Essential 100 - Weeks 10 & 11

July 6, 2016

Essential 100 - Weeks 10 & 11

Hello New Life,

This is Essential 100, weeks 10-11.  We have covered Jesus' life and ministry, his death and resurrection and the birth of The Church in our readings.  Jesus' life and the story of the Church in the book of Acts cannot be summarized.  There is so much richness and depth.  Please - if you have not read through these passages thoughtfully and prayerfully, do yourself a favor and go back.  I found it very touching to read these accounts which some of us have read many times before.  It renews our passion and faith to see what God has done and helps us to dream of what God still desires to do in our day. 

I want to make this one observation today: Jesus came to confer a kingdom.  This kingdom is wherever God's rule and reign is being exercised on earth and thus the Church in its early days manifested God's Kingdom beautifully.  When we follow Jesus our King faithfully; when we are a people of faith and prayer; when we declare the praises of him who saved us, healed us and delivered us.  When we do these things, we participate in the works of God's Kingdom and the Church becomes the shining beacon that God always intended it to be.  When we lose sight of God's Kingdom, we become like the Pharisees who crucified Jesus despite the fact that they should have understood that he was their Messiah.  They had become so caught up in their earthly power (enjoying a privileged place in Roman society), that they would rather kill Jesus than lose it!  Look at their attitude towards the man Jesus healed from blindness in John 9!  They did not care that the blind man was healed.  All they cared about was that Jesus healed him on the Sabbath.  They were only looking for a way to accuse Jesus.  They were trying to hold on to their earthly power and wealth while all the while Their King was right under their nose!  The most telling statement they make is in John 9:15“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered."  The religious leaders of Jesus day were so far gone.  They had lost sight of God and were obsessed with maintaining their earthly power and place of privilege in Roman society.  God was not their King, Caesar was.  This is one of the reasons Jesus came into the world; for judgment.  In fact, after he heals the blind man in John 9:39, he says “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”  In saying this, he is speaking of the religious leaders.  Jesus judged the religious leaders and the Temple, but he didn't stop with judgment because God is relentlessly good. 

Jesus says to his disciples in Luke 22:29  "29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me..."  And again in John 18:36 "36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place."

Jesus pronounced judgment on the temple and on the religious leaders of his day.  He disassembled the religious system which was coming to be no better than secular society; obsessed with wealth, privilege and power.  But He graciously did not stop there.  Because God is so good, God conferred His kingdom on a group of people who would follow Jesus in faith.  A group that would be sold out for God's Kingdom; Jesus' rule and reign.

This is what we see in the book of Acts.  The people get filled with The Holy Spirit and the Kingdom comes.  Jesus tells his disciples in Acts 1:4-5;8 “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. . . But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."  God was doing a new thing, and these disciples were about to receive the Kingdom of God!  The Pharisees missed it because the concerns of this world became their obsession; maintaining their earthly power, wealth and privilege to the point that they declared that they had no God but Caesar.  The disciples received it because they believed - they had faith in Jesus the Son of God and they ASKED God to fill them with His Spirit, boldness and power.  And in their lives, in their ministry, we see a manifestation of The Kingdom coming.  Look at how they lived, how they prayed, how they fearlessly and relentlessly testified to Jesus and shared his love and salvation, how they healed people.  Thousands were saved; all kinds of people from all kinds of places.  The Kingdom. 
I believe that this one is not just for the history books.  God still seeks a people who are open to Him, free from earthly attachments, and filled with faith and on those people God confers a Kingdom.  My prayer is that New Life Fellowship would come under the blessing of the Church of Acts and that God's Kingdom would come in power.  Please join me in this prayer. 

In closing, read this passage.  Ask God to fill you with His Spirit afresh today that together as we all seek Him, His Kingdom would come on earth as it is in heaven; in Saratoga and to the ends of the earth.

"42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."     -Acts 2:42-47