Acts – Chapter 2

Introduction

Another great day to study God’s word together with great men! Today our focus was on Acts Chapter 2. This chapter has 47 verses and it’s primary focus is on how that time period was the fulfillment of many Old Testament prophecies. It is also focussed on the Holy Spirit infiltrating people’s lives and changing them from the inside out. Their whole being changed and they started to interact as a true community of believers now. Once again, it’s easy to get caught up in the details of chapter 2 but I believe a high level view of this chapter is important to grasp because it is pivotal to how we understand the Old to New Testament transition. Let’s get started!

Context

The context of chapter 2 takes place in Jerusalem during Pentecost. V5 states this, “Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.

Observe

Chapter 2 is full of content which provides many observational talking points. The book is categorized into three main parts; The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost, Peter Addresses the Crowd, and The Fellowship of Believers. In the first section we discussed how all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t say some, rather all were speaking in tongues as the Spirit led them. This is a reference to all Christians, Jew and Gentile.

We also observed that the Old Testament scriptures were being fulfilled, specifically Joel 2:28-32, ”

The Promise of the Spirit

28 [a]It will come about after this
That I will pour out My Spirit on all [b]mankind;
And your sons and daughters will prophesy,
Your old men will dream dreams,
Your young men will see visions.
29 “Even on the male and female servants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

The Day of the Lord

30 “I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth,
Blood, fire and columns of smoke.
31 “The sun will be turned into darkness
And the moon into blood
Before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.
32 “And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Will be delivered;
For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
There will be those who escape,
As the Lord has said,
Even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.

See also: Psalm 16:8-11, and Psalm 110:1.

Meaning

The focal point of this chapter clearly depicts Jesus of Nazareth as the culmination of the Old Testament prophecies. All scripture hinges on Christ as the long awaited for messiah and the head of the church. The difference between the great patriarch, King David, and Jesus is that they still had David’s body in a tomb, whereas Jesus had risen and all could witness this and testify to this great miracle.

V29 “[ab]Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is [ac]with us to this day. 30 And so, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one [ad]of his descendants on his throne, 31 he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of [ae]the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh [af]suffer decay. 32 This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses…”

The logical conclusion for the people was to repent, be baptised, and receive the Holy Spirit. It is recorded that about three thousand souls were added that day. Their sense of community and fellowship was a direct result of a spirit infused heart. Their minds were sharpened by “continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and [ao]to prayer.” according to verse 42.

Application

The Christian should respond to this chapter with great assurance that Jesus has fulfilled all of the messianic prophecies and that only God could perform that act. Where man fell short, far short, the God-man stepped into history and accomplished a perfect, sinless, spotless life to be sacrificed on the cross for our sins. The good news is that he is not still in his tomb, he has risen from the dead! A Christian should be overcome with gladness, adoration, thanksgiving, and joy!

The unbeliever should be shaken to their core at this message. It lays out specific evidences that Christ was a real man who walked this earth, there were real eye witnesses who testified to his resurrection, and no-one could ever accomplish all of the Old-testament prophesies that Christ fulfilled. To the unbeliever I say, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Now go and study the scriptures to see for yourself.

Company Analysis of Möbius

Möbius Learning is a custom eLearning company that specializes in content creation and delivery systems. Möbius is able to transform any technical subject matter – medical devices, machine tools, cutting tools, lean, math, quality solutions – into clear and concise training. Möbius is dedicated to providing their clients with a world-class workforce through the delivery of superior instructional design and highly interactive technology. From a rapid turnaround project to one that is large and complex, Möbius can create an employee training program that can meet any training need.

I am a Co-Founder and managing partner at Möbius. We have currently see no end in sight to our production of eLearning development. In fact, every year we see a growing need for cost effective, customized, training solutions from companies all over the world. E-learning is in high demand for many companies who cannot find the time or money to send their employees off to week long employee training seminars or employee development programs. For most schools and businesses, traditional “brick and mortar” learning has been replaced by self-paced, cost effective, online courseware.

As we will see, my business and the field of work we are in has a demand side that is growing and a supply side that is efficient. The use of technology has allowed us to see increases in productivity while our work force remains the same. This is leading to an increase in profitability for the company. From another perspective, the demand from schools, companies, etc, has increased every year, allowing us to be more competitive with our pricing models. There are currently not enough development companies out there right now to keep up with the demand for quality training. If you have an elearning business, it’s not hard to find work right now if you know where to look. Overall, Möbius has an economically sustainable business model and the profitability is in line with markets across the globe. However, as time and technology advance, new methods and quicker development will challenge the business model of Möbius. In order to stay profitable, we will need to keep on eye on the latest advances in technology and monitor the needs of clients as they change in this rapidly evolving economy.

Supply Side: Production Technology

As Möbius looks to increase our current productivity, it is necessary that we consider the supply side of the business. When we consider Callahan’s statement that, “The wellspring of human action is dissatisfaction”, we realize that our chief end of the company is to be continually growing. If we are able to improve our situation every step of the day, then we fit the model that Callahan was referring to. We are making a concentrated effort to improve our working conditions and the motivation is dissatisfaction with the way technology allows us to work now.

More and more businesses are cutting overhead by the rapid advances of technology. Consider “the Cloud”, a storage server space for electronic files somewhere out in space, the end user is able to access his/her files from anywhere. If you look back just 10 years, servers could cost a company thousands of dollars to purchase, thousands more to maintain, and the amount of space was limited. Not to mention the files could only be accessed by people connected to the server locally, this means that people cannot work remotely. At Möbius, we strive to keep ourselves current with modern software and hardware. For example, cloud-based computing has allowed has allowed us to hire employees who work remotely so we save money on the cost of housing employees and purchasing hardware and software. From an efficiency standpoint, we have put in place a system that is profitable for us right now and will continue to be as long as we always looks for news ways to improve each production process.

Supply Side: Input Mix

Möbius is a different style of company than a manufacturing company, or a home producer. We have very little overhead and tend to have minimal input to our production of online learning. Whereas a manufacturing company may have an input mix of steel and iron, we really only have research and software to compare it to. We could make the argument that the cost of software raising each year is affecting the cost of our inputs. As we search for cheaper, more efficient, software, the ratio of input to output grows larger, making us more profitable. One example from our software is that we decided to invest in a yearly subscription to an online course builder that costs us $1,500/yr/3 licences, totaling $4,500/yr. Compare that to our former software that was $450/license, totaling $1350/year. The math doesn’t make sense at this point until I account for the real cost of our choice. We evaluated the new online software and realized that it would save us up to 1.5 months of work in a year. That’s roughly a $45k cost savings for the company in a year. The value of the new online software was a no brainer. Our input was more expensive but out output was extremely more profitable.

Supply Side: Sustainable Competitive Advantage

In technology, a competitive advantage is an imperative to survive. At the rate of technological changes occurring in the eLearning world, if you don’t adapt or try to beat the competitor to the punch line, you may be out of business before you can blink your eyes. At Möbius, our software and highly skilled programmers are very valuable. The more we invest in new software, the greater the outcome of business grows. We also invest in top programmers and developers to enhance our productivity through code. We have found that much of our competition is stuck in old technology. For example, we know of one eLearning company that doesn’t have the manpower to produce courses that are compatible for Apple’s iPad’s. We are capable to take their content and make it ready for cross-platform devices, including the iPad. The only way we can do this is through the purchasing of new software and investing in our programmer’s education.

Demand Side: Market Structure

From an E-learning perspective, Möbius would be in a Monopolistic competition, where there is a competitive market, with a large number of firms, all of them having a small proportion of the market share and slightly differentiated products.

Demand Side: Major Competitors

We can identify at least 5-8 small organizations that develop E-learning content for different sectors of the workforce in just the local area of Indianapolis. Each firm has a special niche in the market, for example, we have workforce education, another may have culinary arts, while still another may be developing content for Universities in general.

Demand Side: Differentiated Product Line

We understand that we can produce content for any subject matter there is, however, our strength and connections are in the workforce realm. Our product line differs from the competitors in the fact that we offer a more comprehensive product. Most E-learning companies state up front that they are content focused and will have the buyer supply the original content and SME research for the project. Our competitors would then take that content and develop it into a finished product to be delivered back to the company. We separate ourselves in the area of research and development by sending our Subject Matter Experts SME’s onto the field to research a process, software, machine, CNC, etc. and gather the content into an organized storyboard. Once this Phase 1 is complete, we then begin to develop the content into a finished product. We differentiate ourselves by becoming a one-stop-shop for businesses that do not have time or money to spend on this process. Callahan would classify this as a division of labor to some extent because , “not everyone comes to the table with the same capabilities”. This combination of a niche market and division of labor has allowed us to become a leader in the area of training in the workforce education world.

Demand Side: Create and Sustain Competitive Advantage

From a competitive advantage standpoint, we can do many things well. We can develop content for any industry, market products, build websites efficiently, develop apps, supply learning management systems, and so on. However, due to time and money, we see that there is a competitive advantage in being really good at just one of those things. Our advantage is in R&D for complex processes in the manufacturing world. Callahan references Michael Jordan as a house painter. In it he states that, “Jordan has a comparative advantage in basketball, while his painter has a comparative advantage in house painting.” Jordan’s advantage is in his pay rate. Similar, we would not stop to work on a website for $2,500 when we can create a CNC programming course for a major manufacturing company for $85,000+.

Economic Environment: Important Industry Characteristics

Some characteristics of the online training world might include things like a constantly changing device output such as tablets, smart phones, PC’s, etc. The economic environment is more than cash, it’s the “natural” resources and materials that will be available now and in the future of E-learning. This industry is changing by the minute and it is important that a company is always looking ahead for opportunities to present itself as the leader of the pack in technology, year-in, year-out.

Economic Environment: Important Macroeconomic Characteristics

From a macroeconomics standpoint, there are many issues facing this economy, including a deficiency in skilled programmers, inflation, economic growth, and international online policies. With the future of education trending towards online, self-paced learning and further away from “brick and mortar”, we plan to see a continued rise in the demand for online content within the years to come.

Biblical Perspective:

From a biblical perspective, Möbius is ran by Christian men. This alone does not make the company a success! However, it is a foundation to start a company that finds value from God first. In Callahan’s book, he talks about how the classical economists were plagued by their inabilities to construct a coherent theory of value. I struggle with the idea that dissatisfaction is what motivates a Christian man to get better at something. Shouldn’t our motivation be that we are trying to make the Lord look glorious? When I read passages like, 1 Timothy 6:6 “But godliness with contentment is great gain”, I ask myself, “if I am dissatisfied in my circumstances, how can I be content instead?” As an owner of a company, I want to be primarily driven by a desire for godly gain first of all. Once I have understood contentment as a Christian, I then can focus on the “dissatisfaction” in the company processes and see them in a whole new light. My human action will be driven by a desire to please God first of all and a desire to glorify him in finding solutions to process improvements.

I also appreciate Callahan’s biblical quote of, “How does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?” From a business perspective the term “profit” may not always be monetary. Whatever choices we make as business owners, specifically for the direction of the company, it will always be with an expectation that there is profit in the end, whether we become a global player in the economy or our business runs dry, we can still work for the glory of God and find profit in our toil.

Jake Mansfield
05/21/2013

Resource: Resource Link

Acts – Chapter 1

Introduction

It is always wonderful to gather and study the scriptures with men who are chasing after God’s own heart. Today, our men’s study group, met at Panera Bread at 7am to discuss our assigned reading of Acts chapter 1. Yes, that is early for me! As we read the text we were instructed to read with the acronym C.O.M.A. in mind to help us focus. COMA is short for Context, Observe, Meaning, & Application. Our discussion centered around these four points and it helped guide our conversation towards things that were meaningful in chapter 1 in which I probably would not have otherwise pulled from the text with a quick read through.

Context

The context of Acts 1 hinges on the closing of the Old Testament Jewish covenant and the New Testament covenant in Christ. We see that the disciples and followers of Christ were beginning to wonder what was next. Would Jesus begin his earthly kingdom now? So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” v6 – Their minds and hearts were not ready for how Jesus would respond to their questions. In fact Jesus’ response is somewhat vague. He states, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…v7-8a.

The context also surrounds the replacement of Judas. Who will fill his role as the twelfth disciple after he betrayed Jesus? There is a selection process that is taking place in this chapter and it is here for a reason. The mission is to, “be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” For this to take place, the disciples needed to be equipped and ready to go forward with the mission. It only makes sense that the twelve tribes of Judea would all be represented with the new member, Matthias v26

Observe

We discussed several observations that, at first glance, might be overlooked. It is interesting that “casting lots” v26 was a method used to pick the newest member of the disciples. Was this some sort of gambling, mysticism, or superstition they used to  make a decision? Were they so “in tune” with the Holy Spirit that they could trust that he was guiding the dice in the right way so they would have a clear answer? We concluded that this was not a matter of making a decision of right or wrong, but of right or right. Earlier in verse 24, God had already given his seal of approval for the right candidate, “And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen…” The idea is that God knew the right person for the job and they were simply revealing his choice.

A second observation was made about the qualifications for the twelfth apostle. In verse 21, the author Luke points out that this man should have very specific requirements. He states, “So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” Suddenly the selection of men dwindled down to two choices.

We also observed that “casting lots” is probably not a prescription for believers today, rather it is a description of what went on at that special and unique time in Biblical history. We agreed that this method of making a choice was probably not well suited for us today because we have the Holy Spirit living in us, working through our consciences, according to the scriptures.

Meaning

After reading through chapter 1, it was clear that this chapter is about two subjects, the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives and the mission of the Apostles in that time period. When Jesus ascended into heaven, he left for us his Holy Spirit, the third person in the Trinity, to give us power v8. All believers now posses the Holy Spirit and have a power that is not of this earth. That power enabled the apostles to go to the ends of the earth preaching the Gospel and it enables us today to do the same thing.

Application

How does chapter 1 apply to us today? We can start by being grateful that Christ did not “leave us as orphans” to be stranded on our own. He provided his Spirit to guide us in all things pertaining to truth and life.

We can wait patiently for the Lord’s return. Verses 10b-11 reminds us that Christ is coming again, “two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.

We can marvel at God’s design. As you read chapter 1, recognize that nearly 10k years of Biblical history and prophecy are coming to a close and a transition is taking place that will shape and mold the design of God’s bride, his church. The grand weaver of time is setting the stage for the greatest story ever told and chapter 1 is smack-dab in the middle of it all. Be excited and amazed that you are apart of His-story!