Aim: Jesus continues His work on earth through the Holy Spirit’s power in believers
Intro: The crowd shouts out in unison: Five, Four, Three, Two, One. A loud noise erupts. It’s over, the job is done, we did it!!
When we hear that description most of us think of a game, like the final minutes of a championship football game, where the whole season has led up to this point, to victory.
We can think along those lines with the introduction to Acts in chapter 1. Jesus is God, born as a man, who walked on this earth. He has fulfilled all of the promise of the prophets. He suffered, died and then defeated death by rising again from the grave. He took on all the sins of the world and of all time, mine and yours included, and paid the price that we could not pay. And now, after spending 40 days again on the earth in a resurrected body, He ascends into heaven. Wow!
But, let’s play over that phrase again, but this time think of it in a different way. The crowd shouts out in unison: Five, Four, Three, Two, One. A loud noise erupts. It’s over, the job is done, we did it!!
What if, instead of a football game, this is describing a rocket launch. While the earthly work is finished, the mission has just begun, and what if that mission includes an ultimate return to earth. What a marvelous day that will be!
1st Division: Acts 1: 1-8 The Holy spirit is promised:
Principle: When God provides the direction He also provides the power
Illustration: You are so excited. Your class has been studying for weeks about tigers and today is the big day, you get to go to the tiger preserve and see and touch a real, live tiger. You have your sack lunch, water bottle, camera, notebook, 2 sharpened pencils, just in case. You climb on the bus with all your friends and the bus pulls away from the school, but 1 block away, it runs out of gas.
This doesn’t happen with God. When He prepares us and sends us on a mission, He always makes sure we have the power to not only get there, but also to do the job. The jobs God has for us are big jobs, sometimes way bigger than we could ever do on our own, but he provides the Holy Spirit to give us the power to do it right.
Just like our body needs fuel every day, so does our soul. Are you filling up your tank in the word every day, or just sometimes?
Do you understand that your thoughts and words that say “I can’t” really mean “I won’t” since God gives you the power to do it?
What are you trying and failing to move with the power of your own 2 feet, when God has given you the keys to a 4 wheel drive, 454 cubic foot, v8 engine with a hemi, towing package and duellies?
Division 2: Acts 1:9-11 – He’s coming back!
Illustration: We think of the Apostles as amazing men of faith who suffered through great hardship and suffering for the mission of furthering the kingdom of God. While that is true, it is also very fun to see that, at times, they are clueless num-nuts who require not one, but two angels to fill them in on what is actually going on. They are standing here, asking about Israel being returned to power over Roman rule, Jesus gives them a final instruction then ascends, bodily, to heaven. 11 guys standing there, staring up into the sky, mouths open. When 2 MIW’s (men in white) show up at their side to say, “OK, nothing to look at here folks, move it along… He’s coming back the same way He left. Quite rubberneckin’ and get a move on.”
How many angels does it take to move you along the path that Jesus instructs?
What are you gawking at that is getting in the way of your obedience?
Do you get it that the climax of the story is yet to come?
Division 3: Acts 1:12-26 – The Apostles are finally obedient and do as they were told – they wait.
Principle: Waiting on God’s timing gives us time to pray
Illustration: Listen how well these go together: Patience, Prayer, Power, Praise, Peace. The opposite is impatience, self-reliance, inadequacy, chastising, anxiety. Despite their earlier lack of obedience at the cross, the Apostles follow directions and follow the Lord. That doesn’t mean it is the easier thing to do, they were very fearful in the upper room, but they were clearly relying on God not only to protect them, but even in choosing Matthias as an apostle to replace Judas – no discussion of most eloquent, best dressed, or anything like that – just a reliance on prayer and asking God to choose. What a great example they set for learning from rather than constantly repeating our shortcomings by trusting in and obeying the Lord.
It’s your life – you choose. Which path do you want to take knowing where they lead: obedience or ignorance? If there is any question, look at those words again! Patience, prayer… peace vs. impatience, self-reliance… anxiety/stress.
Who do you want to associate with, the people others see as popular, prestigious, attractive and talented or the ones that God has selected for you to be with? Are you praying for God to bring the right people into your life?
Where do you need to practice more patience in waiting on God’s timing and what are you doing while waiting? Are you praying?
Conclusion: If you think the story of the gospels was cool – you ain’t seen nothing, yet. That paid the price of admission, the next part of the story is still being played out and the big finale is yet to come.