Ascension – 2-10-22

“Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:6-8 NKJV

RELATIONSHIP:

Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

BIBLE READING:

Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word and our sound mind. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is the Book of Acts chapter 1 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

Prologue

The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which [a]He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many [b]infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.

The Holy Spirit Promised

And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be [c]witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Jesus Ascends to Heaven

Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

The Upper Room Prayer Meeting

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. 13 And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. 14 These all continued with one [d]accord in prayer [e]and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

Matthias Chosen

15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the [f]disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty), and said, 16 “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; 17 for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.”

18 (Now this man purchased a field with the [g]wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his [h]entrails gushed out. 19 And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.)

20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms:

‘Let his dwelling place be [i]desolate,
And let no one live in it’;

and,

‘Let another take his [j]office.’

21 “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”

23 And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen 25 to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” 26 And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Footnotes

  1. Acts 1:2 He ascended into heaven.
  2. Acts 1:3 unmistakable
  3. Acts 1:8 NU My witnesses
  4. Acts 1:14 purpose or mind
  5. Acts 1:14 NU omits and supplication
  6. Acts 1:15 NU brethren
  7. Acts 1:18 reward of unrighteousness
  8. Acts 1:18 intestines
  9. Acts 1:20 deserted
  10. Acts 1:20 Gr. episkopen, position of overseer

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

STUDY/DEVOTIONAL

NEW BOOK! Today’s reading starts the book of Acts. I feel like we just read it (we did in November and December).  But here we are again. Taking more time on each chapter.  The book of Acts was written by Luke.  It was a follow up – part two to his gospel account. Many believe he intended a third book as well and if it was ever written or not we do not know.
He wrote to Theophilus. The name mean “friend of God” – or a term of endearment we use today when we call someone a Godly Brother or Sister. They are Christ-like and a servant of God. This could be the person’s actual birth name or it could be a term of endearment.
Many believe Theophilus is his name – and he is Paul’s Lawyer and Luke is writing out the Gospel of Luke and then the Book of Acts as Paul’s defense, showing Paul was innocent of crimes against the Romans.  But no one really knows who Theophilus is.  I subscribe to the theory that he is Paul’s attorney because it make the first three verses make sense.

Luke jumps right in where he left off in His Gospel. But we just read Matthew, so it leaves off at a slightly different place and there is a little brief overlap.

So Jesus has risen, but not yet ascended and this is very hard to imagine.  Jesus is literally dead and alive again – but not like Lazarus and others. Because Jesus is fully God and fully man. And He has the whole crew together and he is hanging out with them and teaching them for 40 days.

Luke starts the Book of Acts off at the ascension. First Jesus says do not part from Jerusalem until I send the Holy Spirit. And so we read as they wait.

The Holy Spirit is important – as this is not just the measure handed out when you first believe. We know this because future people also pray for the Holy Spirit after being saved in this book. And this second infilling gave people a boldness and a power. It’s a power and a boldness like none other. We cannot complete the tasks set out before us without this boldness and power.  So we also should wait upon the Lord for it before we move on to do the next thing. Wait on the infilling – wait on the Holy Spirit to say what is next.

Which is kind of funny to be writing. I was offered a job today and without getting into the details I can tell you this: sales for the business God gave me have been almost none. And that hurts. I am looking forward to more and I pray over it every day. So it is tempting to take a job and work my business in the evening only… less than half the time.  I am praying about what to do and here I wrote wait for the Holy Spirit to say what is next.

After Jesus gave instruction to wait. He was taken up. I wish Matthew wrote about it because Luke was just too vague.  Did Jesus slowly float up? Was it like a flash? And then there were angels standing among them? Where did they go? Did they go up too? Disappear? Luke, I wanna know more! John describes Jesus’s return upon the trumpet sound in Revelations. I suppose if Jesus is returning the same way He left I will just default to John’s description:
“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” Revelation 19:11-16

So, Jesus rises up into the sky and the clouds received Him and in those clouds was Jesus’s horse and all His great army waiting for him to greet and welcome him back and worship him?! I will believe it! But we will never know.

So onto the Upper Room. Everyone was in one accord.

One accord.

I have been to quite a few prayer meetings. They are interesting places. I went to one where a deacon was running it – and he said we could all pray about all the things heavy on our hearts the only stipulation was we all must agree. He was attempting to get unity. Well one man starts preaching against others in the meeting as his “prayer”. Which is out of order and I could not in spirit agree with. Then a lady starts praying and quoting scriptures out of context to make them match what she wants (there were so many other powerful scriptures she could have used, her request was Biblical – but she quoted the word of God out of context and manipulated it. I could not agree. I walked up to the Altar and knelt and prayed for forgiveness for being unable to agree, and asked God to answer the parts of their prayers that were biblical and to forgive them. After the service the deacon asked me a few questions and I confessed I was unable to agree and why. He said, He can’t get them to pray right or agree.

I was at another where the Pastor led it (different place) and he said I was us all to pray for “Specific request”. Then one man prays for everything even praying for God with an “oh yeah and specific request.” Then a lady took a turn and she said that she know we are supposed to be praying for specific request – but God told her to pray for something else and she prayed loudly for 20 minutes and not letting anyone else pray (they pray taking turns in that church). I left without comment.

I have been to prayer meetings done right and everyone is in one accord. Like I was praying in the spirit and suddenly had the urge to stop and start thanking Jesus and moments later I realized the whole place was doing the same – because we were in one accord and moved as the spirit lead us.  Amazing experiences and people leave changed.

I picture this prayer meeting to be like the ones done right. Everyone praying softly – no one speaking over anyone else to be heard by man. Lots of worship and calling on God. Apparently they took pauses for Peter to stand up to discuss the matter of replacing Judas. Some speculate he was wrong and Paul was the replacement. Some speculate that he thought the Holy Spirit would not come if they didn’t replace Judas. I am not a fan of speculation. BUT if you are to speculate let’s stay closer to the scripture!
Here is what we know – we know what it is like in a prayer meeting. We know that verses and passages come to us by God during those times and we pray on them or act on them after the service. We know Peter was in prayer and he recalled the Psalm, about another taking his office (verse 20). So Peter quotes it and everyone agrees that they should prayerfully choose a replacement.
Nothing about it was unscriptural or out of order – So I will speculate that it was not wrong and it was of God.

Why haven’t we heard of Matthias again? Who knows? Maybe he traveled off on a mission’s trip and word never got back. Maybe he couldn’t write? Maybe he walked away when things got tough? Maybe he became a head of a church and just dutifully met and never ended up with a letter from Paul or Peter. Maybe the writings have been lost and he did great things in the name of the Lord. I do not think it is important to the Gospel or the Scripture or God would have preserved it for us. Maybe God did and we haven’t found it yet.

Like it says in 1 Corinthians – here on earth we only know in part. We have to accept what we are told in faith even with holes in the story. Trust God. There is a plan and purpose and God will complete the work He has started.

***

Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

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