Scripture Passage – Acts 1:8
Icon of the Pentecost (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Description – The third of a four part series on the Holy Spirit
A common statement to new pastors is, “everyone has a wonderful plan for your life!”
But whether or not we are a pastor, everyone has a wonderful plan for our lives. And that includes a mission. And there are many missions.
The mission to become wealthy
The mission to become powerful
The mission to become successful
The mission to make the child finish.his/her.homework
The mission to get him to put his dirty laundry IN the laundry basket
There has been a lot of discussion over the past 15 to 20 years at least, regarding the mission of the church. And I would wager that on just about any given weekend, there is an in person seminar or online gathering whose purpose is to help determine a church’s mission.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
We have spent the last two weeks focusing on the purpose of the Holy Spirit that we have determined, based on John 16, is to, “convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment;” and then His plan to come along side us, individually and corporately to, as we read in John 14 to teach us “everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.”
This morning the focus is on the power of the Holy Spirit for a specific purpose – to give witness to the love, grace and mercy of God in our lives. Our text is Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Just as Jesus is getting ready to return to the Father, He is asked a question, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”
And Jesus replies with a response and then a directive. The response is this “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know.” The second is a directive which is our main text this morning.
What Jesus is doing is giving a clear focus to the remaining disciples who are to become the leaders of the coming to life Christian faith and church. He wants their focus to be on the mission they have been given. To tell what they have seen, heard, and experienced having been with Jesus.
And think for a moment with me what they have seen, heard, and experienced as they walked with Christ for three years.
This is what they had seen:
People healed of incurable diseases.
People delivered out of demon possession.
People who had no hope, given hope.
Lazarus raised from the dead.
A risen from the dead Jesus.
This is what they heard:
Words of a partnership – Follow Me.
Words of forgiveness – Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.
Words of challenge – Take up your cross and follow me and sell your possession and follow me
This is what they experienced:
A passion and power that left them scratching their heads.
A sudden change in the weather from calm, to storm and back again with just a word spoken by Jesus.
A new way of life.
A personal, in the flesh, God who loved them.
The call to a journey and a commitment that would eventually lead some of them far away from the familiar places of Israel.
But they were lacking one thing this time, the one thing that was to be needed because of Jesus’ absence. They lacked power but not just any kind of power. They lacked the power of the Holy Spirit that would come in a mighty way as Jesus said it would. Without this power, they could not be the witnesses they would need to be because this power was vital to their ability to share their faith and belief in Christ as they would eventually journey out from Jerusalem as a channel of that power, and the love, grace, and mercy.
Our mission, (should we decide to accept it!) as followers of Christ and members of the Church (with a capital “C”) is simply this: To be witnesses of what we have experienced in our walk with God.
We need the power of the Holy Spirit because:
The reality to which we are witness is a spiritual one and there is a powerful opposition that is a part of this reality. We cannot ignore the presence of Satan and the presence and power of the evil that he makes and uses.
Paul’s words to us in Ephesians 6:12 is a reminder that there is a spiritual battle that is fought in our hearts and minds every day, “For weare not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”
We also need the power of the Holy Spirit because, as we read in the book of Acts, credibility is necessary to being a good witness. I think that this is noted in Acts 4 when soon after the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost Peter and John were taken before some of the same people who had present of Jesus’ arrest and so called “trial” before His crucifixion.
In verse 8 we read “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them…” And he spoke with power and authority and it was noticed as we read further down in verse 13 the council of leaders “were amazed with the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men who had been with Jesus.”
That’s a statement of credibility!
We are not always dragged into a religious or civil court to testify about our faith. But we are always in the court of public opinion as to the credibility of our witness.
If you have either testified in court or been on a jury, you understand this issue of credibility because credible witnesses help to build a case. Lack of credible witnesses hurt a case.
But credibility does not assume perfection. None of us are absolutely perfect. None of us.
When we read Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:48, “But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect,” we think we know what He means when He says perfect. Flawless. No imperfections. Our performance is absolutely perfect because there are no errors.
Who here this morning is perfect in this manner? Raise your hand if you are absolutely perfect.
The word used for perfect in this verse means “full grown, mature, complete.” And Jesus calls us to such maturity and growth. But we do not get there overnight, if ever. It is an on-going goal. We are to become maturing and responsible followers of Christ. I am still maturing as a follower of Christ. I am not there yet.
But we need to be credible.
This again is where the Holy Spirit helps us. Credibility is built both with the power of the Spirit and with consistency.
When James opens his New Testament book with “you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do,” he is writing about the need for consistency. Each of us can relate to this anxiety and uncertainty which we wrestle with on a daily basis.
But the Holy Spirit comes to help us with such in-consistency. He wants us to help us live a consistent life of faith as we grow in our knowledge and experience of and with the Lord.
So what does all of this mean for us today and week?
One thing stands out to me – success in living for and with the Lord on a daily basis – comes as we daily (and at times hourly and even moment by moment) allow the Holy Spirit to have His way. In doing so, we do not give up our personality and become like a robot. We still are very much human.
But our character begins to change in a better direction. The fruit of the Holy Spirit begins to be seen in us. We become more loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, gentle, faithful, and controlled. Our credibility as Christ’s followers grows and we are more consistent in our faith which supports our credibility.
Where do you need to begin to have success in effectively living for the Lord? It starts with surrendering ourselves to the Holy Spirit. And a helpful starting point is to pray at the beginning of each day for the Spirit assist you during that day.
And maybe you have to pray that several times a day sometimes. Our faith requires constant attention not in an obsessive way but in very thoughtful way. Just as we have to pay attention as we drive, we have to pay attention to our faith.
The Holy Spirit helps us here to have the power to live for the Lord. When we ask Him to help us, He will.
Respond to God as you need to do today.
- The Holy Spirit (scripturenuggets.wordpress.com)