Summary: This message explores the promise of the Holy Spirit to bring power and a witness to our lives.
Any “Wheel of Fortune” fans here today? “Wheel of Fortune” is very different than when I was, well, let’s just say younger. How many of you remember that when a person used to win a puzzle, they would go shopping? Remember that?
They don’t do that anymore. And now they have some different categories of puzzles than they used to have. One of the categories they use now is “Before and After.” It’s kind of like two puzzles in one, with the ending word of the first puzzle serving as the first word of the next puzzle. So it would look something like this…Whitney Houston Texas. Get it. Make sense?
Let’s try a few and see how good our SWC wheel watchers are (displayed on screen w/out vowels) –
- Eggs Benedict Arnold
- Football Game Warden
- Exhaust Pipe Organ
- Disk Jockey Silks
- Umpire Call Forwarding
Chocolate Chip Monck
“Before and After.” For the Christian, we are living in before and after days. And we do each Easter season. We are before the 2008 version of the holiday, which is just two weeks away. But as believers, we are forever living in the after of Easter. The side of Easter that has experienced the death of Christ, and our old, sinful man dying with Him. And the side of Easter that has already experienced the resurrection, been raised in baptism, been brought alive to new life in Christ.
No matter what the calendar says. No matter what given year it is, and whether or not we are chronologically pre-Easter, as believers we are always simultaneously living after Easter.
So I want us to jump post-Easter for a few moments this morning. Acts 1. The book of Acts, chapter 1. Everyone there? When you have found it, hold your place there. And let’s pray that God will speak to us over the next few moments.
ACTS 1:1 (READ THROUGH VERSE 2)
The author of Acts is believed to be Luke, author of the Gospel of Luke.
He starts this sequel recapping what was in his first writing to Theophilus.
Luke was a physician, a doctor.
And believe it or not, back then physicians were classified as slaves.
So one train of thought is that Theophilus may have been Luke’s master at one time.
VERSE 3 (READ)
There is that significant, Biblical number – 40 Days.
For 40 Days after His resurrection, Jesus spent time with the disciples.
Teaching about the Kingdom of God
VERSE 4 (READ THROUGH VERSE 6)
Three plus years with Jesus, and at some level, they still don’t get it.
From that first teaching in the Sermon on the Mount through the crucifixion.
They are still looking for a “Kingly reign of Christ in Israel”.
VERSE 7 (READ)
Difference: understanding and preparing for the return of Christ, versus studying for the date
VERSE 8 (READ)
Has anyone here ever heard that verse before? I thought so. But today, I want you to possibly hear it in a different tone or sense. A different mood that what you may previously have heard it. Especially two words that are twice repeated in my version of verse 8, “You will.” Underline those two “You will”s.
I have always heard those as commands. You will do this. You will do that. Don’t try guessing when I am coming back, because I have some marching orders for you today. “You will receive power, and you will be my witnesses.” In fact, there have even been times I have heard that with my own “or else” on the end of it.
Kind of like when mom or dad are talking to you and say, “You will take out the trash, or else you will be grounded.” Am I the only one that has heard those words that way in their life? As a command? You will be my witnesses, or I will disown you. You will be my witnesses, or I’ll be severely disappointed in you. You will fulfill my great commission, and not as a great suggestion, or there will be repercussions.
Anyone ever felt it that way? Anyone ever heard it taught that way? Anyone ever heard me preach it that way? I must confess, it is possible.
But today I want you to hear it in a different sense. What if, rather than a command, these two “you will”s are promises? Gifts? Even guarantees? What if, instead of demands, they are empowerments? If instead of obligations, they are natural outflows?
Now, English is by far my worst subject. I’m a math mind. And there was nothing about school I hated more than diagramming sentences. Ever have to do that? Hated it. And there was nothing about seminary I hated more than parsing Greek verbs. Could not stand it. And was quite miserable at it, if I do say so myself.