During this season, Sunday entries will feature an Acts Recap then transition to Advent and Christmas readings. Be on the lookout for a fresh Sunday approach in the New Year. If you enjoyed the In Christ readings by E. Stanley Jones, you can find that in our store here.
From now until the end of the month we will be re-releasing highlights from our Wake-Up Call Acts journey together. Join us on December 1 when we begin our new series celebrating Advent—Protagonist by Matt and Josh LeRoy.
PRAYER OF CONSECRATION
Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.
Jesus, I belong to you.
I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body to you as a living sacrifice.
Jesus, we belong to you.
Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.
Acts 5:12–16 (NIV)
The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.
Today’s text is a dramatic scene we might caption with the following phrase:
“They understood the assignment.”
It is a good moment to remember the original assignment.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
There’s a convergence of three different scenes coming together in today’s text.
Scene 1: The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people.
Let’s call Scene 1, “The Kingdom.”
Scene 2: And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade.
Let’s call Scene 2, “The Church.”
Scene 3: No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people.
Let’s call Scene 3, “The World.”
All of this converges to unveil Scene 4: Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.
Let’s call Scene 4, “The Church Jesus Is Building.”
The world is in awe of the church because the church is in awe of God. When the church lives in awe of God, the kingdom breaks out into the world. When the kingdom breaks out into the world, the world begins to believe in God. When the world begins to believe in God, the church receives them into community.
In my experience, the church is getting it backward.
We want people to be added to the numbers of the church where we hope they will come to believe in God. In other words, we start by mixing up the church and the world. We hope the church will rub off on the world, but it has just the opposite effect. In no time, people can’t really tell the difference between the church and the world and they don’t want much to do with this community. There are no signs and wonders because the kingdom is nowhere to be found.
Yes, these first-generation Christians understood the assignment. They were completely changed into fire. Let’s call it the burning bush effect. It is anomalous—the bush is burning but it’s not burning up. The closer one gets to it the more in awe they grow. They begin to believe. They are compelled to belong. We have thought that an unbeliever must feel like they belong before they will believe. What if the opposite is actually true?
What might repentance look like for us? Asked another way: How do we, the twenty-first-century church, become first-generation Christians?
THE PRAYER OF TRANSFORMATION
Lord Jesus, I am your witness.
I receive your righteousness and release my sinfulness.
I receive your wholeness and release my brokenness.
I receive your fullness and release my emptiness.
I receive your peace and release my anxiety.
I receive your joy and release my despair.
I receive your healing and release my sickness.
I receive your love and release my selfishness.
I receive your clarity and release my confusion.
Come Holy Spirit transform my heart, mind, soul, and strength so that my consecration becomes your demonstration; that our lives become your sanctuary. For the glory of God our Father, amen.
What will it take for our churches to live in awe of God? What will it take for me to live in awe of God? How about you?
Today let’s sing the banner hymn: “How Firm a Foundation.” It is hymn 46 in our Seedbed hymnal, Our Great Redeemer’s Praise.
For the Awakening,
J. D. Walt
P. S. Would You Share a Word Back?
Please take two minutes to give us some feedback on the recent Wake-Up Call series. I would greatly appreciate it. LINK HERE.