As a person in ministry, I am often involved in people’s lives when they go through the trauma and loss of broken relationships, illness, death, and struggle. It is a great privilege. In these times, simply being present is most of what is needed. Understanding provides more encouragement than advice; however, experience has taught me that one of the most common pieces of advice needed in a crisis is not what you would expect. Under stress, people often forget to simply eat and sleep. I have learned to encourage people to attend the most basic of their needs. Without those needs met, people often can’t survive.
- What basics do you struggle with when you are under stress?
READ THE WORD: ACTS 1.12-26 (ESV)
12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
15 In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, 16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms,
“‘May his camp become desolate,
and let there be no one to dwell in it’;
“‘Let another take his office.’
21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- What are three things you learn about Judas in this passage? What is the specific reason he needed to be replaced (vs. 25)?
- How is the disciples’ commitment to prayer and Scripture evidenced in this passage?
- What were the qualifications needed for someone capable of taking Judas’ place as an apostle, and what was the role he was to play (vss. 21-22)?
- How did the disciples demonstrate trust or faith in God in this passage?
- How would devotion to prayer, attention to Scripture, and trust in Jesus help you in the challenges of life you are facing today, or those you will face in the future?
RESPOND TO GOD
As we minister, we come alongside people who are under stress and encourage them to pray, pay attention to the Bible, and trust Jesus. Sometimes it feels like we are offering people the most simplistic advice. But, without these basics, none of us can survive the inevitable traumas and losses we will face. I am encouraged that the disciples, enduring the brutal murder of their leader and friend, remained devoted to prayer and the Word. They prayed, they sought the Scriptures about what to do, and they trusted. We would do well to do the same. Sticking to the basics won’t just get us through to the other side, but it will help us thrive and flourish despite the challenges of life.
- Practice prayer right now. Talk to God about what makes you sad, nervous, or angry.
- Ask God to show you what it would look like to trust him as the leader of your life today.