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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Spiritual Power

SPIRITUAL POWER

"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

POWER: "Dynamis", force, specially, miraculous power; from "dynamai" (to be able or possible

COME UPON: "Eperchomai", to supervene, i.e. arrive, occur, impend, attack, (figuratively) influence; from "epi" (upon) and "erchomai" (to come or go)

WITNESSES: "Martys", a witness

END: "Eschatos", farthest, final (of place or time); from "echo" (to hold)

WHAT DO YOU THINK? To this point the disciples had not experienced the indwelling Spirit of God. Why not? And what would change not many days later when they would? Why would God delay sharing His Spirit? Was there some change required in the lives of the disciples?

The primary purpose of the indwelling Spirit of God was to empower Christians to be witnesses to the world, testifying about what they had seen and heard from Jesus.

The words "power" and "come upon" convey the idea of sudden, explosive miraculous ability to boldly speak about Jesus. The Holy Spirit would move them from their homes and familiar country to far corners of the world.

This perhaps was the greatest reason for the enforced wait for the Spirit. The time the disciples spent waiting allowed the last words of Jesus to echo in their minds: "You will be my witnesses." Without God's powerful Spirit, they would not be witnesses. Witnessing for Jesus would require more than ordinary human talent and influence. Whatever witnessing for Jesus would require, it would be something superhuman and extra-ordinary.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? What would the disciples encounter that would make dependence upon God's Spirit absolutely essential?

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Is it a mistake for modern Christians to simplify, schedule, or strategize a plan for witnessing to others about Jesus? Do modern Christians try to make witnessing too easy or programatic (following a program or system)?

JESUS WILL COME AGAIN

"And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.'" Acts 1:8-11

Why will Jesus return? What more is necessary than what He's done to this point? His death and resurrection, His indwelling Spirit, all seem more than sufficient.

One remaining part of God's plan concerns justice:

"I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." Matthew 12:36-37

"For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." Matthew 16:27-28

"But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. He will render to each one according to his works." Romans 2:5-6

WHAT DO YOU THINK? How could some disciples not taste death until they see this final act of God triumphing over wickedness and the inauguration of His kingdom on earth?

Part of "repaying each person" will be gathering to Himself all those who have followed Christ.

"Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." Matthew 24:30-31

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.'" Matthew 25:31-34

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Is this a future gathering of Christians, or a description of the Holy Spirit's ministry right now?

DEVOTED TO PRAYER

"Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away. And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers." Acts 1:12-14

ONE ACCORD: "Homothymadon", unanimously; from "homou" (at the same place or time) and "thymos" (passion, as if breathing hard) and "thyo" (to rush, breathe hard)

Passion and prayer. Passionate prayer. Praying together passionately. Having different concerns and needs, but sharing the same passionate dependence upon God to meet each person's prayer.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? What hinders or distracts us from sharing passionate prayer with each other?

APPOINTED TO MINISTER

"In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, 'Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.' (Now this man bought a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) For it is written in the Book of Psalms, 'May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it'; and 'Let another take his office.'

'So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us - one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.' And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias."

"And they prayed and said, 'You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.' And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles." Acts 1:15-26

FULFILLED: "Pleroo", to make replete, to cram a net, level up, to furnish, finish or verify; from "pleres" (replete or covered over, complete) and "pimplemi" (to fill or fulfil)

PUT FORWARD: "Histemi", to stand

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Why does conventional church practice avoid making important decisions based upon choosing lots?

Image courtesy of http://www.sxc.hu/profile/MBeltman