, is now being led by the hand because he is blind. An encounter with Jesus always humbles us.

The mighty religious leader, now kneeling before the Lord. Wow.

 

 

EVERY STEP OF THE JOURNEY

DAY 78

Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains. As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” // Acts 9:1-4

JOSH K:
While we are on our way to miss the mark, Jesus is still loving us and trying to get our attention. His love was so great for Saul, and Jesus is so humble, that His first words were words of identity, “Saul, Saul...” and a question.

FILMORE B:
Yes, even when Paul hated Jesus, Jesus loved Paul. I personally find hope in this conversion, for it reminds me so much of my own salvation. In no way shape or form was I looking for Jesus, yet He divinely interrupted me with His grace. And if He loved me enough to meet when I was running away from Him, He’ll continue to meet me every step of the journey. Amazing Grace!

 

t’s pretty confronting and staggering that while Saul was breathing threats and murder against disciples of the Lord, Jesus still encountered Saul.

NOT JUST FOR US

DAY 77

As soon as they were freed, Peter and John returned to the other believers and told them what the leading priests and elders had said.  When they heard the report, all the believers lifted their voices together in prayer to God: “O Sovereign Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them— you spoke long ago by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant, saying, ‘Why were the nations so angry? Why did they waste their time with futile plans?’  And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness. // Acts 4:23-25, 29-31

FILMORE B:
They received the boldness they needed, through the Holy Spirit, because they ran to the right friends. Verse 31 says, “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak God’s Word with fearless confidence.” If they hadn’t run to these friends, they wouldn’t have received what God wanted to give them, even though it was always available. I think, how many times have I missed what God what is available to me now because I’ve ran to the wrong crowd in my trial?

I love that Jesus wants us to lean on the faith of our friends. It gives purpose to my faith because it’s not just for me, but for those around me to be encouraged!

GEORGIE K:
Yes exactly! Prayer works. Wisdom works. It also encourages me to be "that" leader and friend — the one that is not afraid to call friends to a position of faith!


 

FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT

DAY 76

As soon as they were freed, Peter and John returned to the other believers and told them what the leading priests and elders had said.  When they heard the report, all the believers lifted their voices together in prayer to God: “O Sovereign Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them— you spoke long ago by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant, saying, ‘Why were the nations so angry? Why did they waste their time with futile plans?’  And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.

Acts 4:23-25, 29-31

FILMORE B:
This passage of scripture is such an example to us today as the modern church. These friends of Peter & John had every reason to be paralyzed by fear following the threats of the religious leaders, yet their first instinct was to pray. There is no assumption on their part that they can get through this trial without a fresh touch from the Holy Spirit, so they all decide to cry out to God.

GEORGIE K:
In times of persecution and challenge, it's so important who we run to, which friends we talk to. We need to choose our friends wisely! After all, is someone really a "friend of your soul" if they sow doubt?

Peter and John went to the right friends! Faith-filled people who could encourage them in who their God is! Friends who could jump straight into prayer!

 

 

These friends were actually such high caliber that they "cited precedent" to God! In legal systems a precedent is a rule established in a previous legal case that is persuasive and binding for a court when deciding subsequent cases! They said "God you made heaven and earth, you spoke through the mouth of our father David amidst the trial … now would you do it again! Take care of their threats and give your servants fearless confidence.” What great friends! Fighting the good fight of faith for their friends, Peter and John. May we follow their example and choose wisely those we run to in times of trial and challenge!

 

FULL AUTHORITY

DAY 75

As soon as they were freed, Peter and John returned to the other believers and told them what the leading priests and elders had said.  When they heard the report, all the believers lifted their voices together in prayer to God: “O Sovereign Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them— you spoke long ago by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant, saying, ‘Why were the nations so angry? Why did they waste their time with futile plans?’  And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness. // Acts 4:23-25, 29-31

 

FILMORE B:
This story happens only shortly after Peter denies Jesus. I think it shows us God’s way of doing things, and that His Holy Spirit alone brings power and transformation into our lives! Peter, who weeks earlier was known as timid, is now being known as someone who is bold and courageous. The difference maker is Jesus in us, by the Holy Spirit.

How many of us have found ourselves in Peter’s shoes before, denying Jesus with our thoughts, words, and decisions, and immediately think God can no longer work through me?Peter’s life is an encouragement to us all! Because, like him, no matter where we’ve failed in our past, God still has great purpose for us in the future.

EMILY H:
his is such a great reminder that Jesus does not discriminate. The Holy Spirit does not work through us because we are qualified but because He loves us. I love that regardless of Peter’s past, God still chooses to do great things through him.

It's not our squeaky clean record that makes us usable to Him, but it's our willingness to allow Jesus to work through us, to be vessels for what he wants to do in people's lives. It's us being aware enough that we have something to offer through our relationship with Jesus. We can choose to put on the full personhood, the full authority of, Jesus by His Holy Spirit.

 

 

 

POWER OF THE SPIRIT

DAY 74

The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing right there among them, there was nothing the council could say. So they ordered Peter and John out of the council chamber and conferred among themselves.

Acts 4:13-15

 

 

FILMORE B:
I love what verse 13 says: “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”


I love the correlation between being with Jesus and boldness. The two go and hand-in-hand. If I want boldness and courage in my life, I need to be known as someone that has spent time “being” with Jesus. I personally find it so comforting that they are known as ordinary men, and like them, I don’t have to be superhuman for God to use me. How often do we fall into the lie that in order to be effective for God we need to be “extraordinary?”

EMILY H:
Yes, so true! I really love this. Peter and John are just regular dudes. Everyone in this story knew it could only be by being with Jesus — and by being filled with his Holy Spirit — that they were capable of these things. It serves as a such a cool way to glorify God, it literally could not be their own doing!

I know I have fallen into that lie before, that I need to be perfect or brilliant in order to live and carry out God’s work — but that is just not true. We don't have to be extraordinary. It is our relationship with Jesus that makes all the difference. It's by knowing Him and by the power of the Holy Spirit that great works are truly done.

 

LIVE IN BOLDNESS

DAY 73

The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing right there among them, there was nothing the council could say. So they ordered Peter and John out of the council chamber and conferred among themselves

Acts 4:13-15

FILMORE B:
I also particularly love verse 13, where it says that when they “saw” the boldness of Peter & John, they recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. I love that “being” with Jesus creates a boldness in us. If I am not bold, have I been with Jesus?

SAMUEL N:
And it’s visible boldness! The chief priests could see it on Peter and John. That shows that the light of Jesus was shining through them as boldness! Jesus was opening the eyes of the priests, to a small degree—the very ones that had crucified Him were now starting to see, and now they had a choice.

I agree with you: the mark of being with Jesus, daily, is a visible boldness to tell others of how He saved us and how He wants to save them, too! A lack of boldness in us is probably a warning bell that we need to get back around Jesus again.

FILMORE B:
I just love that it says in verse 8: “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them…" It’s ultimately the Holy Spirit that enables us to overcome fear and live in boldness. I love that this is after Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit descended on Pentecost. It insinuates that the filling of the Spirit is not an occasion but something that is to be continually sought after. The more we surrender to the Holy Spirit, which is the very resurrection power of Christ inside us, the more we will live in boldness.
 

FULLY ALIVE IN HIM

DAY 72

“What should we do with these men?” they asked each other. “We can’t deny that they have performed a miraculous sign, and everybody in Jerusalem knows about it. But to keep them from spreading their propaganda any further, we must warn them not to speak to anyone in Jesus’ name again.” So they called the apostles back in and commanded them never again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.” The council then threatened them further, but they finally let them go because they didn’t know how to punish them without starting a riot. For everyone was praising God for this miraculous sign—the healing of a man who had been lame for more than forty years.

Acts 4:16-22

SAMUEL N:
And think about the evidence that Peter and John had with them: the man who was once lame now stood beside them, as a witness to his own healing. Right there was before the eyes of all, in that man’s healing, there evidence of Christ’s resurrection.     

Because the same Jesus that went about healing others before His death was still healing others after His resurrection—now through His church. That healed man was evidence of Jesus being fully alive, and making others more alive. How could Peter and John not want to speak boldly, when their eyes were fixed on such incontrovertible evidence?

FILMORE B:
The resurrection power of Christ is before our eyes, daily. The person worshipping next to me on a Sunday is evidence that Jesus is fully alive. For we were all once dead in sin, but been made alive in Christ by grace! What a miracle!

SAMUEL N:
It wasn’t just the story of the healing that emboldened them, but also the visual reminder of a transformed life—for the man himself STOOD beside them. I wonder how often we let fear consume us because we don’t let Christ open our eyes to the visible transformations in the lives of others around us? I wonder how willfully blind we make ourselves, through fear? I wonder if we would be more bold if we chose to see what’s really going on: our neighbor’s transformation means Jesus is fully alive!