Each week we are encouraging you to read through the book of Acts slowly and contemplatively. Each reading will only be one to two chapters enabling you to spend more time on each passage. You'll see our reading plan in the yellow box.
Additionally, we will provide weekly resources to help us dig deeper into our study of Acts, including devotionals and ACTion Steps. These ACTion Steps will help us put God’s Word into action through prayer and service. These are linked by week in our reading plan.
As we go on this journey together, check this page frequently to find these weekly resources and new ways to connect and engage.
Let's lean into where the Spirit leads us together!
Our reading plan starts off in Acts 1 this week, with Jesus’ disciples awaiting the gift of the Holy Spirit. One of the things we see the disciples doing as they wait is prayer (Acts 1:14). Let’s do the same! For this first week of our series, we want to encourage you to go on a prayer walk in your neighborhood. This will look different for each family and individual. The idea is for each of you to pray for your neighbors—both those you know and those you have yet to meet. If you’re able, take a walk around your neighborhood and pray as you walk past each home. Maybe in your neighborhood you’ll walk down a hallway or perhaps it’s easier for you to drive. Even if you simply take the walk in your mind as you pray, the bottom line is that our church lifts up our neighbors in prayer.
Please pray as the Holy Spirit guides you, but here are a few ideas to pray for if you need some help:
Pray for God to provide all that is needed in each home: food, finances, peace, love, etc.
Pray for God to calm any fears and anxieties.
Pray for God to make himself known to all—especially those who don’t yet know the amazing love of Jesus.
As you feel it is appropriate, let your neighbors know that you’ve prayed for them and even ask them if there’s something specific you might be able to pray for.
This week we would have had our normal Senior Sunday services. We are so proud of the students' hard work throughout their schooling. As we look at Acts 2:42-47 we see a group of believers gathering around a table together and sharing their life together in Christian community, centered on Jesus. Since we cannot be together around the actual dinner table or the church communion table we want to share our seniors with you this week.
Please take a moment to click that graphic to watch the video of our graduating seniors AND send them a note of encouragement. Even if you don’t know a senior to email please send a prayer, a scripture, even how they have encouraged your faith through their video. You can click the link attached to their names. Let’s flood their inbox this week!
This week, Pastor Walter and his daughter Adalise bring you a devotional from their dining room. Click the picture to watch it!
We want to be that kind of church. This week, we're asking our church to reach out to the elderly covenant partners of our church with notes or emails of encouragement. Take a moment to share Scripture, write a prayer, or say how much you appreciate them as a part of our church family. We'll be collecting these notes and sending them out as a part of the care packages we're delivering to our seniors at the end of this week. You can send your notes of encouragement by email to Pastor Charles or mail them to the church. Please send all notes by the end of the day Thursday!
Our ACTion step this week is an act of giving. One of FPC's mission partners is Kairos Prison Ministry. Volunteer leaders, including Harold Howard and Robert Winkler from FPC, go into Fort Stockton's Lynaugh Unit with a four-day retreat event where they share the incredible love of our God through Jesus with a group of prisoners. The experience for the prisoners is similar to a Walk to Emmaus, if you're familiar with that.
Because of COVID-19 most prisons, including the Lynaugh Unit, are releasing a larger number of prisoners than usual in order to reduce the populations in the prisons. As prisoners are released, they're given a small amount of money and basically the clothes on their back. One significant need the prison has asked for help meeting is clothing.
Our ACTion Step will be to donate gently used men's clothing to help with this need. Here's what they have specifically asked for:
Men's casual pants (sizes 32-38)
Men's casual shirts (med-xxl)
Please drop items off at FPC's main entrance Monday, May 11 through Thursday, May 14 from 9:00 am to noon. We will have a marked receptacles outside the doors to receive your donations during those hours.
**This is not a general clothing donation site; please limit items to these types of things, in good condition, and freshly laundered.**
In response to our Scripture this week, let's find a way to serve secretly. Choose someone within your sphere of influence and find something you can do that will be a blessing for that person. Do this act of service secretly so that the person doesn’t know who has done it for them.
This can be a great practice for a number of reasons:
Serving others reflects the character of God
Serving without receiving credit or thanks helps us grow in humility
Blessing people anonymously can start a train of blessing as the recipient is encouraged to go out and do the same. What if, in the midst of this pandemic, we show the world how serving others can be just as contagious as the coronavirus?
Here are a few ideas to help get you going:
Mow your neighbor’s lawn
Do a chore around the house that another family member usually does (wash dishes, clean, etc.)
Pray for someone and mail them an anonymous letter to let them know.
Have flowers (or a meal, or a special dessert, etc.) delivered to someone.
Pay for someone else’s groceries, drive thru order, meal at a restaurant, etc.
This week Pastor Dillon shares a brief devotional from Acts 6-7 and looks at how God builds the muscle of the Holy Spirit's leading in our lives, even when it takes us to dangerous and scary places. In closing, he reads this prayer by Richard Baxter, "Lord, It Belongs Not To My Care."
Just like the Holy Spirit called Philip to share Scripture with the Ethiopian, we can share the Bible -- the voice of God -- with our family, neighbors, co-workers, and friends. Near the Chapel and main doors of our church, you'll findpostcards with Scripturethat remind the recipient that you are praying for them. Take one (or as many as you like) and deliver them with the prayerful hope that the receiver will be changed by God's Word for his glory.
Here are someother great ways to share Scripture together:
Read a Psalm at the dinner table
Call a loved one to share a passage with them
Text someone a passage that's near to your heart
As you share God's Word and enjoy it for yourself this week, remember God's promise: "As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." (Isaiah 55:11)
In response to our Scripture from Acts 2 this week and the birth of the church at Pentecost, we are asking that you pray for one of our Global Mission partner churches. Naulakha Presbyterian Church is located in Lahore, Pakistan and is pastored by Reverend Majid Abel. FPC has partnered with the Naulakha church now for several years.
This historic congregation was established by missionaries in 1853 and now has membership of around 2,000 people--the largest of the roughly 300 churches in the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan. Only about 2 percent of Pakistan’s population is Christian, while the vast majority is Muslim. Our own Jeff Darr and Walter Thompson visited the church in Lahore a few years ago to experience a bit of ministry in their context.
Pastor Majid and the Naulakha church have been very intentional in loving their Muslim neighbors and have played a large role in a few interfaith organizations. Despite this, life remains very challenging for Christians in Pakistan. The Coronavirus pandemic has added to the challenges, making it difficult for many to provide for their families. FPC has recently sent some extra financial support to the Naulakha church to help them provide food for some of their flock as well as provide for people in the poorer, rural churches scattered throughout Pakistan.
Please pray for:
God to have mercy on Pakistan as they deal with a growing number of COVID cases and limited healthcare resources.
God to continue to protect and provide for the Naulakha congregation and Christians throughout Pakistan.
God to use our Christian brothers and sisters to spread the love of Jesus during this difficult pandemic. Pastor Majid shared recently that most of the doctors and nurses caring for COVID patients are Christians--despite the fact that they make up such a small percentage of the total population.
God to move in the hearts of those in Pakistan who have yet to meet Jesus and know God’s incredible love through him.
God to pour out the Holy Spirit on His church in Pakistan so that God’s Kingdom might expand more and more there
Our Scripture passage this week details the conversion of Saul as well as Ananias in Acts 9. The Holy Spirit led Ananias and Saul to encounter one another, despite fear, even though they were so very different from each other. As our ACTion Step in response to this passage, think of someone you know who has had a different experience with race than you have. You might have a friend of another race, or perhaps you have a friend whose family is made up of more than one race. Strike up a conversation with this person. What do you learn about their life experience? How could understanding their story help you better live out the principles of God’s Kingdom? Let the Holy Spirit lead you in this conversation and see how God may use it in your own life.
We encourage you to watch this devotional from Pastor Steve and think about how we might move from hostility to hospitality. And maybe as we give thanks for what we receive at the table, how might we share our table with those who are different from us?
Our Scripture passage of Acts 15 this week gives us a picture of how the early church debated about which Jewish laws and customs applied to followers of Jesus. Thankfully, they came down on the side of grace and chose not to lay a heavy burden on the new Gentile believers. Jesus himself says that following him is not to carry a heavy burden, but rather a light yoke (Matthew 11:28-30).
For our ACTion Step this week, think of someone you know who is carrying a heavy burden. This might be a burden they’ve imposed on themselves, or it could be a burden that comes from elsewhere. Maybe this person feels like the only way to please God is to set the bar really high and hope to make it up there someday, while God is trying to have them pick up the lightweight yoke he offers. Perhaps this person’s circumstances have created a heavy burden they carry (broken relationships, health issues, finances, etc.). There’s practically nothing more debilitating in our walk with Jesus than for us to be carrying a burden we were never meant to carry. Our ACTion Step this week is for you to pray for this person. Pray that they might know the freedom of the lightweight, easy yoke of Jesus. And let them know you’ve prayed for them. We have prayer postcards available if you’d like to pick some up at the church.
Just as Paul and his companions were on a “spiritual journey” (see Acts 16) as well as a physical one as they traveled through different regions in the middle east, each one of us has a “spiritual journey” to embark upon. Like Paul it is key for us to recognize what distinguishes a spiritual journey from other journeys we might take. Just as Paul and his companions were on a “spiritual journey” (see Acts 16) as well as a physical one as they traveled through different regions in the middle east, each one of us has a “spiritual journey” to embark upon. Like Paul it is key for us to recognize what distinguishes a spiritual journey from other journeys we might take.
This week, we are encouraging to share a part of your spiritual journey with someone you know – your spouse, parents, children, or a good friend. Since the aim is not to share your whole faith story, try to keep this within 3-5 minutes. A few key questions to help you think this through:
Who is it that “led” you to Christ or helped you better understand God’s presence and desires for you?
What are one or two “God-sightings” (a phrase our youth groups once used) or ways that you have been aware of God’s presence, calling, guidance, care, provision, etc. that are clear to you personally?
Can you identify one or two changes Christ has made in your life as you endeavor to follow him? (For example: a change in your character, attitude or perspective, or your realization that your life revolved around a relationship, your reputation, money, or job that the Lord used to draw you closer to himself or change directions or realign priorities . . .)
Again, the aim here is not to tell all you could, but just a few things that make it clear to you that the journey your on is spiritual, led by the Lord.
This week we are exploring Paul’s conversation with the people in Athens (Acts 17:16-34). While there are lots of things we can learn from this interaction, one thing is clear. Paul draws them into a spiritual conversation. So this week’s ACTion Step is to be open and looking for an opportunity to engage in a spiritual conversation. Paul “ministers to their searching” which is an important place to start.
Spiritual conversations can be scary. Political and religious conversation feel divisive in our culture. This is a helpful tool put out by the Lutheran Hour Ministries. The tool keeps this as simple as building a relationship.
There are three parts to the curve:
Gaining a Hearing: This involves chatting about life, beginning to relate to each other’s joys and pains which deepens the connection.
Give Good News: This is not “dumping” the gospel on someone. Rather, at natural points sharing Jesus at work in your own life, connecting Jesus to daily life.
Guiding Toward Faith: Encouraging searching, exploring questions, helping to clarify the joys and the costs of following Jesus. Most of the time, this involves multiple conversation over time.
Underneath all of this, we are simply trying to stay in step with the Holy Spirit. May your conversations be blessed!
"Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." -Colossians 4:5-6
As we see Paul and other disciples sharing the Gospel boldly with the Ephesians and other not-yet-believers, we might be tempted to place the role of evangelism only in the hands of saints, pastors, or ministry leaders. Peter, one of the pillars of the early church, makes it clear that we are all involved in sharing the hope we have in Christ (the Gospel) with those around us!
"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect..." (1 Peter 3:15b)
So, how would you describe for someone the hope you have in Christ? Take a moment and think that over.
As a helpful tool, the video below is author James Chuong's way of articulating the Gospel, which has been adopted by InterVarsity across the world. After watching, take some time to share the hope you have with someone you're in relationship with who may need to hear it for the first time or be reminded of the hope available to them.