Acts 4:33 NIV – With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all…
This verse is fascinating in how it describes the ministry of the apostles. The Greek word for great here is “mega.” There was mega-power and mega-grace going on. Notice that the mega-power centered on their testimony of the resurrection. What might be distinctive about this idea “great power”? This term is reminiscent of God’s great power in Exodus and Deuteronomy of delivering Israel from the hands of Egypt. Interestingly, just before this passage in 4:23-31, the church had prayed for God to stretch out his arm to heal and bring signs and wonders, which were also terms used for Israel’s experience in Egypt and in the wilderness. The Lord was now working a new exodus in the church, through the proclamation of the resurrection.
God’s mega-power is at work when we as his church testify to Christ’s resurrection. Our resurrection faith is worked out and expressed in a dying world. The mega-power of God delivers people from the power structures that enslave them. God’s mega-power is at work now delivering a new generation!
Today, let’s remember how the Lord has delivered us by worshiping to the song “Glorious Day” by Passion (Click here).
As you do, pray: “Lord, empower and equip me to testify of the Jesus’ resurrection today. Stretch out your hand of deliverance in the lives of those around me! In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Romans 10:9-10 NIV – If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
It is interesting that in Romans 10:9-10, we see that Jesus’ death on the cross is understood implicitly, but faith is expressed as believing that God raised him from the dead. The Gospel is the full story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. The gospel we believe and proclaim must always include the resurrection, without which, as we read for our confession 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, we would have believed in vain, that is we would have believed for nothing.
Note in this passage the future tense “you will be saved”. This is where “Resurrection Faith” starts. We well remember the moment when we were saved, or for those given faith at a young age, we remember well the foundation of our lives. But salvation is past, present, and future. Resurrection faith produces hope for present and future salvation – imminent in our daily living, and also for eternity as we await Jesus’ return.
Today, may our hearts be renewed in the Easter resurrection reality. Let’s pray: “Jesus, I profess that you alone are Lord of my life. Give me resurrection faith today to live wholeheartedly for you.“
Let’s close by singing, “Christ Is Risen” by Phil Wickham (Click here).
John 1:50-51 NIV – Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”
“The subject, object, and content of Christian hope is a person, Jesus Christ. Christians do not hope for things, but in a person.” [Jacqui A. Stewart, “The Certainty of Our Future Hope in Karl Barth’s Theology”]
“All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.” (Ephesians 1.20-23 MSG)
Prayer: Jesus, you are our Hope. Lead us, guide us, every day in light of where you are taking us. We want to stay close to you every moment. In your name, amen.
John 1:48-49 NIV – Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”
How quickly Nathanael has changed his tune! A moment ago, he scoffed, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Now he’s declaring Jesus, the Son of God! Why? Because Jesus saw him “under the fig tree”? But what does this expression mean?
Read these Old Testament passages that prophesy about a time when God would send the Savior: “But they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid” (Micah 4.4); “On that day, says the LORD… you shall invite each other to come under your vine and fig tree.” (Zechariah 3.10); “The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up… a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king… In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety.” (Jeremiah 23.5-6)
Under his fig tree, Nathanael’s been hoping for the Savior to come. Jesus revealed, in a way that was meaningful to Nathanael, that He is “the Branch” sent by God… the Son of God, king of Israel, bringing salvation and safety, and even more than he ever hoped for.
Prayer: Lord, our Savior and King, lead us toward even greater things! In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s sing “Living Hope” (Phil Wickham)(Click here):
John 1:47-48 NIV – When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”
“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.
“We ought also to gather from this passage a useful doctrine, that when we are not thinking of Christ, we are observed by him; and it is necessary that it should be so, that he may bring us back, when we have wandered from the right path.” [J. Calvin, Commentary on John]
Something about Jesus’ words made Nathanael stop in his tracks. It might not seem that significant to us, but for Nathanael, it struck a chord. All of a sudden, he’s backtracking in his mind, thinking, “Maybe something good can come from Nazareth!” Actually, not just “something good,” but maybe the most-good thing conceivable—God’s Savior, our King!
Hope is not just our outlook on the future. Optimists believe life is what you make it. Pessimists don’t seem to care. Doomsday activists are sounding the alarm on the latest conspiracy. Christian hope is not about deciphering the future. All of history is moving toward the second advent of Jesus. Hope has come to us. He has been observing us. He knows us better than we know ourselves. And now he has come to personally accompany us toward his coming glory. Our hope is not in some distant future… Hope is with us!
Prayer: Lord, we have nothing to fear because you are with us. Our Savior, our King, our Hope! You are with us! In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s sing “Better than Life” (Phil Wickham)(Click here):
John 1:46 NIV – “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.
“Come and see,” said Philip.
As Christians, rather than hoping for things or outcomes, we are to “meet Hope as a person.” This miraculous personal encounter with Jesus gives us our life’s calling—hope. It’s easy to become dismissive of things that sound too good to be true. After all, who wants to be known as being gullible?
What’s wrong with Nazareth? Did it have a bad reputation? Did Nathanael come from a rival town? Has he heard this “sales pitch” before? Why dismiss this possibility outright? We’re not sure. But what we do know is that this know-it-all attitude nearly cost Nathanael an encounter of a lifetime. Thankfully his feet didn’t refuse the invitation to “come and see.”
In retrospect, Nathanael himself probably couldn’t explain why he accepted Philip’s challenge. But something drew him inexplicably, irresistibly. It’s only through the Spirit’s leading and power that we can find this life’s hope, Jesus.
Can anything good come from waking up early for morning prayer meeting? Can anything good come from spending thirty minutes reading God’s word in the middle of a busy day? Can anything good come from fasting to seek God’s direction? Can anything good come from joining a small group and being accountable to other Christians? Can anything good come from giving generously to those who are undeserving? Come and see…
Prayer: Lord, fill me, lead me, guide me with your Spirit. In Jesus’ name, amen.
You can use this track to help you pray for the Spirit’s filling and sing “Holy Spirit” (Jesus Culture) (Click here):
John 1:43-45 NIV – The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”
Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
Take a moment to situate the story of Nathanael’s encounter with Jesus within the context of John chapter 1 as a whole. You can listen to the entire chapter here (Click here):
How does John 1 begin? Does this have any bearing on Nathanael’s encounter with Jesus that comes at the end of the chapter?
Jesus is on a mission… since the beginning of Creation and even beyond… Jesus is on a mission to find those who are hopeless, cynical, ignorant or falsely optimistic. Hope came looking for us! Take a moment to be in awe of Jesus and his great love for you.
Prayer: Lord, You reached for us from on heaven’s throne when we had no hope! Thank you for finding us! In Jesus’ name, amen.
Romans 8:22-23, 26-27 NIV – We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
John Piper says this: “Nothing in us, or in the nature of the world required that God would go beyond all redeeming, forgiving, rescuing, healing love to this extreme—namely, to an adopting love. A love that will not settle for a truce, or a formal gratitude, or distant planet of material pleasure, but will press all the way in to make you a child of God. A member of the family.” Our Father’s love presses all the way into us.
We are children of God, which is a permanent status, no longer abandoned, but transformed by the power of the Spirit!
Prayer: Lord, as your perfect love presses all the way into us, may we live in this new reality as children of God by the Spirit! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Romans 8:14-17 NIV – For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
We all need this supernatural love. We need it poured out, lavished upon in our lives through the Spirit over and over again. The Spirit groans in us and by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies that we are God’s children. This is who we are!
As the theologian NT Wright puts it, we are playing a whole “different piece of music now…even if our fingers slip sometimes and play some wrong notes, notes that belong to the music we used to play, that doesn’t mean we are going back to play that old music for real once more.”
Let’s worship to “Love Like Fire” by Hillsong Worship (Click here).
Prayer: By your Spirit, we cry Abba, Father! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Psalm 27:10 NLT – Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close.
“Rocky childhood but big God…He loved me and knew me and could redeem me and restore me…the template wasn’t amazing, but God is so big and so kind…we are overcomers and overcoming…by the grace of God…through the Holy Spirit.”
“We are not intended to be like our earthly fathers and mothers. The hurts we’ve experienced are real, but [it] is no longer our identity, what we hold on to, because of God’s grace and love. To live otherwise is to deny that truth.”
[Beth and Matt Redman]
We no longer need to be defined by our past hurts, our past failures, or even present hurts and failures. We no longer need to look left and right, or grasp for the imperfect, fleeting “love” that this world puts on display. We aren’t defined by broken families or abusive situations. We no longer need to be defined by whatever “template” we think we are constrained to. This is the truth that you and I live in because our Father in heaven has loved us so. We overcome by, in and through: BY the grace of God, IN our Father’s Love (“lavished” upon as in our adoption), THROUGH the Holy Spirit.
Let’s worship to the song “Living Hope” by Phil Wickham (Click here).
Prayer: Lord, thank you for holding us close. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.