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sabbath JULY 7

Joel 2:28;

Rom. 2:15;

Eph. 6:12

Introduction God Promises Us Power? Super Ones?



“You can surmise that following the ins and outs of the latest superhero films is a surefire way to post stuff that readers will be interested in.”* Such a statement reflects how exciting the last 10 years have been for nerds everywhere, as Hollywood invests billions of dollars into content promoting superheroes combating existing and growing evils in the universe. Though it was the interest of many before, why the new trend?

Like a bank manager looking into a vault, God knows what is inside and what we are made of. Since Scripture says it is all “written” on our hearts, we inherently know there is something greater—a call that is of divine proportions and potency, waiting for us to embrace and accept that which is from God.

Like a bank manager looking into a vault, God knows what is inside and what we are made of.

Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:12 that humanity wrestles “not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

As evil takes innocence in its grasp, we know it is to abuse, kill, and destroy those without knowledge.

As evil shows its face all about us, God reaches across space and time to aid His creatures in their need of Him. “ And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions” (Joel 2:28).

For generations, God placed single individuals at a time to hold His light in this dark world; but not until the day Christ’s followers were visited, empowered with God’s might and His Spirit in that upper room, were they able to combat the existing and growing evils in these last days.

So why the trend?

Why the Superman or Ironman fascinations?

For we are not looking to pantheonic beings for inspiration, but in truth, they stand as reminders of our purpose and are fictitious reflections of ourselves looking into a mirror remembering whose we truly are: God’s.

Todd VanDerWerff, “Superhero Movie Hype Is Starting to Drive Studios’ Creative Decisions. It’s a Problem,” Vox, last modified August 18, 2016, http://www.vox.com/2016/8/18/12507336 /suicide-squad-box-office-trailer.

Juan-Jose D. Garza, Washington, District of Columbia, USA

sunday JULY 8

Eph. 1:13, 14

Evidence Pentecost and the Promise



Pentecost, also known as the “Feast of Weeks” (Lev. 23:15–17), was one of six annual feasts celebrated by the Jewish people (Leviticus 23). The word Pentecost is derived from a Greek adjective meaning “fiftieth,” which referenced the fact that Pentecost was held 50 days after the ceremony of the wave sheaf (verses 15, 16).

Pentecost reminds us that God keeps His promises.

The annual feasts, including Pentecost, were instituted for two important reasons: (1) to help the Israelites remember God’s miraculous dealings in the past and (2) to direct their minds to God’s precious promises for the future. For example, the Passover feast (verse 5) not only commemorated the Israelites’ deliverance from Egyptian bondage but also pointed to the promise of salvation through Jesus. The Passover lamb was to be without blemish (Exod. 12:5) and not a bone was to be broken (verse 46). The slain Passover lamb very clearly pointed forward to Jesus, “the Lamb of God” slain to take away “the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Similarly, Pentecost served a double purpose. It reminded the people of God’s bountiful blessings during the harvest season and also pointed forward to that momentous day recorded in Acts 2 when the first great gathering of souls was added to the body of Christ. The typical Day of Pentecost was a joyous celebration filled with thanksgiving to God for the fruit of the harvest season. During this feast, the Israelites were instructed to bring the first cut of grain, or “first fruits,” from the harvest as well as a liberal freewill offering in proportion to how much God had blessed them (Lev. 23:16; Deut. 16:10).

After the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Peter preached to the assembled crowd, and three thousand souls were baptized (verse 41). The seed Jesus had sown during His three and a half years of ministry combined with an unprecedented outpouring of power yielded a rich return. As we study Acts 2, we can look forward with great hope and anticipation to the bountiful harvest that will result during latter rain times. Pentecost reminds us that God keeps His promises. The Holy Spirit is both the fulfillment of the promise and our guarantee that God will finish the work that He began (Eph. 1:13, 14).

REACT

1. How does Pentecost remind us that God keeps His promises?

2. How does Pentecost give us greater hope as we look forward to the latter rain?

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Cheryl Cathlin, Newport News, Virginia, USA

monday JULY 9

Gen. 1:2;

Isa. 28:25–27;

Matt. 28:18–20;

Acts 1:4–8; 8:1–8

Logos The Holy Spirit at Work



The Holy Spirit in Full Effect (Acts 1:4–8)

As we study the churches in the book of Acts, we find the excitement of the disciples as they are deployed to turn the world upside down. Many a reader refers to the book of Acts as the movement of the first church, but if we pay careful attention to the text, we see that it was the Holy Spirit at work. The introduction to this book is clear about who was leading the church (Acts 1:4–8). After the Holy Spirit comes, then comes the power.

Power is given to those who witness. The Holy Spirit is promised to everyone for the express purpose of spreading the gospel and seeking to save the lost. As you continue to read this book, the acts of the Holy Spirit will be manifested in every church that gathers together and every individual who believes. There will be growth in the gospel, first starting in Jerusalem and in all Judaea and in Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

The Role of the Holy Spirit (Gen. 1:2; Acts 28:25–27)

We receive our first glimpse of the Holy Spirit at work in Creation (Gen. 1:2). The Holy Spirit was present and still is present in the hearts and minds of those whose spiritual walk is without form and void. The fact that light was called into play says that the Spirit was moving in the process of Creation, and it is the same with the church in Acts.

The Holy Spirit was moving in those days as the church received power to spread the word of the risen Savior. The Bible calls the Holy Spirit Counselor and Comforter. As Comforter, He took Jesus’ place, and as Counselor, He directs and guides each individual. Paul admonished the church not to be like their ancestors who didn’t heed the voice of the Holy Spirit. He recounts the words of Isaiah saying that God wouldn’t heal the Israelites because they wouldn’t listen to the Spirit (Acts 28:25–27).

The Growth of the Early Church (Acts 8:1–8)

There are many examples of the church moving and growing (Acts 2:47; 5:14; 6:1, 7; 9:31; 14:1; 16:5). Wherever they were scattered, they preached the message about Jesus. Going down to a Samaritan city, Philip proclaimed the message of the Messiah. When the people heard what he had to say and saw the miracles, the clear signs of God’s action, they hung on his every word. Many who could neither stand nor walk were healed that day. Individuals were being healed, and as the church was being persecuted, it grew and grew. The people listened to Philip’s gospel message, and all the apostles who preached the gospel saw the fruit of it. As the Ethiopian eunuch sat in his chariot reading the Scriptures, Philip was brought to him by the Holy Spirit. Philip explains the Scripture, revealing Jesus Christ. As soon as the eunuch saw water, he couldn’t resist being baptized into Christ. Growth of the church was the common theme by way of the workings of the Holy Spirit.

Preaching the Kingdom of God (Matt. 28:18–20; Acts 1:8)

The book of Acts is the proclamation lived out and manifested—go into the world, preach the everlasting gospel, make disciples of all individuals. As Christians, we have a mandate to spread the gospel not just through preaching but simply by being led by the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:8 declares that when we are in partnership with God, the Holy Spirit will guide us in the spreading of His Word.

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Paul Graham, Bowie, Maryland, USA

tuesday JULY 10

Acts 2:1–47

Testimony The Weight of Light



Ellen G. White says that the “whole book of Acts is our lesson book.”1 It shares the colorful miracles, signs, and wonders that accompanied the preaching and teaching of the apostles. It is an inspirational history book written “under the direction of the Holy Spirit.”2 Inspiration is the light that made the apostles such heavy but practical theologians.

Among the lessons from the book of Acts, one is that the apostles and disciples fulfilled the purpose for which Christ commissioned and appointed them. The key to their success was that it was “not in their own power . . . but in the power of the living God. . . . Irresolution, indecision, weakness of purpose, found no place in their efforts. They were willing to spend and be spent.”3

“They were willing to spend and be spent.”

Like the apostles, “we are to labor as men and women who have a living connection with God. We are to learn how to meet the people where they are.

. . . Every individual soul has a responsibility before God, and is not to be arbitrarily instructed by men as to what he shall do, what he shall say, and where he shall go. We are not to put confidence in the counsel of men and assent to all they shall say unless we have evidence that they are under the influence of the Spirit of God.”4

A second lesson from this inspired history book is the power of solidarity. Again, Ellen White weighs in with contemporary relevance: “The message of present truth is to prepare a people for the coming of the Lord. Let us understand this, and let those placed in responsible positions come into such unity that the work shall go forward solidly.”5

The third and final point is the weight of the light they bore. “The consciousness of the responsibility resting on them purified and enriched their experience, and the grace of heaven was revealed in the conquests they achieved for Christ. With the might of omnipotence God worked through them to make the gospel triumphant.”6

REACT

How can a contemporary believer activate the same kind of passion and power that the apostles demonstrated?

1. The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, 2nd ed., vol. 6 , p. 1055.

2. Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 593.

3. Ibid., p. 595.

4. Ellen G. White, Fundamentals of Christian Education, pp. 529, 530.

5. Ibid., p. 530.

6. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 595.

Paul S. Anderson, Bowie, Maryland, USA

wednesday JULY 11

John 13:34, 35;

1 John 4:9–11

How-to Attracting Others to God



All of us probably know of a friend or family member who used to be part of the church and no longer is. This, of course, is not limited to just our Seventhday Adventist churches, as it is affecting all religious organizations. One of the biggest complaints I hear from those who have left is the “hypocrisy” seen among fellow church members. While human beings are naturally flawed, I think it’s important to keep in mind that the old song holds true: “They will know we are Christians by our love.”

There is a world of sinners thirsting for the love of Christ, and it is our job as believers to spread that love in our everyday lives. If we do small, kind deeds on a daily basis, others will notice the spiritual glow we have and seek to know more.

“They will know we are Christians by our love.”

Always give God the credit. No matter how talented you are or how hard you’ve worked to get where you are, He is the ultimate reason you are blessed. Promotion at work? Thank your supervisor, of course, but don’t forget your heavenly Supervisor either. Giving God the credit will not only continue to bring you more blessings, but it will be evident to those around you as well.

Be understanding. You just never know unless you’ve experienced it. We are quick to jump to conclusions when we hear a screaming child on the airplane, when a rude driver cuts us off in traffic, or when the cashier at the register doesn’t even bother to say hello. People are constantly dealing with life’s challenges. A genuine smile, a silent nod, or even a simple “How are you?” can make a world of difference to someone who is going through trials.

Change how you pray. Anyone can pray for the Holy Spirit to keep knocking on someone’s heart or to bring peace to the Middle East. It’s not that you should stop praying for those things, and it’s not that God doesn’t hear you. But we don’t always know exactly how God wants to use us, so let’s ask Him to reveal it to us. I do know that He wants as many of His children as possible to come live with Him, and we can play a very special role in that if we allow Him to work through us.

REACT

1. What excuses have your family and friends given you for leaving the church? What have you told them keeps you attending and believing?

2. Now that you have some basic tools, how are you going to show love to others during your daily activities?

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Erica Harmon, Miami, Florida, USA

thursday JULY 12

Acts 2:1–6

Opinion The Gift With Power



Do you remember opening gifts as a child—perhaps during Christmastime? Each year, the supremely gratifying thrill of ripping open brightly colored wrapping paper and yanking off metallic bows was totally worth the wait, regardless of how many days had to be crossed off the calendar to reach that momentous morning. I can almost taste the delectable anticipation of the holiday as the decorations appeared almost overnight and the familiar yet joyful chords of Christmas music filled the air.

Did the disciples experience a similar feeling waiting for the Holy Spirit to arrive? As the hours ticked by and the days rolled on in the upper room, they must have been filled with anticipation for this promised Gift for which they had no tracking number.

No other gift, save the birth of Jesus, has had such an impact on the world.

When the Holy Spirit arrived, the men and women in attendance were filled, and there was no doubt that the long-awaited Comforter was among and within them. They were no longer only followers of Jesus; now they were also partakers of the power with which He healed the sick and raised the dead. No other gift, save the birth of Jesus, has had such an impact on the world.

Not only was the Holy Spirit felt in the upper room, but the sound of His arrival brought multitudes of people from “every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5) together in bewilderment as they heard their own languages being spoken. What a Gift that brought the sound of wind, tongues of fire, and diverse languages into one place! A Gift purchased with the currency of blood, tears, and sacrifice; a stark contrast to the jingle of change, the folding and unfolding of bills, and the beep of the credit card machine signaling the “most wonderful time of the year.”

I love receiving gifts; I think receiving gifts may actually be one of my love languages. Of all the wonderful gifts I have received, none compare to the gift of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in my life every day. I’m thankful that this small group of men and women waited to receive this precious gift.

REACT

1. What is the longest amount of time you’ve had to wait to receive something you’d paid for? What about something you received as a gift?

2. Have you ever received a gift you didn’t like? How did you react?

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Quantrilla “Quanny” Ard, Hanover, Maryland, USA

friday JULY 13

Acts 2

Exploration Set on Fire by the Holy Spirit



CONCLUDE

Before Jesus ascended back to heaven, He promised His disciples that a “ ‘Comforter’ ” would come to encourage them as they began their ultimate global mission. Even in Christ’s physical absence, we learn, according to Ellen G. White, that the Holy Spirit is “the personal presence of Christ to the soul.”* The arrival of the Holy Spirit to the house ignited and motivated the hearts of the believers with an immense passion to drive their ministry forward. The Spirit came to fill the souls that were empty and hopeless. He came to help guide hearts and minds back to the Father. He came to set His people on fire! We, too, can experience the filling of the Holy Spirit, even today.

CONSIDER

• Closing your eyes and imagining yourself in the house right before the arrival of the Holy Spirit. Sing the familiar Christian song “Spirit of the Living God” by Daniel Iverson and reflect on the meaning of the lyrics.

• Imagining you are a cup or glass. Empty your mind of every negative thought and feeling. Read Acts 2:17–21. Breathe. Pray for the Holy Spirit to fill you up with positive thoughts and encouragement.

• Writing a short letter to the Holy Spirit. Ask Him where you need guidance in your life.

• Learning how to say “God loves you” in at least three different languages (tongues). Share this with a friend.

• Having an open group discussion on the different perspectives concerning the topic of “speaking in tongues” in the church. • Cooking and sharing a delicious meal with a friend. Share with them the story of Pentecost while “filling them up” with your kindness.

CONNECT

John 14.

Ellen G White, The Acts of the Apostles, chapter 5, “The Gift of the Spirit.”

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* Ellen G. White, “The Perils and Privileges of the Last Days,” Review and Herald, November 29, 1892.