Wednesday, March 16, 2016

March 16 - Acts 1

Today's reading in our daily plan is Acts 1. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • Acts is a continuation of Luke’s first letter, which we just finished reading. Similarly, this letter is addressed to Theophilus. Whereas the book of Luke focused on the life of Jesus, the central focus of Acts is the church and it's new followers. This book gets its name from the “acts” of Jesus’ followers: what they did to advance the Kingdom of God after Jesus left.
  • The story opens with Jesus, after his resurrection, staying with the disciples for 40 days to prepare them for their mission, which is to be his witnesses. Then he tells them to wait for the Holy Spirit to empower them in the mission. He then disappears into the sky. Two men "dressed in white," most likely angels, tell the disciples Jesus was taken into Heaven and that some day he will come back the same way that he left.
  • The group of 12 disciples had now become eleven due to the suicide of Judas. So, they decided to fill his leadership position by praying and casting lots. Casting lots is similar to drawing straws. This method of decision-making was used all throughout the Old Testament. This is the final time we see this method ever used as the disciples learned to rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance going forward. We will learn more about the role of the Holy Spirit as we read through Acts together.
  • When reading the Bible it is important to keep in mind that some passages are descriptive, while others are prescriptive. In other words, some parts of the Bible just tell us what happened at a given time, while other passages tell us how we should live our lives.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • The mission Jesus gives his followers is to be his witnesses to everyone - everywhere. A witness is someone who gives testimony about something they have experienced. The idea is that when a person experiences the transforming power of Jesus, he or she needs to share it with others.
  • When making an important decision, Peter looked to the Bible for direction, (verses 16 and 20) and the group prayed (verse 24). In the same way, we should use the Bible and prayer to receive God's direction when we have decisions to make.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • How are you doing with your mission of being Jesus' witness? Who have you been telling about Jesus and what he's doing in your life? How will you be Jesus' witness this week?
  • What decisions are you facing? Have you looked to God (through the Bible and prayer) for direction in making your decision? Why not do that right now?