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 5:17–26 (NIV)
Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.”
At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people.
When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin—the full assembly of the elders of Israel—and sent to the jail for the apostles. But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were at a loss, wondering what this might lead to.
Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them.
NOTE TO THE UNAWARE: Did you know the Wake-Up Call is available in audio format? You can click the button at the top of the email to listen, or you can listen on the Apple Podcast App. It’s also on our YouTube Channel. I wish you would give it a try. I can promise it will take our relationship to the next level.
Let’s begin today in the spirit of some good old fashioned catechesis.
QUESTION: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31
ANSWER: A lot of people, powers, principalities, and pain can come against us.
QUESTION: Will the opposition ultimately win?
ANSWER: Not a chance!
QUESTION: Can they inflict unbearable pain on us in the meantime?
ANSWER: You better believe it.
As things heat up in Jerusalem we are going to start seeing some bad things happening to good Christians. The outcomes will vary. In this particular instance, it miraculously worked out for the apostles as an angel sprang them from jail. As we turn the page into chapter 6 we will witness our first martyr.
But notice as we go along that no one seems to be asking the perennial question of our time, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Do you know why the Bible does not answer the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
Because the Bible is simply not asking that question. Neither were the early Christians asking that question. The early Christians were not philosophizing about sin, death, and evil. They were fighting it with everything they had. At times an angel would spring them out of jail at midnight. At other times they would take rocks to the face until the bitter end.
The gospel promises that we will win the war, but it almost guarantees we will lose quite a few battles along the way. The true sign of prosperity is not success in all things, it is endurance despite all things. We are not talking about a “grit your teeth and grind it out” endurance born of human effort. Where the Holy Spirit is involved, it often looks like joyful painstaking perseverance.
Fast forward to the present day. At times the enemy will look like a mentally ill assassin in an elementary school. At other times the enemy will take on the form of stage 3 cancer for an eighteen-year-old. Sometimes the police will get there first and save the masses from bloodshed. Sometimes the miracle will happen. Other times the chemo will work. Sometimes the scourge of cancer wins. Many of you are facing such situations right now. It’s not a matter of having enough faith to have your prayers answered. It’s the fact that we live on a battlefield. We live in the age of the Holy Spirit and yet still the present evil age rages on.
The gospel does not guarantee a get-out-of-jail-free card, though at times, as a bonus of encouragement for believers, it will miraculously happen. We can rejoice when it does, but we must remember, the mission is not contingent on the miracle. After all, where does the angel send the apostles after delivering them? Yes, right back into the fray, where they will be arrested again. And lest we need to be put on notice—it is not going to end well for any of them.
If the suffering of Christians designs to convey any particular message, it is this: Jesus plays the long game and takes the long view. The gospel nowhere says terrible things will not happen to good Christians. It actually says this:
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:37–39)
Why do you think we spend so much time in the modern age trying to figure out and explain why bad things happen to good people? Why do you think they didn’t focus on this issue in the apostolic age?
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 the fellowship of sharing in your sufferings and release my sense of entitlement to a suffering free life.
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.
REPEATING: Why do you think we spend so much time in the modern age trying to figure out and explain why bad things happen to good people? Why do you think they didn’t focus on this issue in the apostolic age? Journal out how you are personally dealing with the bad things that have happened or are happening in your life and those you love.
Today let’s sing a song by which the Spirit will minister healing comfort and grace to so many of us in need just now. Think of those you know and as we sing we will sing out to them too. The hymn is “Be Still, My Soul.” It is hymn 346 in our Seedbed hymnal, Our Great Redeemer’s Praise.
For the Awakening,
J. D. Walt