Handling disappointment well


Sometimes God takes us to the wilderness to grow us. Not much fun, but if God took you there and you allow Him to mould you, you come out better. Phil Moore’s excellent “Straight to the heart of Acts” contains the story of Joseph Barsabbus who is a great example of someone who God took through the wilderness twice.

We first meet him in Acts 1:23,26 “So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias… Then they cast lots and the lot fell to Matthias”

Joseph Barsabbus was a follower of Jesus from the beginning. Always there – when Jesus was healing, clashing with the Pharisees, taking avid notes during the Sermon on the Mount and there when Jesus went to pray to the Father for revelation of who the twelve would be. He was on the shortlist, but he didn’t make the final cut. Even Judas got in before him!

But he kept on going – for two years as a close follower. He was there at every point – Acts 1:21 “… one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out from among us…”

He was a witness of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection – but there couldn’t be thirteen. Jesus had chosen twelve disciples – one for every tribe of Israel. Now Judas was dead, his place needed to be filled. Here’s Barsabbas’ chance. He is on the shortlist again, again to have his hopes dashed as Matthias gets the job. As Phil Moore writes “Joseph Barsabbas had once again beeen posed to go down in history as one of the Twelve, and once again God has passed Him by. He had not just been sidelined by the Eleven, but by God Himself. Of course I am speculating about how Barsabbas must have felt in Acts Chapter 1 , but I’m pretty sure it hurt him. A lot.”

The amazing thing about Joseph Barsabbas is that it didn’t spoil him. He let God be God and made a courageous choice of his own. The Church is Jesus’ body, not his. He didn’t manipulate his way into leadership outside of God’s choosing, where it would have been in his own strength. He became one of a great many ordinary heroes from Acts, like Mary who opened her home for an all night prayer meeting, the business woman Lydia whose home became a church planting base in Philippi, Priscilla and Aquila the tentmakers who straightened out Apollos so he could become an apostle in later years and so on. They were all heroes. People who played out God given roles in God’s great drama. The only losers were those who refuse their role, succumb to bitter disappointment and try to play in a position of their own choosing.

So often we can be like Joseph Barsabbas with high hopes of calling and destiny that feel dashed at the moment. God may yet do those things, but first he calls us to serve faithfully in the little things, in the unglamorous and unnoticed sidelines of the Kingdom mission – with the same grace and humility of Joseph Barsabbas.

The epilogue to the story is in Acts 15:22 where Judas Barsabbas ( It could be his brother, but he once had a nickname Justus because he was Just, he may now have the nickname Judas because he was a man of praise). Now Barsabbas and Silas who are leading men among the brothers – are chosen to go prophecy, encourage and strengthen churches at a time of vital need. Because Barsabbas didn’t give into disappointment and bitterness and continued to serve God faithfully in what ever role he was given, he becomes a hero in the book of Acts!

Guard your heart and be and ordinary person empowered by an extraordinary God!

I adapted Phil Moores excellent bite sized insight from “Straight to the heart of Acts” which I read in my daily readings the other day because I relate to Joseph, was challenged by it and want to live in the good of it too. Buy the book, but live in the good of the lesson God has for us too!

Acts 3:1-10

Acts 3 – Don’t worry about what you don’t have. Use what youdo!

Want Biblical experience of Church life and the Spirit

Acts 3:1-10

Story

Man crippled from birth, begging outside the “GateBeautiful” tall ornate gold gate

Relying on religious conscience of religious people andthe Christians who went past for prayer

Peter & John going to pray

Confidently and boldly heal him in a very public place.

“Silver and gold I don’t have, but what I do I give to you. Get up andwalk”

What they didn’t have

Money

Not necessarily poor.

Common purse – pool the money and give it to the leasttrustworthy person!

No cash on them

Their confidence wasn’t in money. Often our is!

Education

V13 Unschooled and ordinary men

Rely on education and letters after the name

Peter and John subsistence fisherman fromGalilee – the place where Israelites who have told Irish jokes about.

Ordinary men – rely on the pastor or the big names to do thestuff.

Most of us write ourselves of with “Wish I…”

Was brighter, had more money, not had such awful roots, notmade so many mistakes, been abused so much, wasn’t depressed, trodden on, moregifted, more useful, didn’t get so nervous.

Don’t think like that! Those things do not qualify you!

What did they have?

Confidence!

Video clip/Bill Johnson story

Confidence in the power of Jesus name

There is power in the name of Jesus!

In John 14 Jesus tells his followers “Whateveryou ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in theSon.

There is no other name by which we can be saved. Act 4:12

In Phil 4 we learn why Jesus name is so powerful “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becomingobedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highlyexalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every other name, sothat at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth and underthe earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory ofGod the Father”.

When we pray, we pray confidently in the name of Jesus.

When we cast out demons, we cast them out in the name ofJesus.

When we heal the sick, we heal them in the name of Jesus.

Because we know Jesus and are getting close, we learn toknow his voice and when to do those things. The Seven Sons of Sceva got a goodkicking by some demons, because they used the name of Jesus without knowingJesus.

Grow in the confidence of the name of Jesus – by pursuingHim and His presence!

Confidence in the anointing of the Spirit of God

Jesus came as 100% God and 100% man, but he operated in thepower of the Holy Spirit on the earth

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord has anointed me…”

Power to do miracles

Luke 5 On one of those days, as he wasteaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had comefrom every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power ofthe Lord was with him to heal.

Acts1:8 Jesus promised the same power to the disciples and us. We are called tobring the kingdom of God and we do that when we lead people to Christ, when weheal, when we cast out demons and one day I would love to raise someone fromthe dead!

Adoption as Sons – not justtheoretically, actually are a son

Romans 8 “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery tofall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, bywhom we cry “Abba! Father”. The Spirit himself bears witness with our spiritthat we are children of God, and if children then heirs – heirs of God andfellow heirs with Christ…”

Boldness – not a spirit offear, but of power, love and self discipline.

2 Tim 1:7 “For God gave us not aspirit of fear but of power, love and self-control

At the end of Acts 4 the church experienced that in a prayermeeting when God shook the room and filled them with boldness!

What is in you comes out

Overflow of the heart Matt 12:34

Tongue and interpretation – lot of anger and un-impressed

“In the name of Jesus get up and walk” – Power

“Took him by the hand” – Love and compassion

What is in your heart?

Where’s your confidence?

End of chapter 4 consequences of the healing: the church grows by 2000, threats by the authorities.

So they pray and are filled with the Spirit again forboldness

Ministry – power, adoption, boldness.

Acts 2:41-47

1598 churches closed between 1969 and 2001, The ChurchesConservation Trust estimate another 1000 will close this decade.

Jesus promised that “I will build mychurch and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” Matt 16-18

Yet in Rev 2-3…

Does that mean immediate closure? 1 Sam 15:26 And Samuelsaid to Saul, “I will not return with you. For you have rejected the word ofthe Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king overIsrael.” God rejected Saul years before David took over. So churches canhave their lampstand removed and go on meeting with God not in the midst.

Nicky Gumbel uses the Private Eye article about God leavingthe Anglican Church – a spokesman said”We’ll just have to get used to it!” and yet Nicky Gumbel’s Church HTB, likeour movement is planting loads of vibrant growing churches all across the UK.

Non-Christians often see the Church as Irrelevant – EddieIzzard brilliantly caricatured how the Anglican Church would do the SpanishInquisition “Cake or death?”

Chuck Colson quote

“Three of four years ago I came to the realisation that wehave a scandalously low view of the church., The church is not incidental tothe great cosmic struggle for the hearts and souls of modern men and women; itis the instrument God has chosen for the battle – a battle that we are calledto by virtue of our being members of His body.

That the church is held in such low esteem reflects not onlythe depths of our Biblical ignorance, but the alarming extent to which we havesuccumbed to the excessive individualism of modern culture… If we don’t graspthis intrinsically corporate nature of Christianity embodied in the Church, weare missing the very heart of Jesus’ plan.”

Problem is the McChurch mentality – we are used to consumingand choosing and we treat church just the same. When a leader challenges sin,we choose another church and son on.

I’ve been praying that we get a fresh Revelation of theGlorious Church today that will captivate you and motivate you to be fullyadded and involved!

Bill Hybels quote

“i believe that the local church is the hope of the world. Ibelieve that to the core of my heart that local church leaders have the mostinfluential force on planet earth. If they get it and get on with it, churchescan become redemptive centres that Jesus intended them to be. Dynamic teaching,creative worship, deep community, effective evangelism and joyful service willcombine to renew the hearts and minds of seekers and believers alike,strengthen families, transform communitues and change the world.”

Picture of the Church in the NT is amazing

Christ died for it Eph 5:25 Husbands,love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himselfup for it” Jesus didn’t die forprivate Christianity of pick and mix. He died for his body, the Church. Hedidn’t die for cake or death. He died for the Church a radical family, an army,a people on a mission together.

City on a hill Matt 5:14 You are thelight of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden

Passage we have got to in Acts 2 portrays the church in itsexciting first days

We are a restoration church – endeavouring to restore church life to the NT pattern…

This passage got me in 1993, gripped me – what if we couldbe like that? What if we could be that band of Christ follower who love eachother radically. Where the masks come off and we share our lives and hearts.Where we laugh and cry and share and pray and sing and serve together inauthentic Christian fellowship. Where those who have more share with those whohave less and racial and socioeconomic barriers melt away. Where we demonstratea vision of life that is so beautiful it takes your breath away. So bold, socreative, so exciting, that people can’t resist it. Where the Lord adds to usdaily.

Let’s look at what it was like and dream of and work for ithappening here.

V41 People received the word and were baptised– hunger for hearing the truth and immediately putting it into practice

3000 “added” – more than attended. They are added.

It’s not a pick and mix – which restaurant shall we go to.Which church shall we be part of? They were added.

Devoted themselves to four things

Steadfast

Clinging like a dog to its master

Apostles Teaching

They then devoted themselves to the apostles’ doctrine(Acts 2:42), which shaped their lives and gave them principles on which theyshould live. Ephesians 2:20 tells us that the church was built upon thefoundation of apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being thecornerstone.

Apostolic Teaching now embodied in our Bibles and faithfullytaught by Apostles, Prophets and Teachers today!

Here that includes Sunday preaching which is then applied in Life Groups

Fellowship

“Committed Community of Love”

Jesus said “By this they will know you are disciples”

Not just a meeting that starts a few minutes late and peopleshake the pastor’s hand as they leave

Warmth, love, friendship, family (power of the secondfamily)

More than a weekly small group meeting – met daily, hung outtogether and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.

Sharing possessions and goods as have need. Holding ontothings lightly – lending even though fearful it will get broken or lost. Goodfor us!

Outward looking – enjoyed the favour and the Lord added tothem daily

Breaking of Bread

Jesus gave us baptism for the entry point and breaking ofbread as part of continuing in our Christian life together

Matt 26: 26-29

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing itbroke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is mybody.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks hegave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 forthis is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for theforgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again ofthis fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in myFather’s kingdom.”

Paul repeats Christ’s words in 1 Cor 11:24-25

V26 For as often as you eat this breadand drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.proclaims the Lord’s death

V27-30 whoever, therefore, eats thebread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guiltyconcerning the body and blood of the Lord.28 Let a person examine himself,then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone whoeats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment onhimself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some havedied.

Don’t do it profanely or unworthily

Regular – context as part of a meal. Danger of going toreligious – admit we have gone the otherway and don’t do it enough.

Call to honour Jesus and live right before him!

Prayer

We soon see prayer as a mark of the early church.

Prayer meetings often boring.

Comment by clergyman on my prayer during and Good FridayMarch of Witness

Heartfelt, passionate, reminding God of his promises,expecting Him to answer!

Thingslooked bleak for the children of George Muller’s orphanage at Ashley Downs inEngland. It was time for breakfast, and there was no food. A small girl whosefather was a close friend of Muller was visiting in the home. Muller took herhand and said, "Come and see what our Father will do." In the diningroom, long tables were set with empty plates and empty mugs. Not only was thereno food in the kitchen, but there was no money in the home’s account. Mullerprayed, "Dear Father, we thank Thee for what Thou art going to give us toeat." Immediately, they heard a knock at the door. When they opened it,there stood the local baker. "Mr. Muller," he said, "I couldn’tsleep last night. Somehow I felt you had no bread for breakfast, so I got up at2 o’clock and baked fresh bread. Here it is." Muller thanked him and gavepraise to God. Soon, a second knock was heard. It was the milkman. His cart hadbroken down in front of the orphanage. He said he would like to give thechildren the milk so he could empty the cart and repair it.

Breathtakingvision of 3120 people passionately devoted to hearing and applying the word ofGod, to building community together, to celebrating Jesus’ death and eventualreturn and to calling on God. The

Results?

Awe

Signs and wonders

People cared for financially and spiritually

Favour of the Community

People getting saved and added daily

Moving to Sunday mornings will force some to decide whichlocal church they are part of – that’s good.

Amazing picture of a glorious church that will be abeautiful bride of Christ, a growing family and unstoppable army. Worth livingand dying for.

Live in a McCulture – lots of choice. Thousands of TVchannels, Internet, more choice of Squash than could have been imagined byprevious cultures.

Pick and choose churches on personal preference andwhether the pastor has upset you yet.

Called to be added. To taste and see what Scripture saysChurch is and begin to live it together.

Wimber story of man who found a homeless person – rangthe elders, small group leaders, social action team.. no one available sohelped the person. “Where was the Church?” Sounds like the Church got on withthe job”

Call to give your lives to the bride of Christ

Devoted to being taught and applying it

Devoted to fellowship and community

Devoted to breaking of bread – call to celebrate Jesusand live Holy

Devoted to prayer – individually and corporately

Call to enjoy the favour of the community as we do goodand see the Lord add to us daily!

A couple of weeks ago David preached about Jehu andJehonadab – total opposites. Jehu, the King who liked to drive his chariotfuriously, asked the staid Jehonadab is your heart with mine as mine is toyours?

Saul’s son Jonathan wanted to attack the Philistines andhis armour bearer on hearing what he wanted to do said “Iam with you heart and soul

The question I want to ask you this afternoon as we lookto build a glorious church is: are you with us “heart and soul”?

By Acts 4 a year or two in it says “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart andsoul“.

That’s a big commitment and takes time – but thisafternoon are you willing to commit to the journey to be like the earlyChurch – one in heart and soul – devotedto the apostles teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer, sharingyour stuff, enjoying the favour of the community and seeing the Lord add daily?

Acts2 – The Spirit comes and Peter preaches

Acts 2

The power comes v1-4

Told to wait 1:8 – Spirit promised becomes the Spirit provided

They were all together praying when a rushing wind comes and tongues of fire land on their heads and suddenly they are able to speak in languages never learned.

Whne God appeared to Moses there was the burning bush and when the Law came there was wind and fire and glory. But Pentecost brought altogether different results – When the Law came 3000 died who made the idol. But when the Spirit came 3000 are saved!

The 120 were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit – that would make them better witnesses and give them internal power to be holy.

A lady went to a jeweller to have her watch fixed. He disappeared to the back and soon returned with it running perfectly.

Surprised, she asked how he could fix it so soon. He told her it only needed a new battery.

“Battery? Battery? No body said anything about a battery. I’ve been winding it every morning!"

Multitude affected v5-13

Private affair of 120 in a room becomes a bustling public event attracting the attention of representatives from every nation under heaven.

It’s Festival time! In Jerusalem. Pentecost was a major gathering time – Passover had been just a few monthe before when Jesus was crucified and rose again and now it the harvest festival. 1000’s are gathered in Jerusalem to worship God and they are going to get the shock of their lives. 120 Galileans are speaking of the wonders of God and loudly and they seem to have fire on their heads!

The irony of the Galileans is that they were “boorish dolts in the eyes of sophisticated Jerusalemites” – county bumpkins, rednecks.

Nations mentioned frame Jerusalem as the four corners of the “known” earth – the Gospel begins to go to the ends of the earth.

What does this mean? Are they drunk?

Peter preaches

Last week Andy told me I was very green with my sermon jokes – I like to recycle them!

Peter is pretty green too! He preaches 5 times in Acts. Here as the Spirit has just fallen at Pentecost, secondly after the lame man is healed, thirdly when Peter and John are arrested, fourthly on their next arrest in ch5 and then to Cornelius. Each time the sermon has the same simple structure

1 He explains what has happened

2 You crucified Jesus

3 But God raised him up

4 And exalted him, which is why what has just happened happened!

5 Sort your lives out!

Explains what has happened v14-21

This is that.. – anchored in OT promise and expectation.

Promised Holy Spirit from Joel 2

Spirit will be available for all not just special people for special tasks – Huge new deal

Young visions, old dreams. Men and women, All classes of society

Wonders in heaven, Signs on earth.

Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

No other name other than Jesus that can save you Acts 4:12

You crucified Jesus v22-23

Peter preaches 5 sermons in Acts, all with the same structure and all explaining something that has just happened. All pretty confrontational.

The crowd who are in Jerusalem in for Pentecost is pretty large – 3000 get saved in few minutes. Some of them would have be there at the Passover – shouting Crucify Him, Crucify Him! But many wouldn’t have. So how can he charge them all with Crucifying Jesus without checking all of them individually as to whether they were there?

In once sense they and you and I all would have shouted it. You crucified Him. – The scary thing is that if we were there unsaved, we would have been shouting too.

In another sense Peter can accuse all of them and us of crucifying Christ, because everybody in that crowd was involved in the crime against Jesus that brought him to his death. The essence of the crime against Jesus was not the ending of his physical life. The essence of the crime against Jesus was the rejection of God in Jesus’ life.

They had
seen his miracles, yet crucified him. They had rejected that He was the son of God. They accused him of blasphemy and sent him to be crucified which was to be utterly cursed by God Deut 21:22-23.

God raised him up v24-32

V24 is a hinge point for Peter, because God raised Him from the dead.

You crucified him and counted him cursed by God. BUT God raised Him up – vindicated him. The challenge is that they were horribly wrong in their judgement and in doing so have set themselves up in opposition to God.

Not only did God the Father raise Jesus from the dead, but he is now at the Right hand of the Father in Heaven – which Peter explains in a quote from Ps 16.

God exalted him, which explains what has happened v33-36

In verses 34-35 Peter quotes Psalm 110 to show the significance of Jesus’ exaltation.

He says, "For David did not ascend into the heavens; but he himself says, ‘The LORD [that is, God the Father] said to my Lord [that is the coming Messiah, Jesus], Sit at my right hand, till I make thy enemies a stool for thy feet.’" In other words, David already foresaw that God would exalt the risen Messiah to his right hand and give him a place of rule and supremacy over every other person and power in the universe.

This endorsement of Jesus exposes the ultimate horror of rejecting him. In rejecting Jesus not only have they rejected the one God declared to be Messiah by raising him from the dead (cf. vv. 30-31); they have also rejected the one whom God declared to be the Lord of the universe by exalting him to his right hand.

This is the decisive thrust of Peter’s sermon as he sums it up in verse 36, "Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that GOD [!] has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified."

God endorsed him as Christ-the Messiah-by raising him from the dead. God endorsed him as the Lord by exalting him all the way to the highest place in the universe and making him supreme over all his enemies.

Therefore… Repent v37-40

The crowd were cut to the heart – They had rejected Jesus and in doing so had rejected God.

“What shall we do?”

Repent and be baptised…

By being cut to the heart they had believed that Jesus was the Christ, God sent to die for them. Now they had to repent and be baptised and receive the Spirit.

Repent – change your mind. U-turn in your belief system. Stop going my way and go God’s way.

To be baptised is to go down under the water to show that you are new. Notice they are both commands and conscious decisions – that is why infant baptism is irrelevant. It wasn’t done out of the obedience of now following Christ.

We’ll happily baptise you – as its summer – in our deep paddling pool or on a sunny day in the sea at Sunny Hunny!

But you must repent and believe first!

Then as Peter promises you can receive the promise.

Peter gives the ideal order of receiving the Spirit after repenting, believing and being baptised. But you do see in the New testament people receiving before baptism!

Result v41 – 3,000 saved

Can you imagine the scene, the queues the chaos as people go down into the waters and the church grows from 120 to 3,000 in one swoop.

Application for us

Repent

Not yet done it?

Be baptised

Jesus commanded disciples, his followers to be baptised as a conscious act of obedience

Receive the power of the Spirit

Be baptised in the Spirit – God’s power filling you and empowering you to be holy and useful in His kingdom.

You can hear from God – v17-18

Everyone can receive the Spirit – young and old, men and women and all social classes and all can “prophecy” whether by visions, dreams or prophecying…

Save yourself from this crooked generation.

During the powerful morning as thousands are repenting, praying and getting baptised, Peter keeps preaching exhorting the crowds to “save themselves from this crooked generation” meaning that by becoming a follower of Christ they can live holy lives, utterly different from the sinful people around them.

These thousands will soon be scattered by persecution to take the Gospel with them – Having previously rejected God by rejecting Jesus they are finding that a return to God’s mission begins with a return to God’s standar
ds

Acts 1v11-26 The Holy Spirit’s Passion

The Holy Spirit’s Passion

Imagine for a moment as a daddy is taking her daughter on a daddy daughter date. They walk, holdhands, go for coffee and coca-cola and a bun and talk and listen – mostly he listens. Picture them walking, hand in hand, the little girl looking up into her daddy’s face and sees his love!

Suppose an aggressive drunk comes stumbling in their path as they walk to the coffee shop. The man stops about ten feet in front of them and stares into their faces and says to the little girl, "Hey stupid! You still like to hold hands with your mama?” She looks up at Dad – what she doesn’t want to see is the loving look, or worse panic or fear. At this moment she don’t want to see mainly kindness,tenderness, warmth. She would want to see strength, indignation, andconfidence. And she wants to feel a new kind of grip, that is so tight it would be uncomfortable in ordinary circumstances, but now says, "You won’t slip even if you faint, and no one can take you out of my hand." And as she looks up, the dad steps between her and the man and say, "Back off. You better cool it mister. I’m her Dad." And then the dad would shield his daughter as they walk boldly right by the man and leaves him behind.

I hope I’d be like that! But Now picture our Christian walk – one the one hand we have a loving Father and one the other we know He is unswerving and invincible in purpose. Sovereign and in control. When things are tough,when there is betrayal and it looks like Satan has the upper hand and we lookto God we don’t want to see fear, panicor just a loving look!

To quote John Piper, We need to see the tough features inthe face of Christ as well as the tender ones. And specifically this afternoonwe need to see not only the sweet, quiet, gentle ministry of the Holy Spirit asa Comforter, but also the awesome invincibility of his purpose and hisunflinching unwavering zeal for the glory of Jesus Christ.”

And that is exactly what we are going to get in the nextsection of Acts. A couple of weeks ago we look at Acts 1:1-12. This week we areat v12-26 – a seemingly strange section sandwiched between the promise of theSpirit in v8 and the fire falling in fulfilment in ch2. It’s position there isimportant as we will see in a moment.

Read the passage and find out this

1. God wants us to see the invincible purpose ofthe Spirit

2. The Holy Spirit is zealous that Jesus isglorified.

3. So what – how we can apply that to our Christianwalk.

Read Acts 1:12-26

God wants us to see the invincible purpose of the Spirit.

Days after the ascension of Christ. Jesus has told them tomake disciples in all nation, but to wait for the Spirit’s power first. So theygo back to the upper room and gather for prayer regularly. To pray in thepromise!

Why is this odd passage about Judas the betrayer here,sandwiched between the promise of the Spirit and the fire falling?

So Peter stands up and says “Brothers, the Scripture had tobe fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David.”That;s the key that unlocks what this strange section is about and so we askwhat Scripture? Peter answers that in v20 with 2 quotes from the Psalms:

The first half of verse 20 is a quote from Psalm 69:25,"May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it.."And that word is fulfilled in how Judas died and purchased a field by hisblood-money that became a desolate field of blood (vv. 17-19).

The second half of verse 20 is a quote from Psalm 109:8,"Let another take his office." And that word is fulfilled in the wayJudas was replaced by Matthias, described in verses 21-26.

The passage is about those two get fulfilled. The first partup to the quotes in v20 is about how Judas’s blood-money came to buy a desolatefield of blood. Then the second section after verse 20 shows how the secondprophetic scripture is fulfilled – he is replaced!

So the first point is that God wants us to see the invincible purpose ofthe Holy Spirit

The Scripture HAD to be fulfilled! God had spoken centuriesbefore and it HAD to be fulfilled! Often we see life as open ended and thingsgoing well and going badly. How can Peter say, "It had to be"? Whydid it have to be? Isn’t life full of ups and downs? Isn’t the futureopen-ended? Aren’t people free to make of life whatever they want so that evenGod has to adjust his plans?

Well either Peter was wrong or actually God is invincibleand His purposes will come to pass. This is one of the things you want to seeon the Father’s face when you look up to him in a time of crisis and danger-andespecially in a time when you are being betrayed. You want to see that hispurpose is not crumbling; that he is not worried; there is no panic in hisface; but only the confidence of an invincible purpose. He has spoken and ithas to be.

And God used Peter to talk about Judas story to illustratethis.

It is easy to believe God is sovereign when things are goingwell! But when things go bad, when there is lying, and mistrust and betrayal,and death, then you need all the help you can get to believe that the purposesof God are invincible. And that is what Luke gives us: not even Judas and Satancould undermine or escape the all-encompassing invincibility of God’s purpose.

Jesus knew full well that Judas would betray Him. In John heis talking to his disciples and says “But there are some of you who do notbelieve”. In Jn 17:12 he prays “While I was with them, I kept them in yourname, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them hasbeen lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” Jesus didn’t pray “I just don’t understandit. What happened? Why is he betraying me? Whatis going on?”. Because God issovereign and in control even when things look bad.

So at the end of the 19th C when Nietzscheannounced “God is dead” and when in the second half of the 20thCentury the church started declining to the point that 1000 people a week gaveup on the Church in the 90’s. God wasn’t worried, He wasn’t panicing. He issovereign and his purposes will be brought to pass by the invincible purpose ofthe Holy Spirit.

So when things are pressing in hard to your life. When allseems bad, out of control, people turning against you. When you loose your job,there’s sickness, even death and look up to the Father you won’t see a puzzledand worried face. We will see what we want so much to see, the confidence of aninvincible purpose.

So there is the first thing – God wants us to see theinvincible purpose of the Holy Spirit in the midst of crisis, tragedy andbetrayal.

Why then are there precious verses of God breathed Scripture, God breathed to be useful for us!Devoted to the replacement of Judas? Especially as they used a strange practiceafter prayer of casting lots.

The lots was an OT custom – they didn’t have the Spirit ofprophecy to hear from God yet – so God used an OT custom for the last time!

But why is Judas’ replacement so important – especially aswe don’t hear from Matthias again? Why didn’t they wait for Paul who do hear alot of?

Why does Luke want us to see that the invincible purposeof the Holy Spirit, expressed in Scripture, includes the replacement ofJudas-and specifically the replacement by one who had been with the 12 duringthe whole three years of Jesus public ministry? That is the important point ofverse 21 & 22, " So one of the men who have accompanied usduring all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out amongus, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he wastaken up from us-one of these men must become with us a witness to hisresurrection.”

It is important because those 12 apostles had been withJesus from the beginning of his ministry to his resurrection and they wouldensure that the message of the work of the historical Jesus was passed on. TheSpirit is passionate about the glory of Jesus and to ensure that we are guidedinto all truth. While only 3 Peter, James and John wrote any Scripture, theother 9 ensured we got the whole deal. The Spirit glorifies Jesus.

So this strange little passage is sandwiched between thepromise of the Spirit and the fulfilment of the Spirit coming for all, becausein all our pursuit for more of the power and presence of the Spirit, we mustremember it is all about Jesus.

One preacher said “For if our roots are not sunk deepinto the words and deeds of Jesus (preserved for us by the apostles), then itis certain that our branches will not reach very high into the sky of God’spower.”

God wants us to know that his purposes will be fulfilled by the Spirit andthat the Spirit wants to see Jesus glorified in everything.

So how does that change tomorrow morning?

1) It’s all about Jesus – so get deeper in Him.

2) What God begins He will carry on to completion. Soknow that when you look to the Father in those dark moments, you see the quietdetermination that He will accomplish His purposes.

Individually -strength and hope – God is with You and He will get it done

He will fulfil his promises and prophecies

Prophecy does need to be weighed – know in part and prophecy in part.

Right?

Timing?

What do I have to do?

What is of God unconditionally will happen!

Living with unfulfilled prophecy – we want it now, whenGod was revealing an end game.

Can lead to frustration and “hope deferred makes theheart sick”

Minister into that in a moment.

Corporately -promises from God

>500

Supernatural breakthrough

Wave of growth coming

So Prepare the ground and sharpen the plough.

1. PrayBiblically – reminding God of His promises

2. Throwout the nets again, even if you haven’t caught anything all night!

Acts 1 – Be confident

I’m starting a series of occasional posts on the book of Acts that are relevant to church planting.

Acts 1:1-11 Be confident…

Pregnant with God’s purposes – beginning to hit criticalmass as a church plant and getting ready to become established as “Church”!

Keith’s prophecy from last Autumn

I saw by the HolySpirit that there is like water, there is like a wave that’s gathering. I see agathering wave. It’s like the wind has got under it and it is gathering. Andthe Lord says that from where you to stand on the beach it looks not much morethan like a ripple. But from where he stands, it is a wave that is beginning toflow. It is a wave that is going to being to flow onto this church into thischurch and God says that the cry of the heart of the people of this church hasgone up to Heaven and has been heard. The Lord says that there is coming a timeof the Holy Spirit in this church which requires you to prepare, which requiresyou to get ready. The scriptures say that Jesus said to the disciples "Iwant you to go up into the upper room and prepare a meal because I am going toeat with you" and God says there is a time of preparation for the church.God says don’t just look at the wave. Get ready for the wave. Don’t just say awave is coming. Prepare for the wave. The Lord says that there will be aningathering in this place that will cause you to be so busy that if you haven’tprepared you will be swamped and overwhelmed. The Lord says: Don’t try and makethe wave happen. Don’t try to drag the wave along. Just get in the wave as itcomes. Allow the Holy Spirit to do this. There is going to be an outflow ofevangelism into this community, says the Lord. I am going to stir up the giftof God that is in some of you. There is some of you that have never doneanything for God and never heard anything from God and sometimes don’t knowwhether God knows about you. I declare to you tonight that God is going torelease you into active work in the kingdom of God. The work of the kingdomhere is going to increase, says the Lord. The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on you.

David’s preach “establish your heart” – is part of thatpreparation as individuals establish their hearts and we do so as a church too.

I’m going to dive into Acts for a week or two to help us preparethe ground for the next phase of church life together.

Early chapters of Acts pregnant with God’s purposes – actively waiting forGod to establish the early Church

Read Acts 1:1-11

The first thing that struck me looking at this passage isthat there are quite a number of things we can “Be confident of”. Confidence isa big deal – it’s the kid that knows he has a big brother on the playground.When we are confident of some stuff in God, we know we have an even biggerbrother in heaven and in us!

Be confident of the Bible verse 1

Luke and Acts were written by the same guy – a doctor calledLuke who was an eyewitness of much of the stuff that happened in Acts and wentround and interviewed eyewitnesses of the stuff in Luke. Here he writes “In myfirst book O Theophilus, I have dealt with all the Jesus began to do and teach…”

In Luke 1:1-4 he sets out his method “followedthings closely” and wrote an orderly account“so we can have certainty about the things we have been taught. We can beconfident of his writing and the whole Bible!

Luke’s attention to Historicalaccuracy is amazing. Modern scholars have demonstrated that Acts is aremarkable accurate piece of writing. His attention to detail shows that he hadbeen to many of the different places with their different populations, culturesand administrations. He knows that Cyprus, Achaia and Asia were governed byproconsuls and that in Philippi praetors had jurisdiction. Time and again hegets trivial details right – in stark contrast to Dan Brown who gets mosttrivial details in his Da Vinci code completely wrong – showing that he hadn’tbothered to visit the places he was writing about! Luke’s attention to detail isn’t justpedantry – he is a careful author who was there or spoke to people who werethere and recorded it with such detail that we can almost smell the atmosphere.

We can be confident of Faithfulcopying over centuries – and can even go to see manuscripts from as earlyas 180AD in the British museum and Dublin. If you talked to a Muslim whoregards the Gospels as Scripture too, but believes they were corrupted in the 4thCentury – you can point them to London or Dublin and say no!

We have goodtranslations worked on by namedteams of the best Greek and Hebrew scholars to give us the best translationsfrom the original languages – unlike the very poor translation the JWs havewhich was doctored to make Jesus less than God.

We can be confident of the Bible!

Be confident of Christ’s death and resurrection verse 3

Presented himself alive after hissuffering by many proofs

Christianity stands or falls on the resurrection of Jesus.Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 tells us that if the resurrection didn’t happen thenwe are to be pitied more than men – because we are deluded. The resurrection iscrucial because it shows that Jesus death on the cross wasn’t for his own sin. Itshows us that Jesus died for our sin and broke the power of sin and death forus. Luke records that Jesus “presented himself aliveafter his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days andspeaking about the Kingdom of God

He really did die. John’s gospel records that “one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear and at oncethere came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness – his testimonyis true and he knows that he is telling the truth – that you may also believe“The water would have been from the pleural cavity between the lungs and chestwall and the blood from the heart itself. Jesus was dead.

People have tried to have come up with a number ofexplanations of why Jesus’ body was gone from the tomb

Wrong tomb -guarded and sealed – would have been easily shown up.

Romans took thebody – would have produced as Christians became a nuisance

Jewish rulers tookthe body – again would have produced the body

Graverobbers -more interested in the grave clothes and spices which were left behind!

Disciples hid thebody – psychologically improbable. They had scattered but were emboldenedby the resurrection. Jesus’ followers faced great persecution for their claimsabout Jesus, yet, after his death, not one of them retracted those claims.Before Jesus’ death this was not the case; famously, Peter denied Jesus threetimes. Something transformed the early Christians into fervent witnesses to theresurrection. What could have done that other than a genuine resurrection?

Witnesses

Not Hallucinations– emotionally disturbed and druggies not sceptics and burly fisherman

500 at once -collective hallucinations impossible

Saul – ahostile witness persecuting Christians transformed by his encounter.

People at the time convinced by the “manyproofs

Are you saved?

Jesus ha
d to die and rose again because it was the onlysolution to the problem of your sin and mine. We are not naturally good byGod’s standards. Taking just 3 of the commandments – every one of has lied, hascoveted and used God’s name in vain. We are guilty and when we die we wouldn’tdeserve to go to heaven and there’s nothing we can do about it. We can’t begood enough to pay for the bad stuff. Jesus died on our behalf in our place androse again so if we repent of our sin and place our trust in him we can beforgiven and know God. Are you saved?

Be confident of God’s purposes verse 6-7

John Stott says of Verse 6 that there are as many errors aswords in the disciple’s question! And so Jesus tells them look times and datesare not what you need to worry about. God’s purpose is that we would bewitnesses to in

Jerusalem – our town

Judea – our area

Samaria – those who don’t like us much

Ends of the Earth – the nations

Be confident that God has called every one of us to bewitnesses going from here to the ends of the earth and nowadays the ends of theearth can be next door!

Be confident in God’s promises v5,8

For the early church…

1. You will be baptised v5

2. You will receive power v8

Both of which are you birth right available to you the verysecond you get saved! For the early churches they were promises they held on toclosely as they prayed and waited for the fulfilment of what God had said tothem between Jesus going to heaven and Pentecost – weeks later.

For us…

Whole number of things God has said to us – which are infull on the website and ads snippets on the back of the newssheet.

Pick out a few…

Notice the promise had conditions with the confidence

Conditional on “waiting” for the early church – they devotedthemselves to prayer v14

Conditional on “preparing the ground and sharpening theplough” for us – we need to pray, we need to be equipped evangelistically, weneed to keep casting the nets, we need to get a bigger venue and we need to beprepared for growth.

Last thing that I want to pick out is

Be confident of God’s power v8

you will receive power to bewitnesses” The same power that raised Christ from the dead is the powerof the Holy Spirit that works in you as you live out your Christian life beinga witness and witnessing!

It’s the “Lo when we go” Matt 28:19 “go therefore and makedisciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son andHoly Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded and LO I amwith you always to the end of the age”.

Be confident of the Bible, the Resurrection, in God’spurposes for the Church, God’s promises over us and God’s power to work in andthrough us.

This stuff is all true whether you feel like it or not.