Seven Chosen to Serve Acts 6:1-7

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 20

Acts 6:1-7

Seven Chosen to Serve

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. “The disciples”—the first time Luke uses this term—more than 5000, and they are students, disciplined students.
  8. The origin of our four gospels is here, first the oral accounts then written accounts, of the life and ministry of Jesus.
  9. And there is, of course, trouble in this early church to the point there are murmurings or complaints making their rounds and to the point it surfaces.
  10. The Twelve themselves are responsible for the problem. The Greek cultured widows are being neglected in the daily distribution of food. We do not know the details.
  11. Somehow the apostolic band was engaged in actual food distribution and needed to be relieved of this job.
  12. Seven men are to be selected from among the congregation to correct the oversight. Was their bias involved?
  13. Seven men with good reputations, filled with the Holy Spirit, and wise, are brought forward. They each have Greek names and are likely all “Hellenists” or Jews coming from the Graeco/Roman culture. One of the seven is Nicolaus who is not even Jewish, but a Gentile proselyte to Judaism—this is quite revolutionary.
  14. Luke uses this opportunity to introduce Stephen and Philip both of whom will figure large in the fledgling Church.
  15. The Twelve lay hands on them, a time honored Jewish practice (see Ex. 18:17-26 & Nu. 27:16-18). This is what will come to referred to as ordination—a setting aside and not an anointing of the Holy Spirit.
  16. The result is continued growth in the numbers of disciples.

The Apostles Arrested and Freed, part 2 Acts 5:33-42

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 19

Acts 5:33-42

The Apostles Arrested and Freed part 2

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. In part 1 we find that the Twelve, due to their refusal to cease preaching Jesus, are arrested and put into prison. By the agency of an angel, they are set free and proceed to the temple to continue their preaching. They are discovered again, re-arrested and brought before the Council. The Apostles again refuse to obey man rather than God.
  8. The religious authorities are completely enraged. If the Apostles are right, and Jesus is the Messiah, their lives and work are rendered meaningless and errant.
  9. Gamaliel, a respected Pharisee, grandson of the great Hillel, head of the school or which Paul was a student, makes a dramatic and conciliatory presentation.
  10. “If” Gamaliel argues, the Twelve have it all wrong, their movement will ‘probably’ fail. The second “if” is not a maybe but a surety, but if the Galileans are right and it is of God, nothing can stop it.
  11. This is not the truth of God since many, hundreds plus, false religions exist and their mere existence counts for little or nothing.
  12. The council agrees to Gamaliel’s proposal, and the Twelve are set free.
  13. The mindset of the Apostles’ is extraordinary, they leave the Council rejoicing. And their rejoicing in that they are counted worth to suffer dishonor because of Jesus-the name.

14.       And again, they refused to stop preaching Jesus as the Christ, meaning they could end up in real trouble.

The Apostles Arrested and Freed, Acts 5:17-42

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 18

Acts 5:17-42

The Apostles Arrested and Freed

  1. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  2. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  3. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  4. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  5. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  6. First Peter and John but now the Twelve Apostles are arrested and brought before the Council of Israel—and the trouble is their preaching Jesus as raised from the dead.
  7. An angel sets the 12 free, and we see very little of angelic ministry from this point forward. The angel of the Lord instructs that they go to the temple and preach Jesus.
  8. Once the Council discovers the 12 missing, they are re-arrested and brought back for an interrogation.
  9. How confusing it must have been for the leaders of Israel. If the followers of Jesus were right, then their whole structure and reason for living was nullified and more than that, error.
  10. Peter, as spokesperson, will not budge and insists it is their duty to obey God rather the Council. This, understandably, enrages the august body to the point they are ready to kill the Twelve.
  11. The bloodshed was prevented by Gamaliel, the chief teaching rabbi of the school of Hillel. Paul, still Saul, is one of his students.
  12. The wise cleric counsels moderation. He recalls others who rose up against the established order and were eventually defeated. The idea is that the same would be true with the followers of Jesus the Galilean.
  13. There was the possibility that the Council might even be found fighting against their own God. Leave them alone; let the results of the Jesus movement be the proof.
  14. The Apostles were beaten (see Dt. 25:1-3) then set free.

These immediately continued preaching Jesus in the temple and from “house to house.” Courage under fire for sure

Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5:1-11

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 16

Ananias and Sapphira—Acts 5:1-11

(Also see: Lev. 10:1-11; Mt. 6:24, & 1 Peter 5:6-11)

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Now a shift—Ananias and Sapphira connive to sell property but withhold a certain amount for themselves. It would be thought that they brought in the whole amount; perhaps they wanted attention and praise from the Church.
  8. First Ananias, after questioning by Peter, drops dead. Probably not due to fright and fear, but by the hand of God. Then, 3 hours later, Sapphira, the wife, has the same thing happen to her. They are buried, no official inquiry is made, no report to authorities is made either. We are not sure of what would have been proper or expected in that situation.
  9. This is not the first time something like this appears in Scripture. It is necessary now to study the story of Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron, found in Leviticus 10:1-11. These two priests offered, drunkenly, worship in an unauthorized manned. They paid for it with their lives.
  10. Then there is the story of Achan in Joshua 7:11ff.
  11. The account of Ananias and Sapphira shows a shift in the life of the Church; nothing like this ever occurs again in Acts. We are left to wonder why Luke included this event.
  12. It is in sharp contrast with Barnabas’ generosity. Notice “But” in 5:1. The “dirty laundry” is not hidden from view.
  13. Jesus made it clear we cannot serve God and mammon, and mammon meaning money. (see Mt. 6:24) Money, and power that goes with it, is so often the devil’s tool to corrupt us. We see this in our world and in ourselves.

 

They had Everything in Common & Ananias and Sapphira Acts 4:32-5:11

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 15

Acts 4:32-37 & 5:1-11

They had Everything in Common & Ananias and Sapphira

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Some 5000 new believers in Jerusalem and many of these had homes far away, necessity was laid upon the new born Church and the Holy Spirit was working powerfully.
  8. “One heart and soul”—a common saying meaning they experienced homothumadon meaning one mind.
  9. The apostles continued to preach Jesus and the resurrection.
  10. They operated under two principles: one, they depended upon the apostles to distribute funds, and two, the distribution was based upon need.
  11. Luke now introduces the reader to Barnabas, one of the most significant figures in the early Church.
  12. Now a shift—Ananias and Sapphira connive to sell property but withhold a certain amount for themselves. It would be thought that they brought in the whole amount; perhaps they wanted the attention and honor of the apostles.
  13. First Ananias, after questioning by Peter, drops dead. Probably not due to fright and fear, but by the hand of God. Then, 3 hours later, Sapphira, the wife, has the same thing happen to her. They are buried, no official inquiry is made, no report to authorities is made either. We are not sure of what would have been proper or expected in that situation.
  14. This is not the first time something like this appears in Scripture. It is necessary now to study the story of Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron, found in Leviticus 10:1-11. These two priests offered, drunkenly, worship in an unauthorized manned. They paid for it with their lives.

16.       The account of Ananias and Sapphira shows a shift in the life

The Believers Pray Boldness

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 14

Acts 4:23-31

The Believers Pray for Boldness

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Carefully read the passage of Scripture. Reread it.
  6. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Peter and John, arrested by the Council are ordered to stop proclaiming Jesus, but state they must obey God instead.
  8. When released they rejoined their “friends” and make a full report to the gathered followers of Jesus.
  9. The reaction of those believers was to begin praying to their “Sovereign Lord” the creator of all things, and they also quote from Psalm 2, where David spoke of opposition and persecution that would come to the Lord’s anointed.
  10. The list of those who oppose the Gospel is essentially inclusive of all rulers and peoples.
  11. The early church is keenly aware of the predestination work of their creator God. Thus they are not shocked or shaken by the forces arrayed against them.
  12. The difficulties are not ignored nor minimized but admitted.
  13. There is no mention or retreating, going underground, or softening the message; rather the believers pray for boldness to keep on with their commission.
  14. The believers also know that by means of signs and wonders their message will be affirmed and confirmed.
  15. “Holy servant Jesus” is how those early believers spoke of Jesus, and servant is paida which is Greek for child.
  16. The prayer concluded, (it is not clear what form the prayer took nor if all prayed or if there was a leader) the unknown location they were in was “shaken” (wish we had more details on what this was) and the believers were “filled” with the Holy Spirit. Not likely a second Pentecost but an inner renewal and strengthening of those present at the time.

Peter and John Before the Council, part 2, and The Believers Pray for Boldness

GOSPEL MEDITATION #13

The Book of Acts # 13

Peter and John Before the Council part 2

and The Believers Pray for Boldness

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. The boldness of Peter and John—they might have been flogged or worse—this by the Holy Spirit since they were common folk, with no real backing in Jerusalem.
  8. The Council threatens but knows they cannot do much more. Charging the apostles not to talk about Jesus any longer, Peter replies that they cannot, will not, stop doing so. Here is the origin of Christian-style civil disobedience.
  9. Peter and John return to the fledgling assembly of followers of Jesus and make their report. (It is likely that either Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathea reported on the inner workings of the Council.)
  10. Now comes the first recorded prayer of the first Christian gathering, and which begins with, “Sovereign Lord.”
  11. The prayer almost seems to have been written down either before hand or afterward. We notice that “they” prayed and not a single individual. Wish we knew more of this.
  12. In verse 28 the word “predestined” stands out. The Christians saw all that had taken place as something planned by the sovereign God. Even the actions of Herod and Pilate, as well as by the rulers of Israel had been predestined, and these, either known or determined in eternity.
  13. The prayer is for two things: One-boldness to preach, and two-that God would grant signs and wonders through, or by, Jesus the Messiah. And this prayer was answered

The Ascension of Jesus, Acts 1:6-11

GOSPEL MEDITATION #3

The Ascension

Acts 1:6-11

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. The disciples want to know when Jesus will restore the kingdom to Israel. These men were people of their time having the general concept that the time of King David would return.
  8. Jesus ignores the question saying that the time of the arrival of the kingdom is not their concern. The focus must be elsewhere.
  9. “But”—is the key word. Jesus diverts the conversation with this word.
  10. Now we have what is perhaps the most important verse in Acts.
  11. Jesus first gives us a promise: “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” The work ahead requires the working of the Spirit of God. (We are reminded of Matthew 3:11 now.)
  12. Then secondly Jesus gives us the command to be His witnesses to the entire world, beginning at Jerusalem.
  13. The witness must be empowered by the Holy Spirit. The content of that witness is what we call the “person and work of Jesus Christ.” This means the setting forth of who Jesus is and what Jesus did.
  14. And it is this preaching and teaching that marks the presence of the Holy Spirit.
  15. Jesus is now lifted up to heaven—the ascension—to the right hand of God, that place of power and authority.
  16. A cloud took Jesus out of their sight, a statement that is difficult, if not impossible, to comprehend. “Cloud” however does point to the glory of God.
  17. Two men, angels, as in Luke 24:4, appeared to the disciples with the assuring statement that Jesus would in fact return.

 

The Book of Acts, Intro. part 2 and Acts 1:1-5

 

GOSPEL MEDITATION on Acts # 2

Acts 1:1-5

(Also see Jer. 31:31-34, Ez. 36:22-26; & Joel 2:28-29)

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Volume 2 from Luke. First the account of Jesus’ words and deeds then the record or how part of the Church covered by Luke began to carry out the charge He gave that Church.
  8. After the ascension Jesus appeared to the apostles, and a host of others for forty days from Passover, proving that He was indeed alive. The Greek word for “alive” in verse 3 is from zoe meaning life in its complete, fullest sense.
  9. The chosen, hand picked, received His words. Today we are the chosen, and we still hear His words.
  10. Jesus talked to His disciples about “the kingdom of God” during those forty days. What was He saying to them? is a question not easily answered. A best guess is that it is what we have Jesus saying as recorded in the Gospels.
  11. Jesus gave orders, (verse 4) and so He will since He is Lord. Knowing this makes so much difference while living in such a confused world. The order was to wait for the “promise of the Father.” This promise is spoken of in the prophetic passages, among others, listed above.
  12. Jesus had affirmed the empowering event of the Holy Spirit in Matthew 3:1-12. Soon (it would be in10 days) this promise would be made real—the Holy Spirit’s baptism.
  13. Indeed, the apostles, and by extension we as well, will be baptized IN (not with as found in many translations), that is, plunged into and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

 

The Book of Acts, part 1, Introduction

Gospel Meditation on Acts #1

An Introduction

  1. Find a quiet place without distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Part 2 of a two volume work is the Book of Acts.
  7. Lucas, or Luke, (name meaning ‘Light Giving’), a Gentile perhaps from Antioch of Syria; as a physician, likely having graduated from one of the universities of that day, maybe of Alexandria, Rome, or Tarsus, his home town.
  8. He may have been a proselyte of Judaism or a “God-fearer’. Less is known of him than any other Gospel writer.
  9. Acts is the longest book in the New Testament, 1007 verses. It has the best Greek in the N.T. Luke was a careful researcher, a reliable historian, having talked with a number of the Twelve including Mary the mother of Jesus. Luke is correct in his times, places, and persons.
  10. The “we” passages of Acts, like in 16:10, indicate he was a companion of Paul on at least two missionary trips.
  11. Luke was faithful to Paul—“Luke alone is with me” Paul tells Timothy, 2 Timothy 4:11.
  12. Luke abruptly ends his narrative of the early church probably about A.D. 62 or 63 while Paul was under house arrest in Rome. The book covers part of the history of the church from A.D. 30 to 63.
  13. “Acts”—the question is, Whose acts? The Apostles, the Holy Spirit, the early church, or the working of the early church to fulfill Acts 1:8?
  14. Acts 1:8 may be the key verse in all of the Book of Acts.
  15. There was no title or name of author on the book; these became attached to Acts after the middle of the 2nd How much we owe Brother Luke!