Final instructions–for us!
Scripture reading for June 3rd: Acts 1:1-26
Today our journey through the New Testament takes us to the book of Acts. Acts was an additional historical book written by the doctor, Luke, documenting the progress of the early church. The first 12 chapters focus on events in and around Jerusalem and the Apostle Peter while the last chapters focus on the missionary efforts of the Apostle Paul. There are over 50 references to the Holy Spirit so we might call this book the ‘Acts of the Holy Spirit’.
Acts begins by Luke recounting briefly his Gospel account of all Jesus began to do and to teach before He was taken up to heaven. Jesus appeared to the apostles for a period of forty days and taught them about the kingdom of God. Jesus gave them a specific command, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift My Father promised, which you have heard Me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4-5)
His disciples, now called ‘apostles’ (sent ones), asked Jesus if this is when He would restore the kingdom to Israel. Jesus told them, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) These final instructions would shape the work of these apostles and the growth of the early church.
Jesus did not want them focusing on dates or times, but wanted them filled with this special gift of the Father, the Holy Spirit. Their purpose was to be ‘witnesses’ of Jesus Christ. Jesus had a simple message and a world-wide vision. The Holy Spirit would empower these men and the other followers of Jesus to be the witnesses they needed to be.
These simple instructions are still in effect for us today. We are to be focused on the mission of taking the Gospel of Jesus to our own ‘Jerusalem’ and then to the surrounding country and even to the ends of the earth. The power to do that comes from being baptized in the Holy Spirit! Ask the Lord to fill you with His power today!