Acts 5:12-26

Today’s devotional is written by Pastor Emily Sterling-Strongman.

Today’s photo comes from Saturday’s March for our Lives event in Orlando. This grassroots, student and young-people led movement calls for action to eliminate gun violence.

Today is the first day of Vacation Bible School! Our theme this year is “Make Waves: What you do today can change the world around you.” Children, youth volunteers, and adults will be learning how to work together with God and with each other to make a positive difference in the world. Please pray that all involved in VBS will have a safe, healthy, fun, and spiritually meaningful week.

Jealousy. We have all been there and felt that. We have resented other people or groups because they are younger, newer, prettier, smarter, stronger, or more financially resourced. Or perhaps we are bitter towards other people or groups because they appear to be better liked or more appreciated. We feel some kind of way towards those other people or groups.

Taking sides. We have been there and done that. Sometimes we have believed so strongly in our cause, in the rightness of our thoughts, the certainty of our actions, and the legitimacy of our beliefs, that we resist anyone who opposes or contradicts us.

People in the Bible are no different. Acts 5:17-21 says, “The high priest, together with his allies, the Sadducees, was overcome with jealousy. They seized the apostles and made a public show of putting them in prison. An angel from the Lord opened the prison doors during the night and led them out. The angel told them, ‘Go, take your place in the temple, and tell the people everything about this new life.’ Early in the morning, they went into the temple as they had been told and began to teach.”

The Jewish religious leaders were jealous of Peter and the early apostles. They saw the apostles reaching people with the gospel of Jesus Christ and this seemed to contradict everything that the Jewish religious leaders believed. Out of jealousy, the Jewish religious leaders opposed the apostles to the point of imprisoning the apostles in an effort to stop the apostles and their new ministry. The Jewish religious leaders could not stop the movement of the Holy Spirit though. “An angel from the Lord” or the Spirit opened the prison doors and led the apostles out of prison to freedom. This same angel or Spirit encouraged the apostles to go back to the temple and to tell people about the new life made possible through Jesus Christ. The apostles followed the guidance of the Spirit.

The Jewish religious leaders could not see or hear the Holy Spirit at work through the apostles due to their own jealousy and insecurity. They are not alone. We fall prey to jealousy, insecurity, and division. We sometimes fail to consider that God could be working through other people beyond ourselves to do something new in this world. We hold fast to our certainty and traditions instead of celebrating the new life happening all around us.

  1. What new life do you see the Holy Spirit cultivating around you through other people who do not look like you, talk like you, believe exactly as you believe, or do church in the same way as you?
  2. What do you need to change, relax, or surrender – mindsets, opinions, traditions, certainties – in order to open yourself to the movement of the Holy Spirit?

Please share your ideas, thoughts, comments, and questions. We want to hear them!

One response to “Acts 5:12-26”

  1. So much time and effort is spent trying to understand our human differences. Perhaps our individual gay-ness, straight-ness, whiteness, blackness, gender, nationality, religion – or any other human-created label – blinds us to the Spirit of God. Is it even possible, in our human condition, to understand an all-encompassing Spirit, who loves each and every one, no matter how “acceptable” or understandable to the rest? Must we understand our human differences to believe in and accept a shared spiritual identity?
    “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

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