Week 5, Day 1
January 31, 2022
Scripture: Acts 5
“The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.” (Acts 5:41–42)
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:2–3)
Nothing will stand in the way of the Apostles from proclaiming Jesus.
Acts 5 is the wonderful reminder of why we can face trials with joy. Gamaliel is a great observer of recent history. He tells the Sanhedrin that they have seen many times the rise and inevitable fall of would-be messiahs. He essentially calls them all flash-in-the-pan messiahs. Here shortly gaining a quick following and then they are gone, never to be heard of again.
He considers that this Jesus may be another one, saying, “leave them alone and let this Jesus phase fizzle out.”
Well, the Gospel of Jesus is still being announced today. People are still suffering for the Lord. People are still experiencing life change and experiencing the peace of knowing Jesus. The message of Jesus is still spreading today.
We go on in our lives as Christians affirming what Peter and the Apostles believed with all their heart and were willing to endure great suffering for:
“Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”” (Acts 5:29–32)
The message that Jesus is Lord and Savior is still being proclaimed today. May it continue in us, each day. Jesus lives and reigns as King.
God be with you,
Week 4, Day 5
January 28, 2022
Scripture: Acts 4
These first several chapters of Acts track out the changes that have occurred in the life of Peter. He has gone from embarrassed and ashamed denier of Christ, to one of Jesus’ greatest and boldest advocates. Consider the guilt and shame we see in Peter towards the end of Luke’s Gospel, to where he is now as a bold proclaimer of Christ. The change is quite remarkable.
There is an even greater change, one that comes in the hearts of people who believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Their lives have become one. They care for and meet the needs of one another. No one is in need. Consider the remarkable change it takes for people to think outside of themselves, trust in God and care for the needs of people. It’s a lot!
This incredible change is something that is needed still today. Those 1st Century folks didn’t walk with Jesus as Peter did. They were at the mercy of the accounts of the Apostles. We have this in common with them. We need the Apostles teaching too. We listen to them, as they tell us who Jesus is and what he has done.
How will we respond to Peter’s message? Will we trust in their message? Will we care for one another with boldness and great faith?
Will we claim Jesus as both our Lord and Messiah, no matter the consequences?
We affirm and believe today that there is no other name given that can save. His name is Jesus.
God bless, have a great day!
Week 4, Day 4
January 27, 2022
A poor lame beggar asks for money from the Apostles.
Peter offers him something better. He offers him new life in Jesus Christ.
In my own life, I have a tendency to ask for the wrong things, when what I should be reaching out to God for is true life in Jesus.
I often want my physical circumstances to be improved. I can make ministry about meeting physical, financial emotional needs.
When I minister to others, this is a good reminder that I can rely on the many resources at my disposal to help people. That's all well and good. But the most important thing I can offer anyone is Jesus Christ. He brings the true help. He has the power to change circumstances. I can alleviate pain for a moment. Jesus has the power to go to the source.
We can focus too often on the resources available to us to bless and help people. A very good thing, indeed, but the most important thing is to give people Jesus.
Week 4, Day 3
January 26, 2022
Scripture: Acts 2
The Church begins.
The Spirit descends and empowers the Apostles to go and do the work that Christ has set out for them. The Spirit empowers Peter to stand before a great crowd of people that is made up many different nations. They all hear the Good News in a coherent voice. “This Jesus, whom you crucified, is both Lord and Messiah.”
This sermon changed the world. Thousands of people responded, “What is it that we need to do?”
Peter calls them towards repentance and baptism.
That is still our response today. What do we do with the news that Jesus is the Messiah and Lord?
We turn to God and enter into the baptism waters.
We do this for forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
And from there, the people leave changed. They have entirely new set of priorities and understanding of the world. They meet together frequently for the reading of scripture, prayer, and the breaking of bread.
Their lives are fused together through an understanding of who Jesus is, what he has done and who they are now because of it.
They have glad and sincere hearts. They meet one another’s needs. They sell what they have and give to the poor among them.
They become the Church.
Pray that this vision of the church would be renewed in your heart today. Let’s continue meeting together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God. Let’s break bread together. Let’s care for each other’s needs.
Turn your heart towards God, repent and be baptized.
Practice forgiveness and walk in the Spirit.
Let’s lift our voice to God together today and ask of him, “Lord, renew your church to be this beautiful community of King Jesus.”
Have a wonderful day,
Week 4, Day 2
January 25, 2022
Scripture: Acts 1
You will be my witnesses.
Today’s encouragement is a reminder that we are called to share in the hope of Jesus. Before it ever goes beyond the walls of Jerusalem, the power of the resurrection and the hope of the kingdom rests on the disciples. Only then, do they go out and share with others the hope. Only after the Spirit of God descends, does it now empower them to share the hope of a new life in Christ.
Take time today, to share in the hope of Jesus.
When Jesus appeared to the Apostles over the course of those forty days, he spoke to them about the Kingdom of God. Of all the things to discuss, he spends it sharing with them the dominant theme of his teaching before the crucifixion & resurrection.
The resurrection of Jesus and life they now have in the Kingdom captivates the lives of the Apostles. The rest of their life will be committed to sharing the Good News of the resurrection of the Kingdom.
This message would go from Jerusalem, to Judea, to Samaria, to the ends of the earth. It’s the outline of Acts, as the message spreads.
This story is about more than the crucifixion and resurrection. It is sealed and affirmed by Jesus’ ascension. We don’t speak nearly enough of the ascension. It is the final assurance that Jesus is King. He is now at the right hand of God.
This Jesus is Lord and King.
Go and be his witness today!
Week 4, Day 1
January 24, 2022
Scripture Mark 16
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. (Mark 16:6)
He is risen.
Please consider with me the power and importance of the resurrection of Jesus. We are obviously aware that Jesus rose from the dead, but sometimes I think we forget its importance.
Jesus is greater than death.
The implication of this is that Jesus is greater than death for all of us. Taking on the sins of all creation, he is in a position to offer life to all of creation.
The power of evil, darkness, sin and death is all conquered through the victory of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
The rest of the New Testament will be making sense of this new reality. The book of Acts, in part, will be about sharing this incredible news of the resurrection of Jesus, as well as forming a community around it. The message shared with be about the resurrected Lord, and forming our lives around the new reality of King Jesus, resurrected and ascended.
As we look forward to reading the book of Acts, we should be considering today, how is my life shaped by the reality that Jesus is greater than sin and death? How do I live in light of the resurrection? What priorities have changed in my life because of this truth?
With these questions and more, we are ready for the day. We are set to face the fears, challenges and discouragements of life with the greatest of hope. Jesus is Risen!
Week 3, Day 5
January 21, 2022
Scripture: Mark 15
There were two Jesus’ up for release that day. Jesus Barabbas and Jesus of Nazareth. The crowd was given the option to choose the Jesus they wanted.
The crowd chose Jesus Barabbas. They chose the insurrectionist, rebellious murderer.
Over the peace bringing Savior, Jesus of Nazareth.
Who will we choose?
To choose Jesus of Nazareth, is to choose a way of love, peace, forgiveness. When we choose him, we will see this Jesus for who he truly is, “the Son of God.”
God bless, have a great day!
Week 3, Day 4
January 20, 2022
Scripture: Mark 14
Mark 14 contains the betrayal of Jesus. It is not only Judas’ betrayal, but another betrayal by Peter. Peter disowns Jesus by disavowing knowledge and association with him.
Jesus is cursed as a blasphemer, and betrayed beyond his companions, but by an entire crowd.
We of course know the rest of the story, but try to keep that in the back of your mind for a moment. Mark has been prompting us all along, especially in chapters 8-10, that the Son of Man would be betrayed and killed, and on the third day he would raise form the dead. Peter denied this too, and didn’t understand.
No matter how much foundation is laid for this very moment, the betrayals still sting. How could those who walked with him turn from him now? For those who participated in the feeding of thousands of people, or witness the raising from the dead, or healing of the paralyzed, how can you deny him? For those who have witnesses first hand restoration of sight for the blind, how can they now turn a blind eye to Christ as Messiah?
It holds true: To error is human. Judas, Peter, and others, turn from Jesus. We all have.
What we will soon see is that this is one more act of restoration and healing on the part of Jesus. This is one more act on behalf of not one, but all of creation to bring healing and help. This will be Jesus, not just raising Lazarus, or a child, but an act that will make way for all to be raised to new life.
For now, as we rest on Mark 14 for today, may this passage stir in us a hope in the power of God. He is greater than our sin. Greater than our betrayals. He is mighty to Save.
Week 3, Day 3
January 19, 2022
Scripture: Mark 13
Mark 13 stands as one of the more confusing chapters in the Bible. We get that this is likely Jesus predicting that the temple will be destroyed. That happens, and the prophecy is fulfilled in the year AD 70.
This generation would have seen all of this unfold, and this was at least a partial fulfillment of what Jesus was explaining to his disciples. But from there, we run into problems. There’s no simple solution to all the questions from this chapter. Verse 26 and 27 seem to point to a greater fulfillment of the Son of Man coming in the clouds. And then later he says, “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.”
Then Jesus himself says that only the Father knows when this will take place. Not even the Son knows.
So, there is some level of relief on our part that we don’t need to know all of the answers. But there is something clear from the text: “Be alert and on guard!”
Jesus calls his disciples to be alert and ready for the day to come in which the Son of Man will come and set the world to rights.
We could spend countless hours studying and making sense of Mark 13, and still probably get it mostly wrong. I don’t want to discourage the study of Eschatology and the end times. But the ambiguous nature of things in this text, is for a purpose. It’s a call to alertness and readiness.
Jesus is coming, we don’t know when. Are you ready? Are you looking forward to his return?
He is coming soon!
Week 3, Day 2
January 18, 2022
Scriptures: Mark 12
“Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offering were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything==all she had to live on.”
What a gift.
Jesus is teaching his disciples to notice the important things. What’s most important is the trust in God that is on display in this gift. We can all give what we are comfortable with. But she gives out of her poverty. She shows complete trust in God.
I need this encouragement and reminder to look towards what is the best and most important gift. Do I trust in God? Is my giving a reflection of that trust?
Something to think about!
Jordan Ickes, Minister of Etna Green Church of Christ.