Welcome to Orange Friends Church weekly Devotions. As believers in Christ we are devoted to discipleship. That is to say, we wish to be growing in our relationship with God and to see others come to know Christ and to grow as they follow Him. Being followers of Jesus Christ means we want to know where He is going, what His heartbeat is, and how we can serve Him more and better. Time spent with God is essential for this growth to occur. Devotional time has been practiced by followers of Jesus for 2000 years. This is the discipline of taking just a few moments throughout your week to read, reflect, and pray. I hope that we can provide a road map for you for these times with God so that you may experience Him in a deeper way.
Each week we will provide four days to set aside for your devotional time. If this is a new practice for you or if you have not done devotions in awhile let me make some suggestions. First, set a time and place. This sounds simple but it is essential for success. Devotions take focus. Find a time and place where you have few interruptions and when you will not be hurried or thinking about your next task. Most devotions can be done in 15 to 20 minutes, although some find that they spend a much longer time. No matter how much time you have, the important thing is to seek a meaningful connection with God.
These devotions will be based on the sermons that will be coming up each Sunday. Take a few minutes at the beginning of your time to ask the Holy Spirit to speak to your spirit. I hope that your time spent with the Lord will prepare you for the Word being preached on Sunday morning.
Finally, relax and enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit. I hope that this is the beginning of a life-long habit or the encouragement for an existing habit as your heart seeks after the heart of the One who loves you beyond measure! Enjoy His presence! Enjoy His Grace!
In His Grip,
P.S. Some of you are gifted in writing and preparing devotional material like this. If you believe that you may enjoy this, consider joining our writing team. Shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just Go: Acts Chapter 1-2 (May 27-June 2)
This week we will begin the exploration of the book of Acts which was likely written by the same Luke who also authored the Gospel of Luke. Chapters one and two highlight Jesus’ time with his disciples after his resurrection and his ascension into heaven. The crux of Acts occurs in chapter two when the disciples receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
For those of you who worked through the Romans sermon series devotions last summer, you will notice that I am doing things slightly different this time around. Each week, I want to start off by setting the stage for the week’s coming scripture. I desire to be personal and share a piece of my heart with you each week in hopes that it sets your thoughts and mind right to receive God’s Word.
This week I want to start off by speaking about faith and how we as followers of Christ should read the Bible. The good news is that as believers we are not required to have directly witnessed Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection to have faith. Hebrews 11:1 says that, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (ESV). This is not to say however, that our faith as Christians is to be blind. Though the object of our faith may be invisible (Jesus Christ), God has presented us with tangible evidence of that object through resources such as the eyewitness testimony of the Bible and through the resurrected lives of those with faith living all around us.
Perhaps the most striking evidence of Jesus’ death and resurrection is contained in Acts 1:3. It says that Jesus appeared to His disciples during 40 days after His resurrection. That’s right I said 40 days! Paul even recounted how Jesus appeared to over 500 people at one time during this period. I was reading an article by Christian apologist Josh McDowell and he pointed out that if these people testified for a mere six minutes each, we would have over 50 hours of recorded evidence! No faith outside of Christianity comes remotely close to providing this kind of proof.
Now, if we as Christians actually believe what we attest to, should that not change the way that we read the Bible? I hope that I am not alone in admitting that there have been many occasions when I have sat down to read the Bible and found myself on autopilot, as if what I was reading was the world’s worst novel. Not only is the Bible not boring but it is also not a fictitious novel written for our amusement. As Christ followers we must awaken our minds and our hearts to the amazing truth of God’s interaction with humanity every time we read the Bible. When we understand the gravity of this, it completely changes everything! Stop reading the Bible like it’s your daily obligation to God! Rather, read it like the amazing history it is and let it breathe life into your heart and soul!
I urge you to start this week of devotions with just a few moments of prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to awaken you to the amazing reality of His Word. Also, ask Him to give you the desire to faithfully read His Word as we go through these 14 weeks together. Hopefully this will change your study of Acts and forever impact your approach to the Bible. Go with God and be at peace.
- Kyle Bogner
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)
1) In verse 4 Jesus tells the disciples to stay in Jerusalem to…
a. Wait for Him
b. Attack the Romans there
d. Wait for the baptism of the Holy Spirit
2) I find it interesting that the disciples did not receive the Holy Spirit instantaneously after Jesus ascended into heaven. Clearly Jesus’ command to wait in Jerusalem was a call for discipline. Why is waiting on the Lord important and how have you struggled with this in your life?
3) In chapter one a new disciple is chosen to replace Judas after he hung himself. How does the disciples’ obedience to God in asking for His choice in replacement provide a model for how we as servants of Christ are supposed to make decisions?
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth”.
Acts 1:8 (ESV)
Read Acts 2:1-13
1) On what Jewish holiday did the Holy Spirit descend on believers?
b. Feast of Booths
d. Yom Kippur
2) In verse two the Bible says that the Holy Spirit came from heaven like a mighty wind. What does this illustration attest to about the Holy Spirit?
3) What does the speaking of tongues in chapter two say about spiritual gifts in general?
a. They are for our own benefit
b. They are given to us by the Holy Spirit
c. They are for the edification of others
d. They are for us to show off to others
e. They are to bring glory to God
Suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.
Acts 2:2 (ESV)
Read Acts 2:14-47
1) At the end of verse 13, many people were saying that those who were being filled with the Holy Spirit were just drunk. Peter rebukes them in verse 15. I think this says something interesting about how God thinks and how he wants us to act out in faith for Him. Often times we are call to do things that look funny to “the world” but have true heavenly consequences. Are you willing to look foolish for God? When have you experienced looking foolish for God?
2) Decide the validity of the following statements about the death/resurrection of Christ
T/F It was known by God long before it ever happened
T/F Jesus was given up freely and was God’s plan for salvation for all of time
T/F Jesus was made both our savior and our king and lord
3) The following behaviors/attitudes are appropriate demonstrations of the Holy Spirit working in us.
a. Fellowship with all believers
b. Helping those in need
c. Desire to worship and praise God
d. A glad and generous heart
e. Bitter resentment
“Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Acts 2:36 (ESV)