This summer, I had the opportunity to read through the book of Acts as part of a committee seeking direction. As I read through Acts, I saw some prevalent themes throughout the book and I decided that I wanted to dig deeper and see how the early church followed God’s direction. Some of the major themes I noticed were:
- We need to wait on God’s timing.
- We need to pray for God’s direction.
- We need to have the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
- We need to meet the needs of others.
- God will help us when we face opposition.
- The Holy Spirit will make us bold.
- Unity in the church is important.
Today, I want to begin by looking at Acts 1:1-11. As I started reading through Acts, I was struck how this book reads as a narrative, even though its purpose was for historical documentation. Luke wrote Acts as well as the gospel of Luke; and he started writing Acts right where he left off in Luke. He gives a brief synopsis in the first few verses, reminding us of the climate in which Acts takes place. The Roman Empire was over Israel; however, the Jews were able to still practice much of their religious rites. When Jesus came, He did not meet the expectations of the Jewish leaders. They thought the Messiah was going to restore Israel; instead, Jesus brought heaven to earth and turned everything upside down by talking of a spiritual kingdom. This is where Acts enters: political and religious tension. Keep in mind that Jesus is talking to the very disciples that split and fled during Christ’s crucifixion. These were men that were afraid of their opposition. With that in mind, please read Acts 1:1-11.
I want to focus specifically on verses 4-5 and think about the command that Jesus gave them. They were in Jerusalem which seemed to be the center of the religious tension. Jesus was commanding them to wait in Jerusalem for the gift that was promised to them – the Holy Spirit. In verse 8, Jesus says, “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.” They were told that they needed to wait for God’s timing to receive His gift to them and they needed to wait in a place that despised Christ’s message. Our life is like that as well; sometimes God puts us on hold because He has something better in store for us. Sometimes He has us wait in an environment that is not comfortable or even opposing and it can be difficult to understand why while we are there. Be encouraged! Think of how much the disciples and early church leaders would have missed out on if they would not have been obedient. God’s plan is always so much better than anything we could ever think of.
Does God have you in a place where you need to wait? Are you being obedient and waiting for the empowerment that the Holy Spirit gives?