In week one, we discussed the apostles’ perhaps surprising first steps after Christ’s return and ascension, the beginnning of their persecution by the temple authorities, their creation of the position of deacon, and the martrydom of Stephen.
Now we move on to the story of another deacon, Philip. Philip had taken the bold step of making his ministry among the Samaritans. Talk about a leap of faith! In doing so, he sparks several rather remarkable things. He gets Peter and John to challenge a magician, and defeat him. Then he becomes the divine instrument for converting a court official from a far-off land to the faith – and, in doing so, demonstrates for all that this new experience of Jesus is not just for the Jews but for everybody in the whole world. Continue reading Bible Study Series: The Book of Acts (Week Two Notes)→
Sometime between 70 and 100 A.D., the book of Acts was written. The author was Luke, the man who wrote almost one-quarter of the New Testament. It is not just a story of the early church, but a story of the “church” as it was and is today. It deals with issues between Christians and Jews, Christians and pagans, Christians and the government, the problems of prayer, the purpose of preaching and teaching, and many of the other dilemmas that affect the church in our day.
It is the story of a community, formed by God, for without God there would have been no community. It is the same thing with our community here today. We did not form this community, we don’t run this community, and we just live in this community that was formed by God. You will see as we read Acts that the stories are not about somebody else; they are our story. The names might be a bit different, but they are definitely our stories. We keep on telling these stories because they help us make sense out of the life we are trying to live. Continue reading Bible Study Series: The Book of Acts (Week One Notes)→
After 25 years of being a priest in the Episcopal Church, some things get ingrained in you. For example, at least once a year I would go into my “Paul Revere” mode.
You see, according to canon law, Episcopal bishops are required to visit each parish in their diocese every 18 months (most make it a yearly visit). It is a VERY big deal for the parish. So, once I would get the notice that the bishop was coming, I would run about the parish hollering, “THE BISHOP IS COMING, THE BISHOP IS COMING!!” And everybody would go into “bishop visitation mode.”
After his usurping son is killed, David reconstructs the kingdom and writes a psalm about his love for God.
David’s network of spies then begins to have their desired effect. Hushai begins to give advice that is counter to Ahithophel’s, and the new “king” rejects the plan that would have secured the kingdom for him. Instead of acting when he needs to act, he waits. His waiting gives David time to recover from the shock of Absalom’s actions, to gather his forces to him, and to prepare for battle. Ahithophel realizes that everything is lost and that he has no future. Instead of waiting for the ax to fall, he goes off and hangs himself.
Adultery, betrayal, revenge, and retribution as David falls away from God’s path.
David now starts to pay his debts. He had promised Jonathan that if anything ever happened to him, he would look after his family. Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth is still alive and probably in hiding. He was crippled at a young age when he was dropped by his nurse. So he’s no great specimen of a leader in the physical sense, but he still has the blood of Saul and Jonathan in his veins. David could have easily seen him as a threat to his kingship. Instead of looking at him as a threat, he sees in him an opportunity that has multiple assets.
David consolidates power, assumes the throne of Israel, and captures Jerusalem as the new capital.
David returns to Ziklag from chasing the Amalekites, an important action because it totally exonerates him from having any hand in the death of Saul. In fact, it isn’t until three days later that he even hears about the death of Saul, and of his son Jonathan. His actions concerning the Amalekite who brings him the message are very important in securing the path towards his future. The messenger is expecting a reward, not only for bringing the news of Saul’s death, but for helping the king escape being captured, and probably tortured, by acceding to his wishess and finishing him off after his botched suicide attempt.