Series: The New Humanity
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Tim Gillespie
Live Wonder: Verity Were
Live Adventure: Zan Long
Live Beyond: Moe Stiles
Live Purpose: Vanessa Rivera
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Acts 2:14-21 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Why do we always want to go back to the “good old days?” Were they really that good? I remember sitting in the bed of my parent’s old Toyota truck—this must have been in 1975—and driving across the whole country laying on a mattress in the truck bed. My father had purchased a little cap for the back of the truck and we took off across the country. I can’t tell you everything we did, but it is certainly different than the way my wife, kids, and I make a long distance drive today.
Then: Two kids bouncing around in the back of a truck with no safety restraints and very little to do all day.
Now: Three kids (We had one more than my parents!) strapped into a very safe minivan with all the technology they could ask for. (It might not be better, but they are quite a bit safer).
Or how about when needles for vaccinations looked like Slurpee spoons? Now they are so small you can hardly feel them pierce the skin.
Do you remember the first cell phones? They came with a briefcase for a battery and very little coverage. Now you can have the same data plan in 160 countries with very few areas with no coverage. It is truly amazing!
And things weren’t necessarily better “back then” when it comes to faith either. Things can be better now—and even in the days to come—if we can remember to dream. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to believe that the gifts of dreaming and having visions are gone, and they won’t be around anymore. We have a tendency to look to the minutiae of this text and forget the big and bold statements that were being made—to dream and ask God for visions of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Remember the end of the text? “But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21, NLT). If those are the capstone words of the text, then we should be free to dream and ask for visions of how the world might reflect heaven more powerfully every day, every hour, every minute of our lives.
Recalibrate: How do you believe that the world can reflect heaven more profoundly? What can you do in your area of influence to make this happen? Answer this question in practical ways that will affect those around you.
Respond: Do some of what you just wrote down. Take one action item a day to visit on those around you so that they may taste just a bit of heaven every day, through you!
Research: For a fun look at how things were in history—purchase this book from Amazon and have a fun read!
Remember: “Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams. Your young men will see visions” (Acts 2:17, ICB).
Dr. Timothy Gillespie is lead pastor of Crosswalk Church in Redlands, CA. He also teaches at several universities and consults on mission integration for Adventist Health.
Talk with your little one about the Words to Remember for this week. Discuss the meaning of the verse and some of the words they may not understand, such as prophesy or visions. You can then discuss how this verse may be relevant in their lives. For example, this verse reminds me of the great potential God has given both me and my children. We are able to do the impossible through God our Father.
Read the text this week (Acts 2:14-21). In good times and in tough times, when we are dreaming of all good things and when there is fire and smoke and everything seems wrong, know that anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Dream of who Jesus is and who He wants us to be. Pray that His spirit is poured out on all kinds of people so we can be like Him.
Hands up if you are a high achiever. I am totally a high achiever. I am a sucker for wanting to do the right thing all the time (some may call me boring) but then I have this tension because on the one hand I want to do the right thing all the time, but then the other part of me just wants to rebel and not care. Here’s the thing: growing up in a community of faith—a community where God was discussed a lot in the context of doing the right things for God in order to get a star in our crown in heaven—I always felt like I had to earn my way to heaven. If I walked a certain way, spoke a certain way, hung out with a certain group of people, read my Bible and prayed every day—even if I fell asleep during my Bible reading and prayer—if I did all of those things right, I would go to heaven and God would love me more than anyone else in the whole wide world! Now that I am a little older and wiser (sometimes I still don’t act wisely), I don’t believe that I need to earn my way to heaven. If this week’s passage and other biblical passages are anything to go by, apparently I don’t have to earn my way to heaven at all. It is only through Jesus that I am saved. No amount of preaching or Bible study is ever going to save me; only Jesus can save me. Prayers are the medium in which I communicate with Jesus who does the saving. Studying the Bible about Jesus and His love and the way He goes about saving me give me an understanding of His saving work, but only Jesus saves me. And the passage this week has been a great reminder that “everyone who calls on the name of Jesus will be saved.” Is that good news or what? Have you ever asked Jesus to save you? Do you believe that you are saved? How does that sit with you? Ask your parents to share with you their story of being saved by Jesus.
My fiancé and I are getting married later this year. It’s going to be a totally new journey. I’ve chosen to take his last name so I’ll soon have a new name: Vanessa Alarcon. Once I sign our marriage certificate, I will have to change every identifier I have, from my driver’s license to my passport. The people I meet after I get married may never know my old name. I will go through all of these things to change my legal name but in reality I won’t have changed. I will still be the same Vanessa that I was before I changed my last name. The reason I’m not changing is because my name is an earthly identity. While changing my name will be a complicated process, it is still a very small aspect of who I am. I can even change my first name and start going by my middle name, Elizabeth, and I will still be the same. God does not call us to simply change one aspect of ourselves. He is calling us to be transformed into a New Humanity. In the coming weeks, we will continue exploring what this means for us today.
Verity Were is a registered nurse at the largest pediatric intensive care unit in Sydney, Australia. She attends Kellyville Adventist church with her husband and two toddlers.
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Moe Stiles is lead pastor at Oasis Church in Vancouver, WA. She is married to Adrian and is mother to Caleb and Johnny.
Vanessa Rivera is a therapist at a community mental health center in Denver, CO, and serves as the faith engagement pastor at Boulder Church.