Week 2: Lecture

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.

Application:

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.”

Application:

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.

Applications:

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.

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Acts: Lesson 1, Day 4

Acts 1:4–11.

The apostles were told about the baptism with the Holy Spirit and to wait in Jerusalem for it in a few days.  They question Jesus about plans for restoring Israel to power and He tells them to not worry about it but instead they are to take the power of the spirit and witness in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and ends of the earth. The apostles then observe the bodily ascension of Jesus into heaven.  As they stand there, staring up into the sky, 2 men show up by them and provide the teaser for the sequel: Jesus Returns!

8. Someone who receives Christ also receives the spirit.  I believe that while the spirit is always present with me, that the power, words, wisdom and intercession he provides vary based on both needs/opportunities and my openness.

Romans 8:9, 14–16; if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:13; For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

2 Corinthians 1:21–22; He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit

Galatians 4:6: Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts

9.  Being “baptized with the Holy Spirit”  is the initial state of being washed clean of sin by the gift of salvation that we receive when we accept Christ and welcome His spirit into our heart and our lives.  Being “filled with the Holy Spirit” is the state of power that comes from the spirit when we need it because we are called on, by God, to perform acts (including ministry, counseling, etc. as well as physical acts) that further the kingdom. Paul reminds us that, while the work we are called to perform may be difficult and that difficulty may come from our own inner turmoils, the spirit is overflowing with ability and we are left with a feeling of Joy. (Rom 15:13 – May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit)

Acts 4:8, 31; Peter and the apostles filled with the spirit and speaking his words

Acts 6:3–4 The growing disciples, at the recommendation of the apostles, appoint 7 deacons who are filled with the spirit, to care for the flock of believers

Ephesians 5:18 Don’t get drunk of wine – be filled with the spirit.  I think about this everytime I hear the current song: “your love is my drug.”

10. a. Proof of power: Jesus says the holy spirit will come on them.  The greek word Jesus uses in this passage, eperchomai, is the same word used in Luke 1:35 that the angel spoke to Mary to describe the spirit coming on her so she would bear the Son of God. The command Jesus gave them was to witness.

b. I can apply this by waiting for the Lord’s timing and then not hesitating to act, regardless of how I would assess my own strengths at that time that I am called.  The image that comes to my mind is an assistant in an operating room.  I would be the one trying to hand over a tool either 3 steps ahead or 2 steps behind – but when I stop and listen to the surgeon, then I’m part of the life changing team.

11. a. Immediately before the ascension we get a glimpse into the disciples’ thinking.  They are still fixated on trying to figure out when God is going to get off His duff and put Israel into the seat of power.  Then, 2 sentences later, Jesus bodily ascends into heaven.  The disciples have not yet received the full empowering of the spirit.  I think they are, more than anything, confused.  Where are the armies wiping out the Romans and restoring Israel?  Did we miss it?  What now?

b. the two men in white encouraged them by giving the teaser for the next episode/volume: Jesus Returns, the sequel!

Conclusion:

While Acts opens with Jesus leaving the earth, physically, it quickly sets the stage that this is not the end of the story and that His presence remains here on earth, both through the spirit in the immediate time and again physically descending from heaven in a future time.  It also sets the stage for a new relationship by the Apostles with Christ and with other believers and Christ as well, to not just be followers and lurkers, hanging on His words and waiting for His healing, but to receive that power into us and then use it.

Acts: Lesson 1, Day 3

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: Lesson 1, Day 2

Day 2 Scripture: Acts 1:1–4; Luke 24:25–27, 36–53.

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.

Conclusion:

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.

Acts Lesson 1, Day 1

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.

BSF Bible Lesson 1: Lecture

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.

Amen!

BSF Bible Lesson 1: Discovery

For discovery our first week we are going to do a combination of 2 of the activities.  First, we are going to have an interactive, guided discussion about the Apostles and the Book of Acts in particular.  Because they don’t have completed lessons to share this week, I thought it would be good to give the kids a chance to talk a little.  We might tie in a game where anytime someone says a specific word in their sentence, like “Jesus”, we all move one chair to the right.  I hope this will keep everyone listening, particularly the kid on my right who doesn’t want to get squished!

We are also going to start memorizing the books of the bible.  We are going to start easy and just do the first 6 books of the new testament, then expand from there as the weeks go by.  We are going to use a combination of song as well as an activity.  For the song, we’ll use the tune to Twinkle Twinkle.  Here is a version I found that I think will work well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KrgZ54qPyc&feature=related

I have level 1 this year, so I’m not sure how well the kids can read, but I’m putting the first 6 books on 3×5 cards and handing them out to 4 teams.  Race to get them in order with lots of cheering and air high 5’s.

Important note on that last item.  One of my big rules in the children’s program is that we keep all body parts to ourselves.  This is good advise for 1st graders and is still appropriate for high schoolers.  Rather than step in when it gets out of hand, we start with that at the beginning.  So instead of high 5’s we do air high 5’s, where you almost high 5, but don’t touch.  Goofy, but effective.  (I meant that about the activity, not me…).