This is your family tree, and it begins here in this pitiful sight of these forlorn, confused, fearful disciples. Isn't it interesting that Luke and he's probably writing a good bit of time after the event here doesn't try to gloss over the small beginnings of the church? He doesn't try to portray the church like some Superman figure. No, if it hadn't been for the power of the Holy Spirit, the church would have been snuffed out at its very beginnings.
Now there are three things I want us to see, and in verses we see Luke's description of the presence of Jesus Christ for this period of forty days. In verses we see Luke's description of the perplexity of the disciples and the questions that they ask. Thirdly, we see in verses Luke's description of the promise of the angel as the disciples gazed into heaven.
First of all, we see Luke's description of the presence of Jesus Christ for this period of forty days, and three things now come to the surface in verses First of all, Luke tells us that Jesus gave proof verse 4 that He was alive. He appeared in resurrection appearance. As you see, this is a connecting point. This is a linchpin, as it were. This linked The Acts with the closing of the Gospel of Luke.
And Jesus has risen from the dead, and for a period of forty days He would appear, and then He would disappear again. And if I go away, I will come to you again. But there are these glorious and astonishing resurrection appearances, proofs that He was alive. To the eleven, to the twelve, to Peter, to Mary Magdalene, to some of the women, to the two on the Emmaus Road.
He has borne its guilt and shame in His own body upon the tree. The resurrection of course was a first-fruit, wasn't it, of those that sleep. And how many of us tonight can think of dear, dear, loved ones who have been taken from us And the resurrection says he will rise again, that Jesus is the first-fruit of those that sleep, and in that train and in that wake will come the multitude of the Lord's people on resurrection morning.
Jesus giving proof that He was alive And then in verse 3, further teaching on the kingdom of God. Isn't it interesting that Luke describes the stress of the teaching and preaching of Jesus in that period between resurrection and ascension? The stress of His preaching and teaching was on the kingdom of God, on the rule and reign of God. It was on the sovereignty of God. It was Jesus saying to His disciples that this world and history and the future is in the palms of His hands; that things fall out because He decrees them, that things don't happen by chance, they don't happen because of luck; that there is a kingdom and there is a ruler and there is a king who sits in heaven to preach to them the kingdom of God, the rule of God, the reign of God.
And thirdly, in verses 4 and 5, the promise of the Holy Spirit: In the first place, then, we see Luke's description of the presence of Christ in these forty days between resurrection and Pentecost. But secondly, we see the perplexity of the disciples in the questions that they ask.
Now, Calvin, in a very famous comment in his commentary on The Acts of the Apostles, says that there are as many errors in this question as there are words. They were wrong as to the sense of victory that Jesus had accomplished. They were wrong as to the constitution of the kingdom that Jesus was building. They were wrong as to the power of God that builds it.
Gaze Into Heaven
There was a misunderstanding, first of all, on their part. And isn't that interesting, by the way [let me pause for a second], that they even misunderstood the teachings of Jesus? They misunderstood His teaching! They were slow, and oh! Look at the question that they ask: The middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile has now been broken down, and this gospel of Jesus Christ, this kingdom of God was no longer to be thought of purely in terms of the nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem, and all of the paraphernalia of religion that accompanied that under the old dispensation.
This kingdom is now to go to the ends of the earth. They were still looking for the return of some kind of Solomonic glory, and Jesus is saying no, it's to the ends of the earth. My grandfather on my father's side lived on a small farm — oh, acres or so. He kept a few sheep and a few dairy cows, killed his own pigs, made his own bacon. I remember going to visit him. He lived just across two fields from where we lived. I lived on a farm, he lived on a neighboring farm. At one time it had all been the same farm. I remember going to say to him I was going off to university.
He had lived — and he lived until he was 96 — he had lived his entire life in this village, in this house, on this farm. And, in a sense, I was thinking about this this afternoon, these disciples — they can't think further than the borders of Israel. And Jesus is saying to them, you must catch a vision of the greatness and grandness of the kingdom of God.
And they made another mistake. Isn't it interesting, by the way, how often the church has got this very instruction wrong? Was it , or was it , I think Harold Camping said that the return of Jesus would take place? Twelve years ago, now. It is no wonder then that Jesus assured them that He would be forever with them, even until the end of the world Matthew The temptation here for leaders, therefore, is in relaxing in the past comfort of His manifested presence, and thereby ignoring an even greater and more effectual presence that is to come.
The disciples could not have imagined how powerful the infilling of the Holy Ghost would be! While it was great to share the fish and the bread and the fire with Him at the lakeside, it would be so much greater to be filled with His presence in Jerusalem. Losing one level of relationship with God may seem daunting to most Christians, but leaders recognize that it is part of growing into the next level.
And standing and gazing up into heaven would not bring this new level to reality. While leaders will certainly enjoy the spectacular and miraculous presence of the Lord in their lives and in their work for the Kingdom, they should never become fixated on any one moment longer than they should. To do so means to delay their moving forward in their mission. There is no doubt concerning the glory of watching the risen Lord ascend into heaven.
Nothing could have compared to the magnificence of that singular event; at least nothing up to that point in time. And that is something that leadership must recognize: Leaders, therefore, should learn to focus on the mandate given, rather than on the glory of the past or present. To put it simply, we should never spend too much time reveling in what He has already done and thereby miss what He presently desires to do. They were sincere in what they were doing, no doubt. But they still missed the point. While sincerity is a key element in the character of a godly leader, it should not be misconstrued.
Leaders, like others, can be sincerely wrong! The story of Jesus relating the parable of the sower and his seed is told in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Most Christian leaders will know and understand the parable quite well. After all, it speaks of the Word of God producing eternal results once it finds its way to good ground.
It warns as well of the uselessness of trying to see the seed grow on three other kinds of ground that simply have no potential for production. But in the accounts given by Mark and Luke there is a principle that emerges that should just as well be clearly understood by church leadership. Mark tells us in chapter 4 that the crowd to whom Jesus gave His short sermon on the sower and his seed was a formidable one.
There were so many people gathered to hear Jesus that He was moved into a boat and put a short distance from the shore in order to maintain eye contact with His audience. Whether it was hundreds or thousands, we cannot tell. But apparently it was indeed a large crowd. We should notice nonetheless that after the conclusion of this very brief address by the Master, only His disciples remained behind with Him after the great crowd had dispersed. And it was this small group of His followers that begged the question: In other words, such a parable was given to separate those that really wanted to know from those that took only a casual glance at what Jesus had to say.
And then He went on to fully explain the meaning of the parable. But what followed after that is equally important. Leaders must be diligent to listen carefully to what they hear and filter the lies from the truth. They should be likewise meticulous in really hearing what God has to say to them. This, in fact, is the principle of the Kingdom that begins to define leadership and set it apart from the rest of the followers of Jesus.
How leaders apply what God has imparted to them is just as important as gaining the information to begin with. Do we really see what God is trying to say and do? Do we insist on a clear understanding of His principles and their application in our ministries? If not, we may become satisfied with the presence of Jesus in our midst, but compromised in the comprehension of His true message to us.
What should they do now? And there were in fact other options. They could have continued to dwell on the. They chose instead to follow the angelic command and go on to Jerusalem.
In other words, they dared to believe what Jesus and the angels commanded them to do. Reading this book increased my eternal perspective and gave me a renewed sense of appreciation for what matters most in the short time we have on this earth. Mar 12, Diane Tolley rated it it was amazing.
I love stories from people who have 'died' and come back to tell about their experiences. Okay, I'm just quirky that way. I just finished reading Gaze Into Heaven. It is the best of this genre. Never has a book been so interesting and yet filled me with such hope and quiet reassurance. Each of the stories have been extensively researched and most come from actual diaries and journals of the people who experienced them, with other footnotes from family members who witnessed the retelling and thus shar I love stories from people who have 'died' and come back to tell about their experiences.
Each of the stories have been extensively researched and most come from actual diaries and journals of the people who experienced them, with other footnotes from family members who witnessed the retelling and thus shared in the experiences. Categorized according to theme, 'buildings', 'music', 'activities' and many, many more, and with scriptural references to add weight and plausibility to the stories, it is compelling, riveting reading and I enjoyed every.
Gaze Into Heaven: Near-Death Experiences in Early Church History
Jan 21, Sandra Strange rated it liked it Shelves: This book is a good read for those interested in near death experiences and how they fit into LDS perspectives and values and theology. The book uses multiple accounts of near death experiences from early church members to explore what we learn from these experiences about death and life after death.
I really enjoyed this book, as it made dying so natural and makes you think about what needs to be done here to improve ourselves. May 14, Meghan rated it really liked it. This book is a collection of near-death experiences recorded in the journals or retold by descendants of people who were early members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. There are many amazing accounts, but a couple of accounts I found interesting were that of Mary Hales pg.
Mary Hales was escorted around the spirit world by her deceased brother. She says "I was surprised to see that while many of the homes were spacious, others were very small. Some were barely larger than a small kitchen, or large bathroom. I couldn't imagine why anyone would want to live in a house so small.
I asked my brother about this. Once dead her husband called for the elders of the church and prayed for her recovery. She says "They remained shut up in my room fasting and praying and administering to me for forty-eight hours. The doctors and others thought her husband and the elders were crazy to believe she would come back. Finally, the doctors insisted in coming into the room and the elders said they could stay if they would join them in prayer. One elder started praying and asked to have his sister arise for a sign that they may believe and said "'Harriet, arise', and I arose straight up in the bed, opening my eyes and looking around me in wonderment The doctors stood aghast in my presence.
How often in today's world do you see people exercising faith in their God? People are afraid to talk about religion and their belief in Jesus Christ.
Gazing Into Heaven – Acts | Leadership Development International
These people in these accounts were so certain and had unwavering faith even in the face of plain evidence their loved ones were gone. There is power in having and using faith in our creator and savior. Mar 07, Alice Gold rated it it was amazing Shelves: This is the best book that I have read in several years. It has completely changed the way I view my mortal life. I have sincerely become a better person just by reading this book. And even you non-Mormons will find this absolutely fascinating.
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Gaze into Heaven is a book of complied true near death stories organized in a way that is easy to read. Each chapter is a piece of the after-life puzzle answering individual questions like what is a spirit body like an This is the best book that I have read in several years. Each chapter is a piece of the after-life puzzle answering individual questions like what is a spirit body like and are there cities in paradise? What a wonderful compilation of early church Mormon history this is. The stories are eerily similar. Maybe eerily is the wrong word - I found it absolutely testimony building that all the accounts concurred with one another.
These people who died and went to the other side and came back to tell us what they experienced did not know one another, but as I read their accounts I was stunned at the similarities. As I read the pages my life-long fear of dying dissipated. These Mormon pioneers described the freedom they felt as their spirits separated from their bodies, the joy they felt in the world with other kindred spirits, and the peace they felt in their passing and I found myself looking forward to the experience.
For me that is a huge breakthrough. I cannot even explain my phobia of dying, its been debilitating at times. I am truly grateful to Marlene for writing this book and helping me have a greater understanding of my life now and into the eternities. This book has power in its pages.
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After getting acquainted with just the first few chapters I felt like I was on hallowed ground just viewing the cover. I didn't even have to open it to feel inspired although I did as frequently as was possible in receiving this balm to my soul.
These stories are sacred like the temple and I am so grateful they have been shared. Apr 19, Brooke Berry rated it really liked it. The book is an easy read, and I like that rather than being a compilation of short stories in an unorganized manner, they are sorted by topic. It strikes a cord with me when stories reflect similar experiences, when the two people didn't live at the same time. For instance, when I read Heaven Is For Real , the boy tells of seeing his mother and father in different rooms, looking over his body from above, and remembered details he could have never known if he hadn't experienced what he did.
Nie The book is an easy read, and I like that rather than being a compilation of short stories in an unorganized manner, they are sorted by topic. Nie Nie mention's in her book, Heaven Is Here, that when she was in a coma for months, she was able to talk to her desceased grandma and was given a choice as to whether or not to come back and raise her kids.
All of these experiences were shared by people in the 's and are told in this story. I find it comforting and inspiring to read these collections, and I love the conversations this book has sparked with my own family. Jun 16, Jodi rated it it was amazing Shelves: