Acts, #2 in a series.
“Live your best life now!” You’ve seen advertisements, you’ve heard pitches, right? But what if I were to ask you a down-to-earth question that is related to your best life: what is effective living? I think it is Making our lives count, fully harnessing our God-given gifts, being who we are meant to be… daily. Well, isn’t that effective living? We could expand on that, of course, but that is a good start.
There’s no doubt about distractions in daily life, but what if we were to discover something that might actually empower us to live life more fully? Hmmm. . .
I take you back to Jerusalem . . . the year A.D. 33. The town is abuzz; the Romans and Jewish religious leaders alike are furious that Jesus Christ is back on the scene after all they had done to eliminate him. We find ourselves at the start of the next half of history, penned by Luke in the first chapter of Acts: 3 During the forty days after he [Jesus] suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.
4 Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. 5 John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
6 So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”
7 He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1.3-8
This is not a new question for Jesus - ‘is this the time?’ Is this finally the time things would be set straight in Israel, Jesus would topple Rome, the Jewish people would be out from underneath harsh tyranny, and He would set up His kingdom? Jesus replies, Nope, not now--and by the way, timing and dates are not your business. But . . . and with that Jesus pivots.
'You guys are wanting a shift in power, but I am here to give you power you know nothing about yet. The power I'm talking about will change your lives forever. . . it is spiritual power.' Growing up, I always saw the focus on the second half of the verse, which Matthew also captures, in a fuller sense: “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28.18-20
Guilty. And I’m not alone. No doubt that Jesus gives us marching orders and vision in Acts 1.8, but it reminds me of Genesis 3.8, where most have skipped right over the first part and landed fully on the second part. Check it out - “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” They hid. Yup, Adam and Eve hid because they were guilty from their sin… but come on! Look at the first part, God came down to walk and talk with them in the garden! Sign me up. I want to go out and walk and talk in my garden with the Lord. ‘You?
Every word of these ‘verse eights’ is important: Acts 1.8 and Genesis 3.8. In my humble opinion, it is where God shows his heart, his intent and what he wants for us. At the beginning, we were meant to walk and talk face to face with the Lord… our choices/sin changed that. But a rescue was being thought of, and it offered a way back. After the Resurrection, Jesus now tells his beloved, ‘the Holy Spirit is going to come on you,’ and that promise, my friend, changes everything.
With a closer look at Acts 1.8, we see the plan of God for us individually and for the world. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” ESV
Acts 1.8 is filled with hope, promise, purpose and destiny for every believer. And guess what? Jesus’ promised power from the Holy Spirit is what will give us what we need to live our best life now, for real! Man, I love that--I gotta' have it!
Believe For It, CeCe Winans, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ev0zqrcLrPU.