Great Plains Daily Devotional for 5/26/2020

Today please be in prayer for

Laurel Crusinberry
Chaplain Horisun Hospice
Bryan Medical Center
Blue River District
Ruth Karlsson
Director
Released and Restored
Blue River District
Melissa Draper
Northeast UCC, Lincoln
Blue River District
Austin Rivera
Yale University, PhD Religious Studies
Blue River District

Today's Lectionary Text

Acts 11:19-30

Read slowly and prayerfully.  What words or phrases stand out for you?

Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that took place over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, and they spoke the word to no one except Jews. But among them were some men of Cyprus and Cyrene who, on coming to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists also, proclaiming the Lord Jesus. The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to the Lord. News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion; for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were brought to the Lord. Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for an entire year they met with the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called “Christians.”

At that time prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them named Agabus stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine over all the world; and this took place during the reign of Claudius. The disciples determined that according to their ability, each would send relief to the believers living in Judea; this they did, sending it to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

Today's Devotional

Do you really think “they will know we are Christians by our love, by our love?”  What if they do?  Will that mean we are accepted, appreciated, or even welcome?
 
There are no guarantees.  In a hostile environment, facing persecution, aware of the brutality one could suffer as a witness, many of Christ followers fled in fear.  They chose to speak only in hushed tones, only to the familiar, only to people who would not pose a threat.  Do not be a witness; you saw what happened to Stephen.
 
But the Spirit of boldness took hold of a few of them.  They were able to proclaim Christ.  To new people in unfamiliar places, the word Christ was spoken again and again.  When people who have nothing are generous, when people who are scared stand, when people who are victimized can claim personhood, when people who are ashamed lift their heads, when people who persecute drop their swords, when people who are brutal embrace their victims—we ask why.
 
The fellowship at Antioch answered, “Christ.”  When our hopes are in Christ and our value comes from Christ, when our prayers are to Christ and our joy in in Christ.  We pay attention to Christ in our lives, we give Christ credit, and we seek Christ’s deliverance.  Is it any wonder people called them Christians?
 
Boldness is rare in every generation.  People don’t want advice; we can get that anywhere.  People want to know why you are so amazing.  We want to know YOUR secret.  How did you make it through that tragedy in your life?  How did you have the strength to raise those children on your own?  How did you keep hope alive in the face of death? How did you forgive the person that victimized you so brutally?  How is that you have the nerve to be so happy?
 
Can we give credit where credit is due?  Are we afraid of what they will call us?  The story of the church is your story.  Should it be a secret?
 
Be bold.
 
-George Bennett

Prayer for Reflection

Holy God, we pray that You would show us who might have a prophetic word in our congregaton; a word that would rekindle or fan the flames so that your faith community would become a stronger witness and further the mission of God in the world.  Amen.
 
“Excerpted from the book “Catch Fire in 50 Days: Joining the Movement of God’s Mission in the World” by Blake Busick and Christie Latona.”
 
 

 

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