Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Need to Wait on God - To tell the world about the Message of Jesus

Luke 24:49 "And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Introduction & Review
In yesterday's post we were interested in understanding the need to wait on God for the sake of being empowered by His Spirit to do His bidding. Between the time Jesus ascended in Luke 24:50-53 and Acts 1:9-11 until the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 was 10 days. In yesterday's post we also looked at other scriptures that feature ten day periods of time as signifying those seasons in which God desired to impart new insights, faithfulness, strength or tests of character.  That timeframe was to be the specific time of waiting for those 120 disciples in the upperoom in Jerusalem. In these past couple of posts we have explored how both sets of verses in Luke and Acts give us some reasons as to why Jesus had these disciples to wait.

1). Wait for reception of the Father's promise. Luke 24:49a & Acts 1:4

2). Wait for empowerment from the Holy Spirit. Luke 24:49b & Acts 1:8a

3). Wait so as to minister the message about the Son to all people. Acts 1:8b

In today's post we once again consider the need to wait on God - with the emphasis being upon positioning ourselves to minister the message about the Son to all people.  Truly we wait, as the the early church had to wait, to receive more about Who God is and what he has for us, as well as to be empowered for His work.  But in this post today, the way we know we are to go from waiting to doing is when we have a message to tell.

We need more of God's presence and power in our lives and churches
Ronnie Floyd is a pastor of a large church in Arkansas who has written a wonderful book entitled: "The Power of the Prayer and Fasting". The one statement he writes is really apropos to the subject of our post today on the need to wait on God.  The quote is a couple paragraphs but well worth the read: "God can do more in a moment than I could ever do in a lifetime. God can also do more in and through the church in a moment than programs, ministries, technical excellence, great worship or mere machinery. No one can take the place of God. Nothing can take the place of God. I am weary of what I hear about the passivity of the churches today in our nation and world. While many churches sleep or act daily as if they are out for an evening drive, many other churches are chasing the latest fad for the church today. It appears that most are looking for a short-term success and a shortcut to get there. What is the problem? 

When we look at the church today, we are seeing what man can do. While we may have greater technology or more expressive worship or more fine-tuned targeted ministries, let me ask you this:Do we have more of God? I am convinced today more than ever before in my ministry that it is past time for the church to see what God can do."1

What Ronnie Floyd wrote is so true! I echo with him the fact that we need more of God in our churches and in our lives.  So often I'll hear in conferences or read in books how leaders and pastors need to "cast a vision" for their church or people will often ask: "what is our mission?" or "what is our message?" Whenever you look at the early church and how Jesus positioned his disciples to wait upon God, you understand that lest they had waited per His instructions -they would not had had a message to tell, nor a vision to cast!

We wait on God who is the message we are to tell
Two key passages must be considered together to understand the message that the early church communicated throughout the Medditerranean world of the first century.  The first text is what we call "The Great Commission" and is found in Matthew 28:18-20  "And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” The second text is the one we have been focusing upon these past several days - Acts 1:8 "but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

Both of these texts appear to have two seemingly different emphases: Matthew's text has Jesus telling His Disciples to "go and tell" and the Acts 1:8 passage has Jesus telling His disciples to "wait" before going and telling.  Harmonizing both of these texts together yields the pattern of waiting and then going. For 40 days these disciples had been in a "holding pattern" as Jesus made various post-resurrection appearances to them, instructing them and demonstrating to them the new realities of His post-resurrected humanity.

Now as Jesus was getting ready to ascend out of sight, they would need to wait ten more days until the full outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost occurred. The message of the Great Commission required an accompanying time of meeting with the Lord.  

The linkage between the heart and the mouth in scripture
A question for you and I to consider is: "how well do we know the Jesus revealed on the pages of the Bible?" Only when we get to know Him in the scripture will we then come to grasp what the Spirit is telling us about Him in our hearts. Oftentimes in the scriptures we see the link between the heart and the mouth. Matthew 12:35 "The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil." Luke 6:45 "The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart." 

As we come to the epistles, the linkage between the heart and mouth in spiritual matters is continued. Romans 10:9-10  "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation." Ephesians 4:29 "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edificationaccording to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear."  In all of these passages the idea is made plain: that whatever message flows out of our mouth comes as a result of the overflow of the heart. When we communicate, its not just the words, but the way in which we say the words, the tone of our voice and the main topics of our discussion.  

How God uses waiting periods to brew forth a message from the Word for all to hear
I find it interesting how often God would have His people go through seasons of waiting to brew forth some changes in their hearts.  Only a changed heart can communicate a life changing message.  Moses spent 40 years on the backside of a Midianite desert, Elijah the prophet was brought to a brook in a desert, Jesus Himself spent the first 30 years of His life in relative obscurity and the Apostle Paul spent 3 years in Damscus following His conversion.  All of these, and many more, went through extended seasons of watching and waiting before going forth to proclaim their message.  Habakkuk the prophet relays how in waiting on God he was getting prepared for the right moment to deliver God's message: "I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart; And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, And how I may reply when I am reproved. 2 Then the Lord answered me and said, “Record the vision And inscribe it on tablets, That the one who reads it may run.
3 “For the vision is yet for the appointed time;
It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail.
Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay."

Such waiting seasons are often prescribed by God to give ourselves a chance to recallibrate our hearts to the rhythm of His voice and leading in our lives. The message of Jesus Christ is not just about Him, but is Him.  Whenever we show God how willing we are to follow Him, only then can we be effective in calling others to do the same.  

More tomorrow....

1. Ronnie Floyd. The Power of the Prayer and Fasting. B&H Books. 2010. Page 144