40 Days in the Word - Day 1 - Acts 1:1 - 26

For those of you who don't know what I am doing here.  A number of people from my church, Faith Family Worship Center are renewing their commitment to read God's Word and apply it to their lives. For the next 40 days we will be going through the book of Acts.  You are more than welcome to join us.  I will be posting a new entry everyday (if I don't forget).  So enjoy and discover what the Holy Spirt is saying to you today.  

In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 
Theophilus is most likely he is a friend of Lukes whom he could count on to read the book, have copies made and circulate them. 

What is the “first book”? - The Gospel of Luke.  
The fact that Luke says that he has dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach show us two things. 
#1 The Church had it’s beginnings in the Gospel.  We are not dealing with a easily scattered group of disciples (remember what they did at Jesus' crucifixion) But we are dealing with a body of believers who are ready to receive the Holy Spirit. 
#2 The work of Jesus did not end when He ascended. The Book of Acts continues Jesus’ teaching and actions through the Holy Spirit to the Church. 

- As we read the book of Acts, we see our history as a church, but do we see our future? Luke wasn't writing a history lesson for us to embrace later.  He was trying to help us understand that this is our future.  He expect us to do what they were doing. 
until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
What do you think happened during those 40 days? 
- Jesus taught the apostles through the Holy Spirit. This was not limited to the 11. 
- He presented himself in ways that proved to the people that He was not a ghost or spirit, but that He was physically alive. 
- He connected all the dots for them.  Now they understood the truth about His Kingdom (it wasn’t physical) the power and authority of God.  They understood the purpose of the Cross and Resurrection for our salvation.  They understood the revelation of God’s might power and love. 
And while staying [or eating] with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with[or in] the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
- Why do you think that Jesus is do adamant about them waiting in Jerusalem for the Baptism in the Holy Spirit? 
 - First of all, the Baptism would have little effect if only two or three people were there. 
 - The gift of the Spirit here is the "promise of the Father" which unites the Old and New Testaments together. 
 - God promised Abraham that his decedents that not only be a personal and national blessing, but that in him and through his decedents all the earth (Gentiles) would be blessed.  Gen. 12:3
 
 - Waiting on the Holy Spirit should to be a priority for Pentecostals.  There was a time when Pentecostals would pray and wait upon God.  It was during those times that the Holy Spirit would inspire people to do great things for Christ.  It was here that He would deal with individual character flaws.  It was here that people would be empowered to reach their world for Jesus.  

- However, our schedules and demands are so overwhelming, when do we take time to “wait” on the Holy Spirit?

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 
The disciples knew the prophecy of Ez. 36:24 - 27 24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

The disciples knew that God promised Abraham that his decedents would be a great nation on the land.  But after so many occupations by foreign armies, they wondered if that was ever going to happen again.  

Jesus did not deny that it would happen, He simply said that was the Fathers business, not theirs.   Then he follows with the next verse. 

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 
Why do you think that Jesus said this following their question?  He is simply saying, “That (vs.7) isn’t your business, but this is.”  That they were to be His witnesses to tell what they had seen, heard and experience.  They were to start in Jerusalem, then carry their witness through Judea and Samaria, then to the ends of the earth. 

The church cannot wait for ideal conditions before spreading the gospel to the nations. 

And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
What is the big deal about Christ’s ascension? If He didn’t leave, the Holy Spirit couldn’t come.  Christ couldn’t be at the right hand of the Father interceding on our behalf.  It would be the most serious case of micromanagement we would have ever seen.   His ascension. 
 1) It signaled the end of His earthly ministry.
 2) It signified success in His earthly work. All that He had come to do, He had accomplished.
 3) It marked the return of His heavenly glory.
 4) It symbolized His exaltation by the Father (Ephesians 1:20-23).  The One with whom the Father is well pleased (Matthew 17:5) was received up in honor and given a name above all names   (Philippians 2:9).
 5) It allows Him to prepare a place for us (John 14:2).
 6) It indicates the beginning of His new work as High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16) and Mediator of the New Covenant (Hebrews 9:15).
7) It set the pattern for His return. When Jesus comes to set up the Kingdom, He will return just as He left-literally, bodily, and visibly in the clouds (Acts 1:11Daniel 7:13-14Matthew 24:30Revelation 1:7).

The disciples still stood there looking into the heavens.  What were they looking for?
- They were probably trying to get a glimpse of heaven. 
Then two angels, (Angels are often seen in Scripture as men dressed in white) ask them the obvious question, “What are you looking for.”  They state that Jesus will return the same way.   In the clouds. 
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.
Luke draws attention to 5 things here.  Can you name them? 
#1 The 11 are in one accord. 
- Remember when in the Gospels, there were a jealous lot who were always trying to position themselves politically with Jesus?   Not now. 
#2 They devoting themselves to prayer
- Prayer and praise were the chief occupation during these days.   Pentecost was born out of a prayer meeting.  What else can be born from prayer in your life?
#3 Together with the women
In the Greek language if a man was present, women were present too.  The masculine pronoun was used for the mixed group.  The purpose of Lukes statement here is for Gentiles to know that women were present and praying.
#4 Mary the mother of Jesus is there
Remember that Mary is now in the care of John.  Here presence here is simply the result of that fact.  There is nothing to suggest that she is a leader. 
#5 His brothers are there. 
Remember that Jesus’ brothers, James and John did not believe in Him until after His resurrection.  Later they became leaders in the Jerusalem church. 

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 [or swelling up] 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’; and “‘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.
Peter discerns Davids prophecy concerning Judas.  Peter realized that what David said about his enemies applies to the enemies of Jesus too, since David is a type pointing to Jesus. 
- Peter lays out the conditions on who should be the next disciple. 
- Someone who knew Jesus. 
- Someone who has been with us the whole time. 
- Someone who had seen Jesus after His resurrection.  
- There were two choices.  Joseph and Matthias. 
The disciples didn't vote.  Instead they cast lots.  They would have a stone or stick which had a different mark on either side.  They they would cast their stones or sticks at the same time into a pile.  Then the one whose name outnumbered the other would win.  This wasn't a game of chance nor were they doing something occultish, as some suggest.  
- Remember that they prayed first. 
- They expected God to be in the midst of this. 

Note that none of these men were well educated or vetted as either rabbis or lawyers of the Scripture.  they simple had a calling. They were to be empowered by the Holy Spirit and they were willing to follow Jesus.  
- Has anything changed today?  So many times we think that we have to be smarter or more
               experienced as followers of Jesus to be qualified to do what the disciples did.  That has never 
               been the case.  What has God called you to do?  Are you (or can you be) empowered by the 
               Holy Spirit?  Are you willing to do what He asks you to do?  

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