Friday, July 12 2024

Bible Reading for: June 24

Acts 1

When seeking God’s will, it is foolish to try to limit His will to a few preapproved choices. God is the boss. You must follow Him; He won’t follow you.

Luke was known as a physician. He was a well-educated man, and he is viewed as an exceptional historian. The New Testament contains two letters written by him to Theophilus – Luke and Acts. Luke explains in the first paragraph of Acts that his first letter dealt with Jesus’ earthly ministry and that Acts dealt with the history of the Apostles after His ascension. Acts starts with a description of the Ascension, and then goes on to discuss the “Acts of the Apostles”. In fact, the book is not named Acts but rather Acts of the Apostles.

With that said, one of the first things we learn, as we read the first chapter of Acts, is how the eleven Apostles chose a person to replace Judas Iscariot who had betrayed Jesus for a price. Jesus had made a big deal out of the twelve. As we learn in today’s reading there were about 120 people that were disciples at this time, but Jesus had an inner council of twelve, and they felt uncomfortable having that number reduced to eleven.

In their worldly way of looking at things, it was natural for them to want to bring this council up to full strength. I want you to notice however how they approached things. They did meet together and pray before discussing this issue, but I think there is something important to realize here. They did not yet have the Holy Spirit. Now I feel inadequate to the task of explaining why there was a delay in believing in Christ and the arrival of the Holy Spirit, so I won’t go there, but I wonder how accurate our understanding of God’s will can be without the Holy Spirit.

Acts 1:21-26 ESV
“[21] So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, [22] beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” [23] And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. [24] And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen [25] to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” [26] And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”

I think these guys understood God’s will only partially. I believe God did intend to anoint another person to be a “twelfth Apostle”, but I don’t think He intended it to be Matthias. The eleven decided that the twelfth had to be chosen from the group that had been with them from the beginning. Did God tell them that? Then they narrowed the choices down to two individuals, Barsabbas and Matthias. It was only after they had narrowed the choices down to two men who were acceptable to them, that they asked God to choose between them. They attempted to discern God’s will from cast lots and Matthias was chosen.

Now casting lots to determine God’s will was consistent with Old Testament practice in the discerning of God’s will, but they are currently in transition to a new covenant. They will soon be given the Holy Spirit who will guide them in knowing God’s will. Would God have had them attempt to discern His will on such an important issue before He sent them His Holy Spirit? I doubt it. There really was no urgent need to do so. From this I gather that, while meaning well, the disciples chose who they wanted as a member of the group, not God.

Who was God’s choice? I believe God’s choice was Paul. Jesus appeared to Paul and ordained him to spread the Word to the Gentiles. There were eleven Apostles who most likely would focus primarily on spreading the Word to the Jewish people. Paul clearly was effective in taking the Gospel to the Gentile world, and I think that was God’s plan from the beginning. I don’t recall reading much about the Acts of Matthias, do you? Here is the point I want to make. We often ask God to guide us in choosing between options we’ve already decided are acceptable to us. This is a false choice. God doesn’t work for you. You can’t decide which options are acceptable to you, and then expect Him to accept your criteria. He knows a whole lot more than you do and He will not be limited by you.

When you ask God to reveal His will, do so with a completely open heart and mind. He will do what He will do. I think it best you follow Him rather than waiting for Him to follow you.

Victorem Vivere! (Live Victorious!)

Your brother and servant in Christ,
Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Alternate Reading Plans
Bible Order: Psalms 55-60
Chronological Order: 1 Kings 12-14
Old Testament Only: 1 Chronicles 26–27

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