Less is more

RE Verse reading–Acts 1:1-8 (day five)  “So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?’  He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power. . .and you shall be my witnesses.’ ” (vs 6-8)  Sometimes what we want is not what we need.  It is a blindness often reflected in our prayers.  The disciples wanted KNOWLEDGE (particularly as it related to the kingdom being restored).  Jesus knew that they needed POWER FOR SIGNIFICANT SERVICE.  Hmmmm. . .  Much that is ahead is being hidden from us.  The Father does not allow us to know it so that we may daily depend on the Holy Spirit and His missional plans.  It is not what we want but more than we can imagine.  God is good.  Less is more.

Ongoing work

RE Verse reading–Acts 1:1-8 (day four)  “The first account (was) about all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up to heaven” (vs 1-2)  It is a uniquely Christian perspective.  When we gather for worship or read a newsfeed, we do not remember a dead leader.  Christ is still working in the world.  We do not think of Him in the past.  He is “at the right hand of God” and present in the church through the person of the Holy Spirit.  What He BEGAN to do is written in Luke.  What He CONTINUED to do is written in Acts.  What He CONTINUES to do is written in the history of our church and thousands of others around the world.  “It is better for you that I go away”, said the Lord to the disciples (John 16:7) “As the Father has sent me, so send I you” (John 20:21).  Nothing has changed.  The work continues.

By the Holy Spirit

RE Verse reading–Acts 1:1-8 (day three)  “The first account (was) about all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles”  (vs 2)  Luke is describing the 40 day period between the resurrection and the ascension of Christ.  He speaks of Jesus “presenting Himself alive with many convincing proofs, speaking to them concerning the Kingdom of God”  (vs 3)  One detail catches our attention.  He reports the Lord giving the apostles commands “BY the Holy Spirit”.  How so?  Those who know the story know that Pentecost is still 10 days away.  In what sense did Jesus give orders “BY” the Spirit?  Most scholars believe that Luke meant “with reference to ” the Spirit.  As Jesus gave the great commission (Matthew 28) He pointed to the power that the Holy Spirit would bring. His purpose.  His power.  To serve Him effectively, we must be filled!

Christ is no criminal

RE Verse reading–Acts 1:1-8 (day two)  “Lord, (are you) restoring the kingdom to Israel?. . .You shall be my witnesss both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth”  (vs 8)  The disciples were not thinking what Jesus was thinking.  Often still true.  In vs 6, they ask if the kingdom will be restored to Israel.  They imagined a return of the “good old days”–something familiar and contained.  Jesus saw a different immediate future.  He saw a chapter of Holy Spirit-inspired power and progress that would impact the entire planet!  As the children’s song says, He had the whole world in His hands (heart).   Are we more like the Lord or the disciples at this point?  Looking ahead do we see small or big?  Few or many?  The power of self or the power of Spirit?   James Russell Lowell said, “Not failure, but low aim is crime”.  If so, Christ is no criminal.

Baptized with the Holy Spirit

RE Verse reading–Acts 1:1-8  (day one)  “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now”  The Holy Spirit’s role is part of our gospel.  Redeemed by Christ’s death on the cross, are now saved by His resurrected life (Romans 5:10)  Jesus promised the disciples that they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit (probably a one time event completed at Pentecost) and that the Spirit would continually fill, guide, and empower them. Today begins a new series of studies  for us at FBC.  Over the next 13 weeks, we will be challenged to look at the promises of God’s word and then compare them to our own lives.  Read with hope!  Christ promises a new place to live (in Him).  He also promises new purity.  (The Holy Spirit will wash our souls just as water washes our skin)  He also promises new power for service. May it be so for every believing heart!

A root of all sorts of evil

RE Verse reading–Luke 21:1-4, 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19 (day seven)  “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith”  (1 Timothy 6:10)  Money is not THE root of evil.  (Sorry King James committee)  It is A root of evil (one of many things that compete for our hearts and lead to sin).  And, it is the LOVE of money that has this power.  A “gold goal” can and does lead people to other acts that grieve the Spirit.  Dishonesty.  Unkindness.  Anxiety.  Those who love money will face these temptations as well.  Better to teach our hearts that our true passion and privilege is to find and do the will of God, whether we are rich or poor.  “Give me neither poverty nor riches, feed me with the food that is my portion”  (Proverbs 30:8)  “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money”  (Hebrews 13:5)

Those who want to get rich

RE Verse reading–Luke 21:1-4, 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19 (day six)  “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare”  (1 Timothy 6:9)  The Bible warns us away from a mental/moral mistake common in both the ancient and modern world–a desire to be rich.  The word is plousios and meant “flow or abundance”.  Applied to money it means “more than enough”.  Financial abundance can be a blessing from God and an opportunity for service, but not when it gets in the heart and becomes our goal.  The Christian’s goal must (always and only) be the do the Father’s will.   “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work.”  (John 4:34)  To walk with Christ, our lives must be ruled by this same passion.  Whether we end up rich or poor, our hearts must allow no other love .  “You cannot serve God and Mammon”  (Matthew 6:24)  Passionate and pure people, we want something higher than wealth.

Gospel gain

RE Verse reading–Luke 21:1-4, 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19  (day five)  “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment”  (1 Timothy 6:6)  What do we gain by following Christ?  Since there is no guarantee that our reward will be financial (as the life of Christ suggests) then what?  The answer in part is contentment–  an awareness of spiritual resources not dependent on external circumstances.  It comes gradually.  “I have LEARNED to be content”  says Paul in Philippians 4:11.  Beginning at rebirth and deepening with every step of faith, we experience the reality of life in Christ Jesus (see Romans 8:4).  Gradually we learn to shift our confidence from things that can be seen to things that can’t.  We get free from fears and obsessions that used to control us.  “I can do all things, do without or be grateful because Christ strengthens me”  (Philippians 4:13–personal translation)  This inner confidence/freedom from anxiety is part of what we gain when we follow.  Glory!

Where we stand

RE Verse reading- Luke 21:1-4, 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19 (day four)  “We brought nothing into the world. . . we carry nothing out;  (so) having food and covering we will be content”  (1 Timothy 6:6)  Paul is speaking for the entire Christian family.  When faith becomes mature, all believers arrive at three realites, three universally true verbs.  We BROUGHT nothing into the world. (Obvious if sometimes forgotten)  We CARRY nothing out of the world.  (Equally apparent)  Therefore, we WILL BE CONTENT if we have food and covering.  What powerful statements!  Consider saying them out loud to yourself every day this week.  Paul is not glorifying poverty.  He is not counseling us to ignore the situation when we have no food or covering.  He is saying that all Christians ultimately arrive at a place of contentment. (auto arkeo–focus on the internal rather than the external)  Our true treasure and deepest hope  is eternal/spiritual rather than temporal/material.  Christ taught us this attitude toward things.  It is where we stand.

Wisdom for the wealthy

RE Verse reading–Luke 21:1-4, 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19  (day three)  “They are to. . . be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share”  (1 Timothy 6:18)  Paul is training a young pastor (Timothy) for effective service.  One subject addressed is the proper use of wealth.  In vs 17, Paul writes, “instruct those who are rich in this present world”.  Notice the honesty and the absence of anger.  We Christians are not party to a class warfare between rich and poor.  God loves and instructs both categories.  He knows that neither poverty or wealth is the central issue of the soul. Our true identity and real opportunity is deeper than either situation.  The word choice for generous is helpful.  Eu+meta+didomi=good+over+to give.  Literally “to give over what is good”.  Those of us who have been blessed are taught by God to give, to help, to transfer resources to others.  Doing so prevents our good fortune from becoming a spiritual trap.  May the Lord give us ears to hear!