April Memory Verse: “He began to preach about Jesus in the synagogues. "He is God's Son,” he declared." Acts 9:20
Apr 15: Paul Escapes. Saul became a different person -- so he no longer identified proudly with his Jewish name. But it took time for other disciples and believers to trust him and to see that he was no longer living under the same values of power, violence and Old Testament law. And he began to be known by his Greek name -- Paul. His new friends helped him to escape the fate he once had planned for them -- arrest and death. Would you change your name if you now identified with a new community or family?
Apr 22: The Church Grows. As Paul continued to show he was a changed person, his old enemies became his friends and his old friends began to plot to kill him. Barnabas vouched for Paul to the apostles and disciples in Jerusalem and when they heard of the plot against him, they helped him escape again, this time by ship. Paul and Barnabas traveled together, on a missionary journey. Would you believe Paul changed and trust him enough to help him and travel with him?
Apr 29: Timothy is Chosen. Paul and Barnabas went separate ways on their second missionary journey and each took a partner. Along their way, Paul and Silas met Timothy, a young man who was both Jewish and Greek. He was a believer because of his mother and grandmother who had taught him. Because of their work with Jews, Paul wanted Timothy to be circumcised (although not necessary for a Christian, it would help him in ministry to Jews). What would help you to be heard by your neighbors and community?
May Memory Verse: “Change your hearts and lives." Acts 2:38
May 6: Lydia. In a patriarchal society women are not given the same respect or opportunities, are not allowed to go the same places or converse about the same topics. In Philippi, Paul and Silas went by the river and came upon a group of women, not allowed to teach in the synagogue. But instead of preaching at them, Paul and Silas chose to sit and listen, and when Lydia talked with them she asked to be baptized. Lydia was an upper-class businesswoman and now she began to host the growing church of Philippi in her house. What have you learned from believing women in your life?
May 13: Paul and Silas. While preaching in Philippi, Paul and Silas healed a young slave girl from her evil spirit, which made her owner very angry. He had them thrown in jail, where they were chained. Instead of complaints, Paul and Silas chose to praise God, pray and sing. God honored them, and at midnight there was an earthquake that freed them from their chains. Instead of running for freedom, Paul and Silas stayed put, sparing the jailer's life. And the jailer and his whole house were baptized. What if Paul and Silas had run?
May 20: Pentecost. Pentecost is 50 days after Passover. It is a holiday to thank God for the grain harvest. The first Pentecost after Jesus' death and resurrection, all the disciples were together praying. The sound of wind -- like the wind parting the Red Sea -- and the flame on each head -- like the flame of the pillar of fire that guided the Israelites through the desert at night -- were symbols of the Spirit of God. The crowd that came to the house heard the disciples speak a message of good news for restoration and Shalom with God. Do your neighbors and community hear you speak a message of good news?
May 27: Shipwrecked! Paul was a prisoner, among other prisoners, headed for Rome. On the way, a terrible storm threatened the ship and crew. But Paul encouraged them, saying that an angel from God had guaranteed that he and all the others would live to see Rome. And after fourteen days of storm, they ran aground just short of a beach. If any prisoners escaped it meant death for the soldiers, so they planned to kill the prisoners. But the centurion wished to spare Paul and so gave orders for all who could, to swim. And so, all were brought safely to land. In storms of life, do you encourage those who are on the ship with you?