Easter to Pentecost Devotional Readings

 

 

You are invited to join the Holy Trinity family on a 7 week daily reading, prayer and mission plan. Monday to Saturday you will read a portion of the book of Acts with option of an accompanying reflection written by a member of staff that you can find on the HTL website or via email. Sunday’s will also have an accompanying reflection to a scripture that specifically focuses on reaching the lost, setting us up each week in “Praying for 5, Finding the 1”

Introduction

Why the book of Acts? In the exciting story of the early church we see how the word of God, the power of the Holy Spirit and mission are naturally and inseparably interwoven. In taking this journey we trust that we will go deeper in these three areas. The last ten days from Ascension Day to Pentecost our new prayer room will be open from 6am to 10pm for the national and global ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ movement.

Pray for 5 Find the 1

Think of 5 people you know who do not yet follow Jesus and whom you see regularly. Commit to praying for them each day, there’s a different prayer each week you can use. Whilst doing this actively seek to find the one God-prepared person who may be sharing an interest in faith and whom you can proactively seek the steps next with them. This might be offering to pray for them or sharing your testimony, reading scripture together such as the Seven Stories of Hope or inviting them to Alpha or church. Have fun, enjoy friendship and find the one you can introduce to Jesus.

The book of Acts summary

The books of Acts is the second volume of the Gospel writer Luke’s account of the rise of Christian movement. He started first with his Gospel, where he writes in Acts 1:1-2 that he recorded, “…all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up into heaven.” Acts is by implication the record of what Jesus continued to do after being taken up into heaven.

Acts 1:8 gives a good overview of the entire book and its emphases. Jesus promises to his disciples, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Firstly, there’s the composition of the movement: the followers of Christ and the presence & power of the Holy Spirit. These can be seen woven together inseparably throughout the whole book, as Luke shows that Jesus continued to do the exact same things he did in his earthly ministry after his ascension, but simply through different means: his disciples being led and empowered by his continued presence by the Holy Spirit.

Secondly, there’s the direction of the movement, which gives sense to the structure to the book. One writer calls his book on Acts, ‘The Spreading Flame’. It starts in Jerusalem (Ch 1-8), and then to “all Judea & Samaria” (Ch 9-12) breaking through the Gentile-barrier, and then “to the ends of the earth” (Ch 13-28) in Paul & co’s missionary journeys.

Lastly, there’s the reason for the movement: witness. Throughout the book the key task of God’s people is clear, to proclaim & demonstrate the gospel. Luke himself, a Gentile doctor-turned-historian, is part of this great witness, found as Paul’s missionary companion from Acts 16:11 onwards where he humbly begins to write of himself in the story. In doing so, he invites us to join in with the story as well: Acts is not a book to be amazed by and then diminished as a record of past events. Rather it’s to be savoured as a taste of how things could and should be today, as we join the same movement of witness to the ends of the earth in the power of the Holy Spirit, as Jesus continues his work through us. We’re invited into the adventure!

Week 1: Easter Sunday to 27 April

Easter Sunday

John 3:1-21

with Elaine Sutherland

Today we begin our daily Easter to Pentecost readings. Monday to Saturday we will be reading the book of Acts, the story of the early church. Every Sunday we will focus on a Gospel reading such as today's where we find one of the most famous Bible verses; “For God so loved that world that….” It was Nicodemus the Pharisee to whom these words were spoken. He was a member of the Jewish ruling council too afraid to approach Jesus in daylight, but curious enough to visit him at night. He knew that Jesus “couldn’t do the things he did unless God were with him.” Jesus clearly loved his curiosity, he didn’t mind the secret night visit. In fact Jesus honoured him by revealing to Nicodemus some keys to the secrets of heaven, including that we must be born again. We can be confident of his conversion because later in chapter 19:39-42, because accompanying Joseph of Arimathea, he took Jesus’ dead body, prepared it for burial and placed it in the garden tomb. Look where his curiosity led him, from religion to salvation, from rules to grace, from death to new life. Will you be curious like Nicodemus?

In recent Alpha courses curious people have met this same Jesus and been born again. One man signed up for the course because his girlfriend was a Christian and he wanted to know more, another joined the course because his wife had faith. A student encountered God through a pop song they were listening to whilst in bed. Two women decided it was time they found Jesus for themselves even thought they had grown up in the church. These stories encourage me to pray for my friends, family and neighbours to become curious and seek Jesus, be it in daylight with my knowledge or in secret, I know Jesus will welcome them and speak to them. Join me as you select five people to pray for every day. Why not use this prayer each day this week:

Heavenly Father I pray for (say their names), that they would develop a curiosity for knowing you. Please bless my relationship with them that they would become curious about my relationship with Jesus. Amen

Pray for 5

Write the names of 5 people to regularly see who don’t yet know Jesus.

Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for (say their names), that they would develop a curiosity for knowing you. Please bless my relationship with them that they would become curious about my relationship Jesus. Amen

Find the 1

Ask Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Monday 22 April

Acts 1:1-11

with John McGinley

As we begin our readings from Acts the first few verses give us the chance to connect with the origins of this book – it was written by Luke to his friend Theophilus. Luke was a doctor and a very thorough researcher and writer who travelled with Paul on his missionary journeys. And as he introduces Acts to Theophilus we realise that this is a sequel to his Gospel about the life of Jesus. And Luke’s introduction makes it clear that this book of Acts is all about the continuing work of Jesus who ascends to reign in heaven and pours out his Spirit to empower his friends to represent him to the world. Luke wants us to understand that everything that he is about to write is all about Jesus – it is from him and for him.

Andy Fanstone is one of our mission links working in Fortaleza, Brazil with very poor and vulnerable people living in the slums dominated by drug gangs and prostitution. When a team from Holy Trinity visited recently he explained how he trains his mission team members – ‘we contemplate and gaze upon the beauty of God and raise up people to go and tell people how beautiful God is’.

As you read the amazing accounts of what happen in the book of Acts remember that this is what Jesus looks like, this is what he can do when he fills his people with his Spirit – contemplate and gaze upon how beautiful he is and allow him to give you a vision for what he might do through your life.

Lord Jesus Christ, risen, ascended, Lord of all. I praise you for your victory over sin and death. Thank you that you have poured out your Spirit into my life and called me to represent you. Please show me more of your beauty and help me to reflect this those around me. Amen

Pray for 5 - Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for (say their names), that they would develop a curiosity for knowing you. Please bless my relationship with them that they would become curious about my relationship Jesus. Amen

Find the 1

Ask Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Tuesday 23 April

Acts 1:12-26

with Jenny Ridge

I don’t like making decisions. Choosing a holiday for example. I look for something that ticks all my boxes, near the beach, have a pool, not too expensive etc. Eventually I get it down to two. But which one? Eventually I pick one then spend days wondering if I made the right choice. Should I have simply drawn lots? What about bigger more life changing decisions?
In our passage we find the disciples praying in the upper room. The apostles are aware that Jesus had appoint 12 of them but now following Judas’ betrayal and death there were only 11. Should they stay as 11 or replace Judas thereby restoring their number to 12?
Through prayer and Bible study they realise they should appoint another to take Judas’ place of leadership. But who?

Some conditions are set. It has to be someone who has been with them the whole time from John’s baptism to the ascension and who can bear witness to the resurrection. They whittle the list down to 2, Matthias and Justus. Then they prayed and asked God to show them which one to choose, trusting that God knew both men’s hearts. They cast lots and Matthias was chosen. The disciples accepted this as God’s choice.

This is a description of what they did and not a pattern to follow. We know that the Holy Spirit lives in our hearts as believers and we can discern God’s will from inside our hearts and minds. However the process the disciples followed can be really helpful to us:

  1. They found out what the purposes of God were
  2. They considered options that also lined up with God’s purposes
  3. They prayed and asked God to direct them and show them the best choice
  4. They submitted to God’s direction for them

What about you? What decisions do you need to make? What will you ask God to show you?

Father I pray that you would reveal your purposes for me in every situation and give me the grace to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Pray for 5 - Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for (say their names), that they would develop a curiosity for knowing you. Please bless my relationship with them that they would become curious about my relationship Jesus. Amen

Find the 1

Ask Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Wednesday 24 April

Acts 2: 14-21

with Bridget Patel

I thought, given that this is Acts chapter 2, that I would be writing about mighty rushing winds and tongues of fire but as I read the Lord pointed something out to me that I am sure many of you will have noticed, but I simply hadn’t considered before. It was the contrasting similarities between these events and the story of Babel in Genesis 12. In this story the proud and arrogant people of Babel try to build a tower as high as the heavens. God thwarts their efforts by confusing their language and scattering the people. I had never thought about the correlation of these events before. But here in Acts chapter 2 we see God gathering His people together and enabling people to speak in many languages so that they can be clearly understood. It's as if He is redeeming that Babel curse by a work of the Holy Spirit. And it points to something greater. Just after Babel God calls Abram with a promise in Genesis 12:2-3. That promise said that God would make Abram into a great nation so that they would be a blessing. In him all the families of the Earth will be blessed. In Acts chapter 1 the disciples had still been asking, ‘Lord will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ (v 6) And now the Holy Spirit comes not to restore a national kingdom to Israel out of the hands of the Roman Empire but to equip the children of Abraham to be a blessing to the world. There are many things that could be impressed upon us as we read this scripture and I pray that as you read it God highlights something just for you. For me I am struck again that we are the growing fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham. We are his children too and God continues to long for us to speak to those who don’t yet know him in a language that they understand. Peter explains in the chapter that this is the fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy and it is so that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Holy Spirit we pray that you would fill us afresh today. Lord may we be enabled to speak so that your gospel can be made known and so that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Pray for 5 - Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for (say their names), that they would develop a curiosity for knowing you. Please bless my relationship with them that they would become curious about my relationship Jesus. Amen
Find the 1
Ask Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do? Return to top

Thursday 25 April

Acts 2: 22-41

with Karen Davis

We see in this passage that as Peter speaks of Jesus he is drawing the attention of the crowd to all the miracles, signs and wonders that took place when Jesus was alive and what his death has been achieved through his death and resurrection. The power of this collective information “cuts the crowd to the heart” vs 37 and so they ask “what shall we do?”. Many years ago the Christian author and speaker Joyce Meyer would give a talk to an audience and it would be recorded onto a cassette tape. Each tape could only hold 60minutes of content and so she would agree with her sound recorder to hold up flash cards so she knew when there was only 10mins, 5mins, 1 min etc. left of the cassette so that she could bring the message to a sensible conclusion for the cassette listeners. However, Joyce would often find herself carried away in the message and initially ignore the first few warnings before the recorder was having to jump up and down frantically to get her to pay attention to his warnings or actually her rebellious streak and pride would come to the fore and she would choose to simply ignore them. This usually resulted in her spending hours in the editing suite trying to format what had been recorded. Time that could have otherwise been better spent. I wonder how often we feel the holy spirit prompting us, holding up flash cards to our lives, when we are about to make a mistake or choose unwisely. Do we ignore those early warnings which if we headed would allow us to alter our path more simply without too much effort? How much does our pride play a part because we don’t want to admit we’ve made a mistake or potentially an error? Do you feel like God is challenging you today about a decision you have made or course of action you are taking? Is your pride stopping you from admitting your mistake? Will you allow the Holy Spirit to convict you and be ‘cut to the heart?’ More importantly will you ask of God ‘what shall I do’ and listen to the words that come. Father please speak to me about where I am making mistakes and show me a way out.
Pray for 5 - Daily Prayer
Heavenly Father I pray for (say their names), that they would develop a curiosity for knowing you. Please bless my relationship with them that they would become curious about my relationship Jesus. Amen
Find the 1
Ask Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do? Return to top

Friday 26 April

Acts 2:42-47

with James Banks

Here in these verses we see what it looked like for the early believers to follow the teachings of Jesus. Just before this we have seen around 3000 people come to faith, this is how they respond and it’s a big change! Now whilst I don’t believe that Jesus is calling all of us to sell everything we own (although maybe for some of us) I do believe that he is calling us into deep community with our fellow believers and to devote all of our lives to him and I want to pick out three ways from the passage we can do this. The first is meeting together regularly to be in community with other believers, whilst we might not be able to do every day as described here we should certainly be aiming for a couple of times a week, it is so important for us to be encouraged in our faith. The second thing may sound obvious but we should be devoting our lives in prayer and expect signs and wonders to happen! The third is that we should spend time eating together, whilst the first time this is mentioned in the passage it is referring to the Lord’s Supper, the subsequent time it is referring to sharing a meal together as a community. Just recently I have been so blessed by being part of the new MSC we have planted called ‘Wildfires’. Although we have only been together as a group for less than three months, already it feels like a really strong community has formed. Each week we share food together and as described in v44 of the passage we have everything in common with our love for Jesus. Already we have had testimonies of where God has been at work in us as a community and individually, and through this the Kingdom is advancing. How are you devoting yourself fully to Jesus’ teaching today and in the rest of this week? If you are part of an MSC pray that God will be at the centre of everything that you do as a community and that you will be as devoted in prayer and fellowship as the early believers. If not pray that God might show you which MSC you could be part of and where in your relationships with other believers you might reflect some of the things described in this passage. My prayer Lord is simply this; teach me, lead me; teach us, lead us for you glory. Amen
Pray for 5 - Daily Prayer
Heavenly Father I pray for (say their names), that they would develop a curiosity for knowing you. Please bless my relationship with them that they would become curious about my relationship Jesus. Amen
Find the 1
Ask Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do? Return to top

Saturday 27 April

Acts 3:1-26

with Lois Young

I don’t know if you remember learning this song as a child, but as I read this passage this song popped into my head and reminded me of the importance of learning scripture off by heart.

There is so much you can take from this passage but one thing that stood out to me was the fact that Peter had something that was worth way more than money to give to the lame man. The presence of Jesus and healing changed this man’s life and didn’t just meet a momentary need. We don’t have the money to get everyone out of poverty but we do have the power to pray and bring people out of the place they are in.

Because the lame man sat in front of the gate day in and day out, a lot of people would have known who he was, so when he was healed more people would have taken note of what God had done in his life. It strikes me that while the people were walking to the Temple to go and worship, God was showing the people that he wasn’t confined to the walls of the Temple but was on the move. It’s part of God’s nature to bring about healing and restoration.

Spend some time today praying for the people around you who are in need of healing. Who is it in your life that might feel overlooked yet Jesus wants to heal? Ask God to make you aware of the situations and people around you as you go about your day.

Father God, I thank you that you heal and restore and today I ask that you show me the people throughout my day that I can pray for and love them as you love them. Amen

Pray for 5

Write the names of 5 people to regularly see who don’t yet know Jesus.

Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for (say their names), that they would develop a curiosity for knowing you. Please bless my relationship with them that they would become curious about my relationship Jesus. Amen

Find the 1

Ask Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Week 2: 28 April - 4 May

Sunday 28 April

Luke 15:1-17 with Elaine Sutherland

How have you got on praying for your 5 this week? I’ve been really encouraged, one of my people has definitely become curious about healing and is open to prayer. The key thing for me is to remain faithful in building our new friendship and today passage encourages me to do so. The setting is of ‘tax collectors and sinners’ who were curious about Jesus eating with him, much to the disgust of the Pharisees and scribes.

 

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It’s in the light of the religious leader’s displeasure that Jesus tells the parable of the lost sheep. It’s a beautiful picture of Jesus’ pursuit of us for our salvation. In recent times the song Reckless love has brought this parable to life for me. Firstly, it has reminded me to praise God for my salvation and on- going sanctification. Secondly it has served to increase my passion to find the lost and bring them home. Thirdly it has challenged me to not become like the religious leaders putting my spiritual needs and desires before the needs of those who don’t yet know Jesus. This week why not print off one of the many images of Jesus carrying a lamb on his shoulders or play the song Reckless love, use them as a meditation on this parable and ask Jesus to fill you with a passion to look for the lost.

Lord Jesus my Good Shepherd, thank you for finding me and saving me. Give me your passion for the lost, lead me to the God-prepared person I can bring home. Amen

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for the salvation of (say the names of your 5), Please bless my relationship with them that I might have the joy of bringing them home to you. Amen

Find the 1

Ask: Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

Monday 29 April

Acts 4:1-22 with Jit Patel

When Peter and John are arrested and then dragged in front of religious rulers, the power of the events of the last few months was put to the test. Previously Peter had denied Jesus’s name three times, but now he stands boldly saying it was in his name that the man was healed, and all must be saved.

This change came from God’s Spirit: “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them…” (v8). Jesus had promised that when they were arrested they weren’t to worry about what to say, because “At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Mt 10:19). Indeed Jesus promises that enabling his followers to speak of him is a primarily role of the Spirit, as “He will glorify me” (Jn 16:14) in the Trinitarian glory of God glorifying God.

For us this means that our courage to speak of Jesus comes from both our convictions, and also the power of God’s Spirit, and that we can ask for it. An authentic mark of being filled with the Spirit is power and boldness for witness.

Billy Graham, who proclaimed Jesus to more people than any person in history, spoke of this as being the turning point in his ministry. After an intense time of seeking the power of the Spirit with his friend Stephen Olford, the Spirit came, and Olford recounted Graham exclaiming, “My heart is so flooded with the Holy Spirit…. I'm filled! This is the turning point in my life. This will revolutionise my ministry” That evening OIford recalled, “As Billy rose to speak, he was a man absolutely anointed.” Millions of lives were changed as a result.

Lord fill me with your Spirit to make you known.

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for the salvation of (say the names of your 5), Please bless my relationship with them that I might have the joy of bringing them home to you. Amen

Find the 1

Ask: Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

 

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Tuesday 30 April

Acts 4:23-31 with Alex Scott

31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

The believers were already proclaiming the gospel before this, they were praying for healings, seeing miracles and the church grow rapidly, but when opposition comes it only stirs them to pray for more of God’s spirit and a greater boldness in their witness. The Church in the UK is in decline, God’s people have been marginalised and the move now is to silence God’s people in many areas of society. Teachers, Doctors and many others are told not to share their faith in the work place. We need to react in the same way the church here does.

  • To not be surprised or daunted by opposition
  • Realise God’s immense power
  • Realise God’s plan in this moment
  • Pray for Boldness and an empowerment by the Spirit
  • Determine to speak God’s word boldly

I’ve been trying to increase in my boldness in sharing the Gospel. I meet monthly with a friend, I keep on taking bolder steps with him, a year ago I was telling him about prayers I’ve seen answered, 6 months ago we began to read the seven stories of hope each time, most recently I asked him if he believes Jesus did rise from the dead and what does that mean to him. With another friend I offered prayer, this has led over time to her coming on the alpha course. I dared to ask this last time we met, whether she was ready to ask Jesus into her life today. Neither has come to faith yet, but with both we are moving in the right direction. I ask God to fill me with boldness to dare to go further in our conversations than before. Who will be the one you will go further with in conversation? What would be your next bold step?

Heavenly Father fill me with your spirit, that I may and speak your word with love and power. Amen

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for the salvation of (say the names of your 5), Please bless my relationship with them that I might have the joy of bringing them home to you. Amen

Find the 1

Ask: Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

 

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Wednesday 1 May

Acts 4:32-ch 5:11 with Stephen Gorton

The experience of the early church so far was salvations, persecution and miraculous signs and wonders, but in today’s reading we have the first instance of internal challenge within the community. There is contrast between the efforts of Barnabas, who sold something and gave the full proceeds to the church, and Ananias and Sapphira, who felt the need to lie about what they were able to give and suffered the consequences. Bearing in mind they were living under the new covenant, this is challenging reading that we should not put God to the test (Luke 4:12), which is different to testing if something is from God (Romans 12:2, 1 John 4:1).

Giving is part of us being family together and we have experienced much generosity from our community over the course of the building project. In Acts, the sharing of resources, or giving, saw the church flourish. If you didn’t manage to read the green display board in the foyer this past month, then you may like to know that your giving to Holy Trinity enabled at least the following to happen:

  • • Support two church plants at Holy Apostles and IMPRINT
  • Feed 3000+ meals to hungry people
  • Help 50 people through the problems of debt
  • Visit 25 schools and share the Gospel story with 5,000 children
  • Run 3 Alpha Courses
  • Provide 800+ hours of children & youth work for over 100 children
  • Support 19 MSCs
  • Train 20+ people in worship leading
  • Support 20 missionaries and agencies around the world
  • Help 100 international students hear the Gospel

As a young adult, I struggled with the concept of giving. I always thought that I gave a lot of my time to church and that was worth more than money. But the problem for me was that God wasn’t asking for my time, in fact he wasn’t asking for my money. He wanted me to put him first in everything, and in order to do that I had to put him first in my finances. It wasn’t easy to start with, but he has proven time and again that he will provide for all my needs (and sometimes wants too!). We’ve been spending the past month as a community considering our giving to Holy Trinity to enable ministries to flourish. If you haven’t reviewed yet, please take some time to prayerfully consider this.

Heavenly Father, thank you that all good things come from you and that everything I have is a gift from you. Please help me to see what you are asking me to share with others.

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for the salvation of (say the names of your 5), Please bless my relationship with them that I might have the joy of bringing them home to you. Amen

Find the 1

Ask: Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Thursday 2 May

Acts 5:12-42 with Matt Pidgeon

In this passage we read of the victory the Apostles were experiencing over the kingdom of darkness, through the miraculous signs of the Kingdom of Heaven. Many were being saved, healed and delivered with a clear anointing on the Apostles.

Often when we step into our God given ministry, we face resistance, from our enemy who wants us to give it up. I have often found when God is doing something knew it will often come with pressure in other areas of life such as health, family or finances. God has a unique purpose for your life and the Devil knows this, he will try everything he can to stop you unlocking your God given potential because he knows the damage you can do against his dominion. We are in a battle, but the devil and his henchmen are afraid of you!

The Apostles stood firm in the face of persecution. In verse 32 they state, “We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” In saying this they remind themselves of the work God has done in their lives, they are “witnesses” of the saving power of God that has set them free. They were also not alone in their ministry; they were witnesses with “the Holy Spirit”. As children of God, this gave them access to all the riches of heaven that they needed to see the Kingdom of Heaven invade Earth. Finally, they knew they were called to “obey”. They were able to stand firm knowing they were doing what God had called them to do and they refused to give up on this. When we stand firm in this way, we will experience God coming and fighting for us, just like the Apostles did.

What ministry has God put on your heart? Are you pursuing it? Or has opposition and doubt crippled you from stepping into what God has called you to do?

Lord Jesus, I choose to live in the victory that you won for me on the cross and I ask that you would help me to stand firm in what you are asking of me, Amen

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for the salvation of (say the names of your 5), Please bless my relationship with them that I might have the joy of bringing them home to you. Amen

Find the 1

Ask: Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Friday 3 May

Acts 6:1-15 with Julie Ferguson

Today we are introduced to Stephen; a man most famous for his death: as the first Christian martyr. However what leapt out at me from this passage is how Stephen the man is described.
He was a man full of faith and the holy spirit (v.5). It is this that brings him to the attention of the apostles.
They were seeking a solution to an administrative problem and sought to appoint people to help. They didn't employ people good at making lists or rotas or organising committees - they asked for men to be chosen who were well thought of and filled with the spirit and wisdom (v.3). When this was done, the apostles laid hands on the seven (v.6), and the word of God increased and the number of people coming to faith grew (v.7). I imagine food distribution went well too.

God has used people like this many times before.
Bezalel and Oholiab, whose story we find in Exodus 31, 35 and 36, were men like Stephen. They were tasked with a particular job and God equipped them with all they needed: including the spirit of wisdom, and the result was the tabernacle where God's Spirit would reside on earth.
Following the events of Good Friday, when the curtain of the temple was torn in two, God's Spirit can now reside in us. 'Don’t you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you.' 1 Corinthians 3:16. And unlike those we read of in the Old Testament - God's Spirit does not leave us. We are a permanent residence for God's Spirit and we carry it wherever we go, and whoever we go to.

Stephen knew that the spirit resided in him, and in verse 10 of today's passage, the arguments of those who opposed him could not stand up against the wisdom the spirit gave Stephen as he spoke. Stephen was about to address the Sanhedrin and as these men looked at him his face was like the face of an angel.

Lord God, help me to understand that I am your temple and that you dwell in me by your spirit. Amen

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for the salvation of (say the names of your 5), Please bless my relationship with them that I might have the joy of bringing them home to you. Amen

Find the 1

Ask: Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Saturday 4 May

Acts 7:1-53 with Dave Hendra

Furious religious leaders drag Stephen into the civil court. They accuse him of disrespecting God and the Jewish faith.

He answers with a one-man-monologue about the story of God and his people. Stephen’s first point is that God leads in new directions. His second is that God provides.

He finishes his time on the soap-box by letting rip – at those who resist the Holy Spirit (v51).
They do not like this at all. One translation says “this touched them on the raw” – in other words they were seriously hacked off. So much so that they rush at him, throw him out of the city and throw stones at him until he is a limp corpse.

Acts, as a whole, is a book in which God, by his Spirit, continuously thrusts his baby church into contact with the people around them – to take Him to them.

It depends what kind of person you are, but most likely, if you enjoy the status-quo – you’re not going to want change. Dictators hang on to power. Those at the top of the heap think the system works jolly well.

The challenging thing about the Holy Spirit is that he is big into change. Not change for change’s sake but change in order to bring the universe and its contents into full life-giving relationship with its creator.

If we act like these religious leaders we are saying by implication “things are good, we don’t need change.”

The only intelligent option is to submit daily to the will, leading, guidance and love of the Spirit of God and allow him to bring the change he wants.

Yes to change - no to stagnant water, yes to flowing streams.

Let’s hope we don’t get stoned in the process.

Heavenly Father our prayers are two-fold: Firstly we pray for those who are persecuted for their faith today, give them strength and grace, protect and free them. We pray too for those who are mourning the loss of loved ones who have died for their faith. Secondly we pray that you would give us grace to change in accordance with your plans, courage and wisdom to speak out when we need to. Amen.

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for the salvation of (say the names of your 5), Please bless my relationship with them that I might have the joy of bringing them home to you. Amen

Find the 1

Ask: Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Week 3

Sunday

Luke 15:8-10 with Elaine Sutherland

As a child our Esther loved hiding and she was good at it! I recall a desperate day at our Infant School, when she disappeared as I was hanging up her older sibling’s coats in the large cloak room, yes all 3 of my children were beside me but she took herself off in the blink of an eye! Over 20 twenty minutes later school had started and 6 parents had joined me trying you find the 3-year-old wearing a bright pink coat, I was frantic! It turned out she had hung up her coat on a random peg and taken herself to the one of the hidden book corners where she’d made herself at home reading, or rather pretending to whilst looking at the pictures. Today’s passage is the second of Jesus’ lost parables and tells of a woman frantically searching for a lost coin turning her home upside down in order to find it. This might have been her wages or it might have her dowry, it doesn’t really matter, the point is that that coin mattered. The drawn illustrations of this story often depict the women wearing her coins on a chain around her head. Like my little girl, the precious things in our lives are close to us so losing them is a terrible thing. It doesn’t matter what it takes we will seek to find them, the chaos and the cost become irrelevant, it’s the lost person or object that are our focus and so it should be. The 5 people we are praying for are so precious to Jesus that he died for them and therefore their worth to him should be clear to us, we need to be prepared for God to place a sense of urgency to find our God-prepared person and bring them home. It might cause a bit of chaos in our lives but does that matter? Some of your friends might not even Know they need Jesus, like my little girl they might not even know they are lost, it doesn’t matter, the thing is that you know they are and you can find them! Join me in praying this prayer each day for a week; Lord Jesus, I pray for (say the names of your for 5), please bless my relationship with them, may they have a growing sense of a missing relationship with you. Amen

 

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for the salvation of (say the names of your 5), Please bless my relationship with them that I might have the joy of bringing them home to you. Amen

Find the 1

Ask: Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do? Return to top

Monday

Acts 7:54-ch 8:3 with Nathan Obokoh

When I read this passage, it struck me that you could see two contrasting narratives. The passage starts with a tragedy of contrasts; The Jewish leaders react with murderous anger to Stephen’s message in contrast to those who repented at Peter’s words a few chapters earlier. Coats are laid at Saul’s feet in contrast to the coats and palm leaves laid at Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem. And the unity of the disciples so recently celebrated seems broken as Saul begins to scatter the disciples and “destroy the church”. However, there is also an encouraging thread of spiritual activity we can follow. Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit, a gift now newly available to all believers. He sees Jesus and the glory of God, Heaven is open. Stephen’s last words echo those of Jesus but in addressing them to Jesus he declared Him as Lord and God. Then the tragic narrative surrenders to the spiritual narrative. The scattered disciples preached the gospel wherever they went, Philip saw several Samaritans saved after preaching and demonstrating the power of God, and “there was great joy in that city” God’s purposes did prevail, and what was meant to destroy His church only catalysed its growth. Lord, please keep on filling us with your Holy Spirit, open us up to recognise your presence, and grant us boldness to approach your throne as your children and cooperate with you in your powerful ministry of reconciliation. Amen.

 

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for the salvation of (say the names of your 5), Please bless my relationship with them that I might have the joy of bringing them home to you. Amen

Find the 1

Ask: Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do? Return to top

Tuesday

Acts 8:4-25 with Simon Braker

Act 8:14 Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaritans had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them.
Act 8:15 They went down and prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit.
Act 8:16 Before this he had not come on any of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Act 8:17 Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit
As I read through this passage again, It is striking how quickly the Apostles sent Peter and John to go and lay hands on the Samaritans to receive the Holy Spirit, it is clear it was viewed as an essential part of their walk with God.
Secondly, it’s also noteworthy to consider the fact that at the point Peter and John went to minister to them they had all already been baptised into the name of the Lord Jesus. This highlights for us that it is totally possible to be fully converted to Christ but not to have been baptised in the Spirit. This should emphasise the importance of living out Paul’s instructions in Eph 5:18 which reads
Eph 5:18 (ISV) Stop getting drunk with wine, which leads to wild living, but keep on being filled with the Spirit.
In the same way the Samaritan believers needed Spirit baptism, so we today need to seek to stay in a constant state of ongoing encounters with him and keep on being filled by him. Lastly, the Spirit baptism that they received was so life transforming that whilst Simon watched the results he was so impressed that he sought it himself. Simon was a man who had been moving in demonic power in such a dramatic way that he had everyone’s attention.
Act 8:10 (ISV) Everyone from the least to the greatest paid close attention to him, saying, "This is what we call the great power of God!"
Clearly Simon was demonstrating some considerable power to impact the city in such a dramatic way, but due to seeing Gods power at work through Philip and the Apostles this is what lead to him being converted.
This account reminds me of a man who now pastors a large church in Africa, before his conversion this man had functioned as a witch doctor in his village; many people from the village would pay him money to do all sorts of horrid things, and like Simon the magician he had a reputation for being powerful, yet one day that all changed, this powerful witch doctor encountered a young woman who was simply worshiping Jesus in her personal devotion one morning, the power this witch doctor encountered as this young girl worshipped so convicted him that he ended up leaving his occult ways and converting to Christ, his life was so radically transformed that numbers of other people were also converted and this once witch doctor ended up starting a church; which he still leads today!

The apostles considered being spirit filled to be essential. Simon was so impressed he left his occult ways and attempted to buy it. May we as a church prioritise God’s presence and live in the fullness every day.

Let’s pray:
Lord Jesus thank you for the free gift of Holy Spirit baptism, I ask you now to fill me afresh right now flood my life with the Holy Spirit and may we be a church that is flooded with your presence.

 

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for the salvation of (say the names of your 5), Please bless my relationship with them that I might have the joy of bringing them home to you. Amen

Find the 1

Ask: Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Wednesday

Acts 8:26-40 with Susan Exon

Today’s reading is about Philip continuing to spread the Good News. At the beginning of the passage Philip is waiting on God for the next stage of their journey together, we can almost hear him asking “what next Lord”?
As we read on we learn that Philip is not the only person on a journey that day. A high ranking Ethiopian Official, having visited Jerusalem to worship God, is still searching for answers. In response, his Heavenly Father orchestrates a meeting during his return journey home, with Philip. Culturally and socially the two men are very different, however, what they do have in common is a belief that the Scriptures speak of hope, a way back to God. Philip, having known Jesus personally when He lived on earth, now testifies, with Spirit filled authority, that Jesus is indeed the Messiah. Who else is better placed to meet the needs that the Ethiopian Official is presently wrestling with? This is, indeed a meeting made in heaven.
Like the passage we have just read, God has many such meetings for us, His Church. The bible tells us we are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17), born of the Spirit(John:3), carriers of His presence (1 Corinthians 3:17). We are bringers of His hope to people searching for something only Jesus can fulfil. Our situations will differ but the precedence remains the same. We might not all be destined to meet an Ethiopian Official but, like Philip, we are co-workers with Jesus and our Heavenly Father positions us to bring His hope. We just have to keep taking the time to wait and listen to Him.

Father I thank you for the reality that I am able to bring Your presence to people I meet every day. By Your grace let me always be aware of you and grow in my understanding and experience of Your love. Amen

 

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for the salvation of (say the names of your 5), Please bless my relationship with them that I might have the joy of bringing them home to you. Amen

Find the 1

Ask: Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Thursday

Acts 9:1-31 with Juliette Willis

Saul’s conversion is probably the most famous testimony in all of history! A man who in a matter of weeks goes from breathing out murderous threats against Jesus’ disciples and being known in the Roman empire for persecuting Christians, to preaching fearlessly in the name of Jesus and now consequently being the recipient of death threats. In this passage we see God use a relatively unknown guy, Ananias, along with the disciples in Damascus to disciple the man who would go on to be the most famous apostle ever known and the author of much of the New Testament we still read today.
In the midst of such a drastic conversion story we can easily miss the simple and yet profound nature of the gospel. Saul’s life was going in one direction, Jesus met with him and then Saul’s life was heading in a different direction. I grew up in a Christian home, decided to follow Jesus for myself at the age of 8 and never looked back. At times I have felt like my testimony is boring, I don’t even have a rebellious teenager story to jazz up my testimony. I think many of us have felt or do feel at times that our faith story isn’t “good enough”. The truth is that our testimony should always point beyond ourselves to the miracle that there’s a God who longs to meet with us and that encounter transforms lives, circumstances and our eternal destiny. We were all dead in our sins and because of Jesus have been made alive. Saul used his story to speak to people from all sorts of backgrounds about Jesus, what could you use yours for?

God, thank you that because of Jesus we are included in your kingdom plans and purposes. Please give me opportunity this week to use or practice my testimony. Amen

 

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for the salvation of (say the names of your 5), Please bless my relationship with them that I might have the joy of bringing them home to you. Amen

Find the 1

Ask: Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Friday

Acts 9:32-43 with Paul Betts

Peter’s words are spoken in complete trust. That prayer and words said in Jesus’ name bring new life, even miraculous healing and resurrection. The amazing acts in this passage echo Jesus’ healing of a paralytic and raising the daughter of Jairus. But this time it’s Peter. By name and word of command Aeneas is healed from long term paralysis, Tabitha is raised to new life. Empowered by the presence of the Holy Spirit and acting as an agent of Jesus, these mighty works through Peter proclaim the Gospel and witness to the glory of God, and bring belief and restoration to the wider community.

“Please come at once!” The cry of the devastated believers, a plea to one they trust to bear God’s word, to speak new life in Jesus’ name to one whom they love and now grieve.

“Please come at once!” I wonder about the words Peter spoke in prayer, if his words echoed the urgency of the grieving believers. I wonder how long Peter prayed before speaking Tabitha’s name and word of command, and what he expected to happen.

“Please come at once!” And I wonder what that says about my expectation of prayer. How the miracles told in this passage, and their immediacy, breaks my expectation and tells me to expect more of God. Even when it seems that prayer goes unanswered, I know there is a power at work. So please God, break my expectation, please come at once.

Risen Christ, you fill our lives with your compassion so that we may always seek you: be our life today. May we believe in the amazing and pray for the miraculous, in your precious name. Amen.

 

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for the salvation of (say the names of your 5), Please bless my relationship with them that I might have the joy of bringing them home to you. Amen

Find the 1

Ask: Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Saturday

Acts 10:1-48 with Cameron Plant

See Jesus hanging on the cross; head held high, His arms wide
No nation discarded, every tribe included in the crimson tide
Through His blood he reconciled all to Himself; all grafted in
The evidence of God’s promise to redeem every Gentile’s sin

In this part of Acts we find Cornelius, a centurion in the Roman army and ‘devout and God-fearing'. He has been faithful to the Lord in prayer and giving, and God approves of the life offering given to Him by Cornelius. God recognises this faithfulness by sending an angel to Cornelius who commands him to seek out and host Jesus’ best friend, Simon Peter. Not only that, but He allows Cornelius to feature in Peter’s journey to full understanding of the extension of relationship with God to all people, not just Israelites, won by Jesus through His death and resurrection.

Two weeks ago Randy Clark taught the importance of having powerful encounters with God through Holy Spirit. This passage reflects the importance of being baptised in the Spirit; despite Peter’s vision and the life and visitation of Cornelius- a gentile- it is the filling of the Holy Spirit that finally convinces Peter that God’s redeeming work on the cross and His sending of Holy Spirit is for all people; not just Jews. We must never take for granted the amazing fact that God allows us to host His presence and that He decided to extend that privilege to all humans, whether they accept His offer or not.

In Acts 2 Peter speaks of Jesus’ signs and wonders as being the evidence that Jesus is sent from God, and it is demonstration of the power of the Spirit that continues to convince people that there is a God, He cares for us, and He longs to involve Himself in our lives. Our own experiences of the power of the Spirit will give us faith and power to make the supernatural ordinary, which is why we must chase fresh encounters of God and His Spirit at every opportunity. The disciples were filled of the Spirit and filled again and again in Acts; and I long to live the life of the supernatural they displayed in those early days.

Have you been baptised in the Holy Spirit? When was the last time you asked to filled by the Holy Spirit?

God, thank you for filling me with your Spirit. I pray now that you would fill me again. Give me the desire to partner with your signs and wonders. Amen

 

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for the salvation of (say the names of your 5), Please bless my relationship with them that I might have the joy of bringing them home to you. Amen

Find the 1

Ask: Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Week 4

Sunday 12 May

Luke 15:11-31 with Elaine Sutherland

This is the third of the ‘lost parables’ and in this one Jesus focuses on the Father’s love and human behaviour. As we continue to think about the 5 people we pray for and finding the 1 who is lost, I’d like us to focus on these words: “When he came to his senses”. What had happened? The younger son had made life choices that had excluded his Father, he quite simply thought he knew best. Sadly, the most popular song at funeral services in the UK is “I did it my way” and this is the attitude the younger son had in this story. Maybe our 5 haven’t gone astray as this young man did, but if they are not following Jesus they are quite literally doing life “their way”. They are missing out on God’s good purposes for them and most importantly missing out on the gift of salvation.
So what might “coming to our senses” look like? We hear many wonderful testimonies of people finding God when life is tough, but what if it isn’t? I remember a lady in her late 50’s came to Holy Trinity. All her life she had been an atheist, then one day she came to her senses using a form of meditation, in the silence she simply realised God existed and in that moment was converted. Sadly three years after coming to faith she found she had breast cancer and died, but she was so grateful to know to whom she was going and that she had a place in heaven. Walking with her towards the end of her life was an honour and at her funeral service I was able to read out her testimony, the impact on her friends was huge.
This week let’s pray for our 5 to come to their senses, realise that God exists and that they need to know him.

Heavenly Father I pray for (say the names of your 5), that they would ‘come to their sense’ and realise you exist. Reveal your love to them. Amen

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for (say the names of your 5), that they would ‘come to their sense’ and realise you exist. Reveal your love to them. Amen

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Monday 13 May

Acts 11:1-30 with Tabz Fogg

When I was at school I made a new friend, a sweet, sharp witted, fun girl. My other friends were swift to inform me that I shouldn’t be friends with her. When I asked them why not, they gave only vague murmurs and weak excuses. I knew then that the reason they didn’t like her was because she was different, not like them, ‘other’, and prejudices kept them apart. How many times have we consciously or unconsciously avoided contact with someone or a group of people because of our own biases and prejudiced opinions?
In our passage today Peter has a vision that explains to the believers that God has made all people clean, not just Jews, but Gentiles as well. Peter’s vision tells us that we can all belong to the Kingdom of God under Jesus Christ. In verse 17 Peter says, ‘So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?’ He recognises what God is doing and heads in that direction. The others respond first with a stunned silence, and then they praise God! Jesus is for the Gentiles too! This shows that their hearts were soft enough to be directed by God; they did not let their prejudices get in the way of the work and their worship of God. Praise God that they were more open to ‘the other’ than I was as a child.

After this we see that some from Cyprus and Cyrene go to Antioch and preach the good news to the Greeks. This was the first time that the Gospel was brought specifically to the Gentiles, and with great results: ‘The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.’ verse 21. As a result of this, Barnabas is sent to the church in Antioch, and he leads them full of faith and the Holy Spirit. He encourages the church family itself, which in turn leads to more coming to faith, and growth in the church.

As Christians, or “Jesus People”, we are to grow in maturity in faith, bring the gospel to others, and we should see growth, a great many being added to our number. Is this true for you? I certainly see in my own life that as I grow in my maturity in faith, I don’t often see others added to the church because I have brought the gospel to them. I am sure I am not alone in this.

Why not follow the example of the disciples in Acts, and today ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit and faith to share the gospel, and for His hand to be with you (verse 21 and 24).

Lord God, please reveal to me any hidden prejudices in my heart. Fill me afresh with your Holy Spirit, and with faith so I may share the gospel, particularly with those that are ‘other’ to me. Amen.

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for (say the names of your 5), that they would ‘come to their sense’ and realise you exist. Reveal your love to them. Amen

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Tuesday 14 May

Acts 12:1-25 with Pedro Neto

Acts 12: 1 - 4: Herod Antipas I was the son of Aristobulus, nephew of Herod Antipas (who had John the Baptist beheaded and interrogated Jesus). He was the grandson of Herod the Great, an evil man who sought to satisfy the yearnings of his sinful friends. To prevent the growth of the Church and satisfy the indignation of the Jews towards the Christians, he had James and brother of John and son of Zebedee arrested and beheaded. After this, he had Peter arrested and it was his intention was to do the same with the other apostles.

Acts 12: 5-11: God's sovereign purpose cannot be stopped by men, no matter how powerful they may be. The Lord intended to use Peter's life in many areas, so he sent an angel to free him and save his life. This episode can raise many questions about life and God's purposes when things are difficult, such as illnesses, sudden deaths, calamities and so on. In these circumstances it is very important that we do as the Psalmist says: "I lift up my eyes to the mountains and ask: Where does the help come from? My help cometh from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121: 1,2) We cannot lose sight of the purpose and the help of God and most important of all we are to be firmly rooted in him, for in the end he will wipe away every tear from our eyes.

Acts 12: 12-18: On being delivered by the angel, Peter immediately goes to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark. There a part of the Church had gathered to pray for him. They could hardly believe it when their prayers were answered as Peter stood before them.

Acts 12: 19-24: Herod Antipas did not fear God and oppressed the people without compassion. This caused the Lord God to send an angel to strike him with a mortal sickness.

The part that strikes me most in this chapter is that of verse 5 to 11, I have seen God do things like this in the past, when no man or human power can prevent God’s will. It is exactly what happens in this passage, God sends an Angel to deliver Peter because there was still a greater mission in the life of Peter to be fulfilled.

In the year of 2017 my wife had to return to Portugal due to a visa problem, I was devastated, very sad to be without her and without having the forecast of when she would return. The price of the visa was very high and I saw no way out for our situation, in that moment I thought that everything was lost, that I would have to go back to Portugal to be with her. Then and on a Wednesday morning I prayed for this situation with Lois our Student Worker, that day in the afternoon I received the news that someone would pay the cost of the whole Visa process for my wife. God showed me that there is nothing that can prevent his purpose in our lives, at the time it was the clearest way God showed me that he still had a purpose to be fulfilled in my life within this nation.

Lord, thank you that my life is in your hands. Thank you that you have good purposes and use everything for good. Help me to trust and praise you when it’s hard, I trust you for the breakthrough needed in my life for your Kingdom purposes. Amen

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for (say the names of your 5), that they would ‘come to their sense’ and realise you exist. Reveal your love to them. Amen

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Wednesday 15 May

Acts 13:1-12 with John McGinley

In this passage we see the power of the prophetic word. Firstly we see it within the life of the church in Anticoch. A group of prophets are part of the church and in the midst of worship they bring a word that God is calling Saul and Barnabas to go out on mission. This word releases them into their calling and through them to Gospel spreads rapidly. And secondly the prophetic insight Saul receives about the false prophet opposing them guides him to declare that he will be blind – remember he knows that that is what God does to people who oppose him (!) – and the proconsul believes because of the miraculous sign.

This helps us understand that through prophetic words the Holy Spirit both guides us and releases his power and presence. It also gives us a picture of the link between the life of the Spirit we share together in the church and the way that God can empower us to release his power in mission. As I look back on my relationship with God and how he has guided me into his call there have always been prophetic words to guide me as I have sought him and these have been key in me discerning what God is calling me t do.

So today you might like to review prophetic words God has given you. Maybe you could pray for God to speak to you about the people you are praying for to come to him and give you insight into how to prayer for them and lead tem them closer to him.

Risen and ascended Jesus. Thank you for pouring out your Holy Spirit into my life and for the gifts of wisdom and revelation he brings. Help me to hear your voice today and please lead me by your Spirit to be your witness to those around me. Amen.

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for (say the names of your 5), that they would ‘come to their sense’ and realise you exist. Reveal your love to them. Amen

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Thursday 16 May

Acts 13:13-52 with Jit Patel

In our passage today Paul & Barnabus are on their first missionary journey, having travelled from one Antioch, via Cyprus to another city called Antioch (in Pisidia). Their missionary tactic throughout these journeys was to join in with what God had already done in advance before them, preparing the way.

All around the Mediterranean at the time there were dispersed Jewish communities, the Diaspora, who had left Israel in previous centuries both through exile, and also through the political instability of the whole region. Hence, you see at Pentecost, Jews from all over the Roman Empire coming to Jerusalem to worship.

Paul & Barnabus knew that the best tactic, God-ordained, was to bring the gospel to these Jews, speaking in their synagogues about the fulfilment in Jesus of ancient promise & hope. Also in those synagogues were God-fearers, Gentiles who have become part of the Jewish worshipping community attracted by their worship and teaching. Hence Paul & Barnabus got to use their witness to the Jews as a pre-ordained launchpad to witnessing to Gentiles in each city they visited, especially once as happens in our passage, they’re rejected by the synagogue (v44-49)

God in his sovereignty had ordained through exile and political upheaval these Jewish hubs for the sake of the gospel, so at the right time they would become centres of gospel proclamation to the whole world. God in his sovereignty still chooses where to plant people, for specific times and purposes (see Acts 17:26), and the question for us is: where has he pre-ordained to plant us, and why? What is the kingdom reason to discover and join in with for why we are where we are, even if it was unexpected?

In my own life I’ve moved around and lived in a number of different places - from the dreaming intellectual spires of Oxford, to the humdrum of a market town in Abingdon, to a gritty navel city of Portsmouth, and now back in my home city of multi-cultural & multi-faceted Leicester. To my surprise (though it shouldn’t have been!) in each place, God has had something particular that only I was the right shape for, and sometimes I’ve been quick to realise this, and sometimes not so quick! I wonder how well you do in this?

For many people reading this, you may have been called to a single place or community for a number of years, even decades – but the same still applies. Have you bottomed out why you are where you are? In our passage, we hear of David who “served the purposes of God in his generation” (v36) - is there more to discover about the unique contribution and shape you are for the sake of the kingdom where you’ve been planted for God’s purposes?

Lord Jesus, please continue to reveal why I am where I am as who I am. Use me in any and every way possible for the purposes you’ve called me to fulfil in my generation.

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for (say the names of your 5), that they would ‘come to their sense’ and realise you exist. Reveal your love to them. Amen

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Friday 17 May

Acts 14:1-28 with Adewole Agbaje

Acts 14 starts off with Paul and Barnabas in Iconium, the scriptures talks about how they spoke so “effectively that a great numbers of Jews and Greeks became believers”. However, this ignited anger in some of their opposition and they went around spreading rumours that “poisoned their minds” against Paul and Barnabas. Yet Paul and Barnabas responded to this, by continuing the work of spreading the good news and God confirmed their message by “signs and wonders”. I feel like this extract has great implications for the everyday believer. Sometimes God places it on our hearts to reach a people group, initiate a certain project or to bring renewal to an area. And the conflict we may face might not just be internal but sometimes it’s external. In some cases, the people who are meant to be propelling you forward, are the very ones that counteract you. And what I love about Paul and Barnabas is that they did not retaliate by fighting the same way their opposition did by spreading rumours but simply continued doing the work God laid on their hearts and was even persecuted in other regions. Violent opposition, rumours and disapproval from others was not a reason for them to stop spreading the good news.

A friend of mine once told me that he wanted to grow in intimacy with God and felt like God was asking him to give up partying and drinking. He’s other close friends and peers laughed at him and thought he was ridiculous for trying to pursue is faith in a wild university context. However, a few months’ later people started seeing the fruit of his faith, saw the new freedom and purity he walked in and started asking questions about Christianity. As a result, some of his friends gave his life to Jesus. There is fruit when we persist in following the promptings of God despite the opposition.

Father God please strengthen me so that I might persist in following your leadings despite my external surroundings. Amen

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for (say the names of your 5), that they would ‘come to their sense’ and realise you exist. Reveal your love to them. Amen

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Saturday 18 May

Acts 15:1-21 with Margaret Vernon

Today’s passage covers how the Jewish Council solves the problem that arose when Jewish believers said that Gentiles must be circumcised in order to be saved.

The message that these Jewish believers brought added requirements to the message of the Gospel. The Good News is that when Jesus died for our sins we were made right with God. We did nothing and can do nothing to earn forgiveness for our sins. To say that believers needed to be circumcised was to say that what Jesus did was not enough; that they had to do more to be saved from their sins. Salvation is by grace alone, faith alone. God’s gift is for everyone, just as they are, everyone is saved by the grace of Jesus.
In Romans 10:9 it says, ‘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.’

Spend some time in prayer focusing on your 5. Bring each one to your mind, think about your friendship/relationship with them. What they are like, their personalities, their character traits. God loves them just as they are, he accepts them just as they are.

Lord Jesus, I surrender a fresh to you as Lord. Amen

Father God teach me to be faithful in prayer for my 5. Help me to be your witness to them and to love them. Give me boldness in sharing you. I believe that you are working in their hearts even as I pray. Amen

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for (say the names of your 5), that they would ‘come to their sense’ and realise you exist. Reveal your love to them. Amen

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Week 5

Sunday 19 May

Luke 14:15-24 with Elaine Sutherland

Jesus told this parable on the Sabbath whilst at the house of a Pharisee where He was being closely watched. It was one of those occasions when Jesus asked a provocative question and then performed what was to them an offensive healing. The subtle confrontation continued as Jesus used further questions to challenge the way the guests had picked the places of honour at the table. This is the reason for the question asked by the man in verse 15 and the subsequent parable.

I don’t know about you but I find it hard not to be offended when I prepare for a party or meal and the quests either cancel last minute or eat and go. This is what’s happening in this story, excuses, excuses, excuses; what is being said is my latest toy or possession, my work and other relationships are more important and can’t wait despite the commitment I have made to the attending the banquet. This pick and mix attitude is all to obvious in the church. In the parable the master is angry with the ‘invited’, so take a moment now to confess for yourself and the church our consumerist attitude and actions and seek forgiveness.

What was the master’s response to his servant? “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.” The servant did GO OUT to a people group and was able to say upon his return “Sir, what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.” How wonderful! The master’s response: “Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.” This time the servant is told to go to a place with the added instruction to compel people to come.

 

Who are the people and where are places you are sent to? Who will you compel to come to the feast by loving them with acts of kindness, sharing your stories of life with Jesus and demonstrating the power of God with prayer, signs and wonders?

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Lord Jesus, I will go to the place and people you send me to, fill me with your love and power as I do so. I pray for (say the names of your five) that they would be compelled by your love to come and feast at your table of delights. Amen

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Monday 20 May

Acts 15:22-41 with Juliette Willis

Judas and Silas are sent by the Apostles to go to Antioch where Paul and Barnabas are preaching and doing miraculous things. They’re sent to affirm what is written by the Apostles within the letter and to strengthen the confidence in the true gospel preached by Paul and Barnabas. Judas and Silas are encouragers and are used by God for a short time to establish the growing Gentile church in Antioch.

When we look at the whole of the book of Acts we might rightly see Paul and Barnabas as the big guns but even these guys needed running buddies to come alongside them to strengthen the Church.

Sometimes we think we can go it alone. I remember before I got married thinking that I was doing pretty well by myself but that when Ben and I got married we’d make an even better team. That with God we’d be invincible. I very quickly realised for the sake of our marriage we needed a whole gang of people cheering us on and supporting us. Even with family and close friends we all need running buddies. People who will support you, pray for you, be accountable with you and encourage you in your own walk with God. Do you know who your running buddies are? Can you carve out time to speak to them in the coming weeks?

 God, thank you that you never want us to go it alone. Please show me who my running buddies are. Amen

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Lord Jesus, I will go to the place and people you send me to, fill me with your love and power as I do so. I pray for (say the names of your five) that they would be compelled by your love to come and feast at your table of delights. Amen 

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Tuesday 21 May

Acts 16:1-15 with Matt Pidgeon

Often when we begin to think missionally, it can be hard to know where to begin. Our mind can be so full of doubt and the fear of disappointment that we don’t take opportunities to share faith when they present themselves.

In our passage today we see Paul and his companions being led by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel in different places. Each of us has a call to make Disciples of all nations as Jesus commanded us in Matthew 28 and we must be led by the Holy Spirit to do that. Jesus’ model was to spend the morning in intimacy with His Heavenly Father before setting out to minister in the power of the Spirit.

In verse 9 ‘Paul had a vision’ - after being prevented from going to certain places by the Holy Spirit – which reveals to them where to go next. They then have an encounter with a woman called Lydia, with whom they were able to share the gospel because ‘The Lord opened her heart’. This emphasizes the importance of spending time in prayer to seek God for his will, just like Jesus did. The reason they were able to share with Lydia is because she was a God prepared person, someone who was already on a journey with God.

The time we spend in prayer in the morning should set the agenda for the rest of the day. We will experience God leading us to people and places that we wouldn’t normally when we decide to invite him into our day. All of a sudden, we will find people with receptive hearts and a curiosity that they didn’t have previously. This only comes from relying on God and partnering with him where he is already at work.

Are you praying for open doors in your workplace, family and friendships? Join me in praying for God to reveal to us our God prepared people and places.

 

Holy Spirit, fill me with your power and show me where you are already at work. Amen

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Lord Jesus, I will go to the place and people you send me to, fill me with your love and power as I do so. I pray for (say the names of your five) that they would be compelled by your love to come and feast at your table of delights. Amen 

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Wednesday 22 May

Acts 16:16-40 with Cameron Plant

In this passage we find Paul and Silas imprisoned because- apparently out of desiring some peace and quiet- Paul had delivered a girl from an impure spirit. It is interesting that the owners of the girl placed them before religious authorities as a means to an end; I’m sure they weren’t particularly offended by what Paul had done as much as wanted rid of him for removing their tidy little earner in occult fortune telling. We must be sure never to use the church for our own gain financially or socially, it’s only in loving service to the body that we resemble Jesus, not in selfish ambition.

Paul and Silas are thrown in prison after a beating, and the authorities are so used to the Holy Spirit’s prison-breaking they are guarded very closely. On this occasion the Holy Spirit is present through an earthquake that would’ve allowed Paul and Silas to escape. However, that is not ultimately God’s will in the earthquake, and Paul and Silas are sensitive enough to know that this is not an opportunity to escape but a display of the power of God. This demonstration leads to the jailer- complicit in the plot to imprison two innocent men- to believe and be baptised along with his family.

Some years ago a speaker at some training I was attending told the story of being prompted by the Holy Spirit to pull off of the motorway, pull up to a housing block, climb to a certain flat and knock, sharing the good news. He confronted by a man with a gun, who proceeded to tell the speaker that he had just prayed ‘God, unless you show me you’re real, right now, I’m going to kill myself’. Just at that moment he heard the knock at the door that lead him believing and being baptised.

I long to have the sensitivity to the Spirit of Paul, Silas and the speaker in the car. All of them picked up what God was really saying and doing, rather than guessing or going from previous occasions. Our challenge is to ask the Holy Spirit to help us hear him clearly and fast, pray, listen and act so we better hear his voice and so He knows He can trust us with life-changing revelations.

Lord, thank you that you speak to us. I long to hear you better, please help me to recognise your voice and to listen to what you say. I ask that you would trust me with life-changing revelations. Amen

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Lord Jesus, I will go to the place and people you send me to, fill me with your love and power as I do so. I pray for (say the names of your five) that they would be compelled by your love to come and feast at your table of delights. Amen 

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Thursday 23 May

Acts 17:1-15 with James Banks

I love the determination that Paul shows here to share the good news of Jesus with the Jews despite the opposition he faces, and knowing that he has only just been released from prison! Here Paul is explaining the importance of Jesus’ death and resurrection and the way that he had to suffer for our sins. Paul knows how to connect with the people he is speaking to and he uses some of the old testament scriptures that the Jews would have be so familiar with. For some who were there they heard Paul’s teachings and were immediately convinced by it, others however weren’t so convinced by his teachings. Not only that they were Jealous of the following Paul had and were afraid of the popularity he was gaining.

Those who were in opposition of Paul decided that they were not going to let this continue and so they started a riot in the city, thankfully Paul and Silas were hidden but other believers were not so lucky. Thankfully I myself have never been in a riot but you can just imagine the division this would have caused in the city and the fear this would have brought about in Paul and his companions. They are not deterred and very soon after are teaching again in Berea. Even there they are followed by some of the Jews from Thessalonica who bring opposition, but this does not stop Paul. This brings real challenge for me and really causes me to think how far I would go for my faith, especially under the threat of violence.

Thank God today for the freedom that we experience in this country to practice our faith and ask him to reveal to you who it is you can share your faith with today?

 Lord Jesus I thank you for the freedom that we have to worship you and to express our faith publicly to others, help me to be grateful for that and to take the opportunity today to share with someone what you mean to me. Amen.

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Lord Jesus, I will go to the place and people you send me to, fill me with your love and power as I do so. I pray for (say the names of your five) that they would be compelled by your love to come and feast at your table of delights. Amen 

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Friday 24 May

Acts 17:16-34 with Dave Hendra

Here, in Acts 17, Paul brings a new God to the thinkers of Athens. But he starts his day just waiting for Silas and Timothy at the train station in Athens.

Who knows where a day will lead? Probably somewhere unexpected. Paul is leafing half-heartedly through the Metro News when he feels a familiar tug – how about a wander through the markets and city squares and places of worship? – just to get a feel for the place.

 

It didn’t take him long to get worked up, to be outraged (v16) – the city was full of idols – opportunities to worship anything and everything apart from the personal God he loved.

So he starts arguing (debating?) ... in their places of worship and in their public squares with anyone who will listen. He interrupts ‘casual passers-by’ (v17). This period ends with Paul being invited to a gathering of philosophers to fill them in on his opinion about the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

Perhaps there are two things we can glean from this incident.

The first is that you don’t know what God is going to do in you, through you, around you today. The life of a Jesus-follower is a life of daily adventure. If you think today will be dreary – waiting around for something more important – you’re incorrect! This is the day the Lord has made and he’s got plans for it. Big time.

I was prompted to give something valuable to a friend recently. It took me two months to obey the nudge because I’m stingy at heart. My friend had been praying the day before for the very thing I gave them!

The Second is that Paul cares. He is outraged that his Jesus should be overlooked. Do we care this much? His outrage sends him into debates with other people – confrontation! Casual passers-by (v17) don’t have such a relaxing Saturday stroll any more. Maybe we can learn from Paul.

Who knows where today will lead? – probably somewhere unexpected – but rest assured, your heavenly father sees it coming.

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Lord Jesus, I will go to the place and people you send me to, fill me with your love and power as I do so. I pray for (say the names of your five) that they would be compelled by your love to come and feast at your table of delights. Amen 

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Saturday 25 May

Acts 18:1-28 with Dâmares Gomes

Out of the whole passage, it was verse 9 that really stood out to me.

“9 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10 For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.”   

I’ve always been very shy; most people don’t believe me because when I’m with people I’m comfortable with I get very loud and I seem very confident, but I was always afraid to speak in public or being in front of an audience.  It didn’t take too long for God to call me out from my deepest fears and invite me to step out of my comfort zone.  And one thing I am sure; nobody likes to be uncomfortable.  

In our passage, we see Paul in Corinth. Apparently, everything was going well in his life and ministry, until one day when the Jews start to oppose Paul and become abusive to him because of his testimony about Jesus.

He was so frustrated about it that he even considered stopping his preaching to the Jews. But right after these events, Crispus, the synagogue leader and his entire household believed in Jesus, as well as many other Corinthians.

But sometimes a victory on the outside doesn’t take away the fears we have on the inside. So, God Himself decides to encourage Paul by giving him a vision. He knew that Paul was in a difficult and uncomfortable situation, in a city that he was facing public abuse and opposition. God knew Paul was afraid and He knew how difficult it was for him to face all of that, so He intervened. Through a vision God speaks directly to Paul, removing every fear and affirming Paul’s mission, and letting him know that the God of the universe was on his side. 

We need to believe and be certain that God is with us and for us. We need to have this truth in our hearts, no matter what the situation is.  

How about you? Do you feel overwhelmed by fear at the moment? Are you caught up in an uncomfortable situation?  

Jesus, I pray that you reveal your thoughts about me. I pray that you give me a fearless heart and a real awareness of your presence with me. Amen

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Lord Jesus, I will go to the place and people you send me to, fill me with your love and power as I do so. I pray for (say the names of your five) that they would be compelled by your love to come and feast at your table of delights. Amen 

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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