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August 2014 Issue

The Book of Acts: Mission through Church and Spirit

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Devotion for Monday, Aug. 4, 2014

Early Opposition

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God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. Acts 4:33–34

A wise man once said, “Your character is determined not only by what you do, but how you respond to what is done to you.” Sometimes our response provides the most powerful testimony to the kind of person we are.

Look at the responses we see in today’s reading. First, there was the response of the Sanhedrin. Confronted with a miraculous healing and a powerful proclamation about Jesus, the Jewish leadership arrested Peter and John and threw them into prison. Despite all the evidence before them, they refused to believe in the saving power of the resurrected Christ. More than that, they stubbornly refused to yield to God’s work through the Apostles. Their response showed them to be hardened to the Spirit of God.

Peter and John’s response was also illuminating. Despite the harsh treatment they received, they spoke to the Sanhedrin with boldness and truth. Jesus, whom the religious leaders had crucified but whom God had raised from the dead, was the very means of God’s salvation and no one else! When challenged and told to stop their continued preaching, the Apostles stood firm: “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges!”(v. 19). Even after being set free, they returned to the other believers and immediately prayed to God for continued strength for boldness in word and deed. Their response showed their faith in Christ and His power.

Finally, we see God’s character through His response to the believers’ prayers. He sent His Spirit to empower them to preach the resurrection of Christ. And with “God’s grace powerfully at work in them all” (v. 33), the body of Christ continued to grow in love and service to one another. God’s response showed His continued presence and provision for His people.

Apply the Word

How might you respond to the apparent needs in the body of Christ? Look for ways this week to care for others. Visit an elderly shut-in or sick patient in the hospital. Call that person who just experienced a loss. Or provide something tangible for a family struggling in unemployment. Whatever you do, respond as an expression of Christ’s love this week.

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