Boldly Proclaiming, Joyfully Persevering, and Bedtime Prayers

Sunday, we examined Acts 5:17-42 through the lens of the invitation for us to live our lives “Boldly Proclaiming and Joyfully Persevering” in the ministry. In Acts 5, Peter, John, and the Apostles are boldly proclaiming the good news of Jesus. It was so demonstrative, that it caused much uproar as the Sadducees accused these apostles of “filling Jerusalem with the teaching of Christ” with the intent of “bringing the blood of Jesus upon their heads.” How the Sadducees describe what the Apostles are doing is actually spot on. They did want to bring the blood of Jesus upon their heads, for that is precisely what they needed to come to grips with if they were going to receive the benefits of the spilt blood of Jesus: reconciliation with God.

Additionally, we see these early believers joyfully persevering even in the midst of suffering and persecution. They are beaten to the point of their death, yet they rejoice that they are counted worthy of honor in this way.

The question we sought to answer was “What motivation do we have to live similar lives to these early believers?” The imperative of the Gospel - to live lives that make much of Christ even in the midst of suffering and persecution - is not divorced from an indicative. There are certain truths that actually provide the motivation and basis for such a life of scandal, persecution, and suffering for the name of Jesus. In other words, God does not call to you a life of obedience without giving you a hope to cling to as you seek to live obediently. Here are 3 motivations I identified on Sunday:
  • Life in His Name: See the Life we have in God
    • There is a promise of eternal life with God. We get Life. That’s the promise that we are looking to as we live our lives making much of Christ. And Revelation tells us that if we are “faithful unto death…[He] will give [us] the crown of life. This is the basis for a life that boldly proclaims Christ and a life that joyfully persevered through anything that comes our way.
  • Holy Spirit Testimony: Be impressionable to the Testimony of the Holy Spirit
    • In Acts 5, the Apostles specifically say that they were witnesses to the life, work, and resurrection of Christ. But they go on to say even further that the Holy Spirit testifies of Christ as well. If we have the Holy Spirit we have an abiding witness of the person and work of Christ in an even better way than if we were one of the apostles. This is significant for us! What this means is that how we can expect to make it to the end is through the Holy Spirit’s ministry in our lives of testifying over and over again to the work of Christ on our behalf. We do not have to question how we can make it to the end for the Holy Spirit is working in us to see persevere to that day. And He does this by testifying to us of the Son of God, Jesus.
  • Fellowship in His Sufferings: Embrace and Invite Our Participation in the Life of Christ
    • As the waves of life crash, they crash us against the Rock of Christ (as Spurgeon says). There is an expectation that we can have that as we suffer for the name of Christ, God will be working in us something that we could have never experienced without much calamity and hardship. Suffering, according to the NT, is the means for some particular fellowship we have with Jesus Himself. There is a fellowship we get to have in suffering that God uses in our lives. So we can handle whatever comes our way because we are experiencing deeper intimacy with Jesus through our trials. 

I hope these reasons alone motivate you to a life where you see the possibility of your days spent boldly proclaiming and joyfully persevering.

In Christ,
Alex Gailey

P.S. - In my sermon, I also mentioned some prayer rhythms our family has. Call it a family liturgy. Language matters in our lives. These small rhythms are ways that we point our attention and cultivate our conversations in ways that are forming us into the people that we want to be. We have a few prayers that we pray regularly with our kids. I will rotate bedtime liturgies and morning prayer times with different prayers depending on the day and our needs. But, here is one that I pulled from Justin Whitmel Earley that have been particularly helpful and fun for our kids.
At night, we pray something we call “The Body Prayer” where we progressively touch different body parts and pray accordingly. It goes like this:
Jesus, bless our feet, may they bring good news.
Bless our legs, may they carry on in times of suffering.
Bless our backs, may they be strong enough to bear the burdens of others.
Bless our arms to hold the lonely, and our hands to do good work.
Bless our necks, may they turn our heads toward the poor.
Bless our ears to discern truth, our eyes to see beauty, and our mouths to speak encouragement.
Bless our minds, may they grow wise.
And finally, bless our hearts, may we grow to love you — and all that you have made — in the right order.
Ezzy particularly has been moved by “our necks turning our heads toward the poor.” Each night, it feels like a different part of the prayer stands out to us and the kids. This is a way that we are inviting God into the entirety of our lives: heart, mind, body, and soul.

P.S.S. - For Advent this year, we are going to be studying Ruth and I cannot wait. I think this sermon series is going to be particularly helpful for us in the season that our church is in. 
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