08/27/Th – Last Words, First Works

Judges 11:1-28; Luke 24:35-53; Psalms 101:1-3; Proverbs 22:5-6

NT: “He told them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you — that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. He also said to them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead the third day, and repentance for forgiveness of sins will be proclaimed in his name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And look, I am sending you what my Father promised. As for you, stay in the city until you are empowered from on high.” Then he led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. And while he was blessing them, he left them and was carried up into heaven. After worshiping him, they returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they were continually in the temple praising God.” (‭‭Luke‬ ‭24:44-53‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

After Jesus appeared to His two followers on the road to Emmaus, He also appeared to His disciples who were hiding out in Jerusalem. Just as He did with the two on the road, He walked His disciples through the scriptures and explained to them how all that God had promised had been fulfilled in Him. He then gave them some assignments: 1) Repentance that leads to forgiveness of sins through His name must be preached to all the nations. The word for ‘nations’ is the Greek word ‘ethnos.’ It doesn’t mean political nation-states. It means each and every ethnicity and people group. 2) The disciples were to be witnesses to the veracity of the Gospel message. Just as witnesses are brought into a court to testify the truth, the disciples were to testify the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth of the Gospel of the Kingdom. 3) They were to wait in Jerusalem until they were empowered from on high. The Father had promised in the book of Joel that He would pour out His Spirit on all flesh. Jesus was going away so that He could send that promise to His disciples. They were charged to go into all the world, but before they went, they needed to be empowered by the Holy Spirit of God. That is just as much a part of the Gospel as salvation is. The full message of the gospel is that we are 1) saved from our sins as we repent and place our faith in Jesus, 2) born again into new life, and 3) empowered by the flow of God’s life and grace through the indwelling Holy Spirit. The last words of Jesus before He left this earth were the most important things on His mind… and should be the most important things on our minds as His disciples. The Gospel of Luke continues on into the book of Acts, and if you look into the book of Acts, you will see that the Lord’s last words were the disciples first works… and just as the Lord spoke those words to His disciples then, His words transcend time and speak to us as well. Those 3 things that He mentioned to His disciples are the 3 things that should guide and inform the way we life our lives as we follow Jesus: preach the gospel, be witnesses of the truth, and be empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Psalms: “I will sing of faithful love and justice; I will sing praise to you, Lord. I will pay attention to the way of integrity. When will you come to me? I will live with a heart of integrity in my house. I will not let anything worthless guide me. I hate the practice of transgression; it will not cling to me.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭101:1-3‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

Of utmost importance to King David were the word, will, and ways of the Lord God. He made the words of God his first works. The primary pursuit of his life was to walk the way of integrity as described through the word – and he would not allow his life to be led by anything other than the Lord God. Did he make mistakes and fall short from time to time? Yes, he did – but he was always quick to repent and “get back on the horse.” Because the Lord was faithful to him, David spent his life testifying to the goodness of God through songs of praise and thanksgiving.

Proverbs: “There are thorns and snares on the way of the crooked; the one who guards himself stays far from them. Start a youth out on his way; even when he grows old he will not depart from it.” (‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭22:5-6‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

Although the way of the crooked is often widely traveled path, it is strewn with snares and thorns that will injure you and trap you. The way of righteousness requires much more intentionality and care, but it is free of pitfalls. It takes effort to walk in the way of the Lord… and you aren’t free to go anywhere you desire, but it is the way that leads to life. How much better it is, then, to teach our offspring to follow the words of the Lord and the way to life, than to leave them on their own to figure out their own way.

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