devotion 6-9-15

Good Morning from Daytona!I arrived in good time last night – had dinner with an old friend and a walk on the beach. Resting this morning, taking some time before conference starts tomorrow morning, bright and early!

Acts 4:23-37

23 After they were released, they went to their friends* and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24When they heard it, they raised their voices together to God and said, ‘Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and everything in them, 25it is you who said by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant:*
“Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples imagine vain things?
26 The kings of the earth took their stand,
and the rulers have gathered together
against the Lord and against his Messiah.”*
27For in this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant* Jesus, whom you anointed, 28to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants* to speak your word with all boldness, 30while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant* Jesus.’ 31When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.

32 Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. 33With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. 35They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means ‘son of encouragement’). 37He sold a field that belonged to him, then brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

When Peter and John were released, they went back to their friends – the church community that nurtured them and cared for them was waiting to hear their story. And they told the story of all that had happened to them, and then they prayed together. Notice, they prayed for the strength and power to speak the Lord’s Word with boldness, even in the face of threats. Friends hear our stories – this is the core of life as community – and as a community, a church, we pray, not for easy times, but for the strength to speak with boldness even when it may make someone unhappy, or when we may be persecuted for it.

They prayed with such sincerity that the Holy Spirit shook the house where they prayed! Have you ever joined in prayer with such a group – felt the earth shift around you and the ground shake, the prayer was so profound?

And then Luke tells us something about that first church community – they were of one heart and soul. Everyone cared for everyone else as if they were a part of their family, and everything they owned they shared. They loved listening to the apostles tell their stories of Jesus, their time with him, the miracles he performed. No one in the group was in need, for those who had lands and houses sold them and brought the money to the apostles, who distributed it to those in need, and likely bought food for the group. They prayed together, worshipped together, shared fellowship together, learned from the apostles together, and shared generously with one another and with the entire church.

Finally, notice the name of one of those generous men – we will hear from Barnabas again.

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