As we resume our study of Acts at the beginning of this new year, it is appropriate and helpful to think about what those early days of the church were like. The apostles had witnessed the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus Christ. They had received the supernatural gift of the promised Holy Spirit. They were joined by 3000 others who repented and believed after the first "Christian sermon." A new community was forming; not against Judaism but out from it. What did they do? Is this more than historical narrative? Should what they did have any impact on what we do? Let's take a look...
In 1989, Dr. Stephen Covey wrote a book titled, "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People." It was a National Bestseller and had a number of follow-up works with the same ideas in mind. The book was rooted in "character ethics" rather than the "power of personality" because Covey maintained that who we are becoming is ultimately more important than what we accomplish. He was right, not because original but because he agreed with the smartest Person who ever lived.
Habit 2: "Begin with the End in Mind" is a good way for us to come to the Communion Table on January 1, 2017. Do what you do, "In Remembrance of Christ."
The advent (arrival) of the God-Man into the world is understated. Luke did not include much of the drama we typically embrace as we consider this story. Maybe the story gets embellished because we miss the profound truths here. It's an awesome story without adding to the narrative . May we never overlook the profound veiled in the common.
The big day had come! Elizabeth was going to give birth to a son. There was so much they knew...and so much they didn't know. There is a common theme about what Mary, Elizabeth and Zacharias did know...they knew God was/is full of mercy and tender compassion. We cannot understand the Advent of our Lord without understanding this reality.
We love stories. We tell them, we listen to them, we laugh and we cry. The greatest story is a true one. It is a colossal work of non-fiction. It involves the creation of the universe, the reason for suffering and frustration, a Hero who suffers to make it all right and conquers our greatest enemy. It's a long story and all of us are part of it...the last chapter hasn't been written yet but some of the best parts are what we enjoy in the Advent Season.
With all the needs in our own community, why should we send people and money to other places in the world? The Day of Pentecost holds some answers for us — at least by way of application. Are you involved in missions? Should this be on "your radar?" How can you make an impact in the world from where you live? Consider some truths from Peter's sermon on that amazing Festival Day.
"A prime mark of the Christian mind is that it cultivates the eternal perspective...it is supernaturally oriented." — Harry Blamires
"The true Bible-believing Christian is the one who lives in practice in this supernatural world." — Francis Schaeffer
"A prime mark of the Christian mind is that it cultivates the eternal perspective...it is supernaturally oriented. — Harry Blamires
"The true Bible-believing Christian is the one who lives in practice in this supernatural world. — Francis Schaeffer
The disciples were living in the dreaded "meantime" between the Ascension and Pentecost. What were they to do? How should they live? Did waiting mean doing nothing? As they waited, prayed, rejoiced and worshiped some principles from the Word became clear to them. They acted in faith and reveal for us a way of dealing with disappointment.
Jesus said, "I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high." When He had let them out to the vicinity of Bethany, He lifted up his hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God. Luke 24:49-53
For 40 days after the resurrection, Jesus continued to teach His disciples/apostles about the Kingdom of God. God's intentions were far bigger than the 11 originally imagined. In fact, the task was a "God-sized" task that required God's activity and provision. The assurances of Jesus in this paragraph give us hope.
Drama, intrigue, politics, riots, shipwrecks, martyrdom, miracles, rescues...and all this in the ancient world in and around cities like Rome, Corinth, Athens, and Jerusalem. This is the "stuff" of Acts. Get ready for a journey that explains our early days as a church and gives us direction for our part in His story.
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