Birth Of The Body

 

Many, many people in the crowd believed Peter’s message that day (251).  About 3,000 of them were baptized & became members of the body of Christ.

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Thereafter, they would spend their time together in various ways:

  • Learning from the 12 witnesses — who taught the true understanding of the inspired scriptures, just as Jesus had taught them.
  • Taking part in fellowship with one another – whereby each member & the entire body celebrated the leading of the Spirit in their lives.
  • Sharing in fellowship meals — remembering that Jesus taught them to sacrifice their bodies & pour out their blood for the advancement of God’s kingdom, just as he had done.
  • Praying together – the better to agree in their requests to God, and the better to understand God’s answers to those requests.

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Miracles & wonders were being done through the witnesses, and everyone was filled with awe.

The fellowship of the believers was so close that they freely shared their belongings with one another. Some actually sold all their possessions & property, and distributed the proceeds to other believers who were in need.

Day after day, they met as a group in the temple & continued in these disciplines of faith.

Day after day, they shared meals in their homes, with glad hearts, humbly praising God.

So evident was their love for one another that they enjoyed the good will of all the people.

And day after day, God added to the body more & more people who were being saved from self-destruction.

LORD, please help us to love the gift of fellowship with other believers.

(251) Acts 2:41-47

Tears Of Repentance

 

Peter continued sharing God’s message on the day of Pentecost (250).  “Listen, fellow citizens of Israel! Jesus of Nazareth was a man, but his divine authority was clearly shown to you by all the miracles & wonders which God did through him. And you know this, because it happened right here among you!

“It was always God’s plan that Jesus would be handed over to you, and that you would kill him by letting sinful men execute him on a cross.  But God has raised Jesus from death; it wasn’t possible for death to keep him prisoner!

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“This is entirely consistent with what King David said long ago: ‘I know that you will not abandon me in the world of the dead; I know that you will not allow your faithful servant to rot in the grave. You have shown me the paths that lead to life.  Your presence fills me with joy!'”

Peter continued: “My brothers, King David died & was buried & his grave is here with us to this very day. So David wasn’t talking about himself in this passage.  Instead, God had shown David that he would anoint one of his descendants as king of Israel forever.  David was actually speaking about the resurrection of Jesus when he said, ‘He was not abandoned in the world of the dead; his body did not rot in the grave.’

“The twelve of us have witnessed that Jesus has indeed been raised from death!   We have seen Jesus ascend to God his Father.  Now Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit of God among us, just as he promised.  This is what you are seeing & hearing today!

“By all this, all people of Israel must know for sure that this Jesus, whom you crucified, is the promised Messiah!”  As the people considered all this, they were deeply troubled.  They began asking Peter and the other witnesses, “What shall we do, brothers?”

Peter said to them, “Each one of you must repent & turn away from your sins.

“Show that you’re turning your life over to Jesus Christ by being baptized.  Your sins will be forgiven and you will receive the gift of God’s Holy Spirit!  God has promised this to you & your children and to all of his chosen people living in other places.”

Peter repeatedly urged them to turn to Jesus, saying, “Be saved from the punishment coming for all wicked people!”

LORD, please help us to love the gift of tears of repentance.

(250) Acts 2:22-40

Invasion Of The Spirit

 

The day of Pentecost came about 50 days after Jesus had risen from death & about 10 days after he had returned to heaven (249).  On that day, the believers gathered in Jerusalem to remember Jesus & to worship God & to draw close to him in prayer.

Suddenly, the Holy Spirit of God invaded each member of their fellowship — with the sound of a strong wind & the appearance of flames flickering over every person there!

As the Spirit gave them power, all the believers began testifying boldly about how Jesus had changed their hearts & changed their lives — speaking in many different languages & dialects!

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When a large crowd of people gathered to learn the cause of this uproar, every one of them was able to hear testimonies about Jesus in their own language & dialect.  They were amazed that this common testimony about Jesus was being shared by so many different people at the same time!

But there was also confusion.  It was well known that many of the believers were from Galilee, which was a fairly isolated area of Israel.  So how  were they able to speak in so many languages & dialects?  Many kept asking, “What’s going on here?”  Predictably, some people in the crowd made fun of the believers, saying, “These people are drunk!”

Then all twelve chosen witnesses for Jesus stood up as Peter addressed the crowd.

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“People of Jerusalem, let me tell you what’s going on here.  None of us are drunk at nine in the morning.   What’s happening here is just what God foretold long ago through the prophet Joel:

“‘In the last days, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.

  • Some will learn what I expect by proclaiming my message.
  • Some will see what I’m doing through dreams & visions.
  • Some will witness my miracles in the sky & my wonders on the earth.

“‘Finally, at the day of my judgment, there will be blood, fire, & thick smoke; the sun will be darkened, and the moon will be red as blood.  But I will save anyone who calls on me for help!'”

LORD, please help us to love calling on You for help.

(249) Acts 2:1-21

Matthias

 

After Judas Iscariot had hanged himself in a field, his dead body had burst open & all his insides had spilled out (248). All the people living in Jerusalem had heard about this;  from that time on, they referred to that field as “the field of blood.”  The death of Judas had left only eleven witnesses for Jesus, instead of the original twelve.

So, a few days after Jesus had returned to heaven, Peter shared a message from God at a meeting of about 120 believers.

peter calls for replacement

“Friends, we all know that Judas Iscariot was chosen by Jesus to be one of us.  And we all know that Judas betrayed Jesus, when he helped the temple guards arrest him.

“All this was to fulfill the prophecies in the inspired scriptures about Judas, which the Holy Spirit gave to David long ago.  It is written in the book of Psalms, ‘May his house become empty; may no one live in it.’  And it is also written, ‘May someone else take his place of service.’

“So then, someone must replace Judas Iscariot as a witness to the resurrection of our living master, Jesus.  We must choose someone who was with us during the entire time that Jesus ministered to us here on earth — from the time John the Baptizer began preaching his message of repentance, until Jesus was taken up from us to heaven just a few days ago. ”

Two men were proposed for consideration: Joseph (also known as Barsabbas or Justus) & Matthias.

Then the believers prayed: “God, please show us which of these two you have chosen to serve as a witness for Jesus in the place of Judas Iscariot.”

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When they drew lots, Matthias was the one chosen by God to complete the group of twelve witnesses for Jesus.

LORD, please help us to love turning to You for every answer.

(248) Acts 1:12-26

Home

 

Before going home to heaven, Jesus led his remaining chosen witnesses from Jerusalem to Bethany for their final meeting (247).  He gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift I told you about, the gift that God promised. John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

His closest friends then asked Jesus, “Master, does this mean that you are now going to restore Israel to power as your independent kingdom here on the earth?”

In reply, Jesus said, “The time for that is determined by God, and it is not for you to know when that will be. But, when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power, and you will be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

After saying this, Jesus was taken up to heaven as they watched.

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A cloud hid him from their sight, but still they fixed their eyes on the sky.  Suddenly, two men dressed in white stood beside them & said, “Galileans, why are you standing there looking up at the sky? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but he will come back to the earth in the same way at the right time.”

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Then the  witnesses worshiped Jesus and went back to Jerusalem from Bethany by way of the Mount of Olives.  All of them were filled with great joy.

The remaining 11 witnesses included: Peter (originally named Simon), Andrew (Peter’s brother), James (a son of Zebedee), John (James’ brother), Philip, Bartholomew (also called Nathanael), Matthew (the tax collector, also called Levi), Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Judas (also known sometimes as Lebbaeus & sometimes as Thaddaeus), and Simon (the Patriot from Canaan).  Of the original 12 chosen witnesses, only Judas Iscariot was missing.

They went to the rooms where they were staying, where they often gathered for prayer with close friends & family members of Jesus.

LORD, please help us to love Jesus on earth as it is in heaven.

(247) Mark 16:19, Luke 24:50-52, Acts 1:1-11

Peter

 

The encounter by Lake Tiberias was the third time Jesus met with his closest friends, after he had risen from death (245).

After they had eaten the fish & bread, Jesus said, “Peter, do you love me more than these others do?” “Yes, Master,” Peter  answered, “you know that I love you.” Jesus told him, “Then take care of my lambs.”

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A little later, Jesus again asked him, “Peter, do you love me?” “Yes, Master,” he answered, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Then take care of my sheep.”

Still later, Jesus asked a third time, “Peter, do you love me?” Peter was frustrated that Jesus asked him the same question a third time.  So he replied, “Master, you know everything; you know that I love you!” Jesus said to him, “Then take care of my sheep.

“When you were young, you used to go anywhere you wanted to.  But when you’re old, you’ll stretch out your hands & people will tie you up & take you where you don’t want to go.”  (In saying this, Jesus was indicating the way in which Peter would eventually die, bringing glory to God.)

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Then Jesus said to Peter, “Always follow me.” Peter turned around & saw John the Witness, and he asked Jesus, “Master, what about him?” Jesus answered him, “If I want John to live until I return to the earth, what does that matter to you?  Your only job is to concentrate on following me.”

Subsequently, a rumor spread among the followers of Jesus that John wouldn’t die.  But Jesus never said John wouldn’t die.  All Jesus said was, “If I want John to live until I return to the earth, what does that matter to you?”

Jesus, please help us to love always following You.

(245) John 21:14-25

Lake Tiberias

 

Sometime after this, Jesus met with seven of his closest friends at Lake Tiberias in Galilee (244).

Peter, Thomas, Bartholomew (also called Nathanael), James & John (the sons of Zebedee), and two other friends of Jesus had gone out fishing together.  They fished all night, but they didn’t catch a thing.

As the sun was rising, Jesus stood at the water’s edge, but his friends didn’t recognize him at first. He asked if they had caught any fish, and he was told they hadn’t.

“Throw your net out on the right side of the boat, and you’ll catch some,” Jesus said.  So they threw the net out, but they couldn’t pull it back in because they had caught so many fish!

Then John, remembering that Jesus had done this before, said to Peter, “It’s Jesus!”  When Peter heard that, he jumped into the water to swim to shore, about a hundred yards away.

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The others came to shore in the boat, pulling the net of fish. When they were all ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there with fish on it and some bread.

Then Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.” Peter dragged the net ashore — full of big fish, over 150 in all.  But even though there were so many fish, the net didn’t tear!

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Jesus said to them, “Come and eat.” He took the bread & gave it to them; he did the same with the fish.

Jesus, please help us to love it every time You show up unexpectedly.

(244) John 21:1-13