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Preparing for Pentecost

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Introduction

All of us who have been followers of the Lord Jesus have had times when we feel like we are waiting.
Maybe we feel like we are in between seasons in our lives.
lAl
Maybe we feel like something is about to happen or there is about to be a change and yet we don’t know exactly what they change is going to be or what it is going to look like.
How do we prepare for that change?
How do we wait?
Also, thought Pentecost has come and we are not waiting for another Pentecost, I think this text tells us how we as individuals or as a church ought to be living as we look for and long for a powerful work of the Holy Spirit of God in our midst.
We come to a text today where for the disciples there was about to be radical change, a change that had been promised by the Lord as the Lord had promised that they would be baptized by the Holy Spirit.
As we began Acts last week we saw that this book is really the continuing ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ through the church as it is empowered by the Holy Spirit.
As we began Acts last week we saw that this book is really the continuing ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ through the church as it is empowered by the Holy Spirit.
In v.8 the promises the apostles that they will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them and they will be His witnesses beginning in Jerusalem and going to the end of the earth.
Remember back in v.4 Jesus orders them not to depart from Jerusalem but to wait for the promise of the Father, that is they were to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
So Jesus’ promises the Spirit to His disciples and tells them that they are to wait in Jerusalem for His coming.
The next events that we will be looking at today are the only events that we have recorded between the ascension of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit.
What do we learn about the disciples as they are waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
We see three things.

I. United Continuing Prayer

The first thing that we see is that they were giving themselves to prayer.
Notice v.14
We can notice a couple of things about their praying.
A. with one accord (homothumadon: with one mind)
This is a word that Luke loves to use in the book of Acts of the 11 times it is used in the NT Luke uses it 10 of those times in the book of Acts.
It is used here
Acts 2:46 ESV
And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,
Acts
Acts 4:24 ESV
And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them,
Acts 5:12 ESV
Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico.
Acts 15:25 ESV
it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
Acts 15:25 ESV
it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
Acts 4:24 ESV
And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them,
Acts 5:12 ESV
Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico.
Acts 15:25 ESV
it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
Used in other places to refer to crowds other than the church being of one mind
Acts 8:6 ESV
And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs that he did.
This word is used in one more place outside of Acts and that is by Paul in Romans
Romans 15:5–6 ESV
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So Paul’s prayer for the church in Rome is that the together or with one mind they would with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
You know we talk about a desire to see God act, to see God move, that God would do something in our midst.
Are we gathering together to pray with one mind.
Praying, desiring for God’s Kingdom to be advanced for God to use us for His glory, to see the church strengthened and moving forward in a way that would honor and glorify God?
If we are all praying for our own agendas for our own pet kingdoms then there is no way we can be of one mind if we gather to pray but if we are praying for God’s agenda, for the advancement of God’s Kingdom then we can gather in one mind.
And that is what we see going on here.
B. devoting themselves to prayer (proskartereo: to be devoted to, to persevere devotedly)
An interesting thing is that this word is used only 10 times in the NT and Luke uses it 6 of those times here in Acts
Acts 2:42 ESV
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Acts 2:46 ESV
And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,
Acts 6:4 ESV
But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
Paul uses this word twice in an exhortation to be devoted to prayer
Romans 12:12 ESV
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Colossians 4:2 ESV
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
So we see the apostles and those gathered with them giving themselves, persevering, being devoted to praying with one mind as they waited for the Lord to fulfill His promise of the Spirit.
They did not use Jesus’ promise of the Spirit to come as an excuse to sit back and do nothing, no they longed for the coming of the Spirit, they prayed for the coming of the Spirit, and they sought the Lord in prayer so that they could walk in obedience.
No doubt they were asking for the Spirit because what did the Lord promise in Luke
Luke 11:13 ESV
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Luke
Let me say this brothers and sisters, if the Lord has promised us something we should not think well I don’t need to pray for this or about this.
The Lord has promised to keep us and to watch over us and to sanctify us.
But listen to me you don’t sit back on your hands and do nothing, the Lord promises us these things and we are to seek them in prayer just as the disciples asked for the coming of the Spirit.
You know we talk so often about seeking God’s will for our lives, well I wish i knew God’s will for me, things like that.
We see here that as the apostles and the disciples are in this time of uncertainty waiting for the coming of the Spirit they devoted themselves to praying.
This is describing to us what they did but it also teaches us what we should be about as well.
Do you seek the Lord in the time of uncertainty, in the time of change? well you should seek Him in prayer
I think even of times of refreshing or revival for the church. If we are going to see those times i dare say then there will have to be brothers and sisters gathering together with one mind devoting themselves to prayer.
Is that something that you would even consider?
As we consider the book of Acts we will see the importance of prayer
1:24, 2:42, 4:23-31, 6:4 and 6, 11:5, 12:5-17, 13:2 and 3, 14:23, 16:25, 20:36, 21:5
When you look at the modern church would you say that prayer is important to the modern church?
When you attend a worship service?
When you look at the weekly schedule?

II. Trusting the Sovereign Savior

But as we continue to read the text we see that they were not only praying but they were praying in confidence because they were trusting in their Sovereign Savior.
One might be tempted to think, well I know that Jesus promised this, but He was not able to keep one of the disciples from apostasy, how do we know that He has it under control?
The text before us makes it clear that Jesus was never out of control even when Judas betrayed Him.
The text makes it clear that it was God’s plan from eternity past for Jesus to be betrayed by Judas.
This was foretold in the OT Scriptures v.16 and 17
God was not out of control when Judas betrayed Jesus and God was not out of control now.
To use a quote from Mike Stone that I saw on Facebook yesterday
Judas was not a tool in the hand of Satan, he was a pawn in the hand of God.
The disciples prayed with great confidence because they knew they were praying to a Sovereign God whose plan of redemption and restoration could not and would not be thwarted.
One of the things that is necessary for us as a church as we long for the Lord to send revival is that we must have confidence that God is Sovereign and that He is in control.
We can pray with confidence, we can ask the Lord to move within us individually, we can ask the Lord to move within the church and to be glorified in the church, we can ask these things in confidence because we know that the God that we pray to is not a God that is controlled by man, He is not a God who is hindered by anyone.
Again when
Now let me just take a little aside here and discuss Judas for a moment.
The text tells us that it was necessary for the Scripture to be fulfilled concerning Judas.
One may say, well did Judas have a choice it sounds like Judas was just a robot.
But then as we continue to read we see v.18, the reward of his wickedness
Why did Judas betray Jesus? because of his own wickedness, his own wicked heart
We see a tension here that we find all through the scriptures and that we will even see a little later one in the book of Acts again
God is Sovereign, all of history is nothing but His story.
And at the same time we are told that Judas’ arm was not twisted, that Judas made a conscious willful decision to betray Jesus. Judas chose to betray Jesus because of His wicked heart.
You say well, that is hard to understand how both of the things that you are saying is true.
I agree that it is hard for us in our finite minds to understand how this works but that does not mean that there is a contradiction here.
Complementarianism is a big fancy word that simply means that two truths that may seem to be in conflict actually complement one another.
Sovereignty of God
Conscious willful decisions by man

III. Walking in Obedience to Scripture

The last thing that I want to point out from the Scripture before us is that the disciples wanted to walk in obedience to God.
Peter stands up in v.15 and as he leads those who are gathered he does so using Scripture.
Quoting from which is a Davidic psalm where the enemies of God’s anointed are judged and in v.8
Psalm 109:8 ESV
May his days be few; may another take his office!
Peter understands this Psalm to ultimately be fulfilled in Christ and those who rose up against Him.
In light of this text Peter leads those gathered to replace Judas.
But i think that it was not only this text but also Peter’s understanding of the apostles that led to his understanding that Judas needed to be replaced.
The significance of the number 12 in the numbering of the apostles.
There were 12 tribes in Israel
Christ and His people are the true Israel of God and the significance of 12 apostles replacing the 12 tribes of Israel can not be overstated.
If the apostles were going to proclaim to Jews that Christ followers are the people of God, that the old covenant is coming to an end and that God has established a new covenant in Christ 12 apostles to replace the 12 tribes would be a big deal.
As we read the passage we see that it is the apostles desire to be lead by the Lord, they want to walk in obedience.
v.21-26
We see that they turn to the Lord in prayer again.
We also see that they cast lots, now maybe that is surprising.
Maybe you ask, why did they cast lots and well why don’t we start casting lots?
The practice of casting lots was common within Israel
Numbers 26:55–56 ESV
But the land shall be divided by lot. According to the names of the tribes of their fathers they shall inherit. Their inheritance shall be divided according to lot between the larger and the smaller.”
33:54, 34:13, 36:2
This might sound odd to us at first, but listen
Proverbs 16:33 ESV
The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.
Proverbs
Here the lot fell to Matthias and the disciples understood this to be Matthias’s appointment by Christ Himself.
You say, well why don’t we cast lots?
This is actually the last time that we see the casting of lots in the Bible. There are other decisions that need to be made in the book of Acts and yet there is no casting of lots.
Why here and not there? What is the difference?
I believe the difference is Pentecost.
The Holy Spirit indwells the people of God now and He is the Counselor who helps us make wise decisions.
So what do we see in the text before us today?
We see the disciples waiting for the Holy Spirit and what do they do while they wait?
They pray, the pray confidently trusting in their Sovereign Savior, and they seek to walk in obedience to the Savior.
Brothers and sisters, do you desire to be filled with the Spirit?
Do you desire for the church to be revived?
Let us devote ourselves to prayer
Let us trust our Sovereign Savior
Let us walk in obedience as the Lord leads us by His Word and by His Spirit
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