DAY 32: ACTS 1-3 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Acts 1-3 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

first thing that jumped out at me today was to, “Wait!” That is such a hard word for today’s culture. When the Lord says it though, there is nothing else to do, it is exactly what we need. The disciples were told to for the promised gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5, 8). So they spent ten days actively waiting. I say “actively” waiting because they were intentional about it and intentionally seeking the LORD in prayer (1:14, 2:1).  God’s timing is always right and we can never do on our own, without the Holy Spirit, something that only the Holy Spirit can do. 

This was intentionally a missions moment. The disciples were from Galilee not Jerusalem and the gospel writer Luke goes out of his way to highlight that little fact (see Acts 1:11, 2:7).  Acts 1:8 which lays out the progress for how the book of Acts unfolds isn’t a mission mandate to reach our neighbors with the gospel first and then go to the uttermost parts of the earth… the gospel was going to the uttermost parts of the earth by being proclaimed in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost where so many international Jewish people and proselytes would be (2:5, 9-11).  The disciples understood Jesus to be the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham in Genesis 12:3, “and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (also Acts 3:25).  We should be open and intent on taking the gospel to the nations. (On a side note: Where I live right now, was not on anyone’s map when Acts 1:8 was given. It qualifies as one of the “uttermost parts of the earth.”)

It is apparent that the disciples understood Jesus to be God. Peter quotes Joel 2:32 and says, “Who ever calls on the Name of the LORD shall be saved” (See Acts 2:21).  He then concludes his sermon by calling on those who are present to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus (Acts 2:38).

Also, did you notice the lame man at the gate called beautiful at the temple? He was lame from birth and at the temple every day (Acts 3:2). Two months before this Jesus was in Jerusalem and coming and going to the temple every day (Luke 22:53) and while he was at the temple he healed the “blind and the lame” (Matthew 21:14). It doesn’t take much to figure that this man was in proximity to Jesus, but was never healed. His healing, like the sending of the Holy Spirit would came at a different time than expected. I don’t know why this man wasn’t healed when Jesus was in the temple before. We could guess. What I do know is that God’s timing is always perfect.

FATHER, thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit and how He moves in our lives. I ask that we would press in wait for you to move.  Help our hearts to be satisfied to know that there is nothing we can do apart from you. I pray that we would be faithful witnesses where ever you place us and where you send us. We ask to see you do great things in our community. We give ourselves to be used by you to glorify you and  transform our families by the power of the gospel. I am thankful for  the grace given to me to lead your people. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

Find out about New Testament 90 – Here

new-in-90-sheet

Acts 2: Babel has Come Undone in Jerusalem

Descent of the Holy Spirit DoreSo here we are in Acts 2. The Apostles have stayed in Jerusalem at the Lord’s request (Acts 1:4). Jerusalem is the launching point for the gospel to go to the whole world (Acts 1:8).  They have been with the risen Christ for forty days before he ascended into heaven (Acts 1:3) and now they have waited another ten days for the Holy Spirit to come (Pentecost occurs 50 days after the Passover… Jesus was crucified at the time of the Passover). I’ve written before about Pentecost, you can read a brief PDF here.

As we anticipated yesterday something amazing happens because the disciples were obedient to the Lord’s command. The Holy Spirit comes, they preach, and three thousand souls are added to the church that day (2:41)… They are indeed fishing for men (Luke 5:1-11).

What is truly amazing is that through the power of the Holy Spirit each person is hearing the gospel in their own language. It’s the tower of Babel in reverse (Genesis 11:1-9). At the tower of Babel God had confused the language of the people because of their sin and rebellion. But now Jesus has made the ultimate sacrifice for sin. He is calling lost sinners to come home. He speaks to them through their own native language here in Jerusalem and ultimately the gospel will reach to the very ends of the earth (Revelation 5:9). What was done at Babel was coming undone.

What’s compelling here is that these men, the Apostles have come to Jerusalem. It’s not their home. This point is driven almost to the point of absurdity when men of the crowd recognize them as Galileans (2:7). This was a big deal the day because Galilee was a somewhat recently resettled state of Israel. They would have had the reputation of back wood hicks (John 1:46) and probably looked and talked differently than the folks in Jerusalem (Luke 22:59).

At this point you’re probably saying, I get that they were from Galilee… What’s the big deal? Exactly! You’re supposed to ask that! You are supposed to see that the disciples didn’t go to their home first (in all fairness they had already been there through the years of ministry with Jesus)! They went to the city and they went to the city on the day that everyone from all over the world would be there. The gospel went to the nations by way of Jerusalem because the nations were in Jerusalem that day (2:-11)!

I think the bigger point here is to obey God (even in the small things) after all it’s His plan. Yet how often do we put our confidence in the flesh thinking WE have a snazzy plan… of course our snazzy plan usually discounts the Spirit of God and chalks things like a language barrier as impossible to over come or at least a long way off. Can you imagine if the disciples had packed it in and tried to gain a stronger foothold in Galilee?

Acts 1: The Blessing of Obedience

The book of Acts or as it is often called, “The Acts of the Apostles” is actually all about the Lord Jesus Christ. We see here in the first chapter that The Lord has risen from the dead and ascended into Heaven. Before he leaves he gives the Apostles the charge to be witnesses (specifically of his resurrection) all over the world beginning in Jerusalem (See Acts 1:8).

This is where it gets interesting. The disciples aren’t from Jerusalem and Luke the author of Acts wants you to know that... Indeed two verses later (Acts 1:10) the angels address the Apostles as “Men of Galilee.” Then again just a few verses later the narrator (Luke) reminds the reader that the Apostles are not from Jerusalem because they went back to a room “where they were staying” (Acts 1:13).

I think this is important because Jesus has commanded them to wait there in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit to come upon them (Acts 1:4). It seems like the natural bent of the disciples would not have been to stay in Jerusalem but head somewhere else (perhaps Galilee… Home). But never the less at the Lord’s command they stay, waiting for the Holy Spirit.

This reminds me of Luke 5:1-11 where Jesus first calls some of his disciples. He tells them to push back out into the water and fish again. Their natural inclination is not to do it…. they want to clean their nets. But never the less, at the word of Jesus they press out and drop the nets and pull in the biggest catch they had ever seen… It is interesting to note that it is just at that point that Jesus tells them that one day they will be fishing for men.

Now here Jesus has told them again to push out of their comfort zone and stay in the city. He will give them the Holy Spirit and they will be his Witnesses starting in the place He told them to go.

Prayer: Father, You are amazing! When these men obeyed you in the small things like casting out a net or staying in the city, you rewarded them with a real relationship with You and you invited them to be your witnesses all over the world. Today I’m reminded to be obedient to you in even the seemingly small things. I want my priorities to be a true reflection of your will. I surrender to you. Today I’m seeking YOUR Kingdom, YOUR Will and I give YOU my obedience. Help me to not to put confidence in the flesh, but trust your wisdom.