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Mar 25, 2015

90 Day Challenge – Day 84

Sarah Christmyer

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Bible Time Period: The Church

The Church carries on your work in the world: Make me a faithful ambassador of your love.

Period Preview

In the period of Messianic Fulfillment, we reached the pinnacle of our journey, the climax toward which the entire story has pointed. Who would have guessed that God Himself would come to Earth as a man, or that he would suffer and die so that the demands of the covenant would be met and all his scattered children could be reunited in Him? Who would have guessed that Satan’s fiercest weapons—suffering and death—would be transformed into the very door to eternal life? It is hard to fathom the depths of God’s love for us.

It would seem that the story is over. The promises are fulfilled, the problems solved. And yet something very important remains. The disciples Jesus left on Earth, and all those who follow, are invited to become part of the story and enter into the new kingdom that Jesus founded here and which will reach its own perfect fulfillment in heaven at the end of time. “This is the new covenant in my blood,” he said at the Last Supper. God has been building his family through covenants since the start of the story. Now the whole world will be invited in.

The final stage of our Great Adventure is The Church, which is the earthly embodiment of the eternal Kingdom of God. Its birth and early years are described in the book of Acts.

Acts 1:8 provides us with a structure for our reading: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” This describes three “waves of witness” that begin in the city of Jerusalem and expand outward as the Apostles and other disciples proclaim the good news of the Gospel farther and farther afield.

Today’s Reading

Acts 1-4

Today’s Question

Notice the word “bagan” in 1:1.  Acts tells what Jesus continues to do, after his ascension to heaven, through His body, the Church.  What does the early church community look like?

Join the discussion below!

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  • When the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and others including Mary, the Mother of Jesus, that were gathered in the upper room near the mount of Olivet, “…they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:4 The followers of Jesus came out and began to speak to onlookers in their language. This was the beginning of the Church. The simple gift of talking in other tongues so that the Word was for everyone on Earth to hear, listen to, and believe in the Lord, Our God. “You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.” Acts 2:28

  • The Early Church was emboldened with the Apostles’ actions when they began to speak in other languages and gained many followers. This emboldening was also seen after the crippled man was healed. In Chapter 4, Peter and John were arrested but unlike Jesus’ Crucifixion where they were silent and even denied Him, now they were not to be silenced and with the Holy Spirit working in them, could not be silenced. They were on a mission to spread the Good News. “The Stone which you have rejected has become the cornerstone!” (Ch. 4:11) The officials were shocked these ordinary men could be so brazen and speak without fear in front of them but these same officials could not deny the healing of the crippled man. The officials’ idle threats of punishment fell upon deaf ears with Peter and John because the snowball that was Jesus and the hope of eternal salvation had begun rolling and would not be stopped even with threats of arrest or punishment. This is how I hope to be with the New Evangelization, speaking the Good News which is Jesus without fear of being admonished. Not only in my words but in my actions, as well. I hope to be like Jesus, so others might see this goodness and also want to live a holy and good life which is Jesus in each of us.

    • I, too, was struck by the boldness of Peter and John. Especially Peter! He was so impetuous during Jesus’ ministry, being rebuked by Jesus on several occasions, even! But look at him now: totally trusting and believing in Christ as messiah and savior, the “author of life” as he profoundly proclaims Him. Peter’s total reliance upon the Holy Spirit as well is amazing – he obviously allows the Spirit to give him the words he needs to profess and defend the faith of this new and burgeoning community.

  • And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and enable your servants to speak your word with all boldness,30as you stretch forth [your] hand to heal, and signs and wonders are done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”31* As they prayed, the place where they were gathered shook, and they were all filled with the holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.i

    The Church community is small but strong and gaining everyday! It is a community that I wish we could have more of this day in age. True believers and followers that do not only go to Mass on Sunday but live the life like one of the apostles. With Church numbers dwindling and decreasing active participation in many parishes, we really need those that stand in faith to stand together and SHAKE the buildings that we pray in, fill them with the holy spirit, and speak loudly and boldly for all those to hear!

  • The communal life the early church shared is beautifully described in 2:42-47 and 4:32-35. Not only did the new believers devote themselves to the teachings of the apostles, and benefit from their signs and wonders, but they also were devoted to each other – in prayer, breaking bread, and providing for each other’s needs. They grew in number, even though they suffered persecution from the greater community; and as we will see in chapter 5, they were battling issues of sin/growing pains from within the community. We battle the same persecutions and injustices within our Church today, but the Holy Spirit could not be thwarted then, and cannot be thwarted today.

      • I assumed so; yet, I don’t have “begun” in my NAB, Revised Edition, either. 1:1 – “In the first book, Theophilus, I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught.”

        • RSV 2nd edition – “In the first book O’Theoph’ilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach,..”
          From the Catholic study bible ” Implies that what Jesus began to do in Luke he continues to do through his disciples in Acts”

  • I also, pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the world…I do feel it is happening…in this way….

    To the Spirit
    Moving in like a cat unseen,
    Stealthily, silently it comes upon the scene.
    We never know when He will appear,
    To give us strength to persevere.
    O gentle, sustaining Paraclete,
    Take us unto Mercy’s Seat.
    O Gracious Wisdom, God’s own Dove,
    Fill us with God’s Grace and Love.

    • Beautiful. As for cats and the Holy Spirit – beware! The Spirit may come upon you like a cat pouncing on your ankle as you walk by the sofa!

        • Ha! I am looking to get two German Shepherds, male and female, and am thinking of naming them Sophia (Wisdom) and Agape (Love); what do you think?

          • The Nanny Cat is neither silent nor sneaky she is very vocal when she reminds me to go to bed or get up. She also paws the curtains open at sunrise.

          • I did get two black german shepherds last June – they fell right into my lap. Application: be careful what you pray for!!! I love them, but they are expensive WORK. A year old, they are fairly well behaved but huuuge! I named them Sophia and Jonah. Jonah because the day we got him, he swallowed a cat toy tiger – essentially a ball stuck in his throat. I had to stick my hand down his throat and find purchase on the tail of the toy to extricate it – a slick and slimey prospect, and the shape of things to come!

          • And I got Glory (Shi Tzu) in the fall. She’s almost 11 months now and she is also a handful! I hadn’t had a dog in 17 years but I forgot it’s been 30 years since I had a puppy! One can never forget God’s goodness when calling on my pets… Grace and Hope (the cats) and now Glory!

    • Thank you for sharing your poetry with us, Beverly. You have a gift that is not to be quashed or silenced!

    • Your poem is full of points to ponder. I love “Take us unto Mercy’s Seat.” Take us into the Tabernacle the Holy of Holies”

    • Your poem is beautiful Beverly. You have a real gift. I sooooo enjoy reading them. I especially like this one…”Take us unto Mercy’s Seat.” After Communion, as the Priest is placing the bowl back into the Tabernacle, I always ask the Lord to keep my heart company with Him so that He is never left alone.

      • Thank you, Rosi….Hope you are having a grace-filled Lent…and much surrounded with God’s Spirit throughout all of Holy Week.

  • This stood out to me in Evangelii Gaudium, it is quite clear that Peter was our first example of this:

    164. In catechesis too, we have rediscovered the fundamental role of the first announcement or kerygma, which needs to be the centre of all evangelizing activity and all efforts at Church renewal. The kerygma is trinitarian. The fire of the Spirit is given in the form of tongues and leads us to believe in Jesus Christ who, by his death and resurrection, reveals and communicates to us the Father’s infinite mercy. On the lips of the catechist the first proclamation must ring out over and over: “Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you.” This first proclamation is called “first” not because it exists at the beginning and can then be forgotten or replaced by other more important things. It is first in a qualitative sense because it is the principal proclamation, the one which we must hear again and again in different ways, the one which we must announce one way or another throughout the process of catechesis, at every level and moment.[126] For this reason too, “the priest – like every other member of the Church – ought to grow in awareness that he himself is continually in need of being evangelized”.

  • Like the others I was taken with how “on fire” the early community was. Initially I thought with sadness about dwindling numbers, Christian relativism and our fears (these people faced death daily by proclaiming the good news). But that is the now, successive popes with the aid of the Holy Spirit have been repairing and strengthening the foundations of the Church, so that Pope Francis could announce the next step “Re-Evangelisation of ourselves and then onward to New Evangelisation. I feel I am still in the “lackluster, stogy, mass on Sunday only” world (I’m just saying how it feels), which is frustrating. However, I feel like there is a spiritual breeze slowly gathering speed and force coming our way. One that will sweep away the dust and cobwebs, refresh the mind, heart and souls of the faithful. I have no reason or logic to back it up, but a feeling that exciting times (in a good way) are coming, if we go out and meet it. Somehow, I have hope that when it comes, I’ll discover a purpose or mission. It doesn’t have to be big or glitzy, but the right one because that will satisfy me and stop me running round like a headless deaf chicken.

    However, given that I do get very over-excited (funnily enough only about faith matters), I would take this post with a big pinch of salt.

    • There’s nothing wrong with the “mass on Sunday only” world. Not everyone can make it to daily mass, glorious as it can be. I think it’s the quality of where your heart, mind and soul are the other six days of the week.

      Like you, I also get excited about faith matters. I feel like I am coming into my purpose, and I realize that my mission can change or grow over time. I love to write, and I’m hoping that I can spread God’s Word in this way. I’ve also been pondering a cause to pursue; as a matter of fact, I really felt God speaking to me about it recently. I had an unusual dream, made more unusual due to the fact that I remembered it. I found myself asking God, “what does it mean?” and I really believe that He spoke to me about it…

      Avila, I have no doubt you’ll fall right into your purpose (if you haven’t already and just don’t realize it). I pray that you’ll hear God speaking to you; I can sense that you’re anxious to “get started”! Blessings, Mar

    • When we look at Abraham, David, Isiah, Rachel, the disciples and apostles, and other men and women mentioned in Scripture; and the stories of various saints, we see that they didn’t automatically “fall” into their purpose…God “trained” them, so to speak over the course of years in preparation for what He wanted them to accomplish for Him…

  • The Christian Community is growing rapidly. They are living in a community apart sharing all their goods. They are still meeting in the Temple and seem to consider themselves still Jews.

  • “…that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:47-49)

    Jesus sent the Holy Spirit as promised. What a glorious gift! They probably wondered how on earth they were going to spread the message, then lo and behold, the Holy Spirit descended upon them and there they were, speaking in tongues and understanding one another, even though they spoke different languages.

    So thus the early church begins. Filled with the Holy Spirit, they speak the Word of God with boldness, heal, perform signs and wonders, and baptize. (Acts 3:29-31) I love when Peter tells the crippled beggar, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, [rise and] walk.” (Acts 3:6)

    A met a person who was privileged to speak in tongues. He said that he knew in his mind what he was saying in English, though the words came out in a different language. How awesome is that!

    This is not just an ancient fairy tale that has no relevance today. WE are His Church. We have the power of the Holy Spirit within us. WE are the disciples of this age; we are here to bring healing to all nations in the Name of Jesus Christ.

  • The early Christian community were united and remained faithful to the apostles’ teaching. “Each day with one heart they regularly went to the temple…” Acts 2:46, It shows the togetherness “With
    one heart” this unity is shown again in chapter 3 Acts v:32, “the group of believers were united body and soul”. This is what Pope Francis is calling us to do in his Evangelii Gaudium document
    the joy of the gospel. He wants the Christian faithful to embark on a new chapter of evangelisation. He calls us all “to go make disciples of all nations” Matt 28:19. – To take the first step; to seek those who have fallen away; (it could be at home, eg many of us have to members of the family who maybe have left the faith, and maybe those who are lukewarm in their faith); to stand at crossroads
    and welcome the outcasts – (again that could be at home, at church where sometimes we do not make newcomers feel welcome); at work, and on the streets; and be involved and supportive in the community. The apostles were on fire for the Lord. Let us follow their examples and use our different talents for the Lord – we are all called to be missionaries, and to quote Blessed Mother Teresa “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love”.

  • It started with the chosen twelve, some women along with Mary Mother of Jesus and his brothers who met in an upper room so that they brought prayer together as a small community group. Later Matthias courted to join the 11 apostles, but only after community prayer. As they met a prayer a gust of wind came to rest upon them. What a good feeling I get when reading these passages. Filled with the Holy Spirit they all spoke different tongues to meet the needs of their people in all twelve neighboring areas. The devotion of community prayer increase daily. They devoted themselves to prayer, breaking of the bread and believed and followed the teaching of the apostles. Wonderful start of what we have today, but within our own House of The Lord, Church. Dear Lord thank you for the continued working of the apostles and their continued faith in Christianity, all in favor of the Lord’s work and faith within. Amazing work!

  • In Acts 1:1 there is no “bagan” only began. I feel like I have missed some interesting bit.

    This is a very exciting reading as you feel like a crescendo is about to be reached. The Apostles fulfill their number, the Holy Spirit is involved in leading the disciples, conversions and baptisms are happening at an escalating rate, the new “teachers” are expanding their territories and all seems to be well. All is abuzz with the remembrance of Jesus, His miracles, and his resurrection after his death. Although, the disciples do continually remind the masses that it was their disobedience that lead to Jesus’ crucifixion – their fickleness that set a criminal free and had an innocent man killed. However, we know that the crucifixion was written and part of God’s plan in order to cement the new and everlasting covenant.

    However, during this time of excitement and expansion, the Pharisees and Sadducees are meddling and becoming increasingly bold in their desire to quiet the disciples while trying to find a final solution – this is troublesome but as we know, this meddling will continue until our modern times.

      • Wow, I did not see these two posts till just now… it is strange how/when this site updates the listing(s)…. and… I did not notice the typo… Bagan is a name of an ancient City (9th Century), so I am sure it is a typo…

        Began is not in NAB(RE), but it is in RSV(2) as:
        1:1,2 In the first book, O Theoph’ilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus
        began to do, and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had
        given commandment through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.

        With this, the word “Began” it clearly shows to me that Jesus “Started Something”.
        Something that is certainly not finished!
        Something that we(The Church) all should continue to do forever!

        I think it is also interesting that at the Ascension, is when it is considered Jesus time on earth had ended, and the “Church” time period as beginning.

  • The Gospel of Luke records Jesus’ initial actions and preaching. Acts resumes the description of Jesus’ ministry. Christ now works in and through His Church. The apostles are dispersed in different nations. He addresses his book to Theophilus, and although Theophilus may have been a distinct person, the name signifies a friend of God, or one who loves God, as if he intended to dedicate it to all the faithful, who believed in, and loved God. The Church and It’s leaders realize that they have a mission to the whole world. So as the old adage goes, this was not the end but only the beginning.

    • Lois, you ROCK! I was going to write that I failed to find it, but forgot to do it till I read your post!!! Thank You!
      Began is not in NAB(RE), but it is in RSV(2), Twice I went back to look for it…
      and failed…
      1:1,2 “In the first book, O Theoph’ilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do, and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commandment
      through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.

      With this, the word “Began” clearly shows to me that Jesus “Started Something”.
      Something that is certainly not finished!
      Something that we all should continue to do forever!

  • The early church community is bold and on fire to evangalize, spreading the message of Jesus Christ. I find peace, encourgement and hope in the verse, “As they prayed, the place where they were gathered shook, and they were all filled with the holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:31) They had received the Holy Spirit previously, and now receive Him again. It gives me joy because the feeling I get when I feel the Holy Spirit come upon me is one of incredible peace. To know that the Holy Spirit comes upon us as often as we ask Him encourages me. I don’t always like what He wants me to do, but I know it’s the right thing and He gives me the courage and strength to carry it out.

    Another verse that gives me hope is “For the holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.” (Lk 12:12) My memory is very poor. I sometimes feel I’m the least able to evangalize because I seldom know what to say. Bible verses don’t pop into my head when I need them, so I say a quick prayer asking the Holy Spirit to give me the words. I walk away with hope that whatever I said has planted a tiny seed. I love the saying, “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.” Lord, You’ve got Your work cut out for You to qualifiy me, but please speak (loud and often, if you don’t mind), for your servant is listening. 🙂

  • Acts of the Apostles is certainly the model of Christian community. They shared everything in common and they preached boldly in the power of the Holy Spirit and they healed the sick.

  • The early church community is a determination of “faith” and belief that God is always near. The miracles of Jesus because of believing in God was the strength Peter utilized to lead the other Apostles. It is so sad they were faced with the obstacles of persecutors of those times who were determined to stop the preaching of Jesus who was sent by God to establish the new covenant. The fact that the believers and followers grew by the thousands and were baptized confirmed that the “church” was established, never to be destroyed.

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