Sunday, May 21, 2017

the game plan

Acts 1 8 2014
(written by Pastor Joe)
The Word for today: Acts 1:1-11
mark this: Acts 1:8
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
What a blessing the church of Jesus Christ has been given in this book- Acts. It's been sometimes called the Acts of the Apostles, which is true in some sense. But a much more accurate title would be the Acts of the Holy Spirit. He saturates this book- from chapter 1 to chapter 28, and beyond. He is the One promised in today's reading. He comes into the lives of Christ's disciples in power on the day of Pentecost in chapter 2, and then again to Gentile believers as the message spreads (1) . People such as Peter, Stephen, Barnabas, and Paul are all said to be full "of the Spirit."(2).
The Holy Spirit speaks and leads and directs all of the actions of the "movers & shakers" in this book. He reveals truth to Peter in the matter of of Ananias and Sapphira. He empowers Stephen to speak boldly. He leads Phillip's very travels- sending him to share the Gospel with the Ethiopian eunuch, and then whisking him away suddenly. The Spirit compels Peter to include non-Jews in the church. He personally chooses Paul and Barnabas for their missionary work. He navigates the church trough its first theological crisis. The Spirit even directs Paul where to go and not to go with the Gospel message. (3)
In short, this book is saturated in the Holy Spirit, as He leads, rebukes, opens some doors and closes others. We cannot come away from Acts thinking that the apostles, by their "own power or godliness (4)" somehow established God's Kingdom. Here in today's reading, the Lord Jesus lays out His game plan and His method: He ascends to the Father. The Holy Spirit comes in power. The Spirit-filled disciples are Christ's witnesses. The message spreads from Jerusalem to Judea to Samaria to the ends of the earth. That is precisely what happens in the next 27 chapters of Acts.
I cannot wait to explore this book together- all the ups and downs, twists and turns, joys and sufferings- because this is no mere human endeavor. Today, we get to see the game plan. The rest of the time, we see the Holy Spirit make it reality. Never forget that all of this is God's idea. Nothing can be more encouraging than to see flawed and ordinary people doing amazing things because it is not them, but the Spirit of Jesus Christ who carries it out! Nothing prevents any of us to join in their company because it isn't us, but the Holy Spirit who sees things through.
(1) Acts 8:15-17, 10:44-48
(2) Acts 4:8, 6:5, 11:24, 13:9,
(3) Acts 5:3-9, 6:10, 8:29 & 39, 11:12, 13:2, 15:28, 16:6
(4) Acts 3:12

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