Unfinished and UNSTOPPABLE…

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February 6, 2022

  • Daily Devotional

    Click Here to print a PDF copy of the weekly resource.

    DAY 1 – Acts: The Presence of the Missional God

    Do we claim to believe in God? He’s a missionary God.
    You tell me you’re committed to Christ. He’s a missionary Christ.
    Are you filled with the Holy Spirit? He’s a missionary Spirit.
    Do you belong to the church? It’s a missionary society.
    —John Stott

    The Book of Acts is a page turner! It is the continuing adventure of the People of God on a mission, with all its perils and promise. It is the bridge between Jesus’ life on earth and the rapid expansion of Christianity to the known world.

    But the story begins more than 2,000 years before Christ, with the Hebrew people. As we begin to study Acts, we reflect on the background of the book to the early Church.

    Central to faith for the Jews was the presence of God.

    And the symbol of God’s presence was:
    • The pillar of fire and the cloud in the desert (Exodus 13:21)

    • The tabernacle (Exodus 25 and following verses)
    • The first temple (prepared for by David and built by Solomon)
    • The second temple (built after the Exile in 530 BC)

    The Book of Acts begins around AD 35, when the second temple is still in existence. But in a generation the temple will be destroyed by the Romans, never to be rebuilt. How is God’s presence revealed and experienced today? In a NEW “temple.” But it’s not a building. The new temple is the Church—the community of Christ followers. We know God’s presence with us especially because of the Holy Spirit who creates and advances the Church of Christ.

    The Book of Acts continues the tapestry of God’s presence with his people—from a cloud and fire to a tabernacle to the temple and now in the Church, empowered by the Holy Spirit.

    For Reflection: As you begin reading Acts, how do you see yourself as part of this grand story of God’s movement in the world? What question(s) do you have about Acts as we begin?

    DAY 2 – Introducing Acts: Who, What, Where

    Read Luke 1:1-4 and Acts 1:1-5.

    The Book of Acts is the second part of a two-part letter written by Luke to someone named Theopolis. Luke is a doctor (Colossians 4:14) who joined Paul on his missionary journeys in Troas (Acts 16). He is mentioned only by Paul, in three letters, and he is with Paul at the end of the apostle’s life (see 2 Timothy 4:11). Luke first wrote in his gospel about Jesus’ life and ministry “to give an orderly account.” In Acts he writes the follow up, the sequel to the story.

    As you read through the 28 chapters of Acts, it is important to remember and reflect on two contexts.

    First, Luke is writing about a 30-year time span. That is a long time—from immediately after Jesus’ death and resurrection in or around AD 33 until Paul’s house arrest in Rome in AD 60-64. This is like writing a book that covers American history from 1990 to 2020. There is a grand sweep of changes that happen in a 30-year period!

    Second, the book of Acts “moves” geographically in dramatic fashion. It begins with a very small group of people in a small part of Jerusalem—the center of first century Jewish life. The book ends in the center of the vast Roman Empire in its epicenter—Rome. This movement is of great significance as we read Acts. It represents and reminds us of how the good news of Jesus travels from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

    For Reflection: Think about an epic movie or book that you know. How did you engage with it? (getting to know characters, plot twists and turns, high drama and resolution.) As you read through Acts, what questions are you asking of this early Church epic adventure? Ask God to give you new insight into these questions.

    DAY 3 – Acts 1

    Always read the assigned passage FIRST, then do the study and reflection we provide.

    Acts chapter one has two main sections. Acts 1:1-11 describes the 40-day transitional time of Jesus with his disciples after the resurrection and before his ascension. Acts 1:12-26 focuses on the replacement of Judas the betrayer with Matthias. Here are the primary themes of chapter one.

    Jesus is central to the life of the ongoing church. Jesus teaches about the Kingdom of God, the mission of the disciples, and promises the Holy Spirit to empower them for their mission.

    The ascension of Jesus concludes his earthly, incarnate ministry. The ascended Jesus is exalted to the eternal throne of the Kingdom of God (and the Davidic kingdom). King Jesus is exalted and only King Jesus is Lord (also see Philippians 2:9-11).

    The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ and the power of God now living inside the followers of Jesus. The Book of Acts is aptly described as the Acts of the Holy Spirit Through the Apostles. It is by Holy Spirit power that the Church exists and grows.

    The core task of these apostolic disciples will be as witnesses of the good news of King Jesus—taking it to the whole world.

    Key Verses: Verse 3 – the Kingdom of God; verse 5 – baptized with the Holy Spirit; verse 8 – power and commissioning to witness to the ends of the earth; verse 14 – they were constantly in prayer; verse 24 – the Lord knows everyone’s heart.

    Take-Away Action Steps:

    Learn the ways of the Kingdom of Christ.

    You need to be full of the Spirit. Pray daily for this.

    Disciples are witnesses about the life and love of Jesus.

    Pray constantly for the Church and for our church.

    DAY 4 – Acts 2

    This passage is the exciting demonstration and advancement of the mission of Jesus. The disciples will (first) be the witnesses of the resurrected Jesus in Jerusalem, the place of his crucifixion.

    The disciples receive the Holy Spirit and the Spirit’s power. They go public and the manifestation or evidence of the Spirit poured out is speaking in other languages the wonders of God (2:11). The witness has begun. The salvation of God through Jesus is happening in Jerusalem where the Jewish people, scattered across the Roman Empire, are now together. The seeds of Acts 1:8 are being sown in Jerusalem.

    The witnessing continues with a sermon from Peter. Jesus is the center of this sermon. The universality of God’s mission is stressed. Everyone receives the Spirit. Everyone prophesies. God wants everyone to be saved, to be blessed, to enjoy the fullness of the Spirit, and to become part of his missional plan.

    Peter calls people to respond. A response to the news of Jesus is always needed. We need to understand the truth, be assured of the truth, and respond to the truth with repentance. To repent is to turn from a former way and turn to a new way.

    A new community gathered around the resurrected Christ is formed—the Church. Reread verses 42-47.

    Key Verses: Verse 17 – the Spirit given to ALL people; verse 21 – call on the name of Jesus to be saved; verse 36 – God made Jesus our Lord and Savior; verse 38 – repent for the forgiveness of sins.

    Take-Away Action Steps:

    The great sign of the Spirit is worship and missional witness.

    Pray for Spirit fullness in your life, your LifeGroup, and Living Word.

    Have you accepted Christ as Savior and Lord? If not, today is the day you should. Reread 2:21, 37-40.

    Today you can live with joy and hope. Jesus is Lord and Savior. Death is defeated. God’s promises are true. Worship Jesus.

    Be fully engaged in the all the experiences (or characteristics) of new community called the Church.

    DAY 5 – Acts Unfinished…

    I (Pastor Brian Rice) had an Acts 2 experience when I visited Living Word for the first time. I am convinced that I was “led by the Spirit” to Living Word. I had just graduated from college. I was 22 years old. I was an avid runner, but at the last moment I decided to run in a neighborhood that I NEVER ran through. As I turned down East Philadelphia Street Extended, about half a block in, I saw an old school building. But it was the sign in front of the building that got my attention.

    Living Word was meeting in an old school building. Because I had been a part of a very counter-cultural college fellowship group, I was looking for a church that was NOT like a typical church. I thought, “Any church that meets in an old school, that is worth checking out.” I remember thanking God for “detouring” me into this neighborhood. It was several months after I had graduated from college, and I had not found a church to replace the Christian community I had in college.

    I was not disappointed at all when I visited Living Word that very next Sunday. I was welcomed by so many people who were genuinely glad to see me. The worship was casual and fervent. We spent time in prayer. The message was solid Bible teaching AND practical. I met the founding pastor, Steve Almquist, who took time to talk with me. After the service was over, people stayed around for a long time, obviously enjoying their time together.

    And I returned the following Sunday, and the Sunday after that, and my Christian life began to flourish in deeper and wider ways. Take a minute and read (again) Acts 2:42-47. That was the kind of experience God was creating at Living Word. It seemed as if every week there were more new people coming.

    Now, 44 years later, the movement of the Spirit through the Church of Jesus continues at Living Word. And I wonder, where will the Spirit lead? What fresh expressions of life in Christ are ahead of us? Who will Jesus bring to us next? We will surely find out!

  • Songs We Sing
    • Song Artist Watch
    • Holy SpiritBryan and Katie Torwalt
    • This Is Amazing GracePhil Wickham
    • Way MakerLeeland
    • Build My LifePat Barrett
    • Unstoppable GodElevation Worship
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