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sabbath JUNE 30

Acts 1:1–3

Introduction Walking the Walk



The lesson this quarter focuses on the book of Acts. Just from the name, we can see that the narrative deals with things the apostles did after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. When we read the book, we read about how the apostles behaved. The verb to act implies behavior, not thoughts or intentions or motivations. The word acts, as a plural noun, can describe the results of those actions. The book, then, focuses on deeds, not words. To start us thinking about acts as a collection of actions, let’s ponder a common saying and then look at a personal illustration.

First, the saying: “If you are going to talk the talk, you had better walk the walk.” In other words, before you preach, put into practice what you believe. The saying is often used when people have not been walking the walk but just talking the talk. People hate hypocrisy, and so for many, they want to see correct behavior, not hear lectures or sermons. The disciples were living examples of people who walked the walk; many of them were martyred for their faith, after teaching, preaching, and healing the sick. They lived their faith.

While salvation isn’t dependent on our works, what we do matters.

Next, the illustration: My wife will often ask me why someone did something odd or mean or degrading. I usually answer, without being ironic, “I don’t care.

We’ll never know, so it really doesn’t matter to me. What matters is what they did.” I believe actions speak louder than words. When people treat other people badly, it doesn’t ultimately matter to the victim what motivated the deed. Conversely, when people treat others well, especially if we are on the receiving end of good deeds, we don’t question their motives. We just know they’ve done a good thing and we have been blessed. Therefore, the best example of Christ does not come from a preacher up in the pulpit; it comes from a person helping her neighbor who has fallen down, a person who stops at the site of a traffic accident and comforts the injured, a person who makes food for the family that has just lost a loved one.

As we think about the “acts” of the apostles, we can look for ways we can also be more intentional in our behavior. While salvation isn’t dependent on our works, what we do matters. It certainly will matter to those we help. We are all apostles of Christ, called upon to follow in His footsteps. To be like Jesus is to behave like He behaved: He was accepting, forgiving, and very proactive, often running against the grain of the common practice. Let’s pray we can learn how to better “walk the walk.”

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Renard Doneskey, Cleburne, Texas, USA

sunday JULY 1

Acts 1:6, 7;

Luke 24:25

Logos Ready, Set, Wait



Expectation and Disappointment (Gen. 3:15; Luke 24:19–21)

Ever since the promise in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:15), the people of God had been waiting for a Redeemer. They carefully recorded every birth and could easily trace someone’s ancestry all the way back to the 12 tribes, Abraham, and even Adam. Every woman anxiously hoped to give birth to a man—hoping that her son would be the Messiah.

However, as time passed, the nations of the earth grew, and the people of God became more and more oppressed. This caused the Jews to lose sight of the original promise and start expecting someone to restore an earthly kingdom.

This was the climate of Israel at the time when Jesus was born: the Jews were expecting someone to free them from their political oppressors—not free them from their sins. Jesus spent three years minstering with His disciples, trying to clear up this misconception.

Just as they’re getting ready to start the race, Jesus basically says, “Ready, set, wait.”

Even so, we see in Luke 24:19–21 that the disciples were still wanting an earthly kingdom restored. While on the road to Emmaus, they tell the man who is walking with them all about Jesus. They tell of His deeds and words but also of His crucifixion and their disappointment because they “ ‘were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel’ ” (verse 21, NKJV). Imagine the disappointment when this Man in whom they had placed all their hope was delivered to be crucified.

Foolish Ones (Luke 24:25)

However, instead of comforting them, Jesus calls them fools and slow of heart to believe. It seems a little harsh for Jesus to scold someone for not understanding something. That’s why it’s important to note that Jesus does not say they have difficulty understanding—just believing. This is made clear in the next verse, when He asks the leading question, “ ‘Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things?’ ” (verse 26, NKJV). Since Jesus had explained these things to them over and over again throughout His ministry, the obvious answer is, “Yes, of course,” but they don’t answer.

Jesus proceeds to go through all the prophecies about the Messiah in the Scriptures, pointing out that they foreshadowed His persecution and death. These men were not confused by the prophecies. Jesus had spent so much time with them that it was almost impossible for them to misunderstand the mission of the Messiah. The only thing that made them foolish was how much they were clinging to their own ideas rather than believing the promises in the Scriptures.

Witnesses (Luke 24:30, 31, 34)

It isn’t until they arrive at their destination and Jesus breaks bread with them that their eyes are opened and they finally grasp what is happening (verses 30, 31). At this point, they not only understand but believe, and they excitedly go to the others and share that “ ‘the Lord is risen indeed’ ” (verse 34).

While all of this is happening, Jesus appears to all of the disciples and again explains to them the prophecies about the Christ and how He had to suffer and die and be raised from the dead. Then He explains that they need to be His witnesses and share what they’ve seen and understood with everyone, not just the Jews.

Restoration (Acts 1:6, 7; Luke 24:48, 49)

The only problem is that the disciples, now ready to run and tell the world the good news, are told that they have to wait: “ ‘Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high’ ” (verses 48, 49, NKJV). So here they are, on the Mount of Olives, ready for His ascension. They’ve learned at the feet of Jesus for more than three years. They’ve seen His miracles. They’ve heard His words.

They finally understand and believe the prophecies. They are ready to tell the world about the spiritual rebuilding—not political rebellion—that Jesus came to implement. And just as they’re getting ready to start the race, Jesus basically says, “Ready, set, wait.”

They have this amazing news to share with the world—the truth about the Messiah’s mission and the restoration of Israel, but Jesus tells them that they need more preparation; their human strength will not suffice for such a monumental task. Before they can go into the world and do all the things they need to do, they must receive an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Hearing this, the disciples ask Jesus, “ ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ ” (Acts 1:6, NKJV). This time, contrary to the first time the restoration is brought up, Jesus does not scold them. He knows that they’re not asking because of a lack of understanding of His mission, nor are they asking due to a lack of belief. He knows they are anxious to see the fulfillment of His promises. So He instead tells them that it’s not for them to know the times or the seasons. Their job is simply to go into the world and make disciples.

REACT

1. Do you feel as though you’ve been waiting for a long time for God to fulfill a promise? Could it be possible that you have misunderstood that promise? Pray for God to make His will clear to you.

2. Are you slow to believe the promises and prophecies that God has already made clear? Why? What could help build your confidence in those promises?

3. Maybe there’s something in your life that you’ve been anxious to start but haven’t been able to. It’s OK to delay, especially if God is asking you to wait for His blessing.

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Daniela Recalde, San Antonio, Texas, USA

monday JULY 2

Acts 1:8;

Luke 24:44–48

Ellen White on the Disciples’ Mission



“As the disciples heard their Master explaining the Scriptures in the light of all that had happened, their faith in Him was fully established. . . . The events of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, the prophecies pointing to these events, the plan of salvation, and the power of Jesus for remission of sins—to all these things they had been witnesses, and they were to make them known to the world.”1 “After the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the disciples, clothed with the divine panoply, went forth as witnesses to tell the wonderful story of the manger and the cross. They were humble men, but they went forth with the truth.

After the death of their Lord, they were a helpless, disappointed, discouraged company— as sheep without a shepherd: but now they go forth as witnesses for the truth, with no weapons but the Word and Spirit of God, to triumph over all opposition.”2

“The gospel commission is the great missionary charter of Christ’s kingdom.”

“The gospel commission is the great missionary charter of Christ’s kingdom. The disciples were to work earnestly for souls. They were to go to the people with their message. Their every word and act was to fasten attention on Christ’s name, as possessing that vital power by which sinners may be saved. His name was to be their badge of distinction, the authority for their action, and the source of their success.”3

“ ‘Ye shall be witnesses unto Me.’ [Acts 1:8.] These words of Jesus have lost none of their force. Our Saviour calls for faithful witnesses in these days . . . but how few . . . are ready to give a faithful, personal testimony for their Master! Many can tell what the great and good men of generations past have done, and dared, and suffered, and enjoyed. . . . But while so earnest in bringing forward other Christians as witnesses for Jesus, they seem to have no fresh, timely experience of their own to relate.”4

REACT

1. What aspects of the disciples’ mission can be applied to how we witness?

2. How can you make sure you are willing to witness and to have some “timely experience” to share?

1. Ellen G. White, From Trials to Triumph, p. 16.

2. Ellen G. White, Ye Shall Receive Power, p. 165.

3. White, From Trials to Triumph, p. 17.

4. Ellen G. White, Gospel Workers (1915), p. 273.

Benjamin Ermshar, Keene, Texas, USA

tuesday JULY 3

Acts 1:12–14

Evidence You Are Strong Together Before You Are Strong Apart



The book of Acts is significant because it details the beginning of the disciples’ mission on earth and the amazing effects that the gospel had upon those the apostles shared it with. In the first chapter, the disciples are at the very start of their preparation to continue Jesus’ work, but He has told them to stay together and wait for the Holy Spirit. This is important because it indicates that Jesus had a plan for His followers that was larger than each individual and his or her respective testimony.

This was a very important time for the church and the world, in that the impacts of Christianity certainly did not remain local. The apostles were going to face many obstacles and persecution as they worked diligently to spread the gospel truth as fast and far as they could. Working together and maintaining unity among Jesus’ followers was and still is very important for success.

Jesus saw this need, too, and had a plan.

At the time of the book of Acts, the Roman Empire at first was very stable. Nearing the end of the book of Acts, things would become more turbulent, especially for Christians as they would increasingly be criminalized until eventually Nero would blame them for the great fire in Rome. In the first chapter of Acts, Jesus’ followers were relatively few in number, but there was still a need for organization.

Jesus saw this need, too, and had a plan. Pentecost is discussed in depth in the second chapter of Acts; however, the beginning of Pentecost takes place in the first chapter. In the fourth verse, Jesus commands His followers to stay in Jerusalem. He continues, saying, “ ‘John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit’ ” (Acts 1:5, NIV). He then reveals His plan, saying, “ ‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, . . . and to the ends of the earth’ ” (verse 8, NIV). Jesus told the disciples of the power of Pentecost and instructed them to stay in Jerusalem for this reason.

Jesus’ command to stay in Jerusalem was a part of His plan to gather them into one place. Clearly Jesus wanted the gospel to be spread to all parts of the world, so His counterintuitive command to remain localized for a period of time before the Day of Pentecost was deliberate and must have been to bring about organization for His followers.

REACT

Why couldn’t Jesus have blessed His followers with the power of the Holy Spirit without bringing them together in Jerusalem?

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Loisbet Castro, Keene, Texas, USA

wednesday JULY 4

Acts 1:9–11;

Deut. 19:15

How-to Witnessing God



When Jesus ascended into heaven, the disciples stared upward and kept their eyes fixed on the cloud that hid Jesus. They were so focused on Jesus’ departure, the disciples did not notice the two angels appear beside them, reminding them that Jesus would soon return. They had a great duty to perform: to bear witness to Jesus Christ and to spread His good news to all the world.

We have the same duty to fulfill. We may not be able to perform miracles, but we have all received gifts and talents from the Holy Spirit—tools to be used to heal others and lead them to the One who gives us that power. Here are some ways to reach out:

We have the same duty to fulfill.

Share personal testimonies. Sometimes, the only way others will begin to recognize God’s glory and goodness is through the trials and blessings in the lives of others. You can share your testimony to show what God has helped you overcome. Your journey can bridge the gap for those who have suffered similar events, and it can be used to give hope. We have more ways of communicating with the world than the disciples and followers of Jesus ever did—put your cell phone and the Internet to good use!

Recruit others. It is important to share your testimony, but how much more powerful will the testimonies of many be? “One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses” (Deut. 19:15, NIV). The power of one testimony has its limits, but many testimonies augment the power of each individual story, each piece of evidence, as proof of God’s character.

Remember God’s promises. God makes many promises in the Bible. His promises are true; there is evidence for this within the Bible—all the promises He has kept—and through the lives of countless people today.

Rely on God. If we know His promises are true and we have seen what He has done for us and the people around us, there is ample evidence to trust God with our lives. We can lean on Him—we must lean on Him—if we are to reach out to others. We shouldn’t try to do anything on our own; God is the source of all our strength. “ ‘Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you’ ” (Isaiah 60:1, NIV).

REACT:

How can you share God with those who have never known God or with those who have hardened their hearts?

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Kylie Kurth, Indianola, Iowa, USA

thursday JULY 5

Acts 1:21–23, 26

Opinion A Backup Plan



Not everything goes as planned on this earth. This was certainly true for the disciples of Jesus. It would have been a shock to hear Jesus say: “ ‘Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me’ ” (John 13:21, NIV). It would have been shocking to see Judas stand up and leave that last supper. Judas, their friend, was not who they thought he was. “This wasn’t how things were supposed to happen,” they might have said.

The disciples relied on God’s wisdom to make the final choice.

Sometimes things do not go according to plan, and people we trust “ betray us” or betray the image we have of them. People can find themselves in a situation similar to that of the disciples: with a void that was once filled.

I think it is important to look at the disciples replacing Judas. It is small, and easy to miss. But I think the story gives us a good example of how God, along with people, can correctly deal with plan B situations.

In the course of one’s life, various people will fall in and out: friends will come in, and former friends will go away. Sometimes these experiences can be painful and unexpected. However, I believe that God looks tenderly upon us at such times, when one suffers the loss of another. And with tenderness, God places people in our lives to replace those who have left. He does not abandon us to the temporary pain of separation but plants new seeds that will grow.

One should also notice that the disciples didn’t try to figure out who was best to replace Judas. There was more than one option. Joseph and Matthias were both chosen as good men “ ‘who [had] been with [them] the whole time the Lord Jesus’ ” had been with the disciples (Acts 1:21, NIV). But the disciples, being only men, could not know the hearts of these men or know who would be the best to replace Judas. The disciples relied on God’s wisdom to make the final choice.

So the disciples prayed, “ ‘ Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left’ ” (verse 24, NIV). The disciples cast lots, leaving it up to the Lord, “and the lot fell to Matthias” (verse 26, NIV). God replaced the lost, absent disciple and was faithful to those who had lost a companion.

REACT:

1. How can God be trusted to have influence in something as random as casting lots?

2. Is the replacement of a loved one or friend always a backup plan, or is it, perhaps, what God knew was best for us from the beginning?

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Andre Doneskey, Keene, Texas, USA

friday JULY 6

Acts 1:21–23, 26

Exploration The Wise Acts of Jesus



CONCLUDE

More than anything, Jesus wanted His loved ones to be saved. He tried everything He could to prepare them for what was to come, and He chose the people who He thought would be best for each task that He wanted to complete.

This is how Matthias was chosen to replace Judas when it was revealed that Judas was not able to complete the mission. The disciples did not have much time to discuss the reason for everything that had happened; all they had time to do was assess the issue and find a solution. Everything Jesus does is for a great reason, even if the reason cannot be fully understood by others.

Much of what He does can be very confusing, but once it is done, it can be understood if one is willing to try to understand it. Peter then stood up and tried to explain to those closest to Jesus what he himself understood regarding what was happening. The apostles were now on a mission from God, and it was up to them at this point in time to spread what they knew about the Son of God to others so that they, too, could be saved.

CONSIDER

• Thinking of a way you can be like the apostles and spread your knowledge to someone else, either through a small Bible study or even just a casual conversation with someone who is interested.

• Writing down some things that you have done as acts of service to other people so you can be motivated to do more.

• Trying not to focus so much on the why of a situation. Rather, sit down, assess, and find a reasonable solution. Life rarely goes as planned, and the art of adaptation is something everyone should master.

• Reading more sections of the Bible, especially quotes from Jesus to try to get to know Jesus better so that you can understand His actions when it is most important.

• Practicing what you preach. As one can see here, actions mean a lot more than words do. If you preach something, it only makes sense to follow up what you say with your actions. Do not say one thing and do another, because that makes you look like an unreliable person and your opportunities will be shortened, much like Judas’s.

CONNECT

Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, chapter 2, “The Training of the Twelve”; chapter 3, “The Great Commission.”

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Sasha Doneskey, Cleburne, Texas, USA