"Work While You Wait"
For the apostles, the ascension of Jesus must have felt like the end. But what were they to do while they waited for Jesus to return?
Work While You Wait
A. How many of you have ever been in a class that has studied the book of Acts? If you have not been in a class on Acts, I would guess most all of you have read the book of Acts. It is a wonderful book that is often called “church history.” I understand that category and respect it, but I believe we can relegate this divine letter as something about how the church began, not how Christians live today. I want us to explore this letter in a fresh new way.
B. I am excited to being a new study of God’s word with you today. But I want these next six months to be a congregational challenge. I pray that God convicts each of us to action, repentance and understanding as His word is unfolded. Our time of worship is somewhat divided between praise to God and hearing from God through avenue of preaching. I don’t stand before you as someone who has a special ear of God. I believe I stand before you as one who has been given the time to study the text maybe more deeply than you have had the change to study it in the past week. God can use preaching to motivate us to hear God speak through the Bible and desire to live in closer harmony with him.
C. I have found that it is helpful for me to see the Bible in a personal manner. I put myself into the people because I know they really are no different than I am. I want to both experience what they experienced and understand what God is giving me in knowledge. So I come to this opening chapter of Acts and I find myself drawn to the disciple. Think the emotions they must have experienced. These are men who had been with Jesus for at least two years. They heard the stories he told, they listened to his teachings, saw his miracles, experience his love and compassion. Then, when it seemed like he was coming into Jerusalem at Passover to become king, they watched as he was beaten, heard the cries to execute him, and saw him die on a cross. Over the last 40 days they had seen a resurrected Jesus; they again heard him teach about the kingdom of God and on one occasion contemplated what he meant when he reminded them that soon they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit. But they had one great question, “Is it time now for the kingdom to be restored?”
I. Kingdom of God
A. This must have been the time. The Messianic Kingdom. They had heard Jesus pray and teach them to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” You know that prayer.
B. Now with the resurrection and this continued talk of the Holy Spirit, the agent of power in the Godhead, this must be the time that Jesus is going to bring Israel into a new political kingdom. Free from the shackles of Rome. Free from the oppression of nations around them. A kingdom united as in the days of Saul, David and Solomon; a great and mighty kingdom.
C. But Jesus wants them to think about a different power. Verse 8 has Jesus telling them that they will receive power, not in the sense they thought of a restored kingdom, but in power from the Holy Spirit. When God empowers them, then, in this spiritual kingdom, they will be his witnesses.
D. Jesus then is taken from them and two angels appearing as men ask them, “why do stand looking into the sky?” They had been told by Jesus that he was going away. They had been told that the Holy Spirit would come. They had been told that they were to be his witnesses. But now? What do they do while they wait?
II. Witnessing in the Power of the Holy Spirit
A. The term usually translated “witness” is found 13 times in the book of Acts. The word means to testify. Have you ever felt frustrated in witnessing? We don’t use that word often. Today we talk about evangelism. What often mean is taking a special Sunday to invite people to worship with us, or trying to get someone to sit down and study the Bible with you. Some of you are squirming in your pew right now at the very thought of witnessing.
B. “Oh, not me. I am not that type of person. I don’t stick my nose into people’s religious life. That’s their business.” We have all sorts of reasons for not witnessing, but let me give you one you may have thought to use. Maybe you’re not drunk enough.
C. Eph. 5:15-21. Paul tells us to not be drunk on wine because that type of life only leads to many evils, but instead be filled with Spirit. When a person is drunk they are filled to excess with alcohol. God is calling me to be filled to overflowing the Spirit.
D. It is not good enough to have a little of the Spirit of God in me, I need to be filled with Spirit. It when I am filled with the Spirit that I being to speak out about God. It when I am filled with the Spirit that my heart is filled with music of God. It is when I am filled with the Spirit that I am giving thanks to God in the name of Jesus. It is when I am filled the Spirit that I am submitting to you out of reverence to God.
E. Do you have the power of the Holy Spirit in you? When you were baptized into Christ, Peter tells us in Acts 2, that we receive both the forgiveness of our sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. What empowered Peter to witness on the day of Pentecost? The Holy Spirit. Until I am living a life filled with God the best I will do try to appease my guilt of not having enough Bible studies or inviting enough people to worship. I don’t want to live like that. It would be like cutting your grass with hand clippers.
III. Work While You Wait
A. I would have to guess that as those disciples watched Jesus be taken into the sky their hearts hurt. They were probably confused. They may have questioned when the Holy Spirit was going to come and how he was going to come upon them. What do you do while you wait for the one you love to return?
B. When the Spirit of God came upon them in power on the day of Pentecost they began to be boldly proclaim the resurrected Jesus. They began to witness about what Jesus had said and done. They told people who to live a life that is pleasing to God. They simply could not be quiet. They worked while they waited. They never stopped. There only thing that could stop them was death. When that type of persecution came, the Christians still did not stop talking, they took the message from Jerusalem to Judea to Samaria and to the ends of the earth.
A. As a church we are blessed by God. We have been given a place of worship, people to worship with and spiritual shepherds to mentor us along the way. We don’t come here each week to gaze into the sky, we come here to praise and be encouraged. We leave here to witness to what Jesus has done in our lives.