Praise and worship of God is easy when things are going our way. It’s not so easy when we are in the midst of trial. John wrote Revelation to people who were suffering tremendous persecution. When Jesus appeared to John on the Isle of Patmos, John himself was under duress. In the midst of all that, Jesus showed John that He is the God worthy of all glory and honor. Why? Because God is constant, so our worship and praise of Him should be constant also. Because Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, He is worthy of my worship and my praise, not because of what He’s done for me lately, but because of the character of Who He is. Continue reading
The return of Christ will be both glorious and terrifying. It will be glorious in that all of creation will see Him as He is and will clearly recognize Him as the Son of God. More importantly, Israel will at last see Jesus as her Messiah and it will lead to national repentance. In all this, God will be glorified. But this will be a terrifying day as well because in the returning of Christ, the unrepentant will see their judgment. Continue reading
Acts 1:14 “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.”
In verse eight of this chapter, the Lord gives His disciples their marching orders. In verse nine He ascends into heaven, and from verse ten and following they go about doing what they were commanded to do.
So, they left Mount Olivet and traveled a Sabbath day’s journey (a little under a mile) to Jerusalem where they met in an upper room, probably in the home owned by Mark’s mother.
Scripture does not record this prayer, but here are some things we can know:
- All the true apostles were present (Judas Iscariot had committed suicide).
- “The” women were present, perhaps among them Mary Magdalene and Salome (Mark 16:1, 9).
- Mary the mother of Jesus was present.
- The Lord’s brothers were present.
Among the things that made the Lord stand out during His earthly ministry was His gracious treatment of women. This was not the norm, especially given the Pharisees’ teaching about them; according to them, women were more property than people. Jesus treated women with honor and respect. The fact that the women were present in the upper room and not excluded from that prayer meeting suggests that Christ’s disciples got the message about how women were supposed to be treated.
Mary the mother of Jesus is specifically mentioned because of who she is. By the way, she prayed with the others. She was not prayed to.
Jesus brothers were there as well, finally convinced that their elder brother was none other than Messiah. (See John 7:1-5) Why is this significant? Because even Jesus Himself had family members who were skeptical about the faith. So, if even Jesus had unbelieving family members, should it surprise us if we do, too? Don’t you know that Jesus prayed for His brothers, just like you are praying for your unsaved family? The salvation of Jesus’ brothers wasn’t instant. If the Lord had to keep praying for his unsaved family members, how much more do we?
But now, what did those in the upper room pray? Well, considering what had transpired before they likely prayed for:
- The arrival of the promised Comforter, the Holy Spirit.
- Power to evangelize the world around them.
- Practical guidance to do God’s will on the earth.
Funny, that really doesn’t sound that much different from what any of us should be praying for right now. As modern-day believers we receive the Holy Spirit the moment we are saved. The reason it came separately in the early church was so that it could serve as a sign to believing Jews that salvation was not just for the Jews but also for the Gentiles. (That’s a subject for another study.) Still, we need to pray for Holy Spirit power because it’s the only way we can get God’s work done.
What stands out to me is the apostles’ prayer for guidance regarding the replacement of Judas Iscariot. (Acts 1:15-26) Obviously replacing an apostle is no small matter, but casting lots as an unbiased means of making a choice was pretty common in Peter’s day. It was something they had learned from their Old Testament forbears. They could have just cast lots, but they prayed about it.
Sometimes we forget to pray for the practical, everyday things. But really, the true depth of our faith is often measured in how much we seek God’s face on the things we think we can handle ourselves.
We’ll go to God for the “big stuff.” We’ll pray to Him for the stuff that’s new or scary to us. But when’s the last time we prayed for the car to start (when we didn’t need to)? When was the last time we thanked God for the car starting (when we didn’t need to)? How many things do we just take for granted and say to God: “Lord, I got this.”
Brothers and sisters, we ain’t got nothin’! We need to be praying about everything. What does Paul tell us in Philippians?
“…[I]n every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (4:6b)
Let’s not just “cast lots” and let things fall where they may on the things we think we have a handle on. Let’s make everything something we do with prayer.
Lord, help me to remember me dependence on You in all things. Because there’s nothing I have that I did not get from You first and there is nothing I can do without Your grace! Amen!
John 16:7 “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”
This is still a study on prayer in the Book of Acts. So, why am I referencing John? Because what happens in Acts 1:9-11 was mentioned by Christ to His disciples from before the crucifixion.
“It is expedient for you that I go away.”
The book of Acts was written by Luke, Paul’s longtime partner in the ministry. Acts was written as a sort of epilogue to the Gospel of Luke: “Here’s what happened while Christ was with us, and now here’s what happened in the weeks, months and years following the Lord’s resurrection.”
It’s why the book starts off with the words: Continue reading