Daily Scripture reading for the week is at the end of the page.
Dr. June Normil
During the forty days between His resurrection and ascension, Jesus taught the disciples about the kingdom of God and told to wait in Jerusalem for the baptism in the Holy Spirit among them. He challenged them to tell the whole world of the redemptive story of Jesus, promised them power they would need, and directed them outward from Jerusalem to the ends earth. On the day of Pentecost, the fiftieth day after Passover, the city was filled with pilgrims, and God poured out the Holy Spirit upon the disciples (Acts 2:1-4). The signs occurring that day--the sound of wind, a visual presence of fire, and Spirit-enable speech--were indicative of the presence of God in the Old Testament )Ezekiel 37:9-14; Exodus 3:2-5; Numbers 11:23-29). Holy Spirit baptism, affirmed by speaking in languages unknown by the speaker, empowers believer to witness.
[REACT] ? Why might it have been significant that Jerusalem was filled with Jewish pilgrims on the Day of Pentecost when the Spirit came?
PERSECUTED AND GROWING (ACTS 7:54 THROUGH 8:8)
The Early Church was persecuted almost from the beginning Peter and John and the other were arrested, imprisoned, beaten, and ordered to no longer speak in the name of Jesus (Acts 5:40). However, the persecutions served to accelerate the growth of the Church (Acts 5:14; 6:1). The outbreak of persecution, including the martyrdom of Stephen, propelled the Church from Jerusalem to Samaria. Stephen was brought before the religious leaders on false charges. In response, Stephen recounted Israel's rebellious history and accused those present of having Christ crucified. The account of the stoning of Stephen introduces Saul (who became Paul) and showed him to be a persecutor of the Church. The believers dispersed, preaching the Word wherever they went. Then the focus fell on Philip, whose ministry in Samaria was confirmed with signs and wonders. The gospel was spreading successfully as the Church was scattered by persecution. GOD INCLUDES THE GENTILES IN THE CHURCH (Acts 10:9-23,34-44). From Samaria, the gospel continued to spread to the Gentiles--a people growing the Jews considered unclean. simply going into the house of a Gentile--especially share a meal -- was considered inappropriate. God prepared peter to accept the invitation through a vision of a sheet filled with clean and unclean animals, a voice commanding him to eat, and a clear affirmation that what God declared clean was clean.
[REACT] ? What are some people groups we might be inclined to neglect in the preaching of the gospel?
Acts 1:8 describes the mode; for the growth of the early Church: Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles were evangelized by Spirit-empowered followers to Christ. The Spirit-empowered spread of the gospel encountered in Paul's ministry at Corinth, a major metropolitan and trading center of the ancient world. Despite the opposition there. Paul ministered for a year and a half because the Lord had banished his fear: Paul knew that the Lord was at work in Corinth (Acts 18:1,9-11). THE MESSAGE MOVES FORWARD (ACTS 19:1-6; 28:28-31).
Opposition and persecution can lead to growth, but such success comes only through the Holy Spirit. God still calls us to reach the "ends of the earth." We are called to the Book of Acts, taking the gospel; to the ends of the earth
LIVING IT OUT: (1). Ask God to show you how you can help lead others into His kingdom. (2). Be alert for times when God provides you a chance to minister to someone. (3). Ask your pastor how you can contribute to the growth of your church.
SPREAD THE GOSPEL!
Copyright Reference: Radiant Life, Volume 102 Number 1 Sep. Oct. Nov. 2020 by Gospel Publishing House, 1445 N. Boonville Ave, Springfield, Mo 65802.
Dr. June Normil