Steps & Missteps - Acts 1:12-26 NIV
#1: The first and hardest lesson from Acts is to ___________ .
When we finished last week, the disciples were all looking up in the sky trying to see Jesus. The angel reminded them of their instructions…
“Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised…
What was the gift? Explained in detail in John - The Holy Spirit. And so they left the hill and returned to Jerusalem…
Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives.” Acts 1:4, 12 NIV
Today we talk about waiting - one of the most difficult lessons for any Christ follower to learn. Important to note that “WAIT” is not “doing nothing.” We get that idea, don’t we? Waiting is just standing around. There is a difference between “waiting” and “doing nothing.” The American concept of “get ‘er done” “pull ourselves up from our bootstraps” “take charge” really conflicts with this concept.
As a Christian, though, waiting is not nothing. It is a active, servant-focused activity that submits our own thinking and our own power and our own solutions to the thinking, power and solutions of God’s Spirit. We’ll talk more in a minute about what this looks like, But first…
#2: Three Things They Got Right! What do we do to keep ourselves in active “wait” mode and not slip into either do something mode or do nothing mode? The disciples showed us 3 things they did that helps…
A) They ___________ .
“They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women
and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” Acts 1:14 NIV
Prayer is always a good idea, but especially when in wait mode. We learn some special things about their prayer. “Joined together.” There is something powerful about the joining together and mutual prayer support of other Christians. We’re not alone. We’re not doing nothing. We’re praying together. One prays. The other agrees in prayer. Then someone else prays. “Constantly” is not something that they did once and moved on. They were of a mindset of praying. Waiting for God to move and reveal what His next step would be. “Along with…” Not limited to just the disciples. Prayer is never an exclusive activity among the elite Christians. There are simply those who pray and those who don’t.
B) They ____________________ .
“Brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas.” Acts 1:16 NIV
Things go wrong in the church. The church is made up of people - fallen, sinful, selfish people saved by the good grace of a loving Savior. People do make mistakes. Even leaders in the church go down the wrong path. The first disciples didn’t try to cover up Judas’ betrayal. They brought it out into the open. They talked about it. They faced up to it. They made it ok for people to acknowledge the failure of one of the most important leaders in the new, fledgling Christian movement. Our tendency is to do just the opposite. To hide. To cover up. To not admit the wrong doing. Failing to address the failure never makes the failure better. Only worse!
C) They _________________ .
“For it is written the Book of Psalms…” Acts 1:20 NIV
When you’re actively waiting on the Holy Spirit, it’s always good to study the Word of God. God does speak through the Bible! Don’t be looking for any secret, private messages. But when you read, also be willing to stop and listen. Even before you read, say a little prayer - “Father God, I’m listening. I’m waiting. I’m yours. Do with me what You will! Help me to hear Your voice today!”
#3: What they didn’t get right? __________________ .
“Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us.” Acts 1:21 NIV
So they’re praying, transparent, studying the Scriptures and come up with the message - Judas needs replaced. That much is true. But where did it say that THEY were the one’s who were supposed to do the replacing?! Isn’t it amazing how many times we conclude that God just must have our help? As if God couldn’t choose and make known the 12 disciple on His own?
In fact God did just that, right? We’ll read later on in Acts 9 that Saul, on the road to Damascus is suddenly confronted with the bright light of Jesus Himself! In 8 different places (Gal. 1:1, Rom. 1:1, 1 Cor. 1:1, 1 Tim. 2:7, Acts 26:12-18, 1 Cor. 15:3-10, Gal. 2:8, 1 Cor. 9:1-2) we discover that Paul (formerly Saul) is named as an apostle of Christ. Doesn’t that make you wonder if the disciples were solving a problem they didn’t need to solve? (Especially when you consider the methodology - dice!)
“So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed ‘Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.’ Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.” Acts 1:23-26 NIV
So why is this part of the story of Acts? As an example of what TO DO or maybe more likely NOT TO DO. Remember their instructions? Wait for the gift. Wait for the Holy Spirit. When did the Holy Spirit come? Acts 2. When did they name the 12 disciple by casting lots? Acts 1.
#4: Waiting for God means…
A) __________________ the Holy Spirit’s movement
Not just a gut feeling. More than that. We’ll see that when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, there was no doubting it. The Spirit can be quite dramatic. But He can also be subtle. We are talking here about relationship. I can tell things about Mary Kay by just looking at her face, her cues that I pick up on that no one else does. Why? Because I’ve been with her for over 40 years. Knowing the Holy Spirit’s movement is the same thing. It comes with relationship. The longer the relationship the more sure you can be when you sense. On the other hand, if you are out of relationship, it can be very difficult to tell. Waiting also means…
B) and then ________________ .
Part of the waiting involves commitment. I want to go where You go, Lord. I want to do what You want to do, Lord. Use me. I’m Yours. That’s the servant heart of the Christ-follower. After all, what does it mean to be a “follower?” It also means NOT moving until you know God is moving. Not talking about living our lives. Still need to work, to go about our daily tasks. But the big decisions and the choices we make as Christians should be moved by God as we follow. Don’t want to move ahead. Don’t want to fall behind.