Archive for September 20th, 2010

Acts 1

In our walk through scriptures chronologically we are now through the gospels and ready to begin Acts 1.  Jesus has risen from the tomb and is alive again.  He “presented Himself…..appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God”.  Have you seen this 40 days theme a few times before?  It does seem to be an important number in God’s plan.  Jesus “ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem…..but to wait for the promise of the Father”.  So the disciples have been hiding and staying out of sight of the religious leaders – keeping a low profile – and now Jesus tells them to stay put longer.  I can imagine that they wanted to get out of town as quickly as they could – it wasn’t a friendly time there for a Christ Follower.  But it wasn’t the plan.  Jesus wanted them to wait telling them “you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit”.  What was the big deal about the Holy Spirit?  That was the promise Jesus gave His followers – the strength that was coming after He was to go to the Cross and pay for our sin.  The Holy Spirit is not just a big deal – the Holy Spirit IS the most important thing these Christ Followers would experience to help them in their walk of faith.

What did Jesus tell them, and us about the Holy Spirit?  Remember that the last words Jesus spoke to the disciples were to “to and make disciples of all nations…”.  They couldn’t possibly do that on their own.  Nor can we.  Jesus tells the group in Acts 1:8 just how that can happen, and it is the key to our lives today as well.  “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth”.  Not only did Jesus give the disciples a job that seemed far too large for them to possibly accomplish – to go and make disciples of all nations – but now He is telling them that He is equipping them with the power to accomplish that commission – the Holy Spirit.  God doesn’t ask us to do things He doesn’t equip us to accomplish.  That is how He works.  We have been given power through the Holy Spirit just like the disciples who walked with Jesus.  Same God, same Jesus, same Holy Spirit.  We also have the same Bible and same commission to accomplish.  So we need to pay attention and figure out how to work with the Holy Spirit with in us to get things done.

After Jesus told the disciples about the empowerment, “he was lifted up and a cloud took Him out of their sight”.  The transition didn’t take long did it?  Jesus says the words and is gone.  The disciples were “gazing into heaven” when all of a sudden two men were standing with them asking “why do you stand looking into heaven”.  It was now time to get on with the ministry.  They were equipped and now needed to get to work.  The men told them that Jesus “will come in the same way” referring to His eventual return to become King.  The disciples “went to the upper room…..with one accord…..devoting themselves to prayer”.  So Jesus has just told them about the power they have with the Holy Spirit – and that it was time to get on with the work of the ministry – and the first thing they did was retreat to pray.  We can learn much from them here.  Our work should always start with prayer.  They realized the need to replace Judas Iscariot as scripture had prophesied, so they selected two from the group who had been with them while Jesus was on earth.  And the new guy the selected – “the lot fell on Matthias” – became apostle number twelve.  Tough job but one that needed to be filled.  Are you filled with the Holy Spirit?  Jesus promised it to all who believe.  That is where the power to live for Him comes from!

So we don’t forget, here is a list of the key times that God used 40 days in scripture:

  • It rained for 40 days and 40 nights when God wanted to cleanse the world and start over.  (Gen 7:12 KJV)
  • Noah waited another 40 days after it rained before he opened a window in the Ark.  (Gen 8:6 KJV)
  • Moses was on the mountain with God for 40 days (TWICE) (Ex 24:18 KJV)  (Ex 34:28-29 KJV)  (Deu 10:10 NIV)
  • Moses’ face shone after the 40 days on the mountain.  (Ex 34:29 KJV)
  • It took the spies 40 days to search out the promised land and bring back fruit  (Num 13:25 KJV)
  • The Israelites spent 40 years in the wilderness, one year for each day they explored the Promised Land.  (Ex 16:35 KJV)  (Num 14:33-34 NIV) 
  • Goliath came for forty days before being killed by David  (1 Sam 17:16 NLT)
  • Elijah strengthened by one angelic meal went forty days to Mount Horeb where the Lord passed by and he heard the voice of God  (1 Ki 19:8 KJV) 
  • Jonah warned the City of Nineveh they had 40 days until God would overthrow the city. The people repented in those 40 days and God spared the city.  (Jonah 3:4 and 10 KJV)
  • Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness   (Mat 3:17 KJV)  (Mat 4:1-2 KJV)
  • Jesus was seen in the earth 40 days after His crucifixion  (Acts 1:3 NIV)
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