Grow Deep - Sent Vol 2 - Week 1
Week 1: June 23-29
Sent to the Forgotten
Memory Verse: “… God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5b
Have you ever felt forgotten or unappreciated by someone close to you … or even by God? Have you ever felt isolated in a crowded room as if no one even knew or cared that you were there? Have you tried to enter into a conversation, only to be discounted and ignored?
The beggar in Acts 3 knew what it felt like to be ignored and isolated. Day after day he showed up at the Temple gate and begged for help from passersby. Then he met Peter and John, who were “sent” to the Temple by the Spirit to attend daily prayer.
The beggar made a plea to Peter for help. Overlooked and forgotten by nearly everyone, this lame man was used to being ignored. But this day he received anything but an expected response! Peter was direct – “Look at us!” he told the man. Hoping for a coin or two, the beggar gave Peter his attention. Still, he expected only money in return. Peter did not offer money but offered the gift of healing in Jesus’ name instead. Surprised, the man simply accepted Peter’s help to rise to his feet. Never in all his life had he been able to do this! He was completely healed! Astonished, he walked into the Temple and began to leap for joy, continuously praising God. He no longer felt forgotten; he felt restored. God had neither forgotten nor forsaken him.
God does not forget or forsake us either. When we trust in God, we can be confident that our pain, our feelings of isolation and hurt are being used by Him for an eternal purpose. We can be certain that He is right there with us! We can trust in His promise: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5b)
Sunday, June 23
Read: Acts 3:1-12
Peter and John were sent by the Spirit to the temple to preach and teach. At the entrance gate, Peter calls on the name and power of Jesus to heal a lame beggar who had been "forgotten" for all of his life.
Reflect: God put His mark on each of us in our Baptism, and we should remember that He never forgets us! He knows us by name and has each one of us in His care, keeping us close. He reminds us of His presence through Word and Sacrament. He is with us now through His Holy Spirit and will be for all eternity. Tell someone how it makes you feel to know that God is always present with you. How can you reach out to someone who has been “forgotten” by society with the Good News of Jesus?
Monday, June 24
Read: Acts 3:13-26
Peter continues preaching and clearly points out to the listening crowd that they are the ones who killed the Savior of the World. He calls for them to repent.
Reflect: Have you ever pondered the marvel of being included in the covenant that God made with Abraham in ancient times? We are joined with all believers who have gone before us; we are part of that long train of saints who eagerly anticipated the arrival of the Messiah as well as those who witnessed His life, death, resurrection and ascension into glory. We are among those who “have not seen yet have believed.” (John 20:29) How does this bring comfort and peace in times of trial and struggle? How does it encourage you to go out into your community as one “sent” by God to share the Truth of the Gospel?
Tuesday, June 25
Read: Acts 4:1-22
Peter and John were called to appear before the Jewish leaders who asked by what power they healed the lame man at the gate. Peter boldly confessed that it was by the power of Jesus who was crucified by them. They commanded Peter and John to refrain from speaking about Jesus, but they refused.
Reflect: Are we Christians regarded as pesky trouble-makers by those in our culture who would just like us to go away or, at most, see Jesus as only a prophet or teacher? How were Peter and John treated by those who wanted to silence them? Consider their response? How should we respond to those same voices echoing all around us today?
Wednesday, June 26
Read: Acts 4:23-37
After their release from prison and questioning by the Jewish leaders, Peter and John were sent back to their people to tell them all that God had done. They earnestly prayed, and all the people were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke boldly of Jesus. In unity of purpose, they generously shared their possessions with anyone in need.
Reflect: It appears that the unity of purpose apparent among all the disciples was a key factor in the rapid growth of the early Church in Jerusalem. Why? In what ways are we “sent” to “our people” to tell them all that God has done for us?
Thursday, June 27
Read: Acts 5:1-16
The people were selling their possessions to give to the poor. Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Spirit about their gift and kept a portion for themselves. They were struck down dead. There were many miracles and healings done in that community and many came to faith as a result.
Reflect: It can be unnerving to contemplate that God sees and knows all the desires of our hearts, can’t it? If it shakes us up (as it should), how does pondering the depths of His compassion in sending our merciful Redeemer keep us from falling into terror and despair?
Friday, June 28
Read: Acts 5:17-33
The apostles were imprisoned, but an angel of the Lord let them out, and they were sent to the Temple to preach the words of life. The Jewish leaders called them to appear before them again and asked why they were preaching when they were instructed not to. They replied that they had to obey God and not man. The leaders began to plot to have them killed.
Reflect: Jesus warned his followers that if the world hated Him, it would hate them as well. Should it scare us or prepare us to know that we may be mocked, vilified or outright attacked for proclaiming our faith in Him?
Saturday, June 29
Read: Acts 5:34-42
Gamaliel, a member of the Council that was plotting to kill the apostles, became a voice of reason. He counseled that they should "wait and see." If the apostles were really men of God, their message would endure. If not, their message would bear no fruit.
Reflect: We know the end of the earthly stories of Peter and John. We know that we, too, will eventually meet our bodily deaths unless Jesus returns beforehand. Does this account of the activity of Peter and John give us perspective concerning our own troubles and daily struggles? We may or may not be as blatantly persecuted for our faith in Jesus as the apostles were, but how can we find strength and comfort in knowing that God’s will always prevails in the end? How can we find comfort in the knowledge that we are never forgotten by God?