Today we start the 7th stream: The Church. We read about Pentecost and the Early Church.
Reading from the NIV.
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Holy Spirit, we are overwhelmed with how you showed up on the scene and you show up today in a major way. You definitely are there. We see you in the Old Testament but now we see you fully in the story of Pentecost. And we just ask that you would continue to reveal to us the hidden nuggets that you have in scripture and help us to make these links and connect these threads as we are sailing through the scriptures this year. We thank you for saving us. We thank you for being with us and making it all possible through Jesus. Amen.
The Acts of the Apostles are the deeds of the first ones sent out in Jesus’ Name after Pentecost. Luke is explaining why he wrote this exciting account of the first generation of Christians going out into the Empire. It’s an extension of the Book of Luke.
01 – Steps to take and the obedience required to receive the Holy Spirit are clearly given upon Jesus’ departure. The Verse of the Book is 1:8; “..you will receive power and…be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth.” And that is what they did! In their lifetime the gospel had entered Europe and gone most of the way across Asia … in these disciples’ lifetimes. And its impressive that the immediate team that Thomas’ trained up took the gospel clear across Asia in their lifetimes; before the first century ended. Can we use the phrase “Shanghai to London”? God our Savior declared it to be and it happened.
Business to tend to right away is the refilling of the 12th apostle seat vacated by Judas Iscariot. You just heard the whole story: the perplexity of rebellion and demise, the meeting and decisions made and so forth. Discussions of Judas can become peculiar. Judas was prophesied to betray “…so that scripture might be fulfilled.” Does God allow people to be born so that He can condemn them? It’s an odd topic without a satisfying answer. What we can take from this scenario is that people do fall away, go back, change for the worse. Jesus had 1 of 12 betray and leave and sell him out for crucifixion. How does that sit with us that Jesus Himself had 8.33% of his disciples walk out on Him? Let’s be forewarned and comforted by the fact that people will leave. It happened to God, it will happen to us. Parents in particular want to go “four-for-four”, e.g. no rebels. Well, we’d like to see that happen too. But God opts to operate in a world where you’re not going to “bat 1000.” Let us realize we are in this world and we won’t “bat “1000” either.
02- Pentecost arrives and Providentially the concept, the power and reality of the Holy Spirit is introduced to souls of numerous nations! It is bewildering to such a degree that Peter is spurred to respond to accusations of inebriation (some accuse that the apostles are drunken). Peter stands and delivers a most historical sermon. He hearkens back to Joel who prophesied of these days. He tells of the Risen Christ Jesus, and David who -were he here today- would worship and follow this Jesus for Jesus is God’s final answer. For David was honoring Jesus 1000 years ago. The sermon results in 3,000 new believers. The aftermath in the following days was such an atmosphere that no one wanted to depart. The camaraderie; fellowship, and worship, and dining, and joy was something to behold! You wanted to be there. Our churches are to be places today of such joy so that everyone sighs upon departure, “man, I hate to leave this place!”
Week 1 Thread
We saw the beginning of each: the World in Genesis, the Nation in Joshua, the Wisdom in Job, The Prophecy/Fall in Isaiah, the Exile in Daniel, the arrival of Christ in Matthew, and the birth of The Church in Acts. The beginning of each has an impressive start where the setting is presented. And yet it doesn’t take long for peril to present itself. How often do we see this in a story, a book, a movie? It’s the template of most stories. A beautiful beginning is laid out. A calamity occurs and the grist of the story is about the long road back to paradise.
Genesis 1-4 the creation is astonishing beauty; a reflection of paradise. It’s that beautiful! And in chapter 3 is the problem emerges and it is our penchant to disobey. The affects are still sorely felt.
Joshua 1ff. the nation is roused to cross a river that is miraculously stopped, and they see an enemy city flattened so they could take it for God. So the glory is taking Jericho, and the immediate gloom is upon
the citizens of Jericho. Their time is up.
We meet Job, and from the start, we are walked right in to his regal life; so perfect and poetic. Then evil visits him. So things are fabulous, then they crash. Now what? It’s the beginning of the long road back.
Isaiah the Prophet has a mirroring pattern that is similar this week in that he opens to blasting the southern kingdom for how far they have strayed (the problem) but he contrasts that with the glory that is
coming after they have traversed the long road back and are walking with God. So this is reverse of the others but the terrain of the literature is very similar.
Daniel in the Exile period is a young man and a good man (we soon learn). But he is captured and shackled and forced on the long march to Babylon. What is this young lad going to do with this situation?
Are you prepared to be inspired again?
A New Covenant is on its way in Matthew as the Savior lands in our world. His pedigree is paragon as He is related to Hezekiah, David & Abraham. His birth launches angels, and moves kings to trek across
the countryside to find Him. But on the heels of this good news (for us) Herod goes on crusade to have the Christ child killed. Bad people have always found good news to be disturbing.
The first of the Acts is to hearken as Jesus preps them for the holy spirit’s and then declare that they would take this message of His to the ends of the earth. It’s a dynamic farewell. Soon they are back in
Jerusalem having marvelous worship and camaraderie. Screech! They need to pause and deal with the Judas treachery; the vacancy he left.
So we do have a glorious calling; each of us do. We do have tribulations but our Savior told us to be of good cheer for He has overcome the world. Hallelujah!