Week Twenty-three — Verse by Verse Devotional Series — The Resurrected Jesus Appears in Spirit on Pentecost — Acts 2: 36 37

Note:  On many church calendars this day is celebrated as Pentecost Sunday.  We remember that Jesus had left his disciples with a promise.  Power was to come upon them.  On Pentecost Sunday the Holy Spirit appeared in a miraculous way when the Apostles spoke in tongues.  Then Peter stood up to preach.  As he preached, he reminds his listeners of a tremendous miracle.  It is the miracle of mercy.

See: Acts 3: 14, 15; 2 Peter 3:9; Romans 10:13; John 7: 38, 39; Psalm 110:1; Ezekiel 36: 26, 27; Joel 2: 28, 29.

Adult PM Bible Study – M – E – R – C – Y — Acts 2: 25 – 42 

Murderers – vs. 23, 38 – Peter confronts the crowd with a startling accusation.  In their number are the murderers of Jesus.  Some consented to his death and others had taken steps to see him crucified.

Expectation – vs. 26, 27 — In Psalm 16: 8 – 11 there was an expectation that God would raise up his servant.  Though David was God’s servant, David was laid to rest in the grade.  The prophesy awaited fulfillment in the life of one who was coming.

Resurrection – vs. 24, 32 – God raised Jesus from the dead.  The popular vote may have been to have Jesus executed.  God voted to give Jesus life from the grave and executed God’s will by raising Jesus.

Coronation – vs. 36 – Not only did God raise Jesus from the grave but he crowned him as Christ, the Lord.  Those who treated Jesus so violently and unjustly would have to stand before Jesus as King Eternal.

Yield – v. 38 – The people are convicted both of their wrongdoing and of the danger that brought upon them.  To avoid the judgment to come they ask what they must do.  Peter replies that they must repent, and they must be baptized for the remission of their sins.

Exemplary story:  Awkward.  If you ever walk upon someone in a heated conversation, and the subject of the conversation is you, then you know how awkward the situation becomes.  Suddenly the conversation stops, and the speaker is looking at you.  The person knows they have been exposed.  The audience listening to Peter knew that they had been exposed as the murderers of Jesus, and they know that he was now able to avenge himself.  Only mercy could save those persons, and only God in Christ can give that sort of mercy.  And God has given us that mercy.

 

Sunday

Acts 2:28, 29 “You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy I your presence.” [Having just quoted Psalm 16:8-18, Peter said,] “Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day.”

Prayer:  Lord God, we praise you for always keeping your promises.

Thought for the day:  The same God who promised life to Jesus is promising life to us in Jesus.

Monday

Acts 2: 30, 31 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay.

Prayer:  Lord God, thank you for giving us a hope beyond this life in Christ Jesus.

Thought for the day:  The longest day on earth cannot compare with eternity.

Tuesday

Acts 2: 32, 33 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.  Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, we have heard the witness of the apostles, and we believe you are alive forevermore.

Thought for the day:  Jesus’ example is so simple it is often overlooked.  Jesus believed and obeyed, and God took care of the rest of the story.

Wednesday

Acts 2: 34, 35 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, “’The Lord said to my Lord: “ Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’”

Prayer:  Jesus, Son of God, as you rule in heaven may you rule in our hearts and lives.

Thought for the day: God has given his children his love, and it is our responsibility to return the love.

Thursday

Acts 2: 36, 37 Therefore let all Israel be assured of this:  God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles,” Brothers, what shall we do?”

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, may your living word guide us to life anew, when we are convicted by our failures and misdirection.

Thought for the day: Cheer for winners, and no one will have to say, “I told you so.”

Friday

Acts 2: 38, 39 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized,” every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins  And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit  the promise is for you and your children and for all whoa re far off- for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, son of God, we would turn from our sins and find the cleansing of the waters of baptism.

Thought for the day:  Teachers, parents, managers, and administrators know that there is one vital question to ask when a simple assignment is given: Have you done it?

Saturday

Acts 2: 40, 41 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves form this corrupt generation”  Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, today we who have heard and have obeyed long to be added to the number of disciples of Christ.

Thought for the day:  The doors of the church have never closed, since they were opened on Pentecost Sunday.

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Sunday Communion Meditation — A New Normal — Luke 13: 29, 30

The “new normal.”

I am sure you have heard of the “new normal.” It is a reminder that pops up almost everywhere to alert us to the fact that we are not doing business as usual due to the 2020 pandemic.

If you like to dine out, you know that this new normal has meant you could only receive curbside service or delivery for the last two months.  Dine-in was out.

In addition, the new normal says that if-and-when dine-in service becomes available it will be on a limited basis.  You may have to take a number and wait on the sidewalk.

During his ministry Jesus related a parable to his listeners about a new normal that was coming.  In the parable those who felt comfortable with dining at the Lord’s table were about to be disappointed.  Some of them would be denied access as persons Jesus never knew.  But the parable does not end there.  In this new normal there will be others of humble spirit and faith who will be invited to dine at the master’s table.

Listen to these words from Luke 12: 29, 30:

 People will come from east and west and north and south and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.  Indeed, there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.

As we prepare to receive the Lord’s Supper this day, let us rejoice that by grace we have been invited to dine at the Lord’s table.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, Son of God, we give thanks that we have been invited to this table.  Here at this table as we share this loaf and cup, we remember your precious sacrifice. Blessed is the name of the Lord. Amen.

 

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Week Twenty-two — Verse by Verse Devotional Series — The Resurrected Jesus Appears — A Ten Day Interlude — Acts 1: 13, 14

Note:  On Thursday, the ascension of Jesus was marked on calendars. The resurrected Jesus who had appeared to his disciples had gone into heaven.  For ten days the disciples wait.  They have been called upon to wait, and they do as they are bid.  In the season of waiting God is at work.

Adult PM Bible Study – W – A – T – C – H – Acts 1: 13, 14

See I Thessalonians 1:10, 5:6; Matthew 26: 41; I Peter 4:7; Psalm 25: 5; 27:14; Isaiah 8:17; Lamentations 3: 25

Wait —  v. 4 – The disciples are under orders to wait in Jerusalem.  Previously they had tried to occupy their time with activity such as fishing.  Now they are compliant.  They will wait.

Ascension – v 9 – Though he is resurrected, Jesus will leave his disciples.  The experience another separation, but this time it is a separation filled with hope.

Together – v. 13 – Eleven disciples remain, and they remain together.  Unity among believers is vital in times of trouble and in times of waiting.

Call – v. 14 – Now they call upon the Lord.  How often Jesus had directed his disciples to watch and wait.  Now they are watchful in prayer as they call upon the Lord, and they are waiting.

Hope – v. 14 In hope the disciples are continually in prayer.  They now are joined by Jesus’ faithful mother and the women who supported his ministry.  Also join them are the brothers of Jesus who have come to believe in him.  Their continuance in prayer is a sign of their hope.  Disciples may ask themselves: Do you leave your prayer closet in despair, or do you remain in your prayer closet in hope?

 

Exemplary story:  When Ashley Sidney Johnson founded his “School of Evangelists” just outside Knoxville, Tennessee, he adopted a motto for the school.   Have faith as though everything depended on faith, pray as though everything depended on prayer, work as though everything depended on work.  In the trying years of his presidency at the college this motto encouraged him and his students to persevere.  In this first chapter of Acts, we find the disciples continually in prayer.  Now they prayed as though everything depended on prayer.  Watch and wait.

Sunday

Acts 1: 13, 14 When they arrived [in Jerusalem], they went upstairs to the room where they were staying.  Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.  They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, in trying times may we like the disciples wait upon you in prayer.

Thought for the day:  Someone said, If you are going to worry, don’t pray; but if you are going to pray, don’t worry.

Monday

Acts 1: 15, 16 In those days Pete stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) and said, “Bothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus.

Prayer:  Almighty God, Our Heavenly Father, may you strengthen our spirit to always remain loyal to you.

Thought for the day:  Jesus must have seen some good in Judas, if he called him to be a disciple.

Tuesday

Acts 1: 17, 18 [Judas] was one of our number and shared in this ministry.” (With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out.)

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, may we never stray so far from your loving care that we would despair of life itself.

Thought for the day:  If you are ever tempted to believe you cannot live with yourself, remember that Jesus loves you.

Wednesday

Acts 1: 19, 20 Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called the field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) “For,” said Peter, “it is written in the book of Psalms, “’May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,’” and, “’May another take his place of leadership.’”

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, may you raise up godly leaders in our generation to replace those who are fallen.

Thought for the day:  Every generation and every church needs to find the next generation of godly leaders to guide it in days to come.

Thursday

Acts 1: 21, 22  Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up form us.  For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”

Prayer:  O God, we give thanks for those who gave a faithful testimony to the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

Thought for the day:  The Gospels are sound history.

Friday

Acts 1: 23, 24 So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias.  Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart.  Show us which of these two you have chosen.”

Prayer: Jesus, we give thanks for your apostolic witnesses given to us today in scripture.

Thought for the day:  God calls to service those whom God has prepared.  What has God prepared you to do?

Saturday

Acts 1: 25, 26 take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs. Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias, so he was added to the eleven apostles.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, we give thanks for the example of the disciples who prayed, acted on their prayer, and let the rest to you.

Thought for the day:  The moment you quit waiting is the moment you have lost faith.

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Sunday Communion Meditation — A Sacrifice for the People, for One and All — Romans 8: 3-4

 

 

Vicarious – that was a big word for this one-time college freshman.  Dr. Robert Black, our Bible professor said, Jesus was our vicarious sacrifice.

I understood it I suppose.  Someone acts on my behalf when I cannot.  In a representational democracy someone represents not only my district but me when there is a vote on a spending bill.

Likewise, I could think of the soldiers fighting in foreign wars like the cousins who were a few years older than I.  They had gone off to war to fight for the people, that is, the citizens of their homeland.  On Memorial Day we pause to remember the fallen soldiers who were defending freedom for the people of their homeland.  That was a vicarious sacrifice.

The Apostle Paul made clear the connection.  Jesus is our vicarious sacrifice for sin.  Listen to these words from Romans 8: 3-4

For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did in sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.  And so, he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

As we prepare to take communion today may we remember Jesus is our vicarious sacrifice.  He offered the self-sacrifice on our behalf, when he died on the cross at Calvary.

Prayer: Almighty God, as we take this loaf and cup, we the people – one and all – humbly recall the sacrifice of Jesus for us, the chosen one for all.

 

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Week Twenty One — Verse by Verse Devotional Series — The Resurrected Jesus Appears — Acts 1: 8, 9

Note:  The calendar identifies these as Rogation Days.  Unfamiliar with that?  I discovered these are these days immediately preceding Jesus ascension, and that is remembered 40 days after Easter on May 21. Today’s lesson focuses on Jesus’ departure from his disciples.

Adult PM Bible Study – C – L – O – U – D – Acts 1: 1 – 11

See also: Psalm 27:14; 68:18; Mark 16:19, 20; Luke 24: 50, 51; Ephesians 4: 9, 10; Philippians 2:9; I Peter 3: 19

Correction for confusion v. 7 – The disciples are confused about the prophetic signs and the times.  Jesus corrects their confusion by letting them know that God alone will dictate the day and hour of the end times.

Leave taking v. 9 – Jesus calls the distracted disciples back to the present moment.  He is about to leave them.  He has prepared them for this moment by offering them his comfort and support.

Outpouring v. 8 – Jesus has promised that the absence will be filled by the coming of the Holy Spirit.  This is the fulfillment of the promise offered in John 14: 18 & 19 that the disciples would not be orphans abandoned in the world.  You are not abandoned in the world if you are a disciples with the Holy Spirit.

Undertaking v. 4 – One of the greatest challenges that can be put to a person is the challenging of waiting.  Jesus asks the disciples to wait.  Courage and faith are required to wait.  The waiting is the doing that allows God to work.  You must allow God to work in God’s time.

Delegation v. 8 – If they would wait, the disciples would see the purpose of their calling.  They were to be the delegates of Jesus to share the good news.  If you are waiting on God, you become available for God’s work in God’s good time.

Exemplary story:  Gardening and farming require the discipline of waiting.  The germination of newly sown seed and the rooting of a transplant require waiting.  One of the more difficult types of waiting I have found is the waiting for biennials, that is, plants that are established the first year but bloom the second year.  If you can wait through the first year of growth and through the winter of hibernation there is a sweet reward when the second season brings new growth and beautiful blossoms.

Sunday

Acts 1: 3, 4 After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive.  He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.  On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.”

Prayer:  Almighty God, Our Heavenly Father, may we in faith and love wait upon you.

Thought for the day:  An Eternal God is never late.

Monday

Acts 1: 5 [Jesus said,] “For John baptized with water, but I a few days you will be baptized with the Holy spirit.”

Prayer: Lord Jesus, in the history of salvation may we do for our generation what you would have us to do.

Thought for the day:  You have a special message from God for your generation.

Tuesday

Acts 1:6 So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

Prayer:  O Jesus, when we become distracted, may you gently lead us back to the focus of our faith.

Thought for the day:  Faith in God is not required for cryptography and the deciphering of codes

Wednesday

Acts 1: 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.”

Prayer:  Almighty God, when we are children full of questions may you gently teach us the lessons of faith and love.

Thought for the day:   Many men and women have wasted their entire life searching for sunken treasures they never found.

 

Thursday

Acts 1:8 [Jesus said,] “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.”

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, we give thanks for the power of the Holy Spirit given to your church that we might be your witnesses.

Thought for the day: A 60-watt bulb that is turned on gives a brighter light than a 75-watt bulb that is turned off.

Friday

Acts 1:9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, until that hour when we are reunited with you in person, may the Spirit give us hope and inspire in us love.

Thought for the day: The songwriter said, “May be morning, may be noon, may be evening, may be soon.  Jesus is coming again.”

Saturday

Acts 1: 10, 11 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them.  “Men of Galilee,” they said,” Why do you stand here looking into the sky?  This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Prayer:  Jesus, Son of God, we would share with the world the hope that you shall come again.

Thought for the day: A wise old missionary said, “Leave the cloud gazing, and get on with the work of sharing the good news.”

 

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Sunday Communion Mediation — The Promised Presence of the Lord — John 14: 15 – 18

“We miss you.”  From phone calls to video conferences with TV commercials in between we have heard those words repeatedly during a period of social distancing.

You know how it goes.  An aging parent or grandparent connects with a family member on a video conference.  They are joined by technology, and they are separated by yards and miles.  The hugs and kisses offered in love fail to meet their mark.

In the upper room on the night when Jesus was to be betrayed, he told his beloved disciples he would be going away.  The time for their confusion had passed.  The disciples knew Jesus was about to die, and they were already beginning to grieve the separation.

Anticipating their sorrow, Jesus offered them hope.  He does that for us too.  He gave them the promise of the Holy Spirit.  Listen to these words from John 14: 15 – 18:

“If you love me, you will obey what I command.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.  The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him.  But you will know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

What comfort may be found in those words of Jesus! “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.”

As we receive the loaf today, may we remember the broken body of the Lord.  As we receive the cup, may we remember the blood shed on Calvary.  In our remembrance may we find sweet consolation in knowing that Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit to be with us always – even in times of separation and isolation.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, on this Sunday as we share communion in your memory, we remember the promise of your Holy Spirit presence.  Welcome Holy Spirit.  May you uphold us with the love of Jesus daily.  May you uphold us especially in our hours of loneliness and isolation.  We pray in Jesus’ name.

 

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Week Twenty — Verse by Verse Devotional Series — The Resurrected Jesus Appears — Matthew 28: 19, 20

Note: This week we look at the appearance of Jesus to his disciples in Galilee.  Thought the mountain where they are to rendezvous is not identified, we might imagine it to be the mount of transfiguration.  Jesus returns there to commission his disciples before he is to depart.  Have you heard the commission of Jesus for your life and ministry?

Adult PM Bible Study – L – E – A – R – N — Matthew 28:10 – 20

See: Luke 24: 46, 47; Mark 16: 15, 16; Acts 1:8; 8:4; Romans 10:15; Isaiah 52:7; Nahum 1:15

Liaison – v. 10 — Jesus sends word to the disciples to meet him in a familiar spot.  As the disciples return to a place of joy remembered they can better prepare to encounter the risen Christ.  Maybe you need to go back to a sweet spot of worship to prepare to meet the Lord.

Eleven – v. 16 – The eleven make their way to the spot designated by Jesus.  They are willing to follow the lead of their master.  The headcount reminds us that one of Jesus’ precious disciples was lost.  We must be among the saved, not the lost.

Authority – v. 18 – If they are in doubt of Jesus’ position, they are to doubt no more.  Jesus declares his authority in heaven and earth.  It cannot be taken away.  It stands forever.  It stands in this hour.

Responsibility – v. 19 – Jesus commissions the disciples with a commission that is given to each generation.  Go and make disciples.  We are to teach, to baptize them in Jesus’ name, and to teach them.  If the gospel is to reach another generation, then the present generation must hear and heed its commission.

Never-ending – v. 20 – Jesus promises to be present with the disciples through all the time to follow.  His promise to be with his disciples is never-ending.

Exemplary story:  If you have ever had to be a pet-sitter, you know that it is quite an undertaking.  I was left with a pet to set for a week. That was going well until mid-week when I sensed the dog wanted to be off her lease.  I let her visit in my backyard as I worked.  Imagine my distress, when the dog slid under the gate and started to run away.  I spent a long time chasing the dog thorough the neighborhood.  Eventually I was able to catch her.  I knew her owners would be heartbroken if anything happened to their pet.  God has given us a trust, and that trust is the teaching and the watch-care of God’s children.

Sunday

Matthew 28:10 Then Jesus said to [the women], “Do not be afraid.  Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, we are grateful that you rose from the grave.

Thought for the day:  After the resurrection, Jesus came back for love’s sake.

Monday

Matthew 28: 11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened.

Prayer:  Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, we count ourselves blessed to know that Jesus, the son, is risen.

Thought for the day:  Conspiracy theories are nothing new.

Tuesday

Matthew 28: 12-13 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’”

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, though others have tried to cover up the evidence of your empty tomb, we believe.

Thought for the day:  Often the lie is harder to believe than the truth.

Wednesday

Matthew 28: 14-15 If this report gets the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”  So, the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed.  And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, may we refuse the pay of the world, when it asks us to give up our faith.

Thought for the day:  The rewards for disbelief cannot compare with the rewards for belief.

Thursday

Matthew 28: 16-17 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, when you call us to return to the hours and the places of our discipleship, may we heed your call.

Thought for the day:  Search your heart of find your Mount Moriah.

Friday

Matthew 28: 18-19 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, Son of God, may we join in the sacred work of disciples of old of passing our faith to a new generation.

Thought for the day:  The believers of tomorrow will give thanks for your faithfulness today.

Saturday

Matthew 28: 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, we give our thanks that on our journey of faith you are ever present.

Thought for the day:  The songwriter said, “No, never alone.  He promised never to leave us, never to leave us alone.”

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