NEW Today’s AMI QT Devotional is provided by Cami King who serves as associate pastor at Remnant Church in Manhattan. Cami is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“Revolution & Interruption”
Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.
During the Easter season, I spent time reading through the Gospel of Luke and am now making my way through Acts as we prepare for Pentecost. Taking another look at the life and teachings of Jesus in Luke and the presence and work of the Spirit in Acts has been especially helpful for me, as we all do the hard work of reevaluating and reimagining during our present season of upheaval.
My reading of these texts, while being inundated with the statements and movements of various Christians around the country during this season, has cemented my suspicion that sometimes (often times?) we in the Church lack vision for how God moves in the world and how we come to discern those movements and, in so discerning, know what to do in partnership with God. My time in Luke-Acts has highlighted two crucial things in this regard: God’s story is one of revolution and God’s work is a work of interruption.
God is transforming all of Creation – from hearts and minds to societies and kingdoms to (one day) the literal heavens and earth. Transformation is not preservation. And transformation requires change—it’s an act of revolution. If we want to understand where God is and how God is moving, then, it would behoove us to learn a little bit about revolutions—particularly how they come about and what they’re resisting to change. God’s story is a story of revolution.
And God’s work in our present world is ALWAYS a work of interruption. From the Creation (which interrupted nothing with something) to the Exodus (which interrupted Egyptian empire/rule) to the prophets (who interrupted the religious and political status quo) to the birth of Jesus (which not only interrupted Mary’s life, but turned the world upside down), to the cross (which was a painful interruption, or so it seemed, to the disciples hopes for deliverance), to the greatest interruption of them all the resurrection (which interrupted, and so overcame, death itself).
God is authoring a revolution through a series of holy interruptions.
If this is true, as followers of Jesus, we have to learn to discern God’s movements in any given moment in history, looking for those interruptions so we can actively participate in God’s revolutionary work in our time. Theologian Willie James Jennings suggests this is the agenda of the book of Acts, “to narrate how one discerns God’s movements” – what they look like and how Creation responds.
God is at work right now through the Spirit in the world today. So, are we discerning those movements? And how are we, who are not only creatures but those with whom the Spirit of God dwells, called to respond?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, please free me from my tendency toward people-pleasing and self-gratification. Make me aware of the other masters in my life today, so that, having been liberated from them, I can discern what You are doing in the world and then join. Help me to serve You even when it is difficult. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 36
Lunch Break Study
Read Acts 2:36-47: “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Question to Consider
- These verses pick up right after the Holy Spirit comes to the Church for the very first time at Pentecost. What was the people’s (v. 37) response to the movement of the Spirit in Acts 2?
- How did Peter instruct them? What is the significance of these next steps? What promise did he give them?
- What was the result of their obedience in response to the movement of the Spirit? What do you notice about their devotion? How does this encourage or challenge you to respond to the Spirit today?
- The people asked, “What should we do?” Why? It’s because they were deeply convicted after hearing the truth concerning Jesus and the message of the Gospel and turned to God (through Peter and the Apostles) for guidance and direction.
- Peter told them to repent and be baptized. Repent simply means to change one’s mind(set) or thinking. Repentance is always required as we seek to respond to the truth and movements of God. Peter also tells them to be baptized. This is more than just being dipped or sprinkled with water. The baptism ceremony is an sign of a reality in our lives and hearts—that reality is our choice to be immersed in intimacy with Jesus through relationship and in the body of Christ, the Church, as we do life together with one another. The promise Peter gives is that the listeners will receive the Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s presence in the lives of believers is not something we earn or have to conjure up; it’s a gift of grace given to all those who turn to God in repentance and are immersed in relationship with God and God’s people in community.
- The result was a radical and generative community, fully devoted in self-giving love and care for one another. There are lots of things to notice about their devotion—take note of what they were devoted to and how they expressed their devotion. The thing that strikes me most is that it was all organic and unprescribed. We often need rule and law to tell us to give and share, gather and pray, love and care. But there were no laws demanding this—this was their natural (reasonable, even – Romans 12:2) response to the Good News and the gift they’d received. They were caught up in the love of God and thus drawn into God’s love for those around them.
“God is authoring a revolution through a series of holy interruptions.”
Do you find yourself resisting change and transformation? If yes, why? How does the good news of the Kingdom of God (the Gospel, that God is bringing forth a New Creation) encourage you to desire and participate in God’s transformative work? In what specific ways is God inviting you (and your community) to be transformed in this season? What practical steps of obedience can you take in that direction?