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  • NOW TO HIM WHO IS ABLE - DEVOTING THEMSELVES TO PRAYER



    Devoting Themselves to Prayer

    Acts 1:12-26

     

    (Verses 12-14) Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

     

    Jesus had just ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives, which was about a Sabbath day’s Journey, which is roughly about two thirds of a mile. This distance was what one was allowed to travel on the Sabbath day in accordance to Levitical Law. It is very apparent that God’s hand was upon the disciples to keep them together, history bears out that most times when a leader of a group is taken, lost, or has been killed, they lose followers and or there is a power struggle to see who will be in charge, and in that era movements even died out.  However, this was not the case with the disciples, they obeyed the Lord’s directive given by the messengers God sent and returned to Jerusalem and the upper room.

     

    The upper room itself was not a small space in this particular case; apparently it was a large area that could hold at least 120 people, so maybe it would be safe to say it was about the size our current sanctuary roughly four to five thousand square feet. This room was used on a number of occasions especially the night before Jesus’ betrayal and then by His followers after His ascension. Here in Acts it is of course following the later mentioned where our story picks up as the devote followers of Christ are gathering in obedience to Him as they await the promise of the Holy Spirit. 

     

    There is a word that I wanted to pull out and draw our attention to in verse 14, that is; accord. They were all with one accord! 

     

     

     

    Here is the Strong’s definition of “one accord”.

    Phonetic Spelling:(hom-oth-oo-mad-on')
    Short Definition:with one mind, unanimously
    Definition:with one mind, unanimously, with one accord, at the same time
    .

    3661 /homothymadón ("of the same passion") describes people who share "like precious faith," creating a God-produced unity between them (cf. 2 Pet 1:1,2). Here they "have the same mind" (the Lord's thoughts) because each receives the same revelation of His Word. See this powerful application of 3661 (homothymadón) in Ac 1:14, 2:1,46, 4:24, 5:12, 8:6.

    [There is also the evil manifestation of people having "one passion" – see Ac 7:57, 18:12, 19:29.

    3661 (homothymadón) is also used in Homer, "Wolves and lambs do not have hearts to agree with each other" (Il.22.263, ala Abbott-Smith).]

    Being in “one accord” is a theme that is started here in the first chapter of Acts and is found 10 times and then moves into Romans. Acts 2:46; 4:24; 5:12; 7:57: 8:6; 12:20; 15:25 18:12: 19:29, and in Romans 15:6.

     

    To be in “one accord”, which really is unity, is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit. Remember when Jesus prayed for His disciples back in John 17:6-19?

    “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

    13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

    I believe it was because of this prayer that the disciples were not only held together as a group after the ascension, but that they were also in “one accord” with each other. They all had the same mind as they gathered and prayed together.

    In order to be in “one accord” there is something that we must do as a people who follow God, we must gather together; that is to meet, to fellowship with each other. As we gather together we should unite in prayer, notice that this was not just the disciples but a number of other followers as well. This “one accord” does not just fall on the shoulders of the leaders of the church, but all of those who are called to the body of Christ.

     

    The disciples and other followers had all gone back and gathered together in the upper room as commanded, to wait for the promise of the Holy Spirit. In the mean time while they were waiting Peter points out that the 12 have become 11, and that another should be chosen to full the void left from Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus and hung himself. As Peter brings this up, he also references Old Testament writings to support what he is suggesting that they must do. As he proposes this, the disciples choose two men who have followed since the baptism of John and witnessed the resurrection of Jesus. 

     

    (Acts 1:21-26) “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Mattias. And they prayed and said, “You O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” And they cast lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles. 

     

    Now I must confess that in the past I sort of struggled with this issue of casting lots, simply because I thought it was a lucky roll of the dice. Though it was not dice that they used, dice games did derive from something like casting lots. After a somewhat comprehensive study on casting lots I found that it was mentioned numerous times in the Old Testament to reveal God’s will for instance the choosing of King Saul as seen in 1 Samuel 10:20-24, and also in the priests choosing the order in which they served in the temple, 1 Chronicles 24:5-19. Yes, casting lots can be used sinfully, just like anything else that we have in this world. So, with all that being said, we see the disciples casting lots to see who would fill the position that was left empty to fulfill the prophecy of the Lord, and after praying about it they did cast the lots knowing and trusting that the Lord Himself would ordain the outcome of the lots to fall on the man that He wanted. 

     

    There were two man reasons for the casting of lots.

    Encourage humility: as it causes contentions to cease and keeps the mighty apart. Proverbs 18:18 

    Revealing God’s will to prophet or priest: but this ended along with the Levitical priesthood Hebrews 7:12

    So basically the casting of lots came to an end in the New Testament after the power of the Holy Spirit was given to the church. Instead of trusting in the casting of lots believers trusted in the guidance of the Spirit as they joined in unified prayer.

     

    It is of the utmost importance that we as a people of God be united in “prayer and fellowship” we cannot have that if we are not in “one accord” and it is very difficult if not impossible to do this if we choose not to gather together, as commanded in Hebrews 10:25. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some; but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

     

    So let us live in “one accord” walking in the power of the Holy Spirit as a unified body of Christ!

     

     

     

                                                                                                            

     

  • TO PROCLAIM JESUS - YOU WILL



    Acts of the Holy Spirit Acts 1 1-11

     

     

     

    Today is the first Sunday of 2018.

     

    Are you looking forward to what God will do with us and through us to grow the body of Christ. 

    2018 will be journey through the first century church, the Book of Acts.

     

    NIV calls it ACTS

    King James and NASB calls it Acts of the Apostles

    We see how the apostles spread the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus

    I prefer another title- Acts of the Holy Spirit

     

    3 references to Holy Spirit in first 8 verses, mentioned 58 times in Acts

     

    As we take this trip through Acts you will hear stories of:

     

    ·      miraculous healings, the dead brought back to life, visions, salvations

    ·      shipwrecks, riots, snake bites

    ·      martyrs, trials before governors and kings, persecutions

     

    It is more than a history book, it is lesson on how to live as a Christian; what happens when the church becomes complacent and what happens when it becomes supercharged by the Holy Spirit. Yes, I think it can properly be called the Acts of the Holy Spirit. So let’s dive in. 

     

    Acts 1:1-3

    Luke has written two books, the first is his gospel and now this second book. 

    Both addressed to Theophilus, whose name means “friend or lover of God.” 

    Cool Name! Jim, not so cool

    Assume Theophilus to be a believer

    Luke wants to share a truthful and factual account with him

     

     

    Regardless of who this book was addressed to we must remember that all Scripture was written for our benefit. It is here to help us understand what has taking place in the past and guide us into our future as believers in Jesus Christ.

     

    Luke show Jesus was:

    ·      a man

    ·       the Son of God

    ·      not a myth

    ·      who would die for our sins

    ·      be raised again through the power of the Holy Spirit. 

    In fact it was by the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus was on earth. An angel has come and told Mary that she will have a son.

     

    Luke 1:34-35 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am still a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will called the Son of God.”

     We see a similar account given in the Gospel of Matthew. 

     

    Matthew 1:18This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 

     

    It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus was born and lived.

     

    “Synoptic Gospels” which translates SYN meaning together with and OPTIC meaning seeing, or Seeing Together.

     

    Luke’s gospel provides proof of the resurrection through witness accounts, two then 11, then more, also in Matthew, Mark, and John

     

    Luke did not want any of his readers to doubt the truth of the resurrection. 

     

    Acts 1:4-5

     

    Jesus knows that His time with them is short so He reminds His friends of the promises that He has made to them, that He would not leave them alone.

     

    John 14:15-17 “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to help you and be with you forever-the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”

     

    Imagine what it would be like for the apostle’s when Jesus leaves them if they did not have the Holy Spirit?

    ·      Fear and doubt might creep in. 

    ·      manifests as inaction and a pulling back.  

    ·      not what Jesus plans for His friends, or His church. 

    ·      He wants us to have confidence, to push forward, to share the truth He has given us.

     

    The disciples will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.  All believers will undergo this same baptism. Some say it happens at conversion, others say it come at a different time, when our faith deepens. I am not here to debate when this happens to believers but I am here to say that all believers are given the Holy Spirit to live inside us. 

     

    Ephesians 1:13-14 says, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession-to the praise of His Glory.”

    This is the fulfillment of what Jesus spoke. You will see in another few verses why this is crucial to us.

     

    Acts 1:6-7

     

    Disciples are still thinking and seeing Jesus’ kingdom in worldly terms. 

    Jewish nation awaiting its Messiah, many expect Him to restore the kingdom of Israel on earth. 

     

    Disciples may have been thinking the same way as evidenced by their question. Jesus is trying to growth their thinking and get them looking beyond a worldly view and see the bigger purpose for which He came, died and rose again. Jesus is going to tell them not to think too much about the future but instead be ready for what is about to happen and prepare for that.

     

    Have you ever been given instructions that you clearly heard but made no sense to you? Story about Caroline and I driving in Petaluma.

     

    Sometimes it is hard for us to override what we think and submit to the proper authority and instruction. This maybe what happen when the apostles heard Jesus instruction in verse 4 and 5. They didn’t clear their memory banks and they continue to think in old ways rather than in the new reality that Jesus knew was coming.

     

    ·      Do you find yourself spending time thinking ahead?

    ·      living in a world with a lot of uncertainty. 

    ·      Scriptures tell us there will be war, famines, earthquakes, families against one another, the world turning away from God. 

    ·      Are the end times here?

    ·      Is Jesus’ kingdom coming soon? 

    ·      I don’t know.

    ·      I hope we still have time left to us. Why? 

    ·      Because I don’t think we’ve achieved our mission yet.

     

    Yes, Jesus has a plan for His Kingdom here on earth. But He knows that His death was meant to bring salvation to more than just Israel, the whole world is dying and needs to hear the good news. Jesus has a plan for how to do this. 

     

    Acts 1:8

     

    Is the Christian life difficult? 

    Do you find it a struggle to read the Scriptures? 

    To attend a Bible study? To get here on Sunday morning? 

    Fuel up with the Holy Spirit. 

     

    Jesus did not say that your life was going to be easy! No! In fact He tells us we will face many trials because of our faith. “But you will receive power when the Hold Spirit comes on you”! If you are struggling then you need to listen to the Spirit that God has placed inside you. Maybe you need to get on your knees and be quiet and listen to Him for a change.

     

    The Holy Spirit is coming

    ·      The Advocate,

    ·      the Counselor,

    ·      our Helper.

    ·      When He comes we will receive power. 

    ·      What kind of power? 

    The power to speak, the power to heal, the power to preach, the power to teach.

     

    Jesus calls us to be His witnesses. To tell the world what we know. To share our love for Him and to tell what He has done for us. 

    ·      Not all are called to be evangelist, to win deep theological arguments

    ·      each of us is expected to be a witness, to testify about what the Lord Jesus Christ has done in our lives. 

    ·      That makes many of us very uncomfortable. But it really shouldn’t. 

    If you had won the $450 million MegaBucks or $570 million Power Ball lotteries yesterday, wouldn’t you be sharing the good news with us? If you are sitting here today and Jesus has changed your life why wouldn’t you want to share that with people?

     

    I know that many of us find it difficult to speak about what God has done in our life but we really shouldn’t worry about it. Jesus promises us the Holy Spirit will give us the words to speak.

     

    Luke 12:11-12 “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers, and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

     

    Pastor Warren Weirsbe wrote, “Ordinary people were able to do extraordinary things because the Spirit of God was at work in their lives. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is not a luxury, it is an absolute necessity.” As we go through the book of Acts you will see this to be true.

     

    How far we do we take our witness? 

    ·      Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the ends of the earth.

    Does that mean you have to go overseas to witness? Maybe. God’s calling for each one of us is different.

     

    ·      time we start acting like we believe the Word of God. 

    ·      Share your testimony. 

    ·      Tell somebody about what God has done for you. 

    ·      God gave me a beautiful wife. 

    ·      Guided us on mission trips

    ·      witness to our family

    ·      to people in prison in Uganda

     

    How did all of this come about? He placed His Holy Spirit inside of us, giving us power to do things we never even dreamed of. He has called us to testify and serve youth here in the Truckee Meadows. We do not know where He will lead us next and that doesn’t matter.

     

    God has place His Spirit in you too. I know that many of you are witnessing while leading Bible studies, by loving your families and being an example to them, by speaking to people where you work. We are all called to witness to what we know. It does not get much simpler than that.

     

    Acts 1:9-11  

     

    Looking up, what were they thinking?

    Jesus had been appearing and disappearing from them for 40 days. 

    Did they think they would see Jesus again in just a few day?

    Did they realize that He was gone and not coming back quickly? 

    If it were you, would you be thinking, “Now what do we do?” 

     

    The two men were probably angels, at least that is what my mind thinks. Their message was simple: don’t wait around here, stop wasting time looking at the sky. Jesus will come back but it is time to go and get ready for what He has promised to you. The power of the Holy Spirit is coming, get back to Jerusalem and be ready for it!  

     

    The world was on the verge of a major turning point, the Holy Spirit was coming! God’s power source for the world; His Holy Spirit would be there soon. For us, the Spirit has already come. The power to change the world has already been given to us, so what are we waiting for, Let’s Go!

     

    Let’s Pray

    Father, Thank you for your Holy Spirit which you have placed inside of us

    Jesus, Thank you living, and loving, dying and rising again so that we to may live

    Holy Spirit, Thank you for opening our eyes to see the truth of the Gospel and drawing us into the marvelous relationship. Please guide us to do all that you desire for us to do. Speak for us when words fail us or when fear overcomes us, help us to persevere in our trials. God we are in awe of you and all that you have done. 

     

    Bring your offerings up front here as we sing this final song. If you have never acknowledged as your Lord and Savior and want to talk about come see me or Dale or Doug or just about anyone here, but please don’t leave without getting answers to your questions. Let’s stand as we sing.