14. Pray for obedience and patience to wait for God’s timing and for God’s calling.
14. Pray for obedience and patience to wait for God’s timing and for God’s calling.
The 11 apostles and close friends and partners wait as commanded. They spend the waiting time in prayer. Based on prayer and scripture they ask God to help select a replacement for Judas: Matthias is selected.
12. a. Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James, the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. I learn from this that they “joined together constantly in prayer.” We often think of prayer as a one-on-one time with God, like an individual conversation. And that is good and appropriate prayer. This example in Acts also helps us see group or corporate prayer. I can, at best, do a good job of listening to one conversation at a time, but God, in His infinite knowledge and power, can hear the prayers of all and those prayers have an even sweeter aroma when they are unified (joined together) and over time (constantly).
b. I think they prayed for their relationship with each other and with God. I think they gave praise and thanksgiving for all of the miraculous things that had been revealed to them and they asked for strength, understanding and wisdom to process it. I think they sought God’s guidance and direction and His timing. They had been told to wait. I think they made the best use of that time that anyone possibly could – they spent it together in prayer.
13. a. The thing I find most interesting in the selection of Matthias is what did not occur. They didn’t have candidates submit a resume. They didn’t watch videos of them giving sermons. They didn’t interview them to review their past experiences and performance. They didn’t discuss who was the most eloquent, who had the nicest family, who would fit in best. Instead they got on their knees. They had some base requirements, someone who had been around to observe Jesus first hand (side note: interesting how later on God shows that isn’t even a requirement for being an apostle), but aside from that they left it up to God to call the right person. So, yes, particularly in matters of ministry, I think this is a far better way to go. We would pick more David’s (see story of David’s selection in 1 Sam 16:5-13 and how even a prophet like Samuel struggled to be patient for God’s selection) and we would have fewer golden calves (see story of how Moses argued with God because he didn’t believe in his own skillset (Ex 4:10-17), so God allows Aaron into leadership. Later Aaron is the one, while Moses is on the mountain, who constructs the golden calf (Ex 32:2-4).
b. Interesting question: should a person with talents but not a calling do work for the Lord? On one hand, God is in control of all things, so we are all working for the Lord. And, I believe that all believers are called into some form of ministry (there are no couch potatoes on God’s team). On the other hand, one of the things I am hearing loudly in this study so far is to wait on the Lord’s timing and pay attention to His guidance and selection. When we pick the person we think is most qualified (especially if that person is ourselves), we are normally wrong. My official answer is yes (because prayer for patience, guidance, etc. is work – keep in mind that Jesus prayed so hard he was sweating blood) and no (because we need to exercise patience for God’s calling and God’s timing).
I had lots of ideas about what I wanted to learn from the study of Acts this year. Getting a loud message about waiting on God’s timing and His calling was not one of them. That is what I love about actually studying the scripture and BSF – we receive such a blessing of the unexpected.
Aim: Jesus continues His work on earth through the Holy Spirit’s power in believers
Intro: The crowd shouts out in unison: Five, Four, Three, Two, One. A loud noise erupts. It’s over, the job is done, we did it!!
When we hear that description most of us think of a game, like the final minutes of a championship football game, where the whole season has led up to this point, to victory.
We can think along those lines with the introduction to Acts in chapter 1. Jesus is God, born as a man, who walked on this earth. He has fulfilled all of the promise of the prophets. He suffered, died and then defeated death by rising again from the grave. He took on all the sins of the world and of all time, mine and yours included, and paid the price that we could not pay. And now, after spending 40 days again on the earth in a resurrected body, He ascends into heaven. Wow!
But, let’s play over that phrase again, but this time think of it in a different way. The crowd shouts out in unison: Five, Four, Three, Two, One. A loud noise erupts. It’s over, the job is done, we did it!!
What if, instead of a football game, this is describing a rocket launch. While the earthly work is finished, the mission has just begun, and what if that mission includes an ultimate return to earth. What a marvelous day that will be!
1st Division: Acts 1: 1-8 The Holy spirit is promised:
Principle: When God provides the direction He also provides the power
Illustration: You are so excited. Your class has been studying for weeks about tigers and today is the big day, you get to go to the tiger preserve and see and touch a real, live tiger. You have your sack lunch, water bottle, camera, notebook, 2 sharpened pencils, just in case. You climb on the bus with all your friends and the bus pulls away from the school, but 1 block away, it runs out of gas.
This doesn’t happen with God. When He prepares us and sends us on a mission, He always makes sure we have the power to not only get there, but also to do the job. The jobs God has for us are big jobs, sometimes way bigger than we could ever do on our own, but he provides the Holy Spirit to give us the power to do it right.
Just like our body needs fuel every day, so does our soul. Are you filling up your tank in the word every day, or just sometimes?
Do you understand that your thoughts and words that say “I can’t” really mean “I won’t” since God gives you the power to do it?
What are you trying and failing to move with the power of your own 2 feet, when God has given you the keys to a 4 wheel drive, 454 cubic foot, v8 engine with a hemi, towing package and duellies?
Division 2: Acts 1:9-11 – He’s coming back!
Illustration: We think of the Apostles as amazing men of faith who suffered through great hardship and suffering for the mission of furthering the kingdom of God. While that is true, it is also very fun to see that, at times, they are clueless num-nuts who require not one, but two angels to fill them in on what is actually going on. They are standing here, asking about Israel being returned to power over Roman rule, Jesus gives them a final instruction then ascends, bodily, to heaven. 11 guys standing there, staring up into the sky, mouths open. When 2 MIW’s (men in white) show up at their side to say, “OK, nothing to look at here folks, move it along… He’s coming back the same way He left. Quite rubberneckin’ and get a move on.”
How many angels does it take to move you along the path that Jesus instructs?
What are you gawking at that is getting in the way of your obedience?
Do you get it that the climax of the story is yet to come?
Division 3: Acts 1:12-26 – The Apostles are finally obedient and do as they were told – they wait.
Principle: Waiting on God’s timing gives us time to pray
Illustration: Listen how well these go together: Patience, Prayer, Power, Praise, Peace. The opposite is impatience, self-reliance, inadequacy, chastising, anxiety. Despite their earlier lack of obedience at the cross, the Apostles follow directions and follow the Lord. That doesn’t mean it is the easier thing to do, they were very fearful in the upper room, but they were clearly relying on God not only to protect them, but even in choosing Matthias as an apostle to replace Judas – no discussion of most eloquent, best dressed, or anything like that – just a reliance on prayer and asking God to choose. What a great example they set for learning from rather than constantly repeating our shortcomings by trusting in and obeying the Lord.
It’s your life – you choose. Which path do you want to take knowing where they lead: obedience or ignorance? If there is any question, look at those words again! Patience, prayer… peace vs. impatience, self-reliance… anxiety/stress.
Who do you want to associate with, the people others see as popular, prestigious, attractive and talented or the ones that God has selected for you to be with? Are you praying for God to bring the right people into your life?
Where do you need to practice more patience in waiting on God’s timing and what are you doing while waiting? Are you praying?
Conclusion: If you think the story of the gospels was cool – you ain’t seen nothing, yet. That paid the price of admission, the next part of the story is still being played out and the big finale is yet to come.
Day 2 Scripture: Acts 1:4–8.
5 short versus that outline the rest of the book of Acts. In this section, Luke recalls Jesus’ direction to the apostles to wait for the gift of the holy spirit, that they would not know all of God’s timing, but with the spirit they had power and with that power they were to go out and witness. In previous posts I discussed how this outlines the direction the Apostles took, geographically.
6. The gift from the Holy Father, spoken of by Jesus: to be baptized with the Holy Spirit.
7. a. John 14:17 explains that the Spirit of Truth would be with them and live in them. The power of the spirit permanently resided within their soul now that the price of their sins had been paid-in-full.
b. John: 1:32: When Jesus was baptized, the Spirit came down on Him like a dove. Clearly, at this point, the spirit was “with” the apostles, but not yet “in” the apostles.
Romans 8:26 says that the spirit intercedes for us in prayer with groans that words cannot express and Romans 8:28 points out that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him. So, can the Holy Spirit pray for us and guide us even before we accept the gift and invite him into our heart? Absolutely, that is how it works! Can the spirit continue to move through others, even non-believers for the benefit of those who love Him? Without a doubt. However, the state of the spirit being with me, but not in me, while good and reassuring is not sufficient. Only by accepting him with the gift of salvation do I become a new creation, cleansed of my sins.
c. Simple answer is “in me.” This is not to say that I am always obedient, nor do I always even consult the spirit before heading off in my own direction. But I have accepted the gift and I live in the hope and assurance of everlasting life. I am incredibly hesitant to speak for God (that just doesn’t sound like a muy bueno idea) but I think I am slowly maturing in my relationship, growing daily in a desire to follow Him and do things in His time.
Conclusion: God is not some distant, absentee, set-things-in-motion-then-sit-back being. He is active not just in nature and in the universe, providing a hand of guidance and direction, but He, through the Holy Spirit, lives and dwells within us. He washes over us and enters our body, mind and soul, like breath itself.
Acts 1: 1-4 is Luke’s opening of his 2nd letter to Theopholis,. In this he continues to explain Jesus work, now in a post resurrection time. In these first versus he records the emphasis that Jesus placed on the gift of the Holy Spirit that was to come and embody the Apostles. It is noted that this is not a new concept, but something that Jesus had spoken about many times that it would be given.
Luke 24 recounts the events of the 2 apostles on the road to Emmaus who meet with the risen Christ.
3. a. After Jesus’ resurrection, how did He teach His disciples and prepare them for their work? Give verses.
Acts 1:2 – Gave instructions through the Holy Spirt
Acts 1:3 – He showed Himself. He gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeard over a period of 40 days. He spoke abou the kingdom of God
Acts 1:4 – He ate.
Acts 1:4 – He commanded the apostles to not leave Jerusalem but to wait for “the gift” (Holy Spirit).
Luke 24:25 – He called them “foolish” and “slow”
Luke 24:27 – He explained what was said in scripture concerning himself
Luke 24:36 – He stood among them and blessed them
Luke 24:37-39 – He calmed their fears and allowed them to see and touch his hands and feet.
Luke 24: 43-43 – He ate
Luke 24:44, 46, 47 – He reminded them of his words and the scriptures
Luke 24: 45 – He opend their minds
Luke 24:48 – He called them to be witnesses
b. How are we taught and prepared in the same way today?
We are convicted of our own foolishness and slowness of heart through the spirit, while at the same time receiving the strength to change, grow and witness to others. We participate, physically, with Christ through communion. We have all scriptures, including all the prophets and the complete canon that teaches us everything about our Lord. The spirit opens our minds and hearts to hear His words and bring Him into our heart. We are called to witness.
c. Tell your group how you have personally been taught by Jesus in this way.
BSF has been a personal venue to these aspects continuing in my life. I am surrounded by other men who love the lord and I learn from them and the way the spirit is moving in their lives. I delve deeper into the words of scripture than I would on my own. I’m challenged in the lectures with the application questions to my own foolishness and slowness of heart. I pray on my knees with other leaders and can feel the spirit moving among us. I am blessed to have men bring their children to my class so that I can witness to them (and them to me!)
4. List the “convincing proofs” of Jesus’ bodily resurrection mentioned in Luke 24 and John 20:19–29; 21:1–14.
He appeared, he spoke, he ate, he allowed them to see his hands and feet and the nail holes, he allowed them to touch, he spoke the same words, he taught them (putting the pieces they already knew together), He came to them behind locked doors, He breathed on them, He allayed their doubts with physical proof, He appeared on the shore (i.e., in multiple places at different times of the day, behind closed doors and out in the open), he cooked food, he demonstrated his control over nature (153 fish), he served them.
5. (Challenge) Why do you think Jesus waited with the disciples forty days after His resurrection before going to heaven?
First of all, I think it is important to remind ourselves that he simply did spend 40 days. There are very few parts of the bible (with the exception of John 3:16) that clearly explain “why” God does something and it is important to not fall into some symbolism or numerology trail off the main path to find some mystically revelation about “why.” It says he spent 40 days because, simply put – those are the facts, Jack.
Having said that, throughout the bible 40 is a number that comes up over and over again in situations of “completeness.”
Gen 7 – The length of the flood was 40 days, to cleanse the earth
Gen 50:3 – 40 days is the length of time required to properly prepare (embalming) Jacob’s body after death for the trip from Egypt to Israel.
Ex 16 – 40 years of manna in the desert
Ex 24:18 and 34:28 – Moses spent 40 days on the mountain to receive the law
Num 13:25 – The Israelites spent 40 days investigating the promised land before returning with a report
2 Sam 5:4 – David reigned as king for 40 years
1Kings 11:42 – Solomon reigned in Jerusalem for 40 years
1 Kings 19 – 40 days is the length of Elijah’s travel to reach the mountain of God
Jon 3:4 – Jonah’s warning to the Ninevites: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.” (sufficient time for repentance)
Mat 4:2, Mar 1:13, Luke 4:2 – Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the desert at the beginning of his ministry on earth.
Our first lesson in the BSF study of the book of Acts helps set the foundation for the cornerstone of not only our study but of how Luke writes. Dr. Luke and Joe Friday would have gotten along well because both have an emphasis on, “just the facts.” (and with that reference I just lost everyone under the age of 40).
We are given a preponderance evidence, well documented and complete, demonstrating Christ’s life, death and His resurrection in fulfillment of all the scriptures. We are then clearly told what to do with those facts: Witness.
What was new, helpful or interesting to you in the notes?
I was particularly struck by the comment in the notes that “the indwelling of the Holy Spirit enabled the apostles to perform acts that were previously impossible when Jesus was with them, but not in them.” We often think about how wonderful and inspiring it would have been to physically walk with Jesus and see His ministry delivered first hand. It is also tempting to attribute the faith that the apostles had to that gift. But, as the notes point out, that wasn’t the source of their strength and that wasn’t what strengthened their faith. As Luke will point out in the book of Acts, the apostle Paul came to know Christ after His ascension.
The notes continue with: “Your study of Acts will reveal that the key to living a powerful, fruitful Chrstian life is to be filled continuously with the Holy Spirit. This is both each christian’s overwhelming priviledge as well as Gods command to be filled continuously (Ephesians 5:18). This is the normal christian life; any other life is subnormal.”
That is such a bold and true statement. Nothing wishy-washy or part way. Christians are to be filled (all the way to “F” on on our fuel tank) with the Holy Spirit. So how do we top off the tank and fill our lives with the spirit? The notes discuss the prescription that Dr. Luke notes through the account of the Acts of the Apostles and how they did it. Prayer. Strength from other believers. Witnessing. Work. Persecution. Praise. Joy.
This last point, Joy, I think will come up over and over again in the study this year. We live in an area of great affluence, where few want for much of anything. But there is such a lack of joy in our communities and neighborhoods. As the notes say, “These early Christians lived in a state of exaltation and gladness in the midst of unheard-of difficulties. Luke emphasizes Pauls intense joy and devotion to the Lord in every page of Paul’s history in Acts.” This includes during times of being beaten, inprisoned, persecuted, chased out of town and even left for dead. Clearly that joy is not coming from outside influences. It is from the same gift of indwelling of the spirit that has been given to me and you.
The old saying in corporate settings is to start out like you can hold out. I am a fan of doing the exact opposite in the first night lecture in the children’s program at BSF. I do my best to get as much excitement and energy as I can possibly get – even knowing I may not be able to match it every week – but I want the kids to know that I love this stuff and I think it is cool and exciting and fun. I rarely write out my lectures, preferring to use some simple notes, because I want to feed on the spirit and the energy. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t go in unprepared, but I also don’t write down word for word what I’m going to say so I feel trapped reading it.
The scripture for our first night is “the bible”. Pretty all inclusive – but also a great visual. “OK, let’s all turn to …. our bible.”
The Aim is to cause the student to learn that the Bible is the true Word of God.
I’m going to open with and spend quite a bit of time talking about truth. What is it? What is true? Does 1 + 1 =2? Sometimes? All the time? Is the sky blue? Sometimes or all the time? I’m going to talk about swearing in at court (or at least how they do it on TV): promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. What is a truth that isn’t the whole truth? What is something that is in addition to the truth? Then back into the one truth – the word of God. Always, absolute, complete.
Section 1: The bible tells us the truth about who God is: Eternal, creator, sovereign, holy, trinity. Easy subjects to discuss and have fun with. I’m going to do it in a playful way… “OK, the bible start out saying that after there had been a lizard crawing around on the earth for a while and he started talking and stuff he was throwing a party one night and decided… hey, let’s make god, right? NOOOOO. Did a lizard make God? Did a man make God? Which came first God or lizards? Which came first God or men? When was God start? Lot’s of emphasis, lots of moving… lot’s of excitement. I want the kid’s to be doing everything they can to keep from yelling out… noooooooooooooooo. I also want to emphasis what sin is – missing the mark.
Principle #1: The words of the bible are the words of God. This isn’t a story. It isn’t a book about people like the Apostles and Moses and Joseph and Samson and Esther and Lydia. It isn’t even a book about God. It is a gift. These are God’s words that he gave us so that we can know Him. Are you reading God’s words? Can you think of something more important that you should be doing? How do you think God will respond if we say we didn’t find the time to read what he gave us?
Section B: The Bible tells us the truth about what God has done. Revelation of God through time, history (his story), that he is a man with a plan (just rhymes better than God with a plan), Salvation has always been His plan for His chosen people, this plan enables a future and hope of eternal life (clarifying that hope does not mean uncertainty, it means looking forward to.) Critical in this is that God is DOING. This is in direct contrast to the belief that God set things in motion but is now missing. It is also counter to the “Lion witch and wardrobe movies” where Aslon sweeps in and out but is gone for large periods of time. The bible tells about what God has actively done and from that we know that He is actively doing even today in each of our lives.
Principle #2: The Bible is the final authority for all the events of life. This is not a reference guide. It is not a rule book. It is not a fable or foible or action drama. It isn’t a love story, although there is plenty of love in it. Have you ever done the hokey pokey? right leg in, left leg out… So here is the most important thing you are going to learn all year… see these words? See the voice of God in these words telling us about Himself and His plan for me and for you? This IS what it is all about. When you have questions about right and wrong, where do you look? When you think about role models, are you looking at magazines or this book?
Section C: The bible tells us the truth about who we are and how we are to live. Ever person is: made in the image of God, created to bring glory and honor to God, is a sinner, needs a savior. God didn’t make trash. I’m not something He spit out. He made me different than any and every other thing in all of creation. He made me like Him. He gave me the ability to make choices. He gave me the ability to decide and He loved me so much that He let me do it even knowing that I would mess up. No other creature sins. Rocks don’t sin. Birds don’t sin. Our ability to choose, to accept or reject is something that makes us unique in all creation. And we have always chose wrong (all of us except Jesus that is). But did God say, oh well.. let’s start over? No, He had a plan all along.
Prinple #3: The bible is without error. The bible cannot be wrong any more than God can be wrong. God doesn’t make mistakes. His Word does not have errors. When you need to stand on something, when you need to build on something, do you want something that can change? something that is true some of the time but not all the time? something that is partially true, but not all the way? something that is mostly true? No, you want a rock.
This book is the True Word of God.