Summary: Good advice for planning a ministry

Acts 1b - January 15, 2017  (1st string - ’08)

Turn with me this morning to Acts 1.  We looked last week at the first few verses, and we were reminded that we need to be faithful in being a witness of what we know to be true.  We want to start the year of recommitted to living in the present, embracing the opportunities before us, and looking for God to make this a great year as we seek to serve Him faithfully.  We talked last week about how the disciples were standing around staring into heaven, and the message of the angels was to “get on with life” - we need to be busy doing the job God has given us: being faithful witnesses.

When I was in high school, there was a girl in my youth group, Jane Doe, who one week brought her boyfriend with her: John Smith.  John was socially dysfunctional.  But John got gloriously saved.  When God saved John, God got 100% of John life.  John changed many of his sinful behaviors.  John started dressing up in 3 piece suits to go to public high school.  John had terrible dandruff and terrible bad breath.  And John did everything you’d think would drive people away from the Lord.  John would preach in the hallways at his locker before and after school.  But you know what?  God used John to see many people accept Christ as Savior.  Maybe because of John;s witness, maybe in spite of John’s witness, but God received great glory through John’s sincere witness.  You don’t need to have all the answers, be a smooth talker, or have a flawless presentation - you begin sharing what God has done for you and let God take care of the rest.  And God WILL accomplish amazing things, when we are faithful in doing our part.

Each of us can do a better job of being a witness for Christ.  This morning we are going to pick up where we left off in chapter 1.  Let’s begin reading at verse 12.

Read Acts 1:12-26  PRAY

This morning we want to take a few minutes to reflect on the disciples after the ascension and before the day of Pentecost.  Jesus has told the disciples to wait at Jerusalem until they receive the Holy Spirit, then He ascended up into heaven.  So while they are waiting, what takes place?  Some great organizational ministry!  And there are several lessons for us to learn from these verses that we might read right over.  First,

there are many, many things that they did right that we can learn from:

* They acted in unity - vs. 14 tells us They all joined together. . .  The KJV says These all continued with one accord. . .  - as they go back to the city, they go back to the large meeting area where they had been staying.  There was a mixed group here, the eleven remaining disciples are there, so is Jesus’ mother Mary , other women, Jesus’ brothers, and a group of about 120 other disciples.  These disciples came from all different walks of life.  Simon was a Zealot - a zionist who probably actively fought the Romans: Matthew had been a tax collector - a collaborator with the Romans - so there was a pretty natural tension between the two of them. James and John the sons of thunder are there.  They probably were still being talked about for having had their mother ask Jesus for special preference for them.  There were probably a lot of petty rivalries between the various followers - remember how as they travel together it seems that they frequently are arguing about who is Jesus’ favorite, who is the most spiritual of them, who will get to sit on Jesus’ right and left side in heaven. 

But sadly, in churches today, we still see the same thing taking place.  We come together as a diverse group - blue collar workers, white collar workers, some focusing on their IRAs and some focusing on their IOUs.  Some active in ministry, and some simply warming the seats.  And sadly, Satan loves to stir up contention between brothers and sisters in Christ.  Satan tries to get us to look down on one another, impugn the motives of one another, think less of one another.  

But that is NOT God’s will for us!  What IS God’s will?  Psalm 133 -  How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!  Jesus prays in His prayer for the disciples in John 17 - My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.  Colossians calls us to be united in love - a phrasing using the terminology of the disciples “mending their nets.”  Philippians 2 calls us to in humility consider others better than yourselves.

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