Thursday, September 29, 2011

Acts 2

(Acts 2:1-13)
The meaning of Pentecost is the number 50 and the Pentecost Festival is 50 days after the annual Passover.  On that Pentecost day the Holy Spirit came to all believers in the form of 2 outward signs: 1. a sound like blowing of a violent wind and 2. What seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them?  Each began to speak in a tongue that everyone understood in their own language. 

The Holy Spirit came to people before Pentecost, but only for a limited period of time for a special work.  At Pentecost the Holy Spirit came to all men who believed.  He is now for anybody. 

This was not the first time the Holy Spirit came in such a miraculous way.  In Genesis 11 the Holy Spirit came and confused their language so they were not able to understand.  In Acts 2 it was the opposite.  The Holy Spirit rested on them in their own language so they would understand.  To me this shows the power of the Holy Spirit and that He can do anything.  I think this gave the disciples much confidence for their mission to come.

Jesus sent us His Holy Spirit whose power is beyond human abilities and guides us toward God.  The Spirit helps us understand the Word, know the heart of God, empowers us for ministry, comforts us, makes us holy and seals us in Christ guarantying us that we are His.  We can grief the Holy Spirit when we sin and ignore the truth He shows us.  The deepest longing of the Spirit is to glorify Jesus Christ.  What is your deepest longing?

(Acts 2:14-21)
Peter was a changed man.  Before Jesus’ arrest he was afraid because he knew Jesus.  Now he began to preach in a bold way preaching unity of faith as he stood up with the 11 disciples and addressed the crowd proclaiming the gospel and the resurrection.  There’s strength in numbers.  By standing together this probably made them stronger and more courageous.

“The last days” began at Pentecost as described in Joel.  We are now in the last days before Jesus returns.  He will pour out His spirit on all believers – they will prophesy, see visions and dreams, he will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below.  Before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord, the sun will turn to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord (17-20).  I don’t think “the day of the Lord” is an actual day, but the beginning of God’s judgment with the return of Jesus Christ (20).

(Acts 2:22-32)
Peter describes the life of Jesus on earth as a man accredited by God to do miraculous wonders and signs.  He described the death of Jesus as being handed over to the people
by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge and put to death by nailing Him to the cross.  He described Jesus’ resurrection as God raising Him freeing Him from the agony of death because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him.  He held the crowd responsible because they rejected and betrayed Jesus.

(Acts 2:33-47)
When the people heard all Peter had to say, they ask, “What shall we do?”  They had quilt and sorrow for what they had done.  Peter said to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.  There was only 1 relief and that was to repent.  Some accepted his message and were baptized – about 3,000.

Repentance and faith go hand in hand.  There are 3 steps to repentance.
1.      Conviction of sin
2.     Sorry for the sin
3.     Conversion – turn away from sin and turn to God.
Being baptized is the dipping or immersing in water.  It doesn’t provide forgiveness of sin.  Only repentance brings forgiveness.  Baptism is an outward application of a new life in Jesus Christ.

All those that believed devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching.  They met daily together in the temple, they sold possession and gave to anyone who has a need, they ate in each other’s homes and praised God (42-27). They prayed and broke bread together which is called Holy Communion or the Lord Supper today.

1.      The Holy Spirit empowers believers to draw others toward Jesus Christ
2.     Repentance and faith ushers in the Holy Spirit’s transforming power.
3.     Spirit filled believers participate in a devoted community to Christ.

Are you saved?  Are you filled with the Holy Spirit?
How are you grieving the Holy Spirit?
How are you allowing the Holy Spirit to use you to bring other to Jesus?
How does devotion to Him compare to your job, hobby, etc.?
Are you maturing in the Christian life as the early believers did?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Acts 1

The book of Acts was authored by Luke and written so we would have the true story of how the Christian church began and grew. 

(Acts 1:1-8, Luke 24:25-27, 36-53)
After Jesus resurrection and before He ascended to heaven He taught His disciples and prepared them for their work to come.  He offered many convincing proof that He was alive.  He talked with them instructing them through the Holy Spirit.  He appeared to them and others over a *40 day period.  He explained the scriptures to them and opened their minds so they could understand.  He told them not to leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift God promised - the Holy Spirit.  They would then be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (verse 5).  Then, when the Holy Spirit comes they are to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

How are you applying this command to your life? 

Are you a witness first to Jersualem (your family and church), Samaria (your neighbor, our own local town, your country)? 

How did their relationship change after He ascended?  Before He ascended they had Jesus to teach and guide them, but since He would not longer be there with them physically, they needed the Holy Spirit to be their guide.  By being “baptized with the Holy Spirit” (verse 5) the Holy Spirit would be “in” them and they would remain connected to Him. 

Is it possible to have the Holy Spirit “with you” but not “in you”?
Yes, the Holy Spirit is “with” us all - even non-believers.  He’s convicting non-believers of   their sins and their unbelief in Christ.  The Holy Spirit is “in” you when you accept Jesus and become a believer.  

(Acts 1:4-11) 
What’s the difference in “baptized with the Holy Spirit” and “filled with the Holy Spirit? Being “baptized with the Holy Spirit happens only once – at the time of conversion.  As believers we are constantly being “filled with the Holy Spirit” as we mature as Christians, as we allow God to be in control letting Him work in our lives, and as we listen and obey yielding to Him.

(Acts 1:12-26)
Since Judas was not longer part of the ministry, they needed to replace him.  The disciples met together along with the women, Mary the mother of Jesus and his brothers.  The first thing they did was to pray.  They probably also prayed for courage, strength, protection, perseverance, guidance, and the ability to of what Jesus commanded. This teaches us that we should gather together with fellow Christian and pray before selecting our leaders.  Titus 3:9-11 and 1 & 2 Timothy tells us to choose leaders who are kind, holy, honest, and teach God’s message accurately.  Even Jesus prayed when he chose His disciples – Luke 6:12-13.

1.    God provides evidence for believing and serving Him.
2.    God provides the power to effectively do what He asks us to do.
3.    Prayer is important part of waiting for God to reveal the next step of obedience.

Are you welcoming the Holy Spirit into your life?
Will you ask God for a “filling of the Holy Spirit”? 

Take time to study the scriptures and let God speak to you. 
Pray – Listen - Obey - Yield

* The number 40 is used several times in scripture - 40 days, 40 years, etc.  Perhaps it was a period of testing of their faith.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Introduction to the book of Acts

We’re off to a good start in Bible Study Fellowship.  We will not only be studying the book of Acts, but some of Luke, James, Jude, I & II Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, and Thessalonians.  Our Seminar Leader is wonderful.  She told us wherever God’s Spirit and truth is magnified there is growth.  I look forward to growing through this study.

When we study scripture we need to be on the “hunt” to know God.  Don’t just read to get the answers to the questions, but look for God and His character.  The Bible is God’s love letter to mankind.  It consists of 66 writings, the story of redemption, the living Word of God, and is without error or contradiction.   Acts is considered the most important book in the New Testament, like Isaiah is considered the most important book in the Old Testament.

Acts 1:8 is the heart of the study and the Holy Spirit is the main character.  It will be a study of ordinary people who birthed the Church.  We will learn about Paul, Peter, John, Philip, Steven, and Saul’s conversion – just to name a few

Purpose of Acts:
To emphasize the Holy Spirit’s Person and Work
To show God’s sovereignty
To show joy in all circumstances

1.     God has provided an answer to every problem of the human heart through the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word.
2.    Jesus works through individuals who completely surrender to the Holy Spirit.
3.    The growth of the Church rests on the living resurrected Christ.