The Promise of the Holy Spirit
 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach,  until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.  He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me;  for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”  He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.  And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes,  and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (ESV)
- The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are foundational to the book of Acts.
The book of Acts includes numerous incredible stories. Thousands of people are converted to Christ. Sometimes people get healed. At other times Christians get beat up and thrown into prison. There are frequent riots incited by Gospel preaching. Churches get planted. But everything that occurs in Acts is a consequence of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Apart from the death and resurrection of Jesus, Acts makes no sense.
- The book of Acts is about the continued work of Jesus in his Church by the power of the Holy Spirit.
It is common for people to think of Acts as a record of the acts of the Apostles or the acts of the early Church. This is understandable as Acts does give us a front row seat to the first century Church. However, Luke makes it clear that Acts is about the continued work of Jesus in his Church by the power of the Holy Spirit. Like the rest of the Bible, Acts is primarily about Jesus.
- The Church bears witness to the acts of Jesus.
What is the purpose and mission of the Church in the world? According to Acts, Jesus intends for his Church to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. This means that the Church is a community of people that speak the truth regarding the life, death, burial, resurrection, and reign of Jesus over all things.
- Why do you think Luke mentions the “many proofs” of Jesus’ resurrection?
- What does this text teach us about the importance of the Holy Spirit?
- What were Jesus’ disciples distracted by in this text? What tends to distract you?
- What does Jesus tell us about the purpose of the Church?
- What does Luke tell us to expect in the future regarding Jesus? Why does that matter?
Call to Worship
 Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
 Preserve my life, for I am godly;
save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.
 Be gracious to me, O Lord,
for to you do I cry all the day.
 Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
 For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.
 Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer;
listen to my plea for grace.
 In the day of my trouble I call upon you,
for you answer me. (ESV)
Prayer of Confession
Heavenly Father, What do we do when the nations rage? How do we face the aggression and tension in our workplaces and communities? Where can we turn when the anger invades our families, even our own hearts? Only Christ our King can bring the peace we crave. We will join with our brothers and sisters throughout history and say, "my soul waits for the Lord." "And who is a rock except our God?". Only Christ our Redeemer can bring us rest that endures. You are the light our nation needs.
For the times we have obscured the light, we repent. You are the love our neighbor needs. For the times we have neglected to love, we repent. You are the truth our family needs. For the times we have added offense to the truth, we repent. O Lord, show us how to be obedient today, how to be faithful tomorrow, and how to endure to the end.
Father we also ask for your grace, protection, and provision for our nation and its leaders. Give wisdom and discernment to President Donald Trump and President-Elect Joe Biden. Bring justice where it is needed, restoration and healing to all that is broken. You are a God of peace, your son Jesus has brought us peace, and in your Kingdom peace will reign forever. Amen.