Grow Deep - Sent Vol 2 - Week 4
Week 4: July 14-20
Sent With the Truth
Memory Verse: “Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth.” John 17:17
Gears turning inside their head. Those words are often used to describe someone lost in thought, but as a high schooler they take on a more literal meaning for me. I am a machine. Every year I memorize countless terms, solve numerous equations and fill in plenty of bubbles, all to prove I know the “facts.” The key word there is know because while I know a lot for my tests, I don’t actually use a lot of that information in real life. Beyond those few small multiple choice bubbles, many of the facts I learn fail to leave an impact on me. Eventually, they are lost as my mind is wiped clean to receive more information.
Along with other Christians, I sometimes struggle with a similar problem in my faith life. Yes, we can all fill in the bubbles of attending church and reading the Bible, and yes, we know the facts, but we fail to allow those facts to spill over into our everyday realities. In this week’s readings, we learn about Saul—a Pharisee who certainly knew the facts of Judaism and likely knew a lot about the early Christians. Yet, simply knowing the facts wasn’t enough to lead him to the truth.
When Jesus entered into Saul’s life, He changed those otherwise useless facts into an essential truth. He reshaped Saul’s identity into Paul, a strong believer who boldly proclaimed the Gospel. We, too, can allow Jesus’ truth to step into our lives and become the axiom upon which our entire existence is built. However, this truth isn’t just meant for us and the bubble of our church—it’s meant for everyone! Like Paul, Jesus sends us to break out of our mechanical mindset and spread His truth.
Sunday, July 14
Read: Acts 9:1-6
Saul asked to be sent to Damascus with the authority to persecute and arrest Christians there. While on his way, Jesus appeared to him and asked him why he was persecuting the church. Saul asked who He was. After hearing the truth from Jesus, Saul became a Christian.
Reflect: Saul knew the facts of the Jewish faith as presented in the Law, but he was spiritually blind to the reality that Jesus is God's Son and the promised Messiah. Reflect on your own faith and stumbling blocks like pride, selfishness and doubt that you have encountered. Sing the first verse of Amazing Grace and thank God for opening the eyes of your heart to His saving grace.
Monday, July 15
Read: Acts 9:7-9
After his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, Saul arose from the ground and saw no one. For three days he neither drank nor ate, and he was unable to see.
Reflect: Have you ever participated in a spiritual retreat, a time away from your usual routine to spend intentional time with Jesus? What impact did it have on your faith life? Did it increase your zeal for doing God's work? Try to imagine the ways God used Saul's three-day blindness to prepare him for the lifelong work He was sending him to do as a missionary to the Gentiles.
Tuesday, July 16
Read: Acts 9:10-18
The Lord spoke to Ananias, a disciple in Damascus, and sent him to Saul of Tarsus, His chosen vessel. Although Ananias had some concerns initially, he went. He laid hands on Saul; Saul's sight was restored and he was baptized.
Reflect: Think of a time when you were “sent” but, like Ananias, you were hesitant to do what God was asking you to do. How did you respond? What was the outcome? What did you learn about yourself and about the character of God? Pray for boldness to speak the truth when God sends your next opportunity to share His saving grace with others.
Wednesday, July 17
Read: Acts 9:19-23
Saul spent time with the disciples in Damascus and was then sent to the synagogues to preach the truth. Jewish leaders would have expected him to condemn Christians, but he amazed and confounded them with the Truth instead. After a while, they plotted to kill him.
Reflect: The tables are turned! Saul, who intended to kill and persecute the Christians in Damascus, is now being hunted by the Jewish leaders who originally sent him to persecute the disciples and followers of the Way. Have you experienced broken relationships or persecution because of your faith? Which pieces of the full armor of God do you rely on most to stand firm in your faith in these circumstances? (Read Ephesians 6:10-18 for help in answering.)
Thursday, July 18
Read: Acts 9:24-31
Disciples in Damascus lowered Saul down and out of the city in a basket to save his life. Saul went to Jerusalem, but the disciples were still afraid of him. Barnabas befriended him, and Saul preached boldly the truth of the Gospel. After another threat on his life, Saul was sent to Tarsus (his home town).
Reflect: What role did Barnabas play in Saul's early ministry? Do you enjoy being a mentor to others? Look for ways to encourage the faith of a fellow believer this week. Ask God to “send” you to someone in your sphere of influence who needs to hear an encouraging word from you today.
Friday, July 19
Read: Acts 9:32-35
Peter was sent to Lydda where he healed a paralyzed man named Aeneas, who was bedridden, by the power of the Holy Spirit. All who lived in that community and the neighboring community of Sharon turned to the Lord as a result.
Reflect: Like Peter, we are “sent” to our community to care for the sick and those in need and to share the saving message of the Gospel with them. Ask God to show you a specific way you can serve a neighbor in need this summer. Consider volunteering for one of the summer serving events sponsored by our congregation!
Saturday, July 20
Read: Acts 9:36-43
Peter was sent to Joppa, a town near Lydda, where he raised a charitable, Christian woman, Dorcas, from the dead. He presented her alive to the "saints" who lived there after praying for the Spirit's power to raise her from the dead. Many became Christians in that community after witnessing that miracle.
Reflect: Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus gave the disciples the authority to heal the sick, raise the dead and forgive sins. We celebrate the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and cleansing of our sins in the sacrament of Baptism. Celebrate your baptism by sharing with someone what it means to you to be a baptized child of God!