Dear 5x5x5 Readers,
Congratulations, you made it through the book of Mark! Studies show that it takes three weeks to establish a new habit, so I hope that by now you have a regular time and place for your reading and prayer time! Personally, I sit in a big chair in my bedroom at 6 AM every morning, sipping on my coffee and taking a moment to read and pour out my heart to the Lord.
We start the book of Acts today. Acts gives us the transition from the life of Christ to the new church. It introduces Paul and explains how a minority religion crossed the sea to Rome, the capital of the ruling empire. The reader of Acts will visit key cities sprinkled throughout the Mediterranean, meet the principle leaders of a new movement, and get a taste of the types of problems the will preoccupy early churches.
The book opens in Jerusalem, during the Pentecost holiday. Jesus’ last recorded words on earth are in Acts 1:8 “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts faithfully follows this outline: The first seven chapters show the church in Jerusalem, the next five chapters are in Judea and Samaria, and the remainder of the book follows the spread of the gospel to the outposts of the Roman empire.
In Acts you will meet Peter and Paul, read a series of 18 speeches, and encounter all kinds of exciting events like riots, prison breaks, and shipwrecks. It reads like a novel, wherever the disciples went the action swirled. If you can, try to link visits to each city with later letters written to the church in that city. It’s interesting!
As you read Acts, try to create a character profile of the new church… What is it like? What do its people do? How are they strong? Weak? How are they like (or unlike) our church today?