Summary: Let’s look at Matthew 1:18-25, Joseph's dilemma, the meanings of Jesus' names and whether or not Mary remained a perpetual virgin.

The Savior's Next Step for Our Church

Acts 1:12-26 (Initial reading: vs. 8-14)

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - May 19, 2013

*This is last week's issue of "The Baptist Message," and the headline for this article is: "Hankins Delivers Sobering News to 2020 Commission." It tells us that from 2000 to 2010, Louisiana's population grew by about 60,000 people -- to more than four and a half million. But in the same time period membership in LBC churches declined by 45,000 people.

*Comparing 2010 to 2000, baptisms of adults were down by 1,258. Youth were down 420. And children were down 960. Dr. Hankins also noted that since 1980, the baptism of children is down 42 percent. And Sunday School average attendance is down by 20,591. Worse than that, "average attendance of teenagers in our churches has dropped a staggering 67,639 since 1980. . ." (1)

*That is sobering, disturbing news for us. But we want our church to grow! We want our church to grow, because God wants our church to grow.

*But how can we take the next step? -- Acts chapter 1 happened just a few days before the first real growth of the church. And here God's Word shows us how to take the next step.

1. First: Carry out the Lord's commands.

*This is what the Apostles did in vs. 12: "Then they returned to Jerusalem from the Mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey."

To understand their obedience in vs. 12, we have to look back at vs. 4&5, which say:

4. And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, "which,'' He said, "you have heard from Me;

5. "for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.''

*Why did the Lord command them to wait in Jerusalem? -- Well, vs. 11 reminds us that these Apostles were "Men of Galilee." So there could have been a natural pull for them to go home. On top of that, the Lord knew what was going to happen on the day of Pentecost. Many thousands would be there for the feast, and three thousand of those people were going to be saved! So the Lord wanted His Apostles to be in the right place to reach the most people with the gospel.

*Jesus cares a whole lot more about reaching people than we do, or ever could. He will lead us to the best possible place to reach people. But we have to carry out His commands.

*We need to follow the advice Jesus' mother gave the servants in John chapter 2. There at a wedding in Cana they ran out of wine. And Mary gave this great advice: "Whatever Jesus tells you to do. -- Do it!"

*The question is: How committed are we to obey the Lord? "Reader's Digest" told about a mom named "Pat." One day, she caught her little boy eating out of the sugar bowl. Pat fussed at her son, and said, "Don't ever let me catch you doing that again!" Her little boy replied, "I'll try, Mommy, -- but I can't always hear you coming." (2)

*At least he was honest. We've got to be more committed to DO what the Lord tells us to do. The disciples obeyed the Lord. They returned to Jerusalem, and waited for the promise. But why should we obey? Why should we do anything for Jesus Christ? It's because of all He has done for us! It's because of the cross!

*How can we take the next step for our church? -- We must carry out the Lord's commands.

2. But also pray with passion.

*We must renew our passion for prayer. This is the message for us in vs. 13-14, where the Bible says:

13. And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son (or brother) of James.

14. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

*There are 3 highly important things to notice about our prayer in these verses.

[1] The first is our commitment to prayer.

*That word "continued" in vs. 14 carries the idea of something faithful, diligent, courageous, steadfast. These Christians were devoted to prayer, persevering in prayer, and constant in prayer. A.T. Robertson said they "stuck to praying for the promise of the Father until the answer came." (3)

[2] God wants us committed to prayer. But He also wants our cooperation in prayer.

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