Dear Student of the Word,
It's been a few weeks since I have written, but it's time to start the study of a new book. This week we move on to the book of Acts, and we will continue this study throughout 2011. There is no more exciting book in the Bible than Acts, for we see how Jesus continues to build His church through the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the apostles and the early church. This book has been called the Acts of the Apostles, but just as easily be called the Acts of Jesus, the Acts of the Holy Spirit or even the Acts of the Opposition, for we will see opposition arise to the gospel wherever the Word is preached. This week I wrote in part two of this seven-part study:
Study One, Part Two
4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." 6 So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" 7 He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 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."
1:4 – Jesus told the apostles to wait. There are many who have that command down pat. They wait and wait for the right “timing” to do what God wants them to do. Yet Jesus only told them to wait until they received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Then they were to go, and go with zeal and radical commitment. Someone recently wrote me reminding me that Jesus, Moses and Joseph had to wait for the right timing. My response is simple—you’re not any of those three, who had unique, world-changing work to do.
If you are waiting, but preparing for God to use you while you are waiting, then fine. If you use the waiting as a delay tactic to avoid failure or the uncertainty of serving God, then I say get up and get going. There’s work to be done and you need to be doing more than you are today. Do you agree or disagree?
1:5 – The apostles had no idea what Jesus was talking about. They didn’t really understand what they were waiting for or how they would know when they had received it. And do you see that He was only talking about them waiting for a few days, not a few years. What are you waiting for? Is it what you need to do God’s will or are you waiting as a means of procrastinating?
1:6 – The apostles were anxious for the restoration of David’s throne to Israel. They thought they understood God’s kingdom to be a literal restoration of what they had centuries earlier. It is amazing that they had spent years listening to Jesus preach and teach about the Kingdom, but they still had preconceived notions of what that meant. It is so hard to empty your mind so that we can receive the new things that God has for us. That is why Paul’s command in Romans is so critical:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:1-2).
Are you feeling brave? Then ask the Lord today to show you any mindset you have that is contrary to His. Ask Him to show you where your mind needs to be renewed so that you can be transformed. Be careful, though, for if you ask this, He will do it and it will “blow your mind” for sure.
1:7&8 – Jesus told the disciples to mind their own business, which was to preach and witness with power. Instead of focusing on what they could do, they had a fascination with the future and how God was going to do certain things. The same is true today of those who are fascinated with future things, but ignore the daily things required of them to spread the gospel to the world. Are you among this group? I hope not, but if you are, I have one word of advice: leave the future to God and you concentrate on the present. And if you believe that Jesus is coming back in this generation, are you acting like it? Are you saving for retirement? Are you buying clothes instead of using what you have? My point is that if you truly believe Jesus’ return is imminent, shouldn’t you be living a life of desperation, working to help as many get saved as possible?
As always, I welcome your comments to this week's study. For additional Bible studies, check out my website archive, which contains a complete collection of all my verse-by-verse New Testament studies, along with the unpublished volumes of The Faith Files.