January 7, 2024
Hello Kingdom Family,
We head into 2024 with the election coming up at the end of the year, a year of relentless political ads. Polarization is alive and well, a border crisis that is beyond comprehension, two school shootings all ready to start the year, the snow crab industry put on hold from a second season, bankrupting countless operations, division in the CHURCH, illness sweeping the nation, with a new COVID variant, flu, RSV, etc. How does a person of faith navigate such turbulent times in a Jesus-centered way?
Hopefully, over the next six weeks, we will address this as we launch our new message series on the book of Acts; we can acquire some wisdom and inspiration to do just that. Introduction: Today, we start the New Year in the book of Acts, regarded as the Acts of the Apostles. This book provides a bridge between the Gospels and the letters of the NT. The book has stories that provide dramatic action, danger, and suspense. God’s promise to Israel, which extends to all nations, is fulfilled. The Palastenies and others in the Middle East would strongly push back, given the war in Gaza. The transformation of “people of God” now extends to everyone so that everyone is included in God’s work of salvation.
The author of Acts is attributed to Luke, a Gentile believer and physician who ministered with Paul. He is also believed to have composed the Gospel, which bears his name. This tradition is based on three features:
1. Both Luke’s Gospel and Acts name the same recipient, which leads to the conclusion of authorship. The identity of Theophilus, translated as “friend of God” or “lover of God,” is uncertain; perhaps a specific person or any reader of Acts.
2. The emphasis on Gentiles in Luke’s Gospel, especially in Acts, suggests a non-Jewish author.
3. There is a shift from third-person to first-person narration in some parts describing Paul’s ministry, which suggests that the author was a ministry partner with Paul.
Like most stories, Acts emphasizes themes interwoven to form a plot. These themes direct attention to God’s saving work, his primary purpose to begin with, which is to redeem all of creation back to Himself. A central theme in the book is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Israel through the resurrection of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit. The best news is that God’s promise is not limited to the people of Israel but to every human being God created. The best news ever is carried out in creating an inclusive faith community in God’s presence that cares for one another, creates unity among believers, and the unstoppable proclamation of the gospel, which is why our message series is titled Unstoppable.
This video illustrates the gospel from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth; let’s check it out. If you are listening to this message on demand, you can visit the show notes to find a link to this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Gp-_ZsUagc.
For us today, the story remains the same. Our power is the same: the Holy Spirit. Our purpose is the same: to be his witnesses. The plan is to impact the world with the Kingdom of God. Here is a video that articulates the urgency of God’s continuing mission: “State of the World—The Task Remaining”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrHC7hXNoV8.
Before you listen to the message, you are encouraged to go to our website and download the lesson bulletin for this message, dated January 7, 2024. The publication contains questions to reflect on as an individual, couple, or small group. You can find them on the home page by clicking the Bulletins and Lesson Plans tab. Today’s message is “The Promise, Ascension, and New Disciple.”
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Happy New Year,
- Harold Long
- Acts 1:1-26
- Acts of the Apostles
- Baptism of Fire and Spirit
- C.S. Lewis
- Filled With The Holy Spirit
- Holy Spirit
- Jesus-centered life
- Jesus-Centered Living
- Jesus-looking God
- Matthias Replaces Judas
- The Ascension of Jesus
- The Promise of the Holy Spirit
- Hillsboro UMC
- Transformation UMC