Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jun 3 2013 - Acts 1:1-26 – Over to you …

The book of Acts is the second half of Luke’s two-part work telling the story of Jesus and of the earliest disciples. He begins this second part with a link back to the first: “I’ve already told you”, he says, “of the things Jesus began to do and to teach.” He seems to imply that this is a continuation of the same story. In this second part we will also read of what Jesus is doing and teaching, but now in and through his disciples.

This continuity is reinforced in other ways also. The Gospels, including Luke’s Gospel, have told of Jesus teaching concerning the kingdom. The book of Acts begins and ends with the same theme. In the opening verses we have the risen Jesus appearing to his disciples over a period of 40 days and “speaking to them about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1.3). The book ends with Paul under house arrest in Rome where, for two years, “he welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ...” (Acts 28:30-31).

But one of the most remarkable parallels is in Luke’s reference to the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ teaching of his disciples was empowered by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:2) – the Spirit who descended upon him when he was baptised by John. He began his preaching ministry with the affirmation that the Spirit of the Lord was upon him because he had been anointed to proclaim good news – the Gospel (Luke 4:18). Jesus now tells the disciples that he is about to return to the Father, but they are to wait in Jerusalem for a gift from the Father: “For John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:5). When the Holy Spirit is poured out upon them they will be empowered to be witnesses to Jesus and his kingdom (Acts 1:8): the Spirit of the Lord will now be upon them, anointing them to proclaim the Gospel.

Putting all of this together, Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God and demonstrated its presence through the power of the Spirit. His death and resurrection are the portal through which the kingdom is now streaming into this world. But it does so as his disciples follow Jesus in proclaiming the kingdom of God and demonstrating its presence through the power of the Spirit. They do this as they proclaim that Jesus of Nazareth, crucified under Pontius Pilate, is risen from the dead and has been declared by God to be both Lord and Christ. As they proclaim that Jesus is Lord, and teach the world about him, Jesus himself works in them and through them to make himself known and to establish his kingdom. This is the story of the Book of Acts.

Jesus has ascended into heaven, but his work of establishing his kingdom continues in undiminished power. As the disciples gaze up into heaven after their Lord, they are asked by angels why they are hanging around here. Jesus has given them a task to do and, by virtue of his resurrection and ascension to the place of all power, he will equip them to do it. Their task is to get on with it. And that is what they did, as recorded in the Book of Acts.

Luke wrote no third volume. That's down to us. We also are empowered by our risen and ascended Lord to continue his work of establishing his kingdom until that day when he will return from heaven just as those disciples saw him ascend into heaven.

Risen and ascended Lord, you are seated in glory in the place of power at the right hand of the Father. All authority is given to you, and every knee must bow to you. Help us to continue your work of proclaiming your kingdom, your power and your glory. Empower us by your Spirit and work through us to bring many out of the kingdom of darkness to live under your kingly rule.

Jun 3 2019 - 1 Kings 8:54-9:9 – Covenant and king

The dedication of the temple is completed with further extravagant bloodshed; "Solomon offered a sacrifice of fellowship offerings to the LORD: twenty-two thousand cattle and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep and goats. So the king and all the Israelites dedicated the temple of the LORD" (1 Kings 8:63). Fellowship with God comes at a great price.

Solomon has prayed that the Lord, "may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day’s need, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other" (8:59-60). He wants blessing not only for himself, the king, but also for God's people. More than that, he prays that through them, all nations may come to know that the God of Israel is the only true God. Solomon prays that God's promise to Abraham may be fulfilled; that through him and his offspring all nations on earth may be blessed.

In 1 Kings 9 we read that in response to his prayer, God appeared to Solomon a second time. If Solomon and his descendants are faithful to God then God will bless them and establish their kingdom; "If you walk before me faithfully with integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did, and do all I command and observe my decrees and laws, I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever" (9:4-5). But if Solomon or the kings who follow after him disobey God, this temple and the kingdom will be destroyed. Nevertheless, God's purpose to make his own name and power known to the ends of the earth will not fail; if Israel's king is unfaithful and God visits his people in judgment, this also will act as a witness to the power and faithfulness of the God of Israel (see 9:6-9). The prosperity and future of the kingdom is dependent upon the faithfulness of the king, but above all it is grounded in the faithfulness of God.

As we continue with our readings in Kings, we shall see how the kingdom is divided and destroyed by the faithlessness of Israel's kings, David and Solomon's descendants. But a king will one day come, a descendant of David, who will walk faithfully before God, with integrity of heart and uprightness of life, and will do all that God asks of him. His kingdom and his royal throne will be established forever. Through him the promise God made to Abraham shall at last be fulfilled; in him all nations shall be blessed. Beyond human failure there is the unshakable hope that God will raise up a saviour not just for his people Israel but for the whole world.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing…

He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love.

Lord Jesus, thank you that through your costly sacrifice of yourself you have reconciled us to God and brought us into fellowship with him. Thank you that in you we are truly blessed; you satisfy our daily needs. Help us to understand that this blessing is not for us alone; you have given us a ministry of reconciliation that, through us, others may be brought into fellowship with the living God. Thank you that because you remain faithful, your kingdom will not fail but will continue to increase until the kingdom of this world becomes the kingdom of our God and of the Lamb.

Peter Misselbrook