Exodus 31-35; Acts 1-2

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How was it possible for eleven scared and defeated disciples to become confident apostles—apostles who were steadfast in their beliefs and persuasive with unbelievers? The first two chapters of Acts tell us how.

First, they spent time with the resurrected Jesus. Yes, they had spent years in Jesus’ presence, but after His crucifixion and resurrection there was a difference, and they knew it. They knew He had died. But now they knew He was alive and all He had taught them was true and life-changing.

Second, they had learned the importance of obedience. “In one of these meetings as he was eating a meal with them, he told them, ‘Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you what he promised. Remember, I have told you about this before’” (Acts 1:4). Was Jesus reminding them about the gift of the Holy Spirit or was He telling them once again not to leave Jerusalem until the gift came? Was staying in Jerusalem after Jesus returned to Heaven a test of their obedience and trust of Jesus? If so, they had come to the valuable place of complete obedience because after watching Jesus ascend into Heaven, “they walked the half mile back to Jerusalem” (Acts 1:12).

What was the next step in their transformation? They prayed and sought God’s will for their lives. These weren’t the falling-asleep prayers of their time in the garden of Gethsemane with Jesus before His crucifixion. These were the prayers of people who couldn’t think of functioning without knowing God’s direction. These were the prayers of people who found that communing with God was more important than anything else—anything!

A pattern of prayer, obedience, seeking God’s will, and encouraging each other was developing. “On the day of Pentecost, seven weeks after Jesus’ resurrection, the believers were meeting together in one place” (Acts 2:1). And God met them in that room with the gift of His Holy Spirit.

As then, there are many reasons why the Holy Spirit is given to each of us, but surely one reason is so we will have the Spirit’s guidance in sharing with others about our relationship with Jesus Christ. Peter immediately seized that opportunity the next time he was with unbelievers. Without hesitation, he said, “‘So let it be clearly known by everyone in Israel that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified to be both Lord and Messiah!’ Peter’s words convicted them deeply, and they said to him and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?’ Peter replied, ‘Each of you must turn from your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 2:36-38). There’s nothing ambiguous in those words.

And what was the result? Almost three thousand people believed and were baptized. There’s nothing ambiguous about those results!

But new believers are exactly that. How are new believers transformed into believers with deep and unshakeable faith? They must be taught through words and actions. “And all the believers met together constantly and shared everything they had…all the while praising God. And each day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved” (Acts 2:44,47).

The apostles could have kept on with their daily lives, going about their jobs, content with their own relationship with Jesus, and safe in their knowledge that they had been made righteous before God through Jesus’ death and resurrection. They could have taken time for other pursuits rather than spending so much time in prayer, learning about God through the Scriptures, encouraging other believers in their growth, and sharing with others the wonderful news of Jesus’ plan of salvation. But what a lackluster life that would have been!

We are not unlike the apostles. Do we want a life that is alive with vibrancy, meaning, and excitement? Do we want a life where our faith is put into action and where those actions lead to stunning results? We have access to the same tools as the apostles. It is up to us to determine to what extent we will use those tools.

© 2010 Arlina Yates

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