Category Archives: Church

Acts, Chapter 1

Wow!  I didn’t realize that I was going to write four posts before even getting to the first Chapter!  Thanks for sticking with me so far :0)

Now’s the part where I make observations, ask questions, and depend on all of you to help me with the answers.  This past Sunday’s message by Bro. Mike spoke of a warning.  He made a statement about many people taking verses of scripture out of context, and I really pondered on that for a bit.  My earnest intention is to not do that, but if I should stray, please help bring me back on the right track.  I am by no means an educated theologian, and many times rely on information that I have picked up by reading commentaries or hearing the opinions of others.  I’m just a normal gal, desiring to further my walk with the Lord as I study through Acts, and if by some way I am able to share it with any of you in writing these posts, I pray that God will use this blog as a tool for your growth and walk with the Lord to deepen.  So, please forgive me if I make a mistake, or miss something in the “big picture”. 

Chapter 1 – The “Who”

As I understand it, Luke, the physician, supposedly wrote the book of Acts.  He is writing to a Gentile believer named Theophilus an account of the information he had gathered about Jesus.  Luke, apparently, was not an eye-witness to the events but gathered undisputable evidence of all that had happened.  Continue reading

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Acting in the Spirit.

My last post, Act as a Witness, addressed our mission as Christians using the biblical text of Acts 1:8.  Because I was focusing on our mission, I almost left off part of the verse  — the beginning that speaks of the power of the Holy Spirit:

“you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, …”

Instead of leaving it off, though, I was prompted to go back and add the beginning.  I wasn’t sure why.  I remember acknowledging that the first part of the verse was very important, because without the Holy Spirit’s power, our mission to be a witness is in vain.  Still, my initial reaction was to use only the part of the verse that directly applied to being a witness. 

But! …. Now I know why!! 🙂 (I have to smile when the working of the Holy Spirit is evident!)

Not long after the post my blogger friend, Janet, posted this comment:

“The verse you quoted (Acts 1:8) has “spoken” to me this morning, and reminded me that the Holy Spirit will give me the boldness I need when He wants me to speak out. {In my own strength, I can be timid and shy, but God does not give us a spirit of fear or timidity!–(2 Tim. 1:7)}”

And then, my husband wrote this.  (Click here)

Even as I finished the last post, I planned on devoting one to the power and works of the Holy Spirit, but instead, He has already done that for me! 

It is just amazing to me how God works!  He can take one simple act of obedience — in this case, just the addition of the complete verse on a blog post to equip and give power to Janet, and then He can prompt my husband to write about the power of the Spirit in our “marching orders”, at the same time I was planning my next post.

Some may consider that a small thing, but even in the smallest event, the Holy Spirit is mighty in power.  He can encourage each one of us personally, just when we need it, and at the right time that we need it, and in ways that others won’t understand.  That’s what makes it incredible!  Just to know that God cares so much for us, that He personally relates with our day-to-day thoughts and events!

Which brings me to a point I did want to make as we study the book of Acts and the works and power of the Holy Spirit:  The actions of the church must be led by the Holy Spirit.  If we don’t allow the Holy Spirit to lead, then our actions, efforts, programs, plans, studies, and any other activity we can think of will be fruitless. 

On the other hand, just because we proceed without the direction of the Holy Spirit doesn’t mean that God won’t finish his work.  Regardless of our disobedience, God still finishes His work. 

“Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect?  Certainly not!”  Romans 3:3-4

“If we are faithless, He remains faithful…”  2 Timothy 2:13

“And we know that all things work together for good…” Romans 8:28

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:38 – 39

We, as humans, are “created things” as referenced in Romans 8.  Many, many times this created thing (me) has begun a work because it was something I thought worthwhile, or because “somebody” needed to do it, or because it was just “something” that the church was “supposed” to do.  Yet, I didn’t stop to consult God about it.  Consequently, the work, although seemingly admirable, was unfruitful and not used to further God’s kingdom. 

Still, God continued on.  He ignored my selfish motivations and all my plans to proceed with His work.  (Thank goodness!

He is faithful, even when we are not. 

The Holy Spirit is real.  We know He is here when He takes the things of Christ and shows them to us.  He visits us personally — encouraging, strengthening, empowering, guiding.

What is the Holy Spirit saying to you today?  

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Act as Witnesses.

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  Acts. 1:8

Where is Jerusalem?  Our hometown, our community

Where is Samaria?  The “other side of the tracks”…people we don’t usually associate with on a day-to-day basis.

Where is the end of the earth?  I like the bible translation that says the “uttermost” part of the earth.  It is from one pole to the other pole….from east around the globe to the furthest west…every people, every nation, every tribe, every human on the earth — the uttermost furthest distance you can imagine on the planet earth.

I have never been one to skip to the ending of the book without reading through it first, but in this case, I want to point out something.  Having read several commentaries, it seems that the end of the book of Acts has no proper ending.  It ends with Paul in his own rented house in Rome. 

I just picture Paul, sitting at a table in his room, reading the scriptures and preparing for his next mission.  He is studying, and praying and interceding for the lost people that he, himself persecuted.  He hardly sleeps, is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, and very attentive to God’s voice.

The camera pulls back, ending the scene with this image.  You just know that Paul is about to run out the door to his next adventure, when the ending credits starting scrolling and the symphony starts playing…

Ugh! …..want more?!  Yes!  Bring on the sequel!!!

If we watched a movie with this scene at the end of it, there would no doubt be a feeling of incompleteness.  It’s like one of those really, really, good movies that just leaves you hanging at the end!  

In this case, however, there is no proper ending.  Why?  Because the mission of God’s people is incomplete.  It is a continuing story.  We are to continue in the same work as Paul — into Judea, Samaria, and the Uttermost.

The work, as Acts 1:8 points out, is to be a witness of “Me”.  The “me” is Jesus Christ, but what message is it that He wants us to convey?  A witness of what? 

The research I have done tells me that He is speaking of the resurrection.  It is the center and heart of the message.  Without the resurrection, all work and miracles Jesus had performed would have been in vain.  Without renewed life, the testimonies and accounts of Jesus’ life would mean nothing.  He would have been just another man. 

However, He was not a man. 

“I and My Father are one.”  John 10:30

He was God, in flesh, who experienced all the guilt of our sins, endured a torcherous death, but then fulfilled the greatest feat no man has ever been able to do….he came back to life!  He was resurrected, just as the prophecies of old had described!  He is alive — even today!  Now THAT’s something to get excited about 🙂

We are to be witnesses of THAT GREAT MIRACLE…the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  It is the center and heart of the church’s message.

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Acts, the Gospel Funnel.

Here we go with the definitions again :)…

funnel – A conical utensil with a small hole or narrow tube at the apex used to channel the flow of a substance into a container.

The book of Acts, as J. Vernon McGee points out, is like a funnel.  Prior to Acts, we see the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  All four of these books end with a significant aspect of Christianity which, together, flow into the funnel of Acts where we see God’s plan for the church. 

The last recorded fact in Matthew is the Resurrection.  Mark ends with the Ascension.  Luke closes with the promise of the Holy Spirit, and John proclaims the second coming of Jesus Christ. 

Like the above definition, the book of Acts serves as the funnel used to channel the flow of these four events into one container, the church.  It is in Acts when the church receives birth, then direction and life instruction from our Lord.  The container –the vessel used to reach the lost, lies within the church, God’s people.

It’s like getting bits and pieces of information, and then deciding what to do with them.  We’ve been given the gifts of the Resurrection, Ascension, Holy Spirit, and Promise of Christ’s return.  What are we going to do with them?  Or better yet….what does God want us to do?

The answer is found in Acts 1:8:

“…you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

We are instructed to be a witness, just as the original apostles were, of the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  This is undoubtedly the purpose of the church as found in the book of Acts.

It is my overall understanding that the book of Acts was written by Luke, the physician, although I did read one opinion that said it wasn’t conclusively Luke. 

I have also read that Luke wasn’t an actual witness to the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, but must have extensively compiled research and evidence of the things he wrote about in the book of Luke and Acts. 

What do you think?  Was Luke the author? Also, what does being an apostle mean?  Is an “apostle” the same as a “disciple”?   

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Acts is a Verb.

The word, acts, is defined as:

  1. To play the part of; assume the dramatic role of.
  2. To perform on the stage
  3. To behave like or pose as; impersonate
  4. To behave as suitable for.

These definitions could assume a lot about the typical church goer.  Definition #1 often describes those who “play” church.  Unfortunately, many people make a point to go to church, but fail to truly connect.  They play the part of a dedicated Christian on worship day, they might even assume the dramatic role of a dedicated church member by fulfilling a needed task here or there.  However, “playing” church does not a church member make!  As for drama, there’s quite a bit of that evident in today’s churches as well.

Definition #2 could be compared to worship ministries in many churches.  Sadly, there are many men and women today who stand before the congregation, performing to the audience, rather than for God.  Speaking personally, I can relate with this one because there was a time in my life that God spoke abruptly and directly about leading worship.  Prior to that direction, the Sunday “specials” were only special to me, because I looked for the pat on the back or the praise from the congregation in order to boost my self confidence and reputation.  I realized that I wasn’t looking to lead others into worship toward God, but to show off the talents that God has so graciously given me.  What an eye opener it was for me!  In response to His direction, I forcefully pulled myself away from the music ministry all together until I could get the “big picture”.  Worship is for God, to be directed to God, and should be displayed in such a way as to only lead others to God.   Performances  should be left outside the church.

To impersonate, as definition #3 says, would say that the action is not real.  Need I say more?  God knows those who impersonate real Christianity.  He knows the very hearts of every man, woman, and child.  Appearing at church on Sunday, then living life without God during the week is nothing but impersonation.  I pray for all the impersonators who try to trick themselves into believing that they can do good for a day, and then share in eternal happiness.  They just don’t get it. 

Finally, definition #4 leads us to exhibit true Christianity in the church.  When we behave as suitable for a Christian, we are following the example of Christ.  The word, Christian, which even has His own name in it, means “Christ-like”.  We cannot BE a Christian without Christ.  A personal relationship with Him is the only way that we can be a true member of the church.  The only membership directory is that of the Lamb’s book of life.  The meeting place is the world in which He placed us.  The services are held 24/7, right in front of our faces where we encounter lost people day in and day out.  The mission is to tell them about Him.  When we are practicing these aspects of church membership, we are truly a church member.

Acts is a verb, requiring act-ion on the very ideas we proclaimed to believe when we said that we accepted Christ as Lord of our life.  It’s a verb.  What actions do you have planned for today?

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Act-ing.

Recently, I was led to begin an in-depth study of the book of Acts.  I am challenged to question all that I know and have grown up knowing about the church and its’ purpose. 

The questions I will ask are the “Who, What, When, Where, and How’s”?  Who is the church?  What is the church doing?  When is the church doing it?  Where is the true work of Christ being performed?   How does the church fulfill its’ purpose?

Having experienced different doctrines and denominations through the years of my life, I have seen these questions answered in many different ways — many of which seemed to be erroneously set “in stone” as the only possible view of the godly church.

Now, as I continue to mature in the Lord, I know I must constantly examine myself.  Even though resolved in my faith and personal relationship with the Lord, I imagine that some of my ideas of Christianity and the church are just that — ideas, not specific instructions from the bible, but little “nudges” and suggestions that seemed to appear godly.   

Our circumstances and surroundings throughout life often mold and shape our beliefs.  If we don’t continually test those beliefs with the very Word of God, we end up with misconceived notions that the way we know is the way it should beHowever, it could be quite the contrary.

So…join me if you’re interested in challenging your own “churchy notions”, or if you would like to help me challenge mine.  (Just be nice, ok?) 

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Duct Tape Doesn’t Stick.

” When you pass and come back to let me know that I am not on the list to get into heaven then I will have a problem with my life and do some things differently

Such heartbreaking words.  Heartbreaking because they were received by a sister in Christ, from her sister in the world.  Such bitter, angry, words…from the unknowing, from the natural, and the carnal.

We are all called to tell of the love of Christ.  We are to make concentrated, purposeful efforts to reach those around us. — Our friends, our neighbors, our daily contacts, but perhaps the hardest ears to hear continue to be our blood relatives.  Continue reading

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