Luke 5:24 (NLT) Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”
Acts 9:34 (NLT) Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you! Get up, and roll up your sleeping mat!” And he was healed instantly.
“Luke and Acts are two volumes of one long story, and in the second volume, the Book of Acts, Luke shows that the church continues much of what Jesus began. Jesus’ ministry in the Gospel of Luke serves as the model for ministry in Acts. By emphasizing that the same Spirit who empowered Jesus empowers his followers, Luke reminds us that Christ’s body has the same kind of empowerment Jesus had in his earthly ministry.” (Craig Keener, Gift and Giver)
Just as Jesus did in Capernaum and just as Peter did in Joppa, now we are called to be [your name] in [your campus/city]. It’s our turn now in 2021 to say to the Aeneas’ on our campuses “Jesus Christ heals you!” and to the Tabitha’s in our workplaces “Get up!” Because it is the same Spirit who empowers his church today, let’s believe and anticipate that the Lord will use us in extraordinary ways.
Prayer: “Heavenly Father, in humble obedience and dependence, may you use me to bring your death-to-life power to my family and friends. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”
Let’s worship to “Wellspring” by Leeland (click here)
Acts 9:41-43 (NIV) He took [Tabitha] by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive. This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.
Tabitha’s account ends with an interesting tidbit – “Peter stays in Joppa, living with Simon the tanner.” The significance becomes more clear as we realize that to the Jewish people, a tanner was practically an outcast since Jewish law regarded the work as defiling. That Peter would stay with a tanner “for some time” tells a story about how the gospel had reshaped his life and priorities. This is the same Peter who once betrayed Jesus. There was a time when he used to do things his own way, following his own preferences and priorities. But that was not the end of Peter’s story.
Now here in Joppa, we find Peter as one who has been restored and healed by Jesus, each day growing and learning to say “yes” to Jesus. “Staying with a tanner” means the old preferences and priorities no longer matter anymore. Peter now humbly recognizes that any effective ministry must begin with obedience to Jesus’ way.
Prayer: “Heavenly Father, may we be totally open to the work of the gospel in our lives. May the Lord grow in us gospel-shaped character and priorities, where our ministry and evangelism always begins with obedience to the Lord’s way. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”
Let’s worship to “Hymn of Surrender” by Matt Redman (click here)
Luke 8:49-50 (NIV) While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher anymore.
Acts 9:37-38 (NIV) About that time [Tabitha] became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!”
The Tabitha story begins with men urgently sent from the church in Joppa to retrieve Peter. The account parallels closely with Luke 8 but differs in a noteworthy way. In Luke, the young girl dies while Jesus is en route and a messenger is sent to tell Jesus he no longer needs to come. For them, death was the end. Their response is emblematic of the natural expectations of this broken world. But because of the gospel, the church community in Joppa was different. Death was not the end! They had new default expectations and an urgent faith that included the possibility that the Lord could work in extraordinary ways.
Today, we too are the community that has been saved and reshaped by the gospel. As we meet for small groups and Dive-Ins this week, let us not get stuck in old expectations. Let’s believe together that God is actively working in our midst and is ready to meet us in extraordinary ways.
Prayer: “Heavenly Father, renew in us an urgent faith as we meet together this week. Come in power! In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”
Let’s worship to “Same Jesus” by Matt Redman (click here)
Let’s read aloud together the following passage, confession and prayer:
Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV) Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Manila Manifesto Twenty-One Affirmations (selections)
10. We affirm that the Holy Spirit’s witness to Christ is indispensable to evangelism, and that without this supernatural work neither new birth nor new life is possible.
11. We affirm that spiritual warfare demands spiritual weapons, and that we must both preach the Word in the power of the Spirit, and pray constantly that we may enter into Christ’s victory over the principalities and powers of evil.
12. We affirm that God has committed to the whole church and every member of it the task of making Christ known throughout the world; we long to see all lay and ordained persons mobilized and trained for this task.
13. We affirm that we who claim to be members of the body of Christ must transcend within our fellowship the barriers of race, gender, and class.
14. We affirm that the gifts of the Spirit are distributed to all God’s people, women and men, and that their partnership in evangelization must be welcomed for the common good.
15. We affirm that we who proclaim the gospel must exemplify it in a life of holiness and love; otherwise our testimony loses its credibility.
16. We affirm that every Christian congregation must turn itself outward to its local community in evangelistic witness and compassionate service.
Prayer: “Heavenly Father, we answer your call to proclaim and demonstrate the gospel in our campuses and cities. Empower us with your Spirit as we bring the good news to our friends, neighbors, and families. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”
Let’s worship to “God of Revival” by Phil Wickham (click here)
Acts 9:40-41 (NIV) Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up.
On October 20, 2006 Jeff Markin died of a heart attack. Chauncey Crandall prays over the dead body and Markin is miraculously brought back to life. Crandall shares the following:
I heard this voice say “Turn around and pray for that man.” And I wanted to ignore that voice because I said to myself, “How can I pray for that man? He’s dead, he’s gone, there’s no life in him.” But I stopped and thought to myself, I need to honor the Lord. I don’t know how to pray for a dead man, I’ve never done it before, but I will pray ‘in the name of Jesus’ and it will be up to the Lord. So I walked into that room and I started to pray. I didn’t know what to pray but the Holy Spirit gave me the words.
In the face of the impossible deep holes of need the church is called to step into, may we see that Peter’s response is the only appropriate one – to kneel down and pray. Peter’s prayer helps us see that God’s power is less about capability and more about availability. The truth is, none of us are capable. But as we come in humble dependence, we become trustworthy vessels available for the Lord to use. How is the Lord calling you to pray for someone today?
Prayer: “Lord, in humble obedience, I surrender to the Spirit’s leading. I am available. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”
Let’s worship to “We Could Change the World” by Matt Redman (click here).