Thursday, May 11, 2017

Day 92: What are the BIG Lessons We Can Learn the Book of Acts?

Today's Reading: Acts 1:1-8 & 28:30-31; Proverbs 29:19-27

"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." - Acts 1:8, ESV

He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance. - Acts 28:30-31, ESV

What are the BIG Lessons We Can Learn the Book of Acts?

We have now come to end of the book of Acts. Before we begin Romans together, let's take a break to think about what we have learned from Acts:

1. The Priority of the Gospel: Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to His disciples for one main reason, so they could be His witnesses. The purpose of the church is to worship and testify to the world of the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Who Jesus is, what He has done and what difference that makes for the church and the world are the heart of the Gospel and the Gospel is the heart of the church. When we get distracted by lesser things, we fail to keep the main thing the main thing.

2. The Power of the Gospel: As we saw Peter and Philip and then Paul taking the Gospel to Jerusalem and Judea, then to Samaria and to the Gentiles, we saw the power of the Gospel every step of the way. The Gospel is the power of God for salvation, for the thousands who came to Christ in Jerusalem, for the Ethiopian eunuch, for Cornelius and his household, for the Philippian jailer and his household, and for thousands upon thousands of others, too. It's not about programs, building, music or clever messages; the power of God to save is delivered through the preached Gospel.

3. The Persecution of the Gospel: Just as surely as we saw the Gospel bring people to salvation, so we also saw the good news about Jesus bring division and opposition. Sometimes we're afraid of division and opposition, as though we have failed if 100% of the people don't agree with our message. But Jesus told us to expect opposition, and the Gospel never entered a new town or a new area in Acts without opposition.

Interestingly, the Gospel is not only persecuted from outside the church. People within the church persecute the Gospel, too. Judaizers and other legalists attacked the Gospel in Acts and they continue to do so today. The Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 had to defend and clarify the Gospel and its implications, and church leaders still have that responsibility today.    

4. Perseverance in the Gospel: Finally, we have seen the the most important thing for Christians to do in the face of opposition is to persevere. This perseverance must be in the Gospel, as Paul shows from Acts 23-28. We must press on in the Gospel, holding forth Jesus and holding onto Jesus, no matter what.

From these four Gospel P's, we get a prescription for the health of the church and the vitality of Christian witness in our culture, a culture that looks more and more like the ancient Roman empire day by day. We must make the Gospel our priority, proclaiming and living out its life-changing power and persevering in the face of persecution by the power of God alone.

Heavenly Father, thank You for the Gospel of our salvation, the good news of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Thank You for saving us, for loving us, for adopting us, for enlisting us in Your kingdom service as ambassadors, for sending us to a world in need, and for equipping us with the only power to save, the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. May Your church always keep Your Gospel our priority. In Jesus' name, Amen. 

Prayer Based on Proverbs 29:19-27:

By mere words a servant is not disciplined,
    for though he understands, he will not respond.
Do you see a man who is hasty in his words?
    There is more hope for a fool than for him.
Father, so often we think we're accomplishing something with our words,
    but too often we are merely being hasty or vain.
Make our words measured, wise, faithful and effective for Your purposes.

Whoever pampers his servant from childhood
    will in the end find him his heir.
A man of wrath stirs up strife,
    and one given to anger causes much transgression.
Father. keep us from the sins of over-indulgence and of over-harshness,
    and let us neither spoil nor oppress, but truly love others.

One's pride will bring him low,
    but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.
The partner of a thief hates his own life;
    he hears the curse, but discloses nothing.
The fear of man lays a snare,
    but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.
Many seek the face of a ruler,
    but it is from the Lord that a man gets justice.
An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous,
    but one whose way is straight is an abomination to the wicked.
Lord, nothing is more poisonous to our souls and our relationships than pride,
    so we need Your grace to keep us humble and trusting in You.
Let us never partner with wicked people in doing wicked deeds,
    nor let us be driven and controlled by the fear of man,
        but let us always and only look to You for justice and our every need.
You alone establish us in righteousness and give us all we need in Christ.
    In His name we pray, Amen.

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