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Archive for January, 2015

Verse 46: “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,”

Simplicity. Now, there’s an interesting word. Merriam-Webster online defines it as “the state of being simple, uncomplicated, or uncompounded” ( http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/simplicity )
I remember as a boy that life didn’t seem so complicated (at least it didn’t appear to be…maybe it was). Even as I look at life today, it seems to be overly filled with stuff. Work, meetings, taking care of the home/family, church activities, school activities, not even counting activities that are additional choices that we elect to be involved in. Therein, I believe, are some of the sources of stress in our modern lives.

The early disciples worshipped in two different places as part of their daily lives: the temple and at fellowship in each other’s homes. It’s something we tend to forget; that you don’t have to worship God just at church. He’s there every second of your lives, in all aspects of life (and sees everything). God doesn’t need to be compartmentalized to just Sunday. Turning to Him in worship, prayer, and fellowship in our daily lives, is crucial to helping make our complicated 21st-century lives less complicated and more…simple.

Something to think about.

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Verses 40-42: “And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

I’ve been enjoying football when I can this season. I did get to see the end of the Seattle-Green Bay matchup this past Sunday for the NFC Championship. Let me quote a few statements from sports articles regarding the play of the Seahawks’ quarterback and receiver duo of Russell Wilson and Jermaine Kearse:

“News: Wilson completed 14-of-29 passes for 209 yards with one TD and a career-high four interceptions in Sunday’s 28-22 overtime win over the Packers in the NFC Championship Game. (Sun Jan 18)
Spin: Wilson, who added seven carries for 25 yards and a TD, struggled for much of the game, but came through when it counted on Sunday, leading the team to two fourth-quarter TDs in the final two minutes of regulation time, along with the game-winning TD throw in overtime to Jermaine Kearse, which propelled the Seahawks to their second consecutive Super Bowl.”
(http://espn.go.com/nfl/player/_/id/14881/russell-wilson )

“With less than three minutes to play in the fourth quarter, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and wide receiver Jermaine Kearse were having the worst games of their careers. Wilson attempted five passes to Kearse, who caught none of them. The first four throws were intercepted by the Green Bay Packers, two of which deflected off Kearse’s hands. But Wilson gave Kearse one more opportunity, a 35-yard pass completion for a touchdown that won Sunday’s NFC Championship Game 28-22 on the first possession in overtime.”
(http://espn.go.com/blog/seattle-seahawks/post/_/id/11466/wilson-and-kearse-never-gave-up-on-each-other?ex_cid=espnapi_public ).

Talk about feeling dejected. Had the Seahawks lost that game, I dare say a lot of focus, right or wrong, would have been negative focus on the play of Wilson and Kearse. But just like the old zero-to-hero scenarios sometime go, they rallied their teammates and won the game in overtime (I still can’t believe Kearse caught that touchdown the way he did! But I digress…)

You could say Peter was feeling similar. One of his final acts during Jesus’ life on earth was to deny Him…deny Him! After he said he would die for Him. But Jesus forgave him and showed His love and faith in His disciple before He left for Heaven after His resurrection. And when Pentecost came with the coming of the Holy Spirit, Peter pulled off the touchdown catch by proclaiming Him to the gathered crowd. “…and that day about three thousand souls were added to them”.

Game over? Nope, it had just begun!

Something to think about.

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Verses 12-13: “So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?” Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.””

The Great Santini was a master magician, who regularly was thrilling audiences with his illusions and prestidigitation. He was also a man with dark secrets, who was not above murdering the blackmailing owner of the club he was performing at. To give himself an airtight alibi, he performed the murder during his great water-tank escape act…no one would suspect him, since he was in a locked trunk submerged in water in full view of the audience…or was he? The only person to suspect him, of course, was Lt. Columbo. “Now You See Him…” is one of my favorite Columbo episodes. Jack Cassidy plays Santini, an illusionist and magician par excellence, who audiences marveled at. Even the rumpled detective, played by Peter Falk, had to marvel at how Santini would perform his magic. However, he knew that it was illusion, and continued to pursue him to bring him to justice.

Folks can be like the players in this mystery. Some marvel at what seems impossible, wondering if it’s real magic. Others scoff at the trick, professing to know how it’s done. Others are left just plain wondering. The witnesses of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost are just such a crowd. Some knew of the disciples and marveled that they were speaking the gospel in different languages. Others just said, “Ah, they’re drunk!” Peter took that opportunity that God gave him to get up and address the crowd with a sermon that was God-inspired and struck right to the need they had for salvation and forgiveness.

Jesus is no illusion; He’s real!

More to come…

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Verses 2-4: “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

Consider these following personal memories:
• On a high school band trip to Universal Studios Florida theme park, my family attended the Twister Ride It Out© special effects show. The highlight of the show was a Hollywood-style simulation of a tornado on a mock sound stage of a country street. Talk about intense! Even though we were safely behind the guard rail to watch it, we could still feel the wind and the rain and all the noise, as close as we could be to being in an actual tornado. It scared my youngest son so bad, he actually was crying even though he knew it was make-believe.
• My favorite Saturday morning show in the 1970’s was the live-action Shazam TV show. Even though special effects were limited in the 70’s, I always love the way that Billy Batson transformed into Captain Marvel by saying “Shazam!” A lightning bolt would plunge out of the dark sky, strike Billy on the head, surrounding him with glistening energy, and he would “morph” into the adult form of Captain Marvel, as the energy would then collapse into the lightning bolt insignia on the front of his uniform, all while you saw a shifting, cloudy background (the background was more than likely some form of lava lamp, but still it was great!)
• Years later, on a business trip to Los Angeles, I had a short stopover in Las Vegas. I was amazed as we picked up a good many passengers, most of them tourists from outside the United States. The inside of the cabin was literally a cacophony of Spanish, German, French, Italian, and other languages I couldn’t even recognize. The stewardess told me later that Las Vegas was a big vacation spot for many foreign tourists.

Now, those memories came to mind, when I read the supernatural events of the coming of the Holy Spirit to the disciples. A mighty wind, but inside the house. Tongues of fire that settled on each head of those gathered there. The supernatural sound of different languages being spoken, all proclaiming the Lord! I can only imagine what it was like; we tend to do that when we hear of incredible events such as these. We try to picture with what we know, of something that happened of which we were not present. But the disciples were there…and what a start for the Christian church at Pentecost!

Something to think about.

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Verses 20, 23-26: “”For it is written in the Book of Psalms: ‘Let his dwelling place be desolate, And let no one live in it’,” and, ‘Let another take his office.'”
“And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”

When Ben Grimm temporarily lost his powers as The Thing, Reed Richards had to temporarily replace him in the Fantastic Four. Why? Because it was called the Fantastic FOUR.

Why do we have alternate jurors for a picked jury of 12 members? Because by law, if one is unable to fulfill the role of a juror, an alternate must fill that slot in order to have a 12 member jury.

So, why did the disciples replace Judas, who killed himself over his role in Jesus’ betrayal? An interesting question. Without going into a lot of detail, I found a quote from http://www.biblestudy.org that sums it up pretty well: “The meaning of 12, which is considered a perfect number, is that it symbolizes God’s power and authority, as well as serving as a perfect governmental foundation. It can also symbolize completeness or the nation of Israel as a whole.” ( http://www.biblestudy.org/bibleref/meaning-of-numbers-in-bible/12.html )

And, according to the study notes in my Holman NKJV Study Bible, casting lots (before the giving of the Holy Spirit) was an acceptable method for making decisions, knowing that the Lord would rule over this event to make His will known.

The Old Testament references in verse 20 are Psalms 69:25 and Psalms 109:8, by the way.

The disciples were actively waiting on God’s sending of the Holy Spirit. Not only were they dedicating themselves to prayer and supplication along with the women, Mary (Jesus’s mother), and His brothers, but you might say, they were also “taking care of business”. Though they were bringing up the sad fact that Judas betrayed Jesus, they knew it happened in order to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah. Also, they had to fill his slot in their group.

So, when you wait on God’s ruling on a question in your life, are you actively waiting?

Something to think about.

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verse 5: “for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

If you have ever been to the beach, you know the feeling when you get hit by a big wave right on the shore. When I was a kid, we use to pretend we were body-surfing by waiting for one of the waves to swoop us up and ride it the few feet into the beach. Of course, we got occasionally swamped by a big wave and entirely inundated by the water, head to toe. Now we would hurriedly stand up or right ourselves so we weren’t washed out to sea, but you understand the feeling. You are completely covered by the water before you come out.

Jesus is reminding the disciples here that John the Baptist baptized with water (symbolically, to show repentance; I read this in the study notes of the Holman Study Bible NKJV Edition), but that soon they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit. I can only guess that the disciples would try to make a comparison in their heads over the water baptism to what this baptism by the Holy Spirit would be. But I’m not going to jump ahead here; that’s covered in more detail in Acts 2. 🙂

What I find comforting is that when we were are filled by the Holy Spirit when we come to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior in our lives, it isn’t just part of the way…it’s ALL the way! Not like the Greek myth of Achilles, who was invulnerable except for the heel his mother held him by when she dipped him in the River Styx. We are completely covered, head to toe…just like one of those big waves.

Something to think about.

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Verse 3: “to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.”

Welcome to 2015, as we begin a walk through the Acts of the Apostles. I feel like I should start this first devotional with the phrase “when last we left our hero”, because the author, Luke, starts Acts where the Gospel of Luke leaves off: restating the historical events of Jesus’s resurrection, time spent with the disciples over the next 40 days, and His ascension into Heaven.

I want to focus on the phrase here “infallible proofs”. I love to watch the old Columbo TV mystery movies that were originally shown on NBC. I always enjoyed the way that Lt. Columbo would find the proof he needed in the killer’s “perfect” crime so that he could eventually corner them. For the most part, it was always the little things that the killer would try to deny, but eventually have to accept, as all the things that Lt. Columbo would find would become part of the case against them…things that when put together, were impossible to deny. Even the killer would have to admit it.

Infallible proofs. Eyewitness accounts of seeing Jesus after the resurrection. Eyewitness accounts of Him appearing in a room with the disciples with the wounds of the cross still present. Proof of His being real, by talking with disciples and eating with them. The eyewitness account on the road to Emmaus. Not just one account but several. The verse here is best put as Jesus lives! Following this is the spread of His church here on earth.

So again, to paraphrase another old TV phrase, “tune in for the next episode” to see what happens. 🙂

Have a blessed day in Him.

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