Monday, December 07, 2009

From the Ground Up

Acts 1:1-11

Just under 2,000 years ago, it was a handful of oppressed Jews in a small pocket of the Middle East. The Acts of the Apostles shows us our roots. It shows us how the church began, and the great lengths to which God went to preserve it and uphold it to this very day.

The first eleven verses of Acts are a powerful reminder of what the church is all about. In this short passage, we have the fundamentals of our faith.

1) Jesus died and rose again.

"After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive." -Acts 1:3

  • Jesus' death and resurrection prove his love, his authority, his agency in our lives and is the essence of the Good News. Without this fact, there is no church.

  • Is Jesus the source of your hope? Does the Cross overshadow everything else in your life?

2) The Holy Spirit lives in us.

"You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you." -Acts 1:8a

"Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." -Acts 1:4-5

  • We are not merely followers of a religious system, struggling to overcome our weaknesses and achieve a higher state of being. Jesus' sacrifice made us right with God. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit, God Himself, empowers us to live. The Spirit guides our words, inspires our choices, changes our hearts, and transforms us from within to look more and more like God. The church is defined by the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

  • Is it He that guides you? Do you really seek Him, listen for Him? Are there places where you seek to keep Him out?

3) We are on a mission.

And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." -Acts 1:8b

  • The church exists to build up the faithful, worship God, and spread the Gospel to the world, as defined by Jesus himself. These are his last words before his ascension.

  • As we study Acts, watch for the word witness. It's everywhere. It is the inescapable purpose of the church: to display and tell of the glory of God to everyone who needs to see it and hear it. And that's everyone.

  • How can you contribute to the mission?

4) Jesus will return.

"This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." Acts 1:11

  • It's fitting that the angels' implied meaning is "get moving!" We can't call the day when Jesus will return, but we know for certain that he will. It will be a day of hope and fear for humanity.

  • Everyone will see the truth, in the end, and all the excuses will run out. Just as we have a single lifetime on Earth, the world as we know it will not last forever. That truth should both excite and humble us. The enemy's time is short; so is ours.

  • What has God called you to do before the end comes?

When the church took root and began to grow, these facts are what gave it strength. We, too, must continue to draw our strength, our purpose, from the foundation that God has laid for us. If we deviate from these truths, we are lost.

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