The Way for Witnesses Acts 1:1-8

January 13, 2013
INTRODUCTION – – Last time we looked at this passage – we looked at it from Jesus – the Head’s perspective – – that is – – we focused on His ability to pull off His purposes through His church as its Captain of the Army/Head of the Church/Commander in Chief. Specifically we focused on five truths about His work in the present: 1. Jesus is still revealing Himself – still giving orders to His disciples, and still calling the shots for His church (vs. 1-3); 2. Jesus is still gathering His people (vs. 4). 3. Jesus is still revealing and clarifying and expanding and spotlighting His kingdom to His church and to society at large (vs. 3, 6,7). 4. Jesus is still clarifying and strengthening our calling as His witnesses to the ends of the earth (vs. 6-8). 5. The Holy Spirit is greater than all of our weaknesses, distractions, obstacles, excuses and enemies (vs. 8).

This morning I want to address our response to who He is and what He is doing. Specifically I want to address three responses we must have to all that He is doing if we are going to be participants and not spectators to His glorious work on the earth before He returns. He IS going to fulfill His purposes. The question is: Are we going to be in the thick of what He is doing? Or are we going to be on the sidelines. None of us need to be on the sidelines. To make sure we are not,
I want to share 3 very practical ways you and I can be in the thick with Jesus in 2013.

I. We need to get better at taking orders from King Jesus (1:2)

Jesus Christ came to earth as a man to establish His kingdom and to form a people who would be His instruments to see His glorious kingdom established among every family, people, tribe, community and nation on the earth.

He has a detailed plan for how that is to happen. And each one of us has a part in that plan. For us to fulfill our calling in this great plan, we must learn to take and follow His orders. Few comments about that:

First of all we need a clean break from the “nobody is going to tell me what to do” mantra of our culture. I believe one of the strongholds in our region and especially in Los Osos is this rebellious – leave me alone and let me live my own life – attitude. If we as His church can get in touch with this in our own hearts, and fully repent of it and turn from it, I believe we can begin to see it dismantled in our region.

The greatness of a man’s power is the measure of his surrender. William Booth – Salvation Army Founder
What seems to the world to be weakness is actually the path to power.

Second, We have to learn to obey His orders individually; as families (importance of oneness before moving ahead with spouses); and as a church family.

Since Jesus is the Lord of the harvest and He is absolutely intent on gathering in the harvest; and since He wants to use you and me to be fellow gatherers or laborers for the harvest – – we must expect Him to give us specific directions re: the people He puts in our lives; and or the communities or cities He has placed us in.

While Jesus’s orders will always have the ultimate objective of seeing the harvest reaped; His orders won’t always just be “go share the gospel with this person.” For the apostles His orders at the very end were basically two fold; stick together; and wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Holy Spirit’s power and anointing.

Young people still living at Home: the primary place where you learn to have obedient hearts and resist the self will that our flesh is famous for – – is in your homes. God’s ideal and plan from the beginning of creation has been for young boys and girls to learn to obey Him by learning to obey their parents. Don’t think for a moment that you can get good at obeying Jesus while routinely disobeying your parents. But know that if you can learn to obey your parents, the heart of obedience you cultivate, will make it a whole lot easier to obey Jesus as your Lord and Master.

Response to Seek God for the City – – Feb. 13th – – 3 congregations in our region; thousands in our nation

So the first way we can be in the thick of what Jesus is doing in these last days if by getting better at taking orders from Jesus whether it be straight from His mouth or through His appointed leaders or even our parents.

II. Gathering Regularly with the Saints (1:4)
Vs. 4 says Jesus gathered them together, but vs. 6 says, “So when they had come together….” These disciples were grown, independent men, who had every reason not to obey Jesus in gathering together in Jerusalem where their Master had just been beaten to smitherings and unjustly crucified. They had little respect for each other. They had all failed Him miserably in His hour of greatest need (except perhaps for John). But here they are on their own accord.

As we begin to walk through this book and watch the early church in action we are going to find they were often together. I’ll expound on that as we go. But what I want to say this morning is as you and I prepare our hearts for the new year ahead, one thing I can promise you He wants from each of us is a greater commitment to hang together – both in planned and unplanned scenarios or gatherings. If by God’s grace we have the privilege of being used mightily of Him to reach this region with the good news of Jesus Christ – – it will be because we got there together. Every member of the body and every gifting of every member of the body is absolutely crucial for our mission to be fulfilled.

Fellowship means among other things that we are ready to receive of Christ from others. Other believers minister Christ to me, and I Other believers minister Christ to me; and I am ready to receive.
Author: Watchman Nee

The third way we can be in the thick of what He is doing through His church in these last days is by

III. Gaining a Passion for and an expectation of the Power of God to pull off our mission to be His witnesses (1:8)

Effective witnesses are effective for one primary reason: They have learned to access the power of the Holy Spirit to pull off their mission.

By the way, when you read or see this word “witness” please do not solely think of sitting down with someone nose to nose and explaining the gospel message to them and asking for a response. It certainly includes that. But it is far more than that. A witness is someone who incarnates the life of Christ among the lost and who through serving them, interceding for them, listening to them, crying with them, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom to them eventually sees them embrace Christ as their own personal Lord and Savior. Whenever a believer is near or among unbelievers he or she is a witness.

The greek word translated power here is the word dunamis, from which we get the English word dynamite, though the two have little to do with each other. Dunamis has the idea of supernatural or miraculous power, might, strength or ability that comes from God Himself. It cannot be separated from the person of the Holy Spirit – especially in this verse.

Whereas dynamite destroys, breaks up, tears apart in an instant via explosion; dunamis opens peoples spiritually blind eyes; changes peoples’ hearts; heals sicknesses, injuries and diseases; restores relationships; and transforms communities.

This power is available to every believer but only as He comes into an ever more dependent relationship upon the person of the Holy Spirit.

I believe this year we are going to see some significant growth in walking in this power. And here are some ways I expect it to manifest:

– 1. More of us are going to learn we can go a little farther; persevere and last a little longer. Dunamis enables us to do what we don’t think we can do. It helps us to put a foot forward when we just think we’re done. I say this because there are going to be times when God leads us into witnessing relationships with unbelievers who are so much work; and so hard headed and hard hearted, and in such bondage – – that we will want to throw in the towel; but the power of God will keep us praying, loving, serving and proclaiming.

That’s what Paul was talking about in his prayer for the church in Colossae. Listen to his words, “we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you might be …… strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience;….”
If there is anything we have learned in this last six months of intense involvement with our old friend in Baywood Park – – it is when we think we are done – – God’s power will be there to give us a second wind and fresh hope and faith for the impossible.

Yesterday’s party and how stressed and tired we were
“Many Christians estimate difficulty in the light of their own resources, and thus they attempt very little and they always fail. All giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on His power and presence to be with them.”
Author: Hudson Taylor

– 2. More of us are going to find ourselves speaking truth to unbelievers that we never thought we could come out and actually say. Luke wrote of John the Baptist in this way, “And it is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous; so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” 1:17 John was a fork in the road for many people. He helped them see the wrong road they were taking, and pointed them to the right one. He is one of my heroes for boldness in proclaiming the truth of the gospel of the kingdom wherever he went and with whomever he was with.

– 3. More of us are going to find ourselves praying for healing for those we might not have ventured out to pray for before. Luke says in 6:19 of Jesus, “And all the multitude were trying to touch Him, for power was coming from Him and healing them all.”

David’s little speech yesterday…. May this be a year where the common testimony when we come together or see each other is the opportunities we have taken to pray for the sick, injured, diseased, etc. And by the way – good job in your prayers for Doug and Alanna.

– 4. More of us are going to find ourselves resisting the flesh and carving out times for prayer and fasting. When Luke said in ch. 4 vs. 14 of his gospel, “And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, ….” Where did He return from? 40 days… Nothing like extended times alone with God in fasting and prayer posture us for the power of the Holy Spirit to reside in us and to flow through us. I believe more of us are going to find ourselves turning to this ancient practice this year both on our own and together. And it just so happens that our week of prayer and fasting begins next Monday – a week from tomorrow. January 21-27th. I will be working on the daily prayer guide for this special week this coming week and will email it to all of you once I’m finished; and then we will have some hard copies available next Sunday. This very well may be the most important week of our year together.

– 5. More of us are going to find ourselves standing against demons and the cruel stranglehold they have on the people God leads us to build relationship with. “And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons, …..” Luke 9:1

This may not involve overt displays of screaming frothing at the mouth demons. But because of the average diet of filth both in music and t.v., movies and internet that the average person indulges in these days, we are going to learn how to dismantle these strangleholds. Not because we are looking for fights with demons. But because God is going to give us His heart for these people, and we are not going to be able to stand by and watch Satan and his demons steal their life and joy and destiny in Christ.

CONCLUSION –

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