Sharpening our Focus for 2013 Acts 1:9-26

January 27, 2013
INTRODUCTION – The kingdom of God invading the kingdom of darkness as chronicled in the gospels

On becoming a visible demonstration of the good news of the kingdom of God – – what it looks like or how it manifests in a people

40 days with disciples after resurrection

40 years with His church in America – – starting to get it – – George Ladd’s books on the kingdom; Dennis Peacocke began his itinerant ministry in earnest around the kingdom of God;

3 areas the Holy Spirit wants to help us grow in this year so we can see His kingdom come and His will be done.

I. Becoming truly holy or set apart for our divine purpose or calling. Jesus’s departure and promised return vs. 9-11

A. The Ascension – Jesus had told His disciples before His arrest and suffering began that “…it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” (Jn. 16:7). In vs. 9 we see Him ascending to sit at the right hand of the Father – assuming His role now as Head of the Church and Ruler over all as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
It is not every day you see your Master effortlessly ascend to the heavens. For the 11 disciples or apostles, they were mesmerized, staring into the heavens – – when they were all of a sudden interrupted from their clouds gazing by two angels.
What do you make of this question?

B. The Angels’ Question: Angels never waste time. Not for a second. Psa. 103:20 says of them, “Bless the Lord, you His angels, Mighty in strength, who perform His word, Obeying the voice of His word.” They are not robots. But they just live to obey and please Him and wouldn’t consider anything apart from that. God gives them an assignment and they just immediately and completely obey it. They don’t stop and get a latte first or check their email for the 10th time first or check espn.com to see the latest quote about the super bowl or gossip.com to see what the latest celebrity has to say about life and politics.

Angels know that God has given us amazing purpose and value as His sons and daughters; and that He has our lives all mapped out; and that we have the privilege of partnering with Him to see His purposes accomplished on the earth.

So when angels see us staring into space, when we have just been given our marching orders, they scratch their heads, and wonder what’s up. They marvel in essence at our lack of holiness. But they don’t just marvel; they whip us back into action when God sends them to minister to us.

Jesus Christ is after a holy church folks. He is building a people who by His power and grace do not get distracted with lesser things. Elizabeth Eliot in her classic book “The Shadow of the Almighty” said of the way God works, “He makes His ministers flames of fire. Am I ignitable? God deliver me from the dread asbestos of other things.”

A.W. Tozer in a similar vein said of holiness, “The whole purpose of God in redemption is to make us holy and to restore the image of God. To accomplish this He disengages us from earthly ambitions and draws us away from the cheap and unworthy prizes that worldly men set their hearts upon.”

Jesus Christ in no way wants to take us out of the world. He just wants to take the world out of us so His wonderful life can flow through us to the needy around us. I love the way Leonard Ravenhill spoke of this process: “The greatest miracle that God can do today is to take an unholy man out of an unholy world, and make that man holy and put him back into that unholy world and keep him holy in it.”

C. His return described and promised : vs. 11
“in the same way” means they won’t be told by someone or hear it on the news – they will see Him return as will everyone else.

The second way the Holy Spirit wants to help us advance and grow this year is by helping us

II. Become a powerful praying force. Upper Room Prayer – vs. 12-14

A. Well the apostles may have been distractable, but they did snap out of it, and returned together to Jerusalem, where Jesus had commanded them to gather and wait for His promise. Vs. 13,14 give us a partial listing of the names of the 120 or so folk gathered there. But more important than who was there, was what they were doing. Vs. 14 tells us they “all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer….”

B. The next best thing to having Jesus physically with us; is accessing His power and presence through corporate united persistent continual prayer.

C. Please note that they “ALL” prayed. Not just those with the gift of intercession, which by the way is not a spiritual gift. “He’s an intercessor” “She’s called to intercede” Isn’t everyone called to intercede?

D. Not only does prayer enable us to access His power and presence, but it also enables us to bond together and work together with very diverse people – even people whom we in the past have not gotten along well with (disciples’ conflicts with one another; Jesus’s brothers with Jesus; opposite sex)
“one mind”

If you have been following along with us in the 2 yr. bible reading plan – you’ve been getting an eyeful of Jacob’s colorful life. Someone said of him in the context of prayer, “If one Jacob can prevail over the angel, then what could several Jacobs accomplish?” The fact is we can accomplish a lot if we will learn to make the most of our opportunities to pray together.

“The New Testament prayer meeting reveals the master plan of Jesus. The last thing
Jesus did on earth was to build that prayer meeting, and it is the only thing He left
behind on planet Earth when He ascended to heaven.” Everything by Prayer, Fred Hartley, page 13

How are we going to pull this off with our busy lives, our jobs, our families, cars and houses that must be maintained,…? I don’t know. But I know the Holy Spirit will help us figure it out if we look to Him and listen to His voice.

The third way the Holy Spirit is going to help us grow and advance and bear fruit this year is by helping us

III. Become a truly Christ centered and Christ dependent people. Peter’s Call to replace Judas – vs. 15-26

A. Exhibit A (of II B.) is Peter (vs. 15 f) Since when does Peter actually lead based on revelation and with authority?

1. Peter’s confidence in the authority and veracity of scripture – “the Scripture had to be fulfilled”! (vs. 16) Jesus often told Peter and His disciples that of Himself, and Peter vehemently contested such a thought.

2. Peter’s conviction that their new teammate/leader first and foremost had to be an eye witness of Jesus from the beginning of His ministry to His resurrection and post resurrection appearances. (vs. 21, 22)

3. God uses our gifts, education, training, etc., but doesn’t need them. Far more important is our faith in and revelation of Jesus

Peter in those 3 + years walking with and following Jesus looked like anything but leadership material. But his ongoing and gradually increasing revelation of Jesus; and his humble willingness to follow Jesus and repent of his self obsession eventually turned him into just the leader this movement needed.

The most exciting and thrilling move of God in history is documented in this book called the book of Acts. But the whole thing could have been derailed if Peter hadn’t stood up and drawn a very clear line in the sand about what qualifies a man to be one of His apostles and leaders of this brand new movement called the church.

Paul wrote with great passion to the church in Corinth (and I’m reading from the Amplified version), “For I am zealous for you with a godly eagerness and a divine jealousy, for I have betrothed you to one Husband, to present you a chaste virgin to Christ. But now I am fearful lest that even as the serpent beguiled Eve by his cunning, so your minds may be corrupted and seduced from wholehearted and sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”

Very easy in the church to be passionate about the poor, or church structures, or miracles, or leadership training, or a host of other things rather than being supremely passionate about Christ Himself.

B. The process of choosing the replacement (vs. 23-26) 4 observations

1. Peter spoke the need; delineated the qualifications; and then the whole team or group put forth the candidates (vs. 21, 23)

2. They relied on the Lord, who alone knows, and who alone chooses (vs. 24)

3. They drew lots based on old testament precedents. (vs. 26) God honored it, but once the Holy Spirit came they learned better to hear His voice, and thus didn’t need to use lots anymore.

4. Not necessarily true that reason we never hear about Matthias is because of the way he was chosen. They did depend on the Lord for their choice. And there is no evidence anywhere that Matthias did not live a fruitful life. He just was not one of the front runners, which was true of some of the others as well. Frankly there are some blessings and advantages to being unnoticed and behind the scenes.

CONCLUSION – 1. Let’s expect Him to help us focus in on our mission this year and deal with our spiritual add or adh. Let’s expect Him to make us holy – not in a weird religious sense. But in a focused, non distractable sense.

2. Let’s give ourselves more than ever to united, corporate, persistent/continual prayer this year – – If we find this difficult with our responsibilities and schedules – – then let’s look to Him to show us some way to pull this off.

3. Let’s not apologize for our Christ centeredness and our submission to His every word
Paul reminded the church in Corinth as seen in ch. 2 vs. 1,2 “And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”

CONCLUSION

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