New year’s are always filled with new resolutions. Promises to take up healthy habits and kick the unhealthy ones. My prayer is that one of your resolutions for this year will be to engage with scripture just a bit more.
If you need a bit of an "Acts Refresher," look back at the other blog posts.
While we won’t be able to cover all of Acts 1, 2, and 3 in this bible study I’ve written, we can focus in on a few verses to help get you started.
Acts picks up right where Luke’s Gospel leaves off: The Ascension of Jesus. Have you ever wondered what happened after the resurrection? Scripture tells us that Jesus ascended into Heaven. Luke mentions it at the ends of his Gospel then gives it a bit more fullness as we open Acts.
Read Acts 1:6-11 (Click on this link, it will open the scripture in a new window)
I love that even though Jesus had spent his ministry trying to explain to the disciples that he wasn’t going to do exactly what they expected, they still struggled to understand. “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the Kingdom to Israel?” (v. 6) It gives me comfort to know that even those who stood before Jesus struggled to understand all that he was teaching.
Questions for Reflection:
Chapter two also contains the account of Pentecost - the coming of the Holy Spirit and the “birthday” of the Church. However, as we hear that every year on Pentecost Sunday, I wanted to give you a different look at the second chapter of Acts. Here we begin to see what happens after Pentecost - something we don’t discuss very much. Luke describes the conversion of the first followers of “the way” (they weren’t called Christians, yet!) and how they lived together.
Read Acts 2:37-47
One of the things I love about Acts is that it gives us a glimpse into how to practice our faith. Certainly, the ways Luke describes aren’t the only ways, but his account of the early church gives us a powerful look at where our ancestors began. One of those examples occurs in verse 42. Luke says that the early Church “devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and fellowship, to the bread of bread and the prayers.” Wondering where to start in your own journey? Luke provides a beautiful framework to inspire our witness to all the Earth, as Jesus mentioned just a chapter ago.
Questions for Reflection:
As you start reading Acts, you’ll notice a lot of preaching. Peter preaches, Paul preaches, people you’ve never heard of preach. Lots of preaching. And it’s not for the faint of heart. As I mentioned: Acts will challenge you. Don’t give up. Let’s read together as Peter addresses a crowd at the temple.
Read Acts 3:11-26
What did you think? The preaching in Acts always reminds me of what I’d hear at revivals in the south. (Now you know where they get their evangelistic zeal!) We could talk about that - and I hope we will! - but I want to focus on a few verses in particular: 19-21.
Read Acts 3:19-21
We don’t talk a lot about repentance at South Church, but make no mistake, it’s an important part of our faith. Repentance isn’t about shame or guilt; God has no need for that. It’s about recognizing that we are human and often stand in need of forgiveness. So it makes sense that Peter begins with that simple request: “Repent.” After all, if we think we have nothing to repent for, what good is God’s grace? I’m also struck by verse 20’s reference to “times of refreshing.” What a lovely way to think of the grace of God: Like a refreshing spring for our parched spirits, which God pours out whenever we open our hearts in humility.
Questions for Reflection
Thank you everyone for opening scripture with me. Feel free to respond to the questions above in the comments section below.