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Acts 1





Today we begin a journey through another book of the Bible.  I have chosen Acts.  The Gospels give us a historical record of the time Jesus spent on this earth. The book of Acts gives us the history of the early church.  It is an incredible story.

The book of Acts is actually The Acts of the Apostles because the story of the birth of the church is frequently told through their actions and words.  Interestingly enough, after this first chapter, none of the original twelve disciples except for Peter and John are actually mentioned by name.

This book is written by Dr. Luke, the same guy who wrote the Gospel of Luke.  Both the book of Acts and Luke’s Gospel were written to someone named Theophilus.  Although we are not sure who he actually was, Luke really wanted him to know about the story of Jesus and the church.

There is another housekeeping duty that we need to take care of.  Sometimes people wonder how the books of the New Testament were selected to be in the New Testament.  I don’t have room here to talk through all of that.  But there is one aspect that I do want to bring up.  All of the books of the New Testament were either written by an apostle or have an apostolic authority.  For example, Mark (who wrote Mark’s gospel) was not an apostle.  He wrote under the apostolic authority of Peter.  In the same way, Luke was not an apostle.  He wrote under the apostolic authority of Paul.

As chapter one opens, Jesus has been with His people for 40 days since the resurrection.  He wasn’t with them every moment of the day. In fact, He appeared to them at various times.  But when He was with them, He was busy strengthening their faith by giving them many proofs of His identity.

His final words to them before His ascension were to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit to come and then go conquer the world with the Gospel.  If you look at the Act 1:8 model, they were to take the Gospel to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.  From that perspective, we are the ends of the earth.  The reason we have the Gospel in our nation is because those original disciples were faithful to carry out the Great Commission and commands of Jesus.  Now we have the opportunity to reverse that progression and take the Gospel back into the rest of the world.

At Jesus’ ascension, angels appeared to the disciples.  Their promise even as Jesus was being physically removed from them is He would return in the same way.  Jesus really is coming back.

There is one last piece that I might have room for.  It has to do with the selection of Matthias to replace Judas as one of the original twelve.  Verse 26 says they cast lots to decide between Matthias and Joseph called Barsabbas.  Believe it or not, that was a lot like throwing the dice to see who got the responsibility.

As odd as that sounds, it was a very common thing in the Old Testament.  There is much evidence that God controlled how the lots fell so that His people would know His way.  Since the Holy Spirit would not be given until Acts 2, the only method the apostles had to determine God’s will in this situation was through the casting of lots.  But don’t miss the fact that in verse 24, they prayed before they continued.

Now that the Holy Spirit has been given, He directs our paths and our decisions through the Word of God.  Among other things, that means we don’t throw the dice to decide what to do next anymore.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Genesis 50




SCRIPTURE: Genesis 50

Well… since we do five of these almost every week, we have been at our journey through Genesis for the last 10 weeks.  It has been a long, sometimes arduous journey but I hope that it has been helpful to you. 

The book opens with great and exciting details of miraculous life from God speaking the universe into existence to His forming man from the dirt and woman from man.  And the book ends with death.  The crazy thing is death was never a part of God’s original creation.  It crashed into His creation when Adam and Eve sinned.

Death will continue to be a part of this creation until this creation gives way to a new heaven and new earth.  So, it should come as no surprise to us that Jacob/Israel died.  One of the ways we know death was never supposed to be a part of creation is because it is so devastating to us.  Death often brings deeper pain and sharper grief than anything else we humans face.

As might be imagined, there was a lot of emotion surrounding the death of Jacob.  And so it should be.  As children of the one true, God we are not told not to mourn the death of those close to us.  We are just told that our mourning should be different from that of those who don’t know Jesus.  Our sorrow is tempered by our hope. 

But death is still our enemy.  And like most enemies he strikes when we least suspect it or when we are least prepared for it.  Even in the case of long term illnesses, hospice, and end of life decisions, we are almost always surprised when death arrives.

When Jacob died, Joseph took the lead.  He had the body cared for.  He got permission to take the body to the burial place that Jacob had prepared and requested.  And he led the processional to the burial site.

When we get to verse 15, things change.  It is hard to know exactly when this scene took place.  Did it take place soon after Jacob’s death and before the burial?  Did it take place after the family returned from the burial?  From its placement in the text we would assume it took place after the family returned.

The brothers were terrified that now that their dad was gone, Joseph would seek revenge.  They undoubtedly thought that Joseph’s earlier offer of forgiveness and his effort at reconciliation were no longer in play.  So, they went to Joseph with a statement from their dear, departed dad.  It is hard to know whether or not Jacob actually said that.  My inclination is the boys made that up to protect themselves.

Regardless of that, Joseph’s response in verse 20 is more than classic.  He admitted that what his brothers did they did for evil’s sake.  But God meant it all for good.  Never doubt that God is able to turn evil to good.  God is able to draw the good out of any situation.  He brings life out of death, prosperity out of poverty, praise out of problems, and joy out of junk.

He is a great God who does great things. 

Tomorrow we are going to take a big jump into the New Testament and tackle the book of Acts.  I am looking forward to it. 

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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