Devotions for April 4-10, 2016
Monday, April 4, 2016
“Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer” (Acts 3:1).
Jeremy wasn’t very consistent in his worship attendance. He’d get up and go to a Sunday service if there wasn’t anything better to do or he didn’t want to sleep in. To tell the truth, Jeremy wasn’t very regular in other religious activities such as prayer, meditation or the reading of scripture. Jeremy didn’t really think all of that stuff mattered. His faith was between him and God—it was personal. The institutional church and its religious trappings were not important. Occasionally Jeremy would wonder why God seemed so distant and uninvolved in his life
The disciples walked with Jesus but they never stopped practicing their faith as pious Jews. They attended synagogue services with Jesus and when in Jerusalem they went to the temple at the appropriate hour for prayer. The disciples understood that those religious practices honored God and nurtured their faith. As disciples of Jesus our faith is more than personal and though it is a gift, faith should not be taken for granted.
Precious Lord, you have gathered us into a relationship with you. May we never neglect or take our relationship with you for granted. Amen.
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
“People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple” (Acts 3:2).
You see them everywhere but you don’t want to see them. They hold up signs at intersections that tell us of their plight and ask us for our help. We don’t know what to do. Usually we drive away and try to think of something else. Our attempts to ignore the homelessness, hunger, poverty and need are in vain. There are reminders everywhere.
The people of Jesus’ day preferred not to think about other people’s needs, too. Because of this friends of a lame man would carry him to the gates of the temple so that he could beg. They wanted people to see the man and respond to his need.
We have been blessed to be a blessing. We can’t do everything but we can do something.
Loving God, reveal to us how we can use our blessings to serve others and meet their needs. Amen.
Wednesday, April 6, 2016
“But Peter said, ‘I have no silver or gold’” (Acts 3:6).
Sometimes money isn’t the answer. It is easy for us to drop a few extra dollars into the collection plate or write a check to help out with a specific need or ministry. We think that covers us; that’s all we need to do. We smugly walk away pleased that we were able to respond to a need and thankful we didn’t need to get more involved. At other times we may not have the financial resources to respond to a need. We pass the plate to the person beside us, in such situations, and tell ourselves that we might be able to help next time.
As a busy professional woman Jazel Jenkins found it all too easy to write a check when a need presented itself. Other people saw Jazel as a very generous person. Jazel knew she couldn’t just write a check when asked to help a young family whose wife/mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She decided that she could help the family by cooking an occasional meal and by scheduling to spend a couple of hours each week on their household chores.
Peter and John didn’t have money. If they did they too might have been tempted simply to drop a few coins in the beggars bowl. Even though they didn’t have money, the man was still in need. Peter and John responded to that need.
God of abundance, forgive us when we convince ourselves that money is the solution to all the needs we see. Amen.
Thursday, April 7, 2016
“’But what I have I give to you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth stand up and walk’” (Acts 3:6).
Peter and John didn’t have money to give to the lame man. In truth, the man needed more than their money. Money would have been only a short-term solution for the beggar. His friends would have needed to bring him to the temple’s gate again the following day. Peter and John did have what the lame man needed. In a show of miraculous, divine power the man was healed. His needs were entirely met.
A demonstration of intense, miraculous, divine power may not be in our near future, but we do have the ability to minister to the needs of others. The Holy Spirit has been given to us and as members of the Body of Christ great things can be accomplished through us. We can bring healing as did Peter and James. In fact the reality that our work takes patience, tenacity and steadfast love may make it an even greater demonstration of miraculous and divine power.
Holy Spirit, use us and demonstrate your power so that God may be glorified. Amen.
“Jumping up, he stood and began to walk” (Acts 3:8a)
It had been several months since the car accident. Maria had spent those months recovering from her significant injuries. Her legs and back needed to be repaired and healed. When enough healing had taken place, Maria needed to learn to walk again. Until then she was confined to a wheelchair. The day came, though, when she was able to lock the wheels of the chair, stand up and walk. Taking her first steps Maria knew that she was free once again.
In the gospel of John Jesus proclaims that if he makes a person free, that person is totally free (8:36). The lame man was healed and he was made free. Certainly he was free from the pallet on which he sat and was carried. He was also free of his total dependency on others. He was free from the judgment and the ridicule of others and the lame man was free to worship.
We may be able to walk but that may not indicate that we are totally free. Like the lame man, the Holy Spirit may need to move in our lives and free us from everything that confines and burdens us.
Mighty Lord, set us free so that we may be free to serve. Amen.
Saturday, April 9, 2016
“He entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God” (Acts 3:8b).
Ever since he had been crippled, the man had been unable to enter the temple. Certainly, he could pray, but he couldn’t join the community in worship. His healing enabled him to once again enter the temple. The man was walking and leaping because his weak limbs had been made strong. One of the beggar’s first actions was to enter the temple, to join the community in worship and to praise the Lord for his healing.
Our days are filled with miracles both great and small. Often we discount them as miracles and sometimes we aren’t even aware of the miracles that the Lord is accomplishing in our lives. We have ample reasons, though, to join the lame man in walking, leaping and praising God. If nothing else, we have experienced the miracles of faith and grace and we have been touched by the love of God. Alleluia! Praise the Lord.
Loving God, we praise you for your great works in our lives and in our world. Amen.
Sunday, April 10, 2016
“They were filled with wonder and amazement at what happened to him” (Acts 3:10).
A young husband, wife and three children were members of a small congregation where seventy people worshiped on any given Sunday. A shock ran through the entire congregation when the husband was diagnosed with brain cancer. His prognosis was not good. The other members of the congregation rallied around the family. They provided childcare and tutoring, chauffeur service to and from treatments and doctors appointments, emotional support and lots and lots of food. Through bake sales, car washes, auctions and individual donations the small congregation raised over fifteen thousand dollars to help with medical bills. Friends, neighbors and co-workers of the family along with community residents were “filled with wonder and amazement” at the love of the congregation and what God was doing through them.
It is easy to think that people are only impressed with great miracles, but this is not true. People can be filled with wonder and amazement at simple acts of love. The Holy Spirit moves in many ways to meet the needs of people and to create the gift of faith in them.
Wonderful Lord, may people see you in our words and actions and may you draw them to yourself. Amen.