Friday, August 5, 2011
Practical Apps from the Book of Acts: Worth the Wait
Ahhh, the Book of Acts. It seems that over the years this book has become controversial. I find that very interesting. It begs the question, why? I think it is because so much of Acts has to do with the miraculous works of the Holy Spirit. Let’s face it; many people today just don't want to believe in a supernatural power that is still working in today's world. As usual, I could be wrong.
Unfortunately, because of that perception, many people overlook or completely ignore the book of Acts. Some even say that it is only history and should not be used to teach theology. What? Look at what it says in 2 Tim 3:16-17
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (NIV)
So let's put that debate to rest once and for all!
I believe that the book of Acts, though it certainly does tell of the mighty and miraculous works of the Holy Spirit, has a plethora (if I might use a word borrowed from El Jefe in the Three Amigos) of practical application for us. I hope you will join me for the next few weeks and soak up the amazing amount of insight and application that the book of Acts has to offer.
OK, but you titled this one “Worth the Wait?” What is worth the wait? I don't have time to wait. I have too much to do. Got to get the kids to practice, stop off at Taco Bell to grab some food, get my dry cleaning(does anybody do that anymore?), and check my facebook posts. I can't wait! Sound familiar?
We live in a fast moving society today and waiting does not seem practical and sometimes it is even frowned upon and looked at as non productive.
But, God says that sometimes we should wait on Him.*
In Acts 1, Jesus had appeared to the disciples after His resurrection. Before He ascended into heaven, He instructed them to wait in Jerusalem. What were they to wait for? Let's read the verses. Acts 1:4-5
4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.
5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." (NIV)
If you follow the narrative, the disciples seem to ignore what Jesus says. They don’t ask Him anything about what the baptism of the Spirit is all about. Instead, they ask Him the question that has continually been on their minds, even before His death and resurrection. They want to know if that means He will then restore the kingdom of Israel. They still don’t understand the purpose of His life, death and resurrection. Why?
Because they have not yet received the very promise Jesus is making to them now, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Without that, they cannot understand the nature and purpose of Jesus’ mission.
So, what happened? Well, the disciples did return to Jerusalem and waited as they were instructed, but I can’t help but think they still got a little ahead of themselves. Before they received the promised Holy Spirit, they decided to choose one to take the place of Judas Iscariot, who had betrayed the Lord and then committed suicide. They used a traditional method of praying and asking the Lord to show them who to choose by casting lots. The interesting thing about this is that you never hear of that method being used again. It was the Old Testament way, under the Old Covenant. Jesus had told them in the upper room that they were to live under a New Covenant. They would no longer rely on the old methods, but instead on the guidance of the Holy Spirit that they were supposed to be waiting for.
The result of this is that they chose a believer named Matthias. It is interesting that you never hear about him again in scripture. As we will find our later, God had someone else in mind.
So where does the “worth the wait” come in. Just read Acts, chapter 2, verses 1-13. In those verses, you will see the beginning of the miraculous works of the promised Holy Spirit of God. On the day of Pentecost (feast of harvest or day of first fruits), the Holy Spirit descended upon them and they began to speak in languages that they themselves did not know, but that people from different nations understood. Wow, would that be worth waiting for? Well there is more to the story.
Peter began to preach the gospel, explaining what was taking place and three thousand people became believers in Jesus Christ! The church, that Jesus said the gates of hell would not prevail against, had begun in earnest. I think you would agree that would be worth the wait! From this point on, the Holy Spirit opened the eyes of the disciples, who would now be called apostles, to the message of the gospel. It was not just about the restoration of Israel to its’ former glory. It was about bringing salvation to all who would trust in Jesus Christ for that salvation.
The application is simple. We should not be afraid to wait for the moving of the Holy Spirit. For us, in the fast paced society we live in, it can be difficult but it can surely be worth it. Often times, we move before the Holy Spirit has directed us to. That can lead to failure and discouragement. I know, because I have done that many times in my own life. When we follow His timing, it leads to victory and joy. I admit, sometimes it is hard to know when to wait and when to move. I can only say that this is something you learn by walking closely with the Lord and continually seeking His will and His timing.
But, I can say this with great confidence. When you do wait on the Lord and seek His perfect timing, it is always worth it!
Ps 27:14, 33:20, 37:7, 37:34, 38:15, 119:166, 130:5. Isa 8:17, 40:31. Lam 3:26. Zep 3:8, Ro 8:23, 25. 1 Co 1:7, 4:5. 1Th 1:10. Tit 2:13. Jude 21
Game Plan: Read the above verses as well as the passages in Acts. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your reading and teach you about what it means to wait on the Lord
God bless you as you continue to study His word and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ