Event(s): The upper room prayer meeting; Matthias is chosen to replace Judas
Today’s Text: Acts 1:12-26
Tomorrow’s Text: Acts 2:1-13
Many historians believe this Upper Room is the same place where the disciples had previously shared in the Lord’s Supper and where Jesus had washed the disciple’s feet (John 13). God’s presence is not limited to a space or specific location, but there is something truly special about having a designated place where we spend time with Him. Again, let’s look at some specific things that stand out about today’s text:
Acts 1:12 “a Sabbath’s day journey” What did that mean? A Sabbath’s day journey was the distance of a little over half a mile (2,000 cubits). The expression was used to indicate how far a Jew could travel without it becoming work, and thereby transgressing the laws surrounding the Sabbath. The limit (which had been set by the Rabbis) was determined by using the same distance that God had instructed Joshua to keep between the children of Israel and the ark of the covenant (which was to go ahead of the people) when they were getting ready to enter the Promise Land. (See Joshua 3:4)
Acts 1:14 “with one accord” This phrase is used eleven times throughout the book of Acts. To translate it from the Greek, we must use two words which mean “same” and “mind”. In other words, one of the things that strongly unified this group of disciples was their like-mindedness. They were each unique in their own way, however their focus was unified and clear. This directed their prayers and supplications.
Prayer is communication with God. Supplication means to earnestly ask someone for something and speaks to a passionate zeal and hunger that fuels our prayers. Supplications are not a different type of prayer being offered, but rather speaks to the attitude and condition of the heart of the one praying.
Acts 1:24 “You O Lord, who know the hearts of all” Both of the men who were nominated for this position were qualified. They had seen Jesus baptized and were witnesses to His resurrection. But the disciples wanted to ensure that whomever was chosen for this position was more importantly, appointed by God. (See 1 Samuel 16:7)
Acts 1:26 “and they cast their lots…” Casting lots was a common practice used to render final decisions. It was a method that dates back to Old Testament times in cases where the people had to make an important decision, but could not be certain of God’s will, due to a lack of guidance or wisdom. Either pebbles or sticks would be marked and then tossed into an open area, and the final decision was rendered. (Much like we would “toss a coin” and call heads or tails.)
This is the last record we have of this method ever being used by the early church. Because following the baptism of the Holy Spirit, it was no longer necessary. Once the Spirit indwells believers, He personally leads and guides us.
As we read through the book of Acts, one thing that becomes increasingly evident is the priority the disciples gave to prayer. Their “acts” were fueled by the power of God which they accessed in their prayer life. As we’ll read soon, it was during a time of prayer that God ushered in a move that changed them, and the world, forever.
Oftentimes, we can overcomplicate what prayer is. Unfortunately, this causes many to avoid it altogether. But prayer is simply about keeping open lines of communication with God. Sometimes we answer the call, other times we initiate it. But there is always an exchange that leaves us transformed and empowered.
Could it be that the only thing standing between where you are now and where you could be is a conversation, waiting to be had, with the Lord of heaven’s armies? What one thing can you do today to stir up the level of passion for prayer in your heart? Once you know what it is, act on it.