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Dear Theophilus, Acts: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church (ebook)

Dear Theophilus, Acts: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church (ebook)

Capture the excitement and passion of the early church.

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What can today’s church learn from the early church?

Step into the world of Jesus’s first church with DEAR THEOPHILUS ACTS. In this insightful 40-day Bible study, teacher Peter DeHaan delves into the historical and spiritual significance of the book of Acts to provide valuable perspectives for today’s church.

As we journey through the book of Acts, we embrace the compelling narrative of Jesus’s followers as they navigate the uncharted territory of spreading the gospel. Luke, a non-Jewish writer, offers a fresh perspective that can resonate with those on the outside looking in, much like many of us today.

From the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to the trials and triumphs of the New Testament church, each day’s study offers a deep dive into the lessons and challenges faced by the early believers.

Delve into topics such as church leadership, prayer, miracles, disagreements, and the power of the Holy Spirit. In this way, DEAR THEOPHILUS ACTS provides relevant insights that can inform and inspire modern-day believers in their faith journey.

This Bible study is perfect for both personal reflection and group study. Bonus sections enhance your understanding of key themes and passages in Acts.

Whether you’re a seasoned believer or a newcomer to the faith, DEAR THEOPHILUS ACTS offers a discerning view on the timeless truths found in the book of Acts and their relevance for today’s church.

Join us on this transformative journey through the early church. Uncover the enduring legacy of Luke’s writing. And discover how we can impact others for Jesus in our own communities today.

Get your copy of DEAR THEOPHILUS ACTS to begin your journey.

[This book has also been published as Tongues of Fire.] 


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40-Day Bible Study Series, book 2 (but you can read in any order)

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All About Acts

Acts is one of the sixty-six books in the Protestant Bible. It details the actions (“the Acts”) of Jesus’s band of followers. As such, Acts supplies a compelling narrative of life in the early church as it emerges after Jesus’s execution.

Authored by Doctor Luke, Acts records the work of Jesus’s followers as they navigate unmapped territory. It forms a new faith perspective based on the teachings of Jesus and the supporting work of the Holy Spirit. Luke gives a valuable narrative to inform us and to reform our church practices. As a Gentile, Luke is also an outsider to Judaism—just like most of us.

As the narrative in Acts progresses, we see Luke sometimes shifting from a third-person perspective, that of a reporter, to a first-person point of view as a participant. Though the good doctor writes his first book, Luke, as an outsider, he emerges in his second book, Acts, as an insider, where he takes part in the work of Paul to develop Jesus’s church.

Clearly Luke, the former reporter, has become a follower of Jesus and part of his growing community of believers. This book explores what Luke shares in his informative description about the early church in the book of Acts, which can teach us much about faith and inform our church practice.

Each of Luke’s two books, Luke and Acts, address Theophilus.

We don’t know who Theophilus is, only that Luke writes both of his books to Theophilus so that he may know for sure what others had taught him about Jesus.

Luke has two notable traits to make him ideal for this task. First, as a doctor, he’s a trained observer. This makes him an ideal investigative reporter for Theophilus.
Second, as a non-Jew, Luke has a fresh take on the subject, without historical baggage to distract him on his mission.

This helps Theophilus, and it helps us.

What steps are we willing to take to help someone, like Theophilus, know for certain what they were taught?

[Discover more about Theophilus in Luke 1:1–4 and Acts 1:1–2.] 

* * *
1: Wait for It

Acts 1:1–8

“Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.” (Acts 1:4)

Acts picks up where the book of Luke ended. As with many sequels, Acts opens with a review of what happened in the first book. Again addressing Theophilus, Luke references his first letter, which we call Luke, the third book in the New Testament.

Here’s the recap: In the forty days between Jesus’s resurrection and his return to heaven, he appears to his followers many times. He proves he’s alive and reminds them about the kingdom of God. Slowly, things begin to click for them. Jesus isn’t a military leader who will overthrow the Roman rule. He’s a spiritual revolutionary to fulfill God’s plan for humanity, set in motion before time began.

Finally, Jesus’s teaching starts to take on new meaning. The misconceptions of his followers’ prior thinking fall away. But it takes time to reorient their perspective from the physical world to a spiritual reality. When one of his followers asks if Jesus is ready to restore Israel as a nation, his answer is “not now.” The timing is secret.
Instead, Jesus tells his followers to wait.

Waiting is counter to our modern-day thinking. Delay represents lost opportunity. We must maintain momentum to propel our cause forward. Yet Jesus says, “Wait.” It seems ill-advised. However, much of what Jesus says is contrary to human wisdom. We should expect the unexpected from Jesus. If he says to wait, this shouldn’t cause dismay. Sometimes inaction is the best action—especially when God says to delay.

From a human perspective, they should organize, plan, and deploy across the region to tell others about Jesus. They have experience going out two-by-two. Jesus trained them to do just that. They seem ready, but Jesus says to wait.

Wait for a special gift promised by Papa: a new kind of baptism, a supernatural anointing. While John uses water, this new baptism will be with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will empower them to tell others about Jesus.
This new baptism doesn’t have the tangible use of water but the intangible power of Spirit. Yet the two are connected, for the Holy Spirit shows up when John baptizes Jesus with water.

Consider John’s baptism. He lowers people into the water, submerges them, and lifts them out. John’s baptism symbolically parallels death, burial, and resurrection. Cleansing takes place. It’s a powerful, beautiful imagery.

When Jesus emerges from the waters of his baptism, heaven opens and the Holy Spirit, in a visible form that resembles a dove, comes upon him. God’s voice booms. He confirms Jesus as his son, whom he loves and whose actions he affirms. In this case, Jesus’s water baptism links to the Holy Spirit.

This foreshadows what is to come for his disciples with the promised gift of the Holy Spirit.
While different streams of Christianity explain the Holy Spirit’s work in different ways, with varying present-day implications, we should use what happened then to inform our understanding and practices now.

Do we need to reconsider the role of the Holy Spirit in our life and our church to better align with the Bible?

[Discover more about the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:38, Acts 10:44–45, Acts 11:15–16, Acts 19:2–6, Romans 15:13, 1 Corinthians 6:19, and Jude 1:20–21.] 

Meet Author Peter DeHaan

Peter DeHaan, PhD, often makes religious people squirm, but spiritual seekers cheer. He’s not trying to be provocative, but he seeks truth, even if it makes some people uncomfortable. He yearns for Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

Peter earned his doctorate, awarded with high distinction, from Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary. He lives with his wife in beautiful Southwest Michigan and wrangles crossword puzzles in his spare time.

Learn more about Peter