Summary: As I’m sure most of us expected, the world did not come to an end before Christmas, and Jesus didn’t come back for the second coming at Christmas. Does that mean we should just keep on going about our business as usual? The question I want to ask us this
If he had come back, everything would be changed, but I want to submit to you that things can still be changed in the way we live for Christ. Will we make a new or stronger commitment to follow Jesus in this New Year ahead of us? Because the fact still remains that we could be gone, at any moment.
This week I was recalling the first Christmas. We know the first people on the scene were the Shepherds, we talked about their response to tell everyone what they heard and saw last week. We also know that sometime later the three wise men came. They had left home to travel many hundreds of miles on camels with only a legend and a star to go by. What did they do when they got there? They saw the baby Jesus, fell to their knees and worshipped, gave Him very expensive gifts, then went all the way home.
Think about that? Week’s riding on a camel, come see the baby Jesus, worship for a few minutes, give him the most expensive things they could find, and leave for another long camel ride. I think that’s how we should view church. We walk or drive a few minutes, fall on our knees and worship because we know the significance of what we get to do every Sunday, and every other day for that matter, and we give Him the very best of what we have.
I think the early church got it too, so I want to look at the first two chapters of the Book of Acts this morning. Jesus had just spent 33 years on the earth, he was crucified and he was resurrected. Then we see beginning in verse 6 of the first chapter of Acts, how he leaves (Read vv 6-9).
He says to them, I can’t tell you all the details, but I can tell you that you are going to receive power from the Holy Spirit to be my witnesses.
I. In the Meantime They Met Together and Prayed (1:10-14)
Why are you standing there? The angels say. Go get doing what Jesus told you to do. You will know when he comes back because it will be the same way he left, so get on with it.
So they did the only thing they knew. They didn’t just sit around, they didn’t go back to their jobs, they stayed put in one place together and prayed constantly. They did get a little business done through this prayer as they chose a new twelfth person. They either knew that there was some significance to having twelve of them, or they simply thought because Jesus chose 12, maybe they ought not mess with that.
Notice the qualification for this choice was only that the person had been a witness through the entire ministry of Jesus. They believed Jesus and obeyed him by simply staying in Jerusalem and waiting to:
II. Receive the Power (2:1-11)
We can do very little of true importance for the Kingdom of God without the Holy Spirit, the gift that God promised to all believers. Why is that? Way back half way through the book of Luke in chapter 12, Jesus is talking about acknowledging Him publicly on the earth, and he says that you don’t need to worry about how to defend yourself or what to say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what to say.
You see the Holy Spirit is like a spiritual heart transplant surgeon. Here’s what it says in Ezekiel 36:26-27, “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put in you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” Notice it is God that does all this, through the Holy Spirit.
Getting saved is just the beginning, and transformation is the process that is started at the point of salvation. It is this new heart that causes us to make following God our priority and have a heart for other people. The Spirit, the Word, and prayer, those are where all spiritual power comes from. Do you have new heart from God, is His Spirit in you? On of the best ways to tell is whether or not your love for God and other people is growing.
We see evidence of this right away in the Bible when Peter gets up to preach at Pentecost, and when Stephen is about to get stoned to death. The Holy Spirit is our helper, counsellor, advocate, he is the God with us when God is physically not with us in the form of Jesus. And he gives both Peter and Stephen the boldness of love and the very words to say.