The Act of WAIT (Acts 1)

I’m preaching a sermon series through the book of Acts for the Sunday evening worship gathering at the church I attend.  The plan is to take a chapter-by-chapter look at what act God would be calling us to take as we learn to apply His Word to our life.  Tonight’s sermon took a look at Acts 1 and asked, “What do I do when God calls me to wait?”.

Waiting can be an important part of life if we embrace the usefulness that God has in it for us.  It was this time of waiting in Acts 1 that God uses to change the disciples from the scared, run away from trouble, group of men at the arrest and trial of Jesus to the bold, confident preachers of Acts 2!  So, what can we learn from them about what to do when God says, “Wait”?

  • Worship:  Central to our being able to learn from having to wait is our ability to worship God and connect to Him as our God.  Worship is simply using our time to acknowledge and express to God his worth.  While we often associate worship with singing and music, it ought to be much bigger and broader than just that.  As they gathered to wait, the disciples of Jesus expressed their worship through constant prayer.  Sometimes God calls us to wait because we need to strengthen our connection with Him and learn to truly worship Him before He can do the work through us that He desires.
  • Accept:  Having to wait also gives us the time necessary to accept what was, or what has happened, in the past and be able to look forward to changes God may require.  The disciples needed time to accept that Jesus really had resurrected from the dead then ascended into heaven.  I wonder how long they would have stayed staring into the sky if God had not sent the two messengers to tell them Jesus had ascended into heaven and would return in the future.  It was through the accepting of the return of Jesus to heaven that they would be open to God immersing them in His Spirit.  Often God calls us to wait because there are things we need to deal with and accept before He can do the work in us that He desires.
  • Inspect:  Waiting also gives us an opportunity to inspect God’s Word and see how our actions stack up against it.  As the disciples inspected scripture during their time of waiting, it helped them to understand why Judas had acted the way he  did and also pointed out their need to select someone to take his place as an apostle.  Inspecting is a powerful tool to refine and improve the way we do life if we use God’s Word as our inspection standard.  Many times God calls us to wait because there are areas of our life that we need to inspect with the magnifying glass of God’s Word before He can fully mold us into His image.
  • Train:  Many times we are not ready for what is next and God has us wait so we can complete the necessary training.  As the book of Acts opens, the disciples have been given their assignment, the same assignment that you and I have been given — “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”  (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV)  The command was given yet they were still told to wait — they still needed training, in their case immersion in the Holy Spirit, before God could accomplish His intended work through them.  God often calls us to wait because there is training that He needs to do in us before He can accomplish His intended work in and through us.

If you’re like me, you don’t like to wait.  I pray that when you consider what God did in the lives of the disciples as He called them to wait, you would embrace the act of waiting when God wants to use it to accomplish amazing things in your life!

What Am I Here For?

What was the purpose of thatWhy did that happen?  What am I here for?

These questions, and many more just like them, seem to constantly roll around our mind as we try to figure out reason and purpose.  So many times, we think we finally have it figured out, only to have something else happen that makes it clear we don’t really know.  How often do we turn to God and simply listen?  Not listening for the “why?”, but listening for the “what’s next?”.  Listening in order to trust more than to understand.  As we listen, more often than not, we will find that our feeble attempts to make sense out of, and explain, a situation falls short of being what really is.

I see this in today’s text from Acts 1:6-8,

“So when they met together, they asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?'”
“He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'”

The disciples had been on a roller-coaster of emotions following Jesus.  They had experienced the highs and lows of learning and ministering.  They had been there when Lazarus was raised from the dead.  They had watched the crowds hail Jesus as their king and messiah.  They listened to the words of Jesus about His purpose on earth, and often just didn’t get it.  They fought and they argued.  They loved and they served.  They slept as Jesus prayed and they ran as He was arrested.  They heard the crowds cry, “Crucify Him!”  They watched as He was led up the hill and nailed to a cross.  They hid in fear and they doubted they would ever see Jesus again. 

Yet they did see Him again!  They walked with Him They talked with Him.  They ate with Him.  They rejoiced with Him.  And in the midst of all that, they tried to figure out the “why?” — the purpose behind all Jesus had gone through.  And so we come to the first chapter of Acts, to the last physical meeting of the disciples and Jesus here on earth.  The disciples come to Jesus asking about their take on what had occurred and what was to happen next.  And so they ask, I believe anticipating a yes answer — the only answer that would make sense out of what they had seen and heard.  “Jesus, is now the time you will restore Your Kingdom here on earth?”  “Do we finally get to see the fruit of what You’ve gone through, the results of all we have worked for?”  “The cost was so great, this has to be why!”

So, the response of Jesus probably comes as a surprise.  It shouldn’t have.  It is what Jesus had been saying throughout His ministry.  It was why He had invested time and energy into making disciples.  Jesus says, “No, this isn’t about restoring the kingdom here on earth, it is about you being my witness throughout the earth!”  There it is.  We know the ultimate purpose of the death, burial, and resurrection was to bring salvation to mankind, but did He really need to have disciples like He did to accomplish that?  The purpose — if the disciples were asking, “What am I here for?” — was made clear.  All that they had seen and heard, all they had endured and experienced, was to prepare them to be witnesses for Jesus to the ends of the earth.  Jesus had accomplished what He had come to earth for.  Now it was time for the disciples to begin doing the work they had been prepared to do.

How about you and I?  When life is full of joy, sorrow, challenges, fear, excitement, and everything else life throws our way, what do we do with it?  Often times, like the disciples, we try to make sense out of it using our own logic and wisdom.  Many more times, I think God would give us the same answer that the disciples got — you’ve gone through what you’ve experienced so that you can be My witnesses throughout the world.  Each experience we have in life gives us an opportunity to see Jesus at work in us personally.  Every incident has the potential to prepare us to be a better witness.  Our trials and our joys are not about us — it is all about Him!

Whatever we go through — when you and I try to figure it out, may the question constantly be at the top of our mind, “How does this help me be a more effective witness for Jesus?”  When we’re in the midst of life asking, “What am I here for?”, may we hear God saying clearly and directly, “You are My witness!”