April 6, Monday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional is provided by Cami King who servs as associate pastor at Remnant Church in Manhattan.  She is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“What Is God Actually Doing?”

Acts 2:22-24, 36-39

“‘Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him . . . 36 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.’”

rebekah-baines-41sErK-Xkz8-unsplashOver the years, I’ve noticed a repeated trope in the Church (both in Scripture and in present day): Folks who identify themselves as the people of God or followers of Jesus are inclined to miss (misidentify or ignore) what God is doing in their present time. And, it’s only after the fact, when they find themselves under God’s judgment (1 Pet. 4:17) or when their descendants look back, that the error is identified (and occasionally corrected). And the few, like the prophets, who are aware of what God is doing at the time—well, things don’t end so well for them (e.g., Jeremiah/Jer. 38:6).

In the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) we read story after story of God’s personal revelation to the descendants of Abraham, oddly coupled with their continued confusion about what God is like and who God is calling them to be. They get hung up on technicalities of the law when God is instead inviting them to build a just world (Mic. 6:8). They focus on religious rituals (Mk. 7:5-13), when God is calling for acts of love and mercy to both neighbor and stranger. They look for ways to build empires and kingdoms in the world, when God is inviting them into loving community that transcends this world. God sent numerous prophets to signal a large-scale redemptive work, and yet when Jesus came, most were confused about the nature of his ministry, of salvation, and of the Kingdom of God (Lk. 24:21). The history of the Church (our history) tells a very similar story.

We are inundated with woefully unhelpful and often irresponsible speculations about the times in which we are living, particularly within charismatic and evangelical church spaces. There is a temptation to spend more time arguing about things that are deeply subjective and nonessential and speculating about things we literally can’t know (Acts 1:7-8, Matt. 24:36), than we spend actually practicing what we already do know (Mic. 6:8; Isa. 58:6). And in so doing, I wonder if we miss what God is up to in our time and inadvertently reject an invitation to get involved (Matt. 16:2-3).

What is the nature of the redemptive work God is doing in the world? How is the Spirit that work doing that work right now today (in our neighborhoods or cities)? How is God inviting us to get involved?

Bible Reading for Today: Acts 6


Lunch Break Study

Read Acts 2:14-21: Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

Question to Consider

  1. What do you learn from these verses about what God is doing “in the last days”?  What do they teach us about the nature of the Kingdom of God and His plan for the world?
  2. What is God’s ultimate mission or goal in these verses (v. 21)?
  3. How do these verses speak to you (encourage and/or challenge)? How might you respond in faithfulness to God’s work in the world.

Notes

  1. God’s work is Spirit-empowered and done through the Church. The Spirit of God is empowering individual believers to bring forth the Kingdom of God as they do life together in community. This is done as believers prophesy (see as God sees and speak accordingly), dream dreams (of life in the Kingdom of God) and see visions (of God’s wisdom for our present time). These verses teach us that God’s Kingdom and God’s work in the world is available to all people (vs. 17). God’s Spirit is doesn’t discriminate but moves powerfully through any willing participant. The intentional naming of specific groups makes this point clear.  The mention of sons and daughters eliminates limitations based on gender. The mention of young and old eliminates limitations based on age. And the mention of servants eliminates limitations based on class or social status. All are invited into the Kingdom and all can be empowered by the Spirit to do God’s work in the world.   
  2. Salvation is available to all who will come because God’s goal is to save the world and redeem all of Creation.
  3. Maybe you don’t feel empowered by the Holy Spirit. Maybe you’re not sure God can work through you. Maybe you’re learning for the first time that God’s Spirit can move powerfully through all people. Maybe you’ve become distracted or disconnected from God’s work in the world. Wherever you are, ask God to speak to you in light of the passage above.

Evening Reflection

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Tonight, we’ll end the day reflecting on the final segment of this passage: 2:46-47:

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. (Acts 2:42-47)

What do you think it means for believers to be together and have everything in common? What, if anything, keeps you from this kind of radical togetherness? How can you live out the heart of these verses in your present context?

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