Today is part two of the ten-part series on the Holy Spirit. And we're studying the book of Acts, and today it's called "Preparing for the wind." I want to tell you that our building committee prepared this building for the occupancy of the people that are going to be in it today. Sabbath schools are meeting in it for the very first time today. And I will tell you that the electric inspectors gave us a hard time. We wanted to just turn on the electricity, and they said, "No way! Not until it's inspected. If you turn on the electricity and the wires are not ready the place could burn down. Or you could run into a shocking experience." I imagine Thomas Edison did that a lot in his early days with electric generation.
And so it would also be dangerous for human beings to receive the Power of the Holy Spirit unless they were prepared. And yet, that's going to happen. A lot of people are going to receive the Power of God and they're going to be unprepared. And do you know when that will take place? That's in 2 Thessalonians 2:8. When the Lord comes back to the world some day and what's going to happen to the wicked that are unprepared? They're going to be destroyed by the Power of God, by the brightness of His coming. Then we need to be prepared for it, don't we.
But before we begin this sermon, let's just bow our heads in prayer.
Dear Father, Your Holy Spirit wants to fall on each of us, but I'm afraid if some of us received that Power we would be destroyed by it. So, prepare us for the Power that is coming in the proper way. We pray in Jesus' name, Amen
Now, the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts, and by the way, we're studying the first chapter of the book of Acts. The Holy Spirit is actually referred to as the Wind in Acts 2:2. Now, how do you prepare for the coming of the Wind? Well we're going to look at this this morning. Jesus had gone back to heaven. Now what? You can't just stand around gazing up in the sky. You've got to do something about it. So look at Acts 1:8. Here is a great commission. They recall Jesus' last words. Acts 1:8. "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." "You are going to be My witnesses. So, they had to prepare for the Power that would enable them to be this type of a witness. And notice Acts 1:12: Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day's walk from the city.
I want you to notice five things they did to prepare for the Power.
1. They returned to Jerusalem. You may say, "What's so significant about that?" Well, each step showed their obedience. Acts 1:4. Jesus had said "Do not leave Jerusalem." Were they in Jerusalem? No, they were on the Mount of Olives. He had said, "Don't leave Jerusalem," so they went back to Jerusalem. That's where they should have been. And they obeyed Jesus. So, obedience: return to where you need to be. You can't catch the Wind if you go to Galilee and you revert back to fishing. To catch the wind, you've got to be where the wind is going to blow. You have to hang around God's church. That's what Jerusalem represents.
Meticulous Luke records that it was two thousand cubits from the Mount of Olives back to Jerusalem. How do we know that? Well, that's what a Sabbath day's journey is. Exodus 16:29 and Numbers 35:5. Some commentator's I've seen believe that what they did that it was possibly on the Sabbath hours themselves that they worshiped and prayed in the upper room. That's amazing. And if this is so, this becomes evidence that these early disciples here after the resurrection, forty days after the resurrection, they were still keeping the Sabbath. That's pretty good, isn't it. These people were Sabbath keepers. Now, why were they worshiping in the upper room? Well, they were doing that because they were scared to death of the Jews.
And, notice who was there in verse 13. Acts 1:13. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. Judas was there. Now this was not Iscariot because there were two disciples named, Judas which proves that a Judas doesn't have to be a Judas. I mean, you could be different.
And the outstanding thing about all these eleven men who were there is that they were not outstanding. God chooses ordinary people to do extraordinary tasks. And we see the eleven remaining disciples, but they were other there. Acts 1:14. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. The whole family was there.
Acts 1:15. In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) So this was a crowded up room, was it not? A lot of people in one room in those days. They were in the right place at the right time to catch the Wind.
2. They ironed out their differences. Now, there were a lot of people there. Did you catch that Mary the mother of Jesus was there? This is the last time in the entire Bible that Mary the mother of Jesus is ever mentioned, and yet there are some people that pray to Mary. Does it appear that Mary was the leader here? no, and she's never heard from again.
So, point number two: they ironed out all their differences. Now the King James Version says in verse fourteen These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication. Now can you believe that some people use this verse to prove that the disciples drove a Honda? That's all they get out of the Bible. What does this verse actually say? It says that these early disciples were of one accord. Were they of one accord on the eve of Jesus' death on that Thursday night? They were sitting around the at the Lord's supper and they were arguing who was going to be the greatest among them, and there were all kinds of problems.
Peter had denied Jesus three times that weekend. Thomas had doubted. There were possible hard feelings between Jesus' family and the eleven disciples. You recognize that, don't you? They maybe didn't get along. And why not? Well, because Jesus on the cross said to John, "Here's your mother. You take care of her. I don't trust My brothers to do it. You do it." What's going on here. There could be some hard feelings between... they had a lot of ironing to do to iron the wrinkles out. And before you receive the Power you've got to iron out your differences, your differences with your wife, your neighbor, your children. And I would guess that Joseph of Arimathea was probably there in the upper room before the Holy Spirit descended upon them. And probably Nicodemus was there. And probably people began to wonder, are these people spies or are they really a part of us? Do they belong in this upper room with us? And maybe there were some loose women there. Maybe Mary Magdalene was there. Lazarus and Martha might have been there. It was quite an amalgamation of people that were there in that upper room.
I would think that a lot of reconciling took place as they resolved their differences and set everything straight. And you've got to do that if you want the Holy Spirit. I could see a lot of crying together. A lot of praying together. A lot of putting away of differences. Confessing together. Forgiving one another. Smoothing over the wrongs, saying, "I'm sorry." And gradually they came together into a cohesive union of one accord. They came together.
Now, I've conducted funerals where people weren't very much together. You know that families sometimes have split but at a funeral when Grandpa dies, they all come together and the Hatfields are over here and the McCoys are over there. And they're glaring at each other. And I've got to preach to that group. And it's hard. And it was Peter who stood up and preached to them, and he tried to pull the whole thing together. What else did they do?
3. In order to receive the Power, they prayed. In verse fourteen it says they prayed constantly. Prayer brings unity. In awe they prayed. They bowed in prayer. And prayer brought a better memory of Jesus' words. They meditated on what they remembered. They began to discuss things together. They prayed earnestly with intensity for a fitness for the promised Power that would be theirs. With deep heart-searching they cried to the Lord with Holy Unction, we are told. And they asked for the promised Power.
Of course, Jesus had promised the Power. Remember back there in Luke 11:13 Jesus said, "How much more will you Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" So, they were preparing to ask, and to do that you need to ask in prayer. That's how you get the Holy Spirit.
And, why don't we ask? You know, we struggle along with a skimpy spiritual life when we could really have it all. We could have a full supply. Have you really asked to be filled with the Holy Spirit's power? You should do that. They asked for God to remove anything blocking the flow of Power, of His mighty Power. And we ought to pray as they did if we want the same results that they had. The reason we don't have the latter rain today maybe is because we're not praying like they did.
4. I believe they studied the Scriptures. I don't believe you can really prepare yourself unless you feast on the Word. And how do we know they studied the Scriptures? Acts 1:20, Peter is preaching and he starts quoting from the Psalms about Judas. And how did he know all of this? I think they were there studying the Scriptures. And He quotes two portions of the Psalms about Judas. The Word enabled them to see a clearer picture of Jesus' true mission for their life.
5. They waited for the Power. Now, did the Power come the first day that they prayed, the first prayer that was sent up? No, it took ten days. Noah waited seven days, they waited ten days. Have you ever waited for the electricity to come back on. Your freezer food is about to thaw out. It's hard to wait, isn't it. But it's worth the wait when it does come back on. Power is worth the wait. Without the Holy Spirit, the new church would be about as worthless as a bladeless knife without a handle. Jesus told them to wait.
Several years ago a newspaper reported a brand new Navy jet fighter that shot itself dow with its own bullets. I shot out of its canon and it was flying so fast that it caught up with the bullets and shot itself down. That's amazing. It ran into its own canon shells because it was traveling too fast. And you might also be traveling too fast. If you don't have time to worship God in regular church services, you don't have time to study the Bible, if you don't have time to have a prayer life that you ought to have, then you may be going too fast and you're going to shoot yourself down. If you go too fast you're going to go beyond the sound barrier and you won't hear the still small voice, the sound of God speaking to you. You're going too fast and you shoot yourself down.
They made an amazing discovery in the hospital. You probably read about this. It was in a mid-western hospital and they were told the hospital is a dangerous place. Authorities had discovered that the hospital has a lot of fire-fighting equipment in it and for years it had been unhooked, disconnected from the city water supply. Have you ever been walking up and down the stairs in some of these hospitals. I never take the elevator, I always go on the stairway. You see there these big brass valves and the fire hose and you think that if you open that valve, that hose is going to be filled with life-saving water and you could fight the fire. That hospital, apparently whoever the contractor was, had hooked it all up and stubbed the pipe out four feet from the hospital and capped it off and it was never ever hooked up to the water. And they had existed for thirty-five years thinking that they were in a wonderful position, that they were hooked up to the power.
You know, you as a Christian that attends the McDonald Road church could attend for years and year and think, "Well, I'm hooked up to the Power when really in an unsecured position. No water for thirty-five years. Those shiny brass valves gave a false assurance. And we Christians are similar. We may look pretty good with our shiny brass haloes you know. We come here and with our complicated systems of belief but let me tell you, unless you are connected to Jesus Christ you will not have the Power of God flowing through your life. Your religion will be about as useless as a concrete parachute. It's no good. So, you need to wait for the Power.
Now, I don't like waiting. The disciples were told to wait. But when you're told to wait for Power it's worth the wait. Don't rush off in a cloud of dust with one pint of gasoline in your tank. You wait for the filling of the Holy Spirit.
And only when the church is fully energized can we really do God's work in abundant vigorousness and zestfulness. You've got to wait for the gift.
Imagine that your millionaire uncle dies and he has always told you "Don, when I die everything I have is going to be yours." And there you are, sitting there waiting for them to read the will. Would the wait be worth it? I believe I could wait a while for that. God promises you all the Power in the world. Is the wait going to be worth it? Absolutely, it's going to be worth it. You need to wait for the Power.
And Jesus did not want them rushing of half cocked in their own strength. Only until you get the full Power of the Holy Spirit will you be in the position that you need to be in. In fact, Ellen White says this in Acts of the Apostles, p. 40: "The Holy Spirit did for them that which they could not have accomplished for themselves in a whole lifetime." Now, that is an amazing thing. The Holy Spirit did for them that which they could not have accomplished for themselves in a whole life-time.
And you can see the evidence of that through the rest of the whole book of Acts. You know that is a true statement. So, all hundred and twenty of them made it.
Now I can visualize James waiting and John waiting, but I can't hardly visualize fast Peter waiting. I mean, Peter, he is impetuous. He just jumps off at anything. And we hate to wait. We go, go, go. We think waiting is a waste of time. But never go into a battle against sin by yourself. Wait for the Power.
The twelve disciples were to be the executor of Jesus' will in which he bequeathed to the world the treasures of heaven.
Now in Acts 1:15-20, Peter gets up and he begins to talk about Judas. Whatever happened to Judas? Peter reiterates what happened to Judas. Judas went out, he got a cheap rope apparently and he hung himself. How do we know it was a cheap rope? Well, because it broke, I guess. Something happened. He fell headlong to the ground which broke him open. That's what Peter says here. Or, possibly one other possibility would be that Judas hung himself and when the body finally fell due to decay, it broke open. Either way, Judas was a broken man. He was lost forever and he talks about Judas. Judas died where? Matthew 27:6-8 says that the priests purchased the potter's field. But here in Acts 118, 19, it says that Judas purchased the field. So, which is right? Matthew 27:6-8 or is this right here in Acts? Who actually purchased the field? It looks like a contradiction in the bible doesn't it? Did Judas buy it or did the priests buy it? Well, both are right. Judas did buy it. He purchased the field in a round about way. He threw those thirty pieces of silver at the feet of the priests and they bought it with his money. So, in a second-hand way, he did buy it.
His suicide was well known. How many of you mothers name your babies "Judas?" Judas is a symbol of treacherousness. Slaughterhouses have a sheep, a Judas sheep. Have you ever heard of a Judas sheep? It's a leader sheep that will lead the rest of the flock right into the slaughterhouse to their death. And they rescue the Judas sheep so it can lead another group to their death. It's a traitor. That's what it means. And so we don't name our children, "Judas."
But, Judas was gone ant they had eleven disciples left. But now what do they do. Well, in Acts 1:20 Peter quotes the Psalms. "For," said Peter, "it is written in the book of Psalms, 'May this place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it' and ' may another take his place of leadership.'" He patches together two quotations from two different Psalms to prove his point that they ought to hold an election. The qualifications would be two things: they must have known Jesus through a couple experiences and they must believe in Jesus. They narrowed the choice down to two men: One was Barsabbas, and the other was Matthais. Barsabbas, Bar means son, and Sabbas means Sabbath, so this was the son of the Sabbath. These charter members of the church were Sabbath-keepers. And they cast lots. They took two small chunks of wood and made some marks on them and shook them up and the first one to fall out on the floor was the indicator. And the lot fell on Matthais and he was immediately added to the twelve disciples, bringing their number up to the full twelve.
The weird thing is we never ever hear of Matthias again. Not even once. We don't read anything that he did. He was elected to replace Judas, but he's never heard from again. This leaves me to wonder something. Could it be that they jumped the gun? We're never told that they did the right thing. Could it be that God was going to take care of the replacement of Judas Himself? Could it be that God was already preparing Saul of Tarsus to fill the place of Judas? And if so, could it be that Judas himself would have done the work of Paul had he been faithful? There's a lot of conjecture here that mulls around in my mind here. But then I guess there were other disciples we never hear from or about either.
I'm not trying to be uncomplimentary to Matthais here, but it seems to me that God was already preparing Paul to be the twelfth disciple.
Which tells me that if your dating goes sour and you're dating some boy or girl and you break up, should you yourself rush out and find a replacement right away? Or should you wait for God. Maybe God has already preparing somebody for you. I think we jump off too much and we get into the fire instead of the frying pan and it's even worse.
Maybe we all need to learn to wait on God.
And they cast lots. Now, I want you to know that in Acts 1:26, this is the last reference in the entire Bible of anybody casting lots. It never happens again. And why not? I think the results of it this time didn't maybe work out. I don't know. Maybe they realized that it was a poor alternative to the great leadership that we have in the Holy Spirit. You know, we have the Word, don't we. We have the Spirit of Prophecy, we have the Holy Spirit, why do we need to cast lots? Apparently they never did it again.
Well, I want to tell you, this is a great series that we're going to get into next week: the actual falling of the Holy Spirit on the disciples. What a great thing. Don't miss it next week. You know the Wind of God is always blowing, but to catch the Wind you've got to prepare your soul. Are you willing to do that? You've got to prepare for the wind.
Hymn of Praise: #92, This Is My Father's World Scripture: Acts 1:12-14 Hymn of Response: #547, Be Thou My Vision
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last updated 7/28/2003 by Bob Beckett.