Friday Morning, 29 Nov 2019 – Acts 1:1-26 ~ “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.”

Friday Morning

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Opening (A Collect for Endurance – Friday)

Almighty God, whose beloved Son first suffered pain and crucifixion before entering into glory: Mercifully grant that we, walking in his footsteps, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.
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Morning Reading – Acts 1:1-26 (NLT)

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit. During the forty days after he 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.

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. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

The Ascension of Jesus

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?”

He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. 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.”

After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”

Matthias Replaces Judas

Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, a distance of half a mile. When they arrived, they went to the upstairs room of the house where they were staying.

Here are the names of those who were present: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon (the zealot), and Judas (son of James). They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus.

During this time, when about 120 believers were together in one place, Peter stood up and addressed them. “Brothers,” he said, “the Scriptures had to be fulfilled concerning Judas, who guided those who arrested Jesus. This was predicted long ago by the Holy Spirit, speaking through King David. Judas was one of us and shared in the ministry with us.”

(Judas had bought a field with the money he received for his treachery. Falling headfirst there, his body split open, spilling out all his intestines. The news of his death spread to all the people of Jerusalem, and they gave the place the Aramaic name Akeldama, which means “Field of Blood.”)

Peter continued, “This was written in the book of Psalms, where it says, ‘Let his home become desolate, with no one living in it.’ It also says, ‘Let someone else take his position.’

“So now we must choose a replacement for Judas from among the men who were with us the entire time we were traveling with the Lord Jesus— from the time he was baptized by John until the day he was taken from us. Whoever is chosen will join us as a witness of Jesus’ resurrection.”

So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they all prayed, “O Lord, you know every heart. Show us which of these men you have chosen as an apostle to replace Judas in this ministry, for he has deserted us and gone where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and Matthias was selected to become an apostle with the other eleven.
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Morning Reflection:

“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 1:8 –

Introduction: The book of Acts tells the story of the origins of the church and its extension from Jerusalem to Rome. In his Gospel account, Luke focused on the person and works of Jesus. In Acts, the focus is on the person and works of the Holy Spirit through the apostles. The events Luke recorded cover a period of about 30 years beginning with the Lord Jesus’ ascension in A.D. 33 to Paul’s two-year Roman house arrest that ended about A.D. 62.

Purpose: Luke’s purpose was:

  1. To provide an inspired record of selected events that show the spread of the gospel and the church from Jerusalem to the ends of the Gentile world, Rome in Luke’s day.
  2. To show how the plans and purposes of God were working out through history, i.e. how Jesus Christ was faithfully and irresistibly building His church.
  3.  To show the early church’s relationship with Roman officials (not one of whom opposed Christianity because of its doctrines or practices), and how the church survived in its struggle with a hostile pagan environment.

In today’s reading, Luke describes the transition in dependency upon Jesus who ascended into heaven, to dependency upon the Holy Spirit whose power they were about to receive. While they waited, they reorganized their leadership and were united in prayer – all 120 of Jesus’ remaining followers.

Questions for consideration

  • How would you describe Jesus’ followers after His resurrection and ascension into heaven? Please explain.
  • When they prayed to receive the Holy Spirit, what do you think they expected? Please explain.
  • Have you ever prayed to be filled with the Holy Spirit? What did you expect? What happened? Please explain.
  • What do you think the purpose of the Holy Spirit is in a believer’s life? Please explain.
  • Has the Holy Spirit ever helped you tell anyone about Jesus? Please explain.

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Morning Prayer: For the Filling of the Holy Spirit (Steve Seamands)

Lord Jesus Christ: Increase my desire for more of You, and more of the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Give me a hunger and thirst for Your Spirit.

Lord Jesus Christ: Increase my willingness to surrender myself to You, and give up control of my life. Heal my hurts, habits or hangups – and anything else that prevents me from going deeper with You.

Lord Jesus Christ: Increase my faith in Your promised gift of Your Spirit. Give me confidence in the Father’s goodness and willingness to give me even more than I ask or expect.

Lord Jesus Christ: Help me to be persistent in prayer, that I might be empowered to faithfully love and serve You wherever You send me – all to the glory of Your Name. Amen.

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“Holy Spirit Rain Down” – Darlene Zschech (Hillsong)

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Closing:

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Friday Morning, 22 Nov 2019 – Luke 16,17 ~ “Show us how to increase our faith.”

Friday Morning

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Opening (A Collect for Endurance – Friday)

Almighty God, whose beloved Son first suffered pain and crucifixion before entering into glory: Mercifully grant that we, walking in his footsteps, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.
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Morning Reading – Luke 16,17 (NLT)

Parable of the Shrewd Manager

Jesus told this story to his disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a manager handling his affairs. One day a report came that the manager was wasting his employer’s money. So the employer called him in and said, ‘What’s this I hear about you? Get your report in order, because you are going to be fired.’

“The manager thought to himself, ‘Now what? My boss has fired me. I don’t have the strength to dig ditches, and I’m too proud to beg. Ah, I know how to ensure that I’ll have plenty of friends who will give me a home when I am fired.’

“So he invited each person who owed money to his employer to come and discuss the situation. He asked the first one, ‘How much do you owe him?’ The man replied, ‘I owe him 800 gallons of olive oil.’ So the manager told him, ‘Take the bill and quickly change it to 400 gallons.’

“‘And how much do you owe my employer?’ he asked the next man. ‘I owe him 1,000 bushels of wheat,’ was the reply. ‘Here,’ the manager said, ‘take the bill and change it to 800 bushels.’

“The rich man had to admire the dishonest rascal for being so shrewd. And it is true that the children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with the world around them than are the children of the light. Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?

“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.”

The Pharisees, who dearly loved their money, heard all this and scoffed at him. Then he said to them, “You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your hearts. What this world honors is detestable in the sight of God.

“Until John the Baptist, the law of Moses and the messages of the prophets were your guides. But now the Good News of the Kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is eager to get in. But that doesn’t mean that the law has lost its force. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the smallest point of God’s law to be overturned.

“For example, a man who divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery. And anyone who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.”

Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus

Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury. At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores.

“Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to sit beside Abraham at the heavenly banquet. The rich man also died and was buried, and he went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side.

“The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’

“But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’

“Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’

“But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’

“The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’

“But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”
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Teachings about Forgiveness and Faith

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “There will always be temptations to sin, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting! It would be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to fall into sin. So watch yourselves!

“If another believer sins, rebuke that person; then if there is repentance, forgive. Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.”

The apostles said to the Lord, “Show us how to increase our faith.”

The Lord answered, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘May you be uprooted and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you!

“When a servant comes in from plowing or taking care of sheep, does his master say, ‘Come in and eat with me’? No, he says, ‘Prepare my meal, put on your apron, and serve me while I eat. Then you can eat later.’ And does the master thank the servant for doing what he was told to do? Of course not. In the same way, when you obey me you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty.’”

Ten Healed of Leprosy

As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria. As he entered a village there, ten men with leprosy stood at a distance, crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy.

One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.”

The Coming of the Kingdom

One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the Kingdom of God come?”

Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God can’t be detected by visible signs. You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you.”

Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see the day when the Son of Man returns, but you won’t see it. People will tell you, ‘Look, there is the Son of Man,’ or ‘Here he is,’ but don’t go out and follow them. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other, so it will be on the day when the Son of Man comes. But first the Son of Man must suffer terribly and be rejected by this generation.

“When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days, the people enjoyed banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat and the flood came and destroyed them all.

“And the world will be as it was in the days of Lot. People went about their daily business—eating and drinking, buying and selling, farming and building— until the morning Lot left Sodom. Then fire and burning sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. Yes, it will be ‘business as usual’ right up to the day when the Son of Man is revealed. On that day a person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack. A person out in the field must not return home. Remember what happened to Lot’s wife! If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it. That night two people will be asleep in one bed; one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding flour together at the mill; one will be taken, the other left.”

“Where will this happen, Lord?” the disciples asked.

Jesus replied, “Just as the gathering of vultures shows there is a carcass nearby, so these signs indicate that the end is near.”
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Morning Reflection:

“Show us how to increase our faith.”

The Lord answered, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed,
you could say to this mulberry tree,
‘May you be uprooted and be planted in the sea,’
and it would obey you!”
(Luke 17:6)

In today’s reading Jesus responds to the apostles desire for increased faith directly – with the example of the mustard seed – and indirectly with His teaching throughout our reading.

As believers our faith is increased –

  • when we use our worldly wealth to benefit others and make friends
  • when we are faithful with the little things entrusted to us
  • when we are faithful with other peoples’ things
  • when we follow Jesus’ teaching, e.g. regarding divorce and remarriage
  • When we comfort and care for the poor, the sick and the disabled
  • when we resist temptation ourselves
  • when we assist a believer to repent and receive forgiveness
  • when we believe in Jesus’ power to do the impossible
  • when we obey Jesus, simply as a matter of duty
  • when we praise God and give Him thanks for what Jesus has done for us
  • when we live each day prepared and ready for Jesus’ return

Questions for consideration

  • Has your faith increased or decreased over the years? Please explain.
  • Can you identify with any of the ways listed above to increase your faith? Please explain.
  • Where do you need to exercise “mustard seed faith” now – on behalf of yourself or others? Please explain.
  • Are you prepared for Jesus’ return? What do you need to do to get ready? Please explain.

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Morning Prayer: For all sorts and conditions of men –

O God, the Creator and Sustainer of all mankind, we humbly pray for all sorts and conditions of men; that You would make Your ways known to them, Your saving health to all nations. More especially we pray for Your people around the world, that we may be so guided and governed by Your Spirit, that all who profess Your Name may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life. Finally, we commend to You all those who are in any ways afflicted or distressed, in mind, body, or estate; that You might comfort and relieve them according to their several needs, giving them patience under their sufferings, and a happy outcome from all their afflictions. This we pray or Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.

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“Way Maker” – Leeland

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Closing:

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen