9 Feb 2014
February 9, 2014
Acts 1: 6 - 11
When the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, "Lord, are you going to free Israel now and restore our Kingdom?"
"The Father sets those dates." he replied, "and they are not for you to know. But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere - in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
It was not long after he said this that he was taken up into the sky while they were watching, and he disappeared into a cloud. As they were straining their eyes to see him, two white-robed men suddenly stood there among them. They said, "Men of Galilee, why are you standing here staring at the sky? Jesus has been taken away from you into heaven. And someday, just as you saw him go, he will return!"
We, in our humanness, have a tendency to think in 'human' terms. By that I mean 'in the here and now'. How we see life as it is before us in all its realities. The apostles kept seeking an answer to their current reality, their current life situation of political stance seeking reform. Israel sought to overthrow, or come out from under, Roman rulership. So when Jesus spoke about the coming kingdom, the apostles were thinking in political terms. Yet Jesus was seeking to inform them and have them embrace a spiritual kingdom...that being the Kingdom of God, entered into by having a relationship in their hearts and minds with Holy Spirit. Jesus' goal was to overthrow Satan, ruler of the world, by having people believe with their whole hearts and minds in God, himself as Savior....Messiah come....and Holy Spirit, who was to be their new Teacher, Comforter, and Guide.
It seems in todays first paragraph, the apostles were apparently weary of Roman rulership and sought Jesus to free Israel from Roman power having him then become their King. Be reminded of the mockery of the sign over Jesus' head as he hung on the cross stating 'King of the Jews'. This was Rome's way of laughing at the apostles belief that Jesus might become their king. HOWEVER, he DID become their King. And ours. Jesus became 'King of Kings and Lord of Lords' in the Kingdom of God which reigns on earth for ALL to embrace, receive, and enter.
Oddly enough, I am reminded of the commercial that used to air on television that said, "Only you can prevent forest fires." It's true that we bear responsibility for preventing forest fires. It's also true that we can prevent Satan's fires and his fiery arrows aimed at us by receiving the Holy Spirit to help us combat, refute, rebuke, and overcome the enemy, so named Satan.
Jesus addresses the apostles concerns and shares the more important issue in the second paragraph in todays lesson. Jesus tells the apostles that 'the Father sets those dates' regarding political reform and that they are not to know those details....implying they should not worry about those details or other things of the world. He imparts the more important information: when the Holy Spirit has come upon them, they will receive power and will tell people about him everywhere - in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. From this we learn we should have patience about the things of the world, 'don't sweat the small stuff' in other words, but believe that God, Jesus, Holy Spirit now reign and will overcome the world and its ways. You can overcome the things of the world, too, by believing in God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, and by the way you choose to live....with them in obedience.
Jesus didn't say, 'you will think about' telling about him, or 'they might consider', or 'maybe would you, pretty please, do this for me'. It was a directive, a command: 'you will receive power and will tell....'.
Do you consider yourself a Christian? Have you received the baptism of the Holy Spirit? If you do not know about the baptism of the Holy Spirit yet, I will be teaching more about him as we progress through Acts. If you have received him, are you sharing who Jesus is, that he even exists, how great he is, what he has to offer? If so, BRAVO! If not, why not? You don't have to answer to me, but you may want to have a talk with God, Jesus, Holy Spirit about this.
It does not matter how you share about Jesus in the home; with your friends, even your enemies; in the workplace; in the streets; in the fields; in a church; or on the web, etc. It matters that you DO. Jesus said you will receive power from the Holy Spirit. Could this be bold power, could even someone meek go forth? YES!!!!
There's another commercial for something that says 'you own the power'. We can't 'own' Holy Spirit in a material sense, nor can we ever buy him, but we can most assuredly receive him heart, mind, body, spirit and soul in a spiritual sense. And once received, we are told we WILL tell people about him everywhere.
What happens if we don't obey God? And IS this about obeying? If we don't obey God, we can be cut off from the tree of life as indicated by Jesus in John 15. Please understand this is not the same as 'doing works'. We cannot DO anything to receive Jesus' salvation other than to believe in him, ask forgiveness for everything we've done that is wrong by God's standards, and ask him into our life. [Getting rid of the sin makes room for him to enter into a cleansed vessel.] But we are supposed to walk in such a way as to say thank you, and show that we HAVE turned from our old life and are walking in this new life with him. THIS will result in new works, but they are done in thanksgiving, and to prove to God that we have turned away from our old life and accepted....embraced....our new life in Christ Jesus, not to gain anything, but to honor....God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit. So yes, in answer to the second question, it IS about obeying.
Throughout Scripture, Jesus is clear about going forth to share who he is, that he is, and how wonderful are he, God, and Holy Spirit. He is clear about why, too. So that all who fall short of the glory of God might be saved from their sins through believing in him and be offered the opportunity to receive eternal life. ALL fall short of the glory of God. ALL need him. ALL those having received him have a responsibility, a command to go forth telling ALL about him.
In paragraph 3, we are told 'It was not long after he said this that he was taken up into the sky while they were watching, and he disappeared into a cloud.' We do not have an exact time line for when this actually occurred. It could have been within the context of that daily dissertation, it might have been days later. Or more. We do understand through the study of scholars of many years, that Jesus was with his disciples/apostles for 40 days after his death and subsequent resurrection from hell, or, the 40 days were after he returned from heaven having arrived back on earth. Either way, we do not have an exact time sequence between when he was talking to the gang that day and when he exactly arose for a final time from them.
But take yourself, for a moment, to that time when everyone was standing around talking and Jesus was taken up into the sky and disappeared into a cloud. What are your thoughts? I'd be a bit astounded. By this time, I'd probably begun to realize that nothing is impossible with God and Jesus. After all, had I been a follower, I would have easily become a disciple touting his miracles and his facts from history, the prophecy of his life come true. But 'taken up into the sky' disappearing into a cloud? Say what? REally? Feather anyone? I'd certainly be blown over. And then, while straining to see if he comes out the other side of the cloud, 2 guys show up in white robes?! I'd be on my back at this point, holding my head, because most assuredly my world would be spinning. And then they speak?! I'd be speech-less. Stunned. Quite frankly not a little freaked out....I'd be A LOT freaked out. Golf balls for eye balls for sure. And they say, "Men of Galilee, why are you standing here staring at the sky? Jesus has been taken away from you into heaven. And someday, just as you saw him go, he will return!"
Okay, so I'm not an idiot. I would GET that he was just taken away! How could I not....I'd just seen him go with my own eyes. And I'd be guessing it was heaven where he went. Where else would it be? It's up, right?! But now I learn he's coming back the same way at some point? That must mean I should watch my p's and q's, as is said. If he's to judge the living and the dead, I better show him that I've changed, and how I've changed, and live my life as a Christian, because I most certainly would be at that point, if I didn't believe enough before! I would not want to be stuck here on earth, or go to hell. I would have seen the disfigurement of Jesus after he returned from hell having taken upon himself my sins and the sins of the world. I would not want to hold onto any sins put upon my by others, nor would I want to sin against anyone to cause that. Most especially, I would not want to hold onto being a sinner which might cause Jesus any future pain as a result of further sinning. Or hurt God or Holy Spirit. Gee golly gum, I'd want to straighten up and fly right! Right up to heaven when he calls! Wouldn't you? PRAISE GOD for making a way for us to spend eternity with him, Jesus, and Holy Spirit! And be forgiven of our sins!
Do you want to be forgiven of your sins and receive eternal life? I mean, a guy that can do all he did, and continues to do, can't be wrong, right? He can't be fictitious, since his life was historically documented! Why would one not want to benefit as others from believing in him, God, and Holy Spirit? I mean, the benefits include forgiveness of sins and the opportunity for eternal life! Shall I move over to make room for you on this train? I'd love to! Come on aboard the Heaven Express!
Taken seriously, somberly, this IS an important step in anyone's life. Humbling oneself before THE Savior of the universe gives way to a moment of awe. It can be difficult at best to bow down to someone you barely know. But I know, that I know, that I know, that if you do, you will not regret one iota of a second for having done so. You will never be alone, never lack for love, never lack his embrace....'however measured or far away'. You will be able to call upon God, Jesus, Holy Spirit anytime, and they WILL be there....for you and with you. I'm not saying life will be easy, or it won't be tough, it still will be. But you will have an advocate in the Trinity....God, Jesus, Holy Spirit....who will see you through everything in your life, all the way to heaven, if you but obey....them. You can learn to know all about them by reading about them in the Bible. The New Testament opens up with Jesus' birth, tells what Jesus had to say, how to live one's life, how to be forgiven of sins and get to heaven. The Old Testament provides prophecy about Jesus' arrival. Both give us insight into God and Holy Spirit and why we should want to embrace the Savior for the world....Jesus.
I hope you will travel on this journey with me to learn more about Holy Spirit, and how God and Jesus can be in your life fully. You will also learn about the importance of 'going forth' to share the Gospel message of forgiveness of sins and the opportunity to receive eternal life for all who believe and obey. I look forward to walking this path with you....in His name. 'See' ya next week!
Let Us Pray
God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, I am so excited to share who you are, that you are, and how wonderful you are with the world! I continue to be astounded at what I learn from Scripture that is historical documentation about you, God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit. There can be no refuting of facts! How can people say there is no God, or Jesus doesn't exist/isn't the Messiah come, or Holy Spirit died?! Can they not read? OOOOH......Holy Spirit hasn't come upon them, so they do not understand what they read and their ears cannot hear. I get it. Well, we'll just have to help them receive the baptism of you, Holy Spirit, so they CAN. Father God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, cleanse this vessel of mine from any sins I may have committed or received painfully from others committing sins against me. Heal me please, mind, body, spirit and soul, emotionally, financially, economically, and any other ways I need to be healed. Make me a fully cleansed vessel for you to fully enter. Fill me so completely to overflowing so there is no longer any room for Satan and his assigns in my body or my life, and please do the same for all of my family members. Oh, Father God, I have some very sick children, please Father God, please heal them here on earth. Give me whatever funds necessary to continue to seek diagnosis and treatment....please. Please don't take them from me, even tho' I would know they would be going to you. It is not right, it is not time. They should still live longer and have an abundant life in and with you, Father God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, right here on earth. Please direct me to where I should go, who I should see to best help them get back their health and their life, and please provide the money that I may do so. Or heal them in the ways that only you can....heart, mind, body, spirit, and soul. Thank you, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit. Now, please give this same gift of health and life to others in the world. Renew them that they might share your love in gratitude. Restore everyone's soul. Yea though we all walk in the shadow of death, please help us to fear no evil. For you ARE with all of us. Comfort us all. In Jesus' name I pray. I love you. I praise you. Amen.
Folks! Great news for those in Tucson, Arizona, USA! William Chandler, Author of 'The Lord's Prayer Unveiled' will be signing this latest book at Gospel Supplies this month around Valentine's Day. Call Gospel Supplies for updated info on the exact date at 520-722-1441. They are located at 5611 E. Speedway Tucson, AZ. For those not in Tucson, and are seeking to purchase a copy, you can go to www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore. You may also find his book, 'The Lord's Prayer Unveiled' on Amazon. If you go to the signing, tell him Trinity Missions USA sent you and say hi from us, will you? Thanks!
Grateful for God's lesson today?
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Let us hear from Paul as he prays:
When I think of the wisdom and scope of God's plan, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. May he be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever through endless ages. Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21 NLT
Scroll down to read Jesus' Prayer of Thanksgiving...'The Unforced Rhythms of Grace'.
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Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this:
I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
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It is time to reach into the community and the world around you to see wherein lies the greatest need. As you choose to focus on these areas, do so with a servant's heart. Whether the need is for children, adults, or animals, or any cause in between that will help those in need, ask God how you can best serve his needs, what path you must take, and how long you should persevere. Sometimes we are to be in the lives of others merely as stepping stones. Sometimes we are to touch those lives forever. Whatever journey you are called to take, whatever team you will be a member, know this: God is with you always...even til the end of time. He loves you, is grateful for you, and will help you along life's way, especially if you are helping others along theirs, persevering with a servant's heart.
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One last thing....
Jesus' Prayer of Thanksgiving
'The Unforced Rhythms of Grace'
"Abruptly Jesus broke into prayer: "Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You've concealed your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that's the way you like to work."
Jesus resumed talking to the people, but now tenderly. "The Father has given me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father - Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I'm not keeping it to myself; I'm ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen."
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn how to live freely and lightly.
Matthew 11: 25-30
And the people said,
I now write most prayers in the position of ' I ' (first person) because most people are sitting at their computer alone, not in groups, and it allows those reading and praying to personalize the prayer as coming from them going to God. Variations may appear on holidays when families may wish to use the prayer provided. I encourage you to pray your own prayers as well.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
NOTE: I said it long ago, but let me say it again. If you are wanting to lead a group, start a church, or are confined in an institution, or live in a country where the Gospel is not preached, and you don't know what to say or how to say it, and yet feel led to share, teach, or preach, besides just reading straight out of the Bible and sharing what God puts on your heart, please feel free to share any or all of what I've written, if it will help you, as long as you include where it comes from, due to copyright laws. Jesus gave God's love and healing freely, as well as his message. Our responsibility is to get the Word out to those who need to hear it. If what I've written....by the power and direction of the Holy Spirit....or what he has said through me....has helped you, it may help others that you know. You are welcome to share it. God calls all of us to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the world. Please share it with the fullness of love that God, Jesus, Holy Spirit....and I....have given it. Amen!
Bible Authors and Minister