Daily Archives: September 1, 2017

Through the Bible, September 1

Reading: Acts 1-2

Summary: As Jesus came to earth, He left it with only a handful of witnesses to the event. His disciples still were not understanding fully the nature of the kingdom to be established, but the coming Holy Spirit would infallibly guide them in their understanding and teaching.  Jesus gave very specific instructions to the apostles about their activities in the coming days as they waited for the “promise of the Father.”  So Acts 2 stands as a major turning point in the history of faith: God’s Spirit is poured out on all flesh, the church is established, men are saved in their response to the gospel’s powerful message.

Devotional Thought:

Waiting and Prayer

Waiting is hard.  Especially for action takers, not doing anything (or so it seems) is trying.

Jesus told the apostles to wait.  From the Mount of Olives where they saw Him ascend into heaven, He told them to go into the city and “stay…until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).  But did that mean do nothing?  Hardly.

After they returned to Jerusalem and convened to the upper room where they were staying they “were devoting themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14).  Later, after the Holy Spirit had come (the “power from on high” mentioned in Luke 24:49) and the 3,000 were saved on Pentecost, they all were all devoting themselves to prayer (Acts 2:42).

It’s also worth recalling that during the early days of the church in Jerusalem a problem regarding the daily distribution of food was brought to the apostles.  They delegated the handling of this important and potentially volatile issue to others so they might devote themselves to prayer (Acts 6:4).

Do you see a pattern here?  Continual devotion to prayer characterized the apostles and early Christians.

How might we describe our patterns and habits of prayer?  Would “continual devotion” be an apt description?  Or would sporadic, hit and miss, occasional, and infrequent be more accurate?

May our prayer be that prayer would be a continual devotion of our lives.

September Week 1 Bible Reading Introduction

Week 1: Beginning in Jerusalem

September 1-7

         The book of Acts traces the history of the early church beginning in Jerusalem and following the path suggested by Jesus, starting “…in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).  It is not a comprehensive history as it focuses primarily on the efforts first of Peter and John, the attention shifts to Paul, to whom we are first introduced as Saul of Tarsus, persecutor of the church.

This week’s reading will cover the first twelve chapters of Acts which recount the explosive beginning of the church in Jerusalem, the first challenges, obstacles, and opposition—including the martyrdom of Stephen—followed by an introduction to Saul of Tarsus and his dramatic conversion.

September Through the Bible Reading Introduction

September Bible Reading Introduction

The Kingdom Begins and Spreads

Acts 1-20, James, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Galatians

         The time had come for the “power of God to salvation”—the gospel—to be unleashed on the earth.  As per Jesus’ instruction, it is to go to “all the nations” and the “whole creation”.  The message was to be spread, souls were to be saved, the kingdom was to fill the whole earth.

Such is the contents of the New Testament following the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry.  The book of Acts is the historical record of the spread of the gospel through the Roman world and the epistles that follow are correspondence sent to individuals, congregations, and groups of Christians.  From these, we gain great insight and instruction for Christian living and life in the Lord’s church.

For the final four months of the year, we will follow a semi-chronological reading of the book of Acts, the epistles, and Revelation.  Some of the epistles were written during the history recounted in Acts, others were written later.  We will interject the reading of several of the epistles into our reading of Acts.

Our plan this month will be to read the first 12 chapters of Acts, leading up to Paul’s first missionary journey in week one.   In the second week, we’ll read James and then return to Acts to read about Paul’s first and second journeys.  James is believed to have been one of, if not the first book of the New Testament written.   The third and fourth weeks will be readings of the earliest letters written by Paul, penned sometime during the second journey—1 & 2 Thessalonians and Galatians.

The book of Acts, it should be remembered, was penned by Luke and is the second volume of a two-part set comprised of his Gospel and this history.  Compare the opening verses of the two books (Luke 1:1-4 and Acts 1:1-3).  As he writes, his Gospel was written to recount Jesus’ ministry right up to the day He was “taken up” and then Acts resumes the record from there.

Perhaps a word should be said regarding the arrangement of the books of the New Testament, especially the epistles.  As all books of the Bible are arranged topically (as opposed to chronologically), the first two topics are the Gospels and history (Acts).  The third type is the epistle. These are arranged with Paul’s letters coming first then the “general” (non-Pauline) epistles second.