Sunday May 24, 2020
Acts 1:4 Waiting for the Gift from the Father
A worship service for use at home with your family or alone with God.
Psalm 145 “I exalt you, my God the King”
Song: Come, Thou Almighty King (Hymnal STTL #3)
Today is the last Sunday of May. Almost half of the year is gone … time is passing swiftly.
This is also Memorial Day weekend – a time to remember those who died in war defending freedoms which we enjoy and often take for granted.
We have set aside special days and seasons to remember significant events and important people.
- Mother’s day, father’s day, St Patrick’s Day,
- National holidays
- New Year’s Day, Jan 1
- Martin Luther King Jr day, Jan 20
- Washington’s Birthday, Feb 17
- Memorial Day, May 25
- Independence Day, July 4
- Labor Day, Sep 7
- Columbus Day, Oct 12
- Veterans Day, Nov 11
- Thanksgiving, Nov 26
- Christmas, Dec 25
As believers, we are called to keep in mind the things of the Lord … to order our days with him in mind.
Ordering our life around biblical events is one way to keep in mind the things of God. The truth of God can become so easily eclipsed by the normal work week and the insertion of secular holidays that keep us distracted from the things of God. The world does a good job in promoting the meaning of the national holidays – it helps to reinforce who we are as a people. It helps instill and spirit of unity of common history. And in similar manner the church year helps believers to understand our common heritage and keeps us mindful of the eternal perspective.
The seasons of the church year
- There are 4 Sundays of Advent – just before Christmas: remembering Christs coming
- There are 12 days of Christmas: celebration of his birth and the light of Christ
- Epiphany began on Jan 6 – the celebration of the wise men; remembering events in the life of Jesus
- Wed Feb 26 was Ash Wednesday and began the 40-day season of Lent – remembering the teachings of Jesus
- Palm Sunday – the last Sunday of Lent is the start of holy week – remembering the last week of Jesus’ life: cleansing of Temple, Judas’s betrayal, last supper, Gethsemane, trial, crucifixion and burial.
- Easter season is 50 days celebrating the resurrection; we recall the 40 days he met with the disciples before the Ascension Day and then the 10-day waiting prior to Pentecost.
- Pentecost (the 7 weeks or 50 days) following Easter is the celebration of the baptism with the Holy Spirit which also celebrates the beginning of the Church – the birthday of Christianity.
Thursday was Ascension Day and today is the Ascension Sunday.
Next Sunday is Pentecost Sunday and begins the last season of the church year.
Background for Pentecost:
For the Jewish people, their life and calendar was ordered by the feast days. There were three primary Pilgrimage Festivals for Israel:
– Passover celebrating deliverance from Egypt,
– Weeks or Pentecost celebrating harvest and the giving of the Law
– and Tabernacles, Tents or Booths celebrating the harvest and remembering desert wandering
Two of these festivals have become important in the Christian faith
– Passover (for Christians Easter),
– Feast of weeks (50 days after Passover) which is Pentecost for Christians
Shavuot is known as the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost is a Jewish holiday that occurs 50 days after Passover. Shavuot has a double significance. It marked the all-important wheat harvest in the Land of Israel (Exodus 34:22) and it commemorates the anniversary of the day when God gave the Torah to the nation of Israel assembled at Mount Sinai. The word Shavuot means “weeks”. Torah mandates the seven-week period beginning on the second day of Passover. This counting of days and weeks is understood to express anticipation and desire for the giving of the Torah. On Passover, the people of Israel were freed from their enslavement to Pharaoh; on Weeks, they were given the Torah and became a nation committed to serving God.
In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 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.”
9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
Acts 1:4 Wait for the gift my Father promised
This week we remember the disciples in the waiting room.
This week I will send you a devotional each day to prepare your heart for the season of Pentecost and the opening of the church.
Wait in Jerusalem
– the place where Jesus was executed,
– where they are still looking for the followers of Jesus,
– where the Pharisees are still in control along with the Roman executioners who are intent on quelling any rumor of an uprising.
There are safer places to wait
- there are more comfortable places to wait … why not wait back home Galilee?
- Or along quiet waters and green pastures?
- We have been waiting the re-opening of the churches that were closed due to concerns of the Corona virus.
- There is waiting in lines at grocery stores, Home Depot …. Waiting for TP and paper towels and hand sanitizer
Last summer at camp meeting, Pastor Tim Stearman spoke of God’s waiting rooms of life. Many hours are spent waiting:
- There are waiting rooms in doctor offices and in hospitals
- Waiting in traffic or at the DMV
- Waiting for a job
- For the right spouse; or for your spouse to become the right person
- Even waiting for the computer to upload and download or boot up
- Waiting for kids to grow up
The Bible says we are to wait on the Lord: Ps 27:14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
When God sets us down in a waiting room, it is a time of
- testing our faith so that it will grow and it is a time that develops our character (James 1)
The Bible is full of stores of faith-heroes who waited for God to show up
- Abraham waited till he was 100 and his wife 90 before she conceived
- Moses waited for 40 years in the desert tending sheep before his call to go set my people free
- Paul waited 7 years after his conversion before receiving the call from Barnabas to join the ministry team at Antioch
- Joseph waited in prison before he was elevated to leadership
A look at Genesis 37-40 shows Joseph waiting for Gods promises to be fulfilled.
- God gave Joseph dreams of him being a leader – people bowing to him
- He then is assaulted, enslaved, and imprisoned
- He is removed from a dysfunctional family – doting father and hateful jealous brothers
- For 13 years (age 17-30 he is in one waiting room after another: a pit in the ground, a slave market, prison
He must have wondered where is God? What is my life coming to? What of the big plans?
Our human response is often:
- Whining and complaining, anger and bitterness. We are tempted to give up on God. We quit believing in God and quit going to church and reading scripture.
- Or we seek justice and talk incessantly about how we were wronged. We enlist help from all who will listen to the injustice done to us. We blame others or evil the system; we take on the perspective that life has conspired against me. We like the fairness doctrine. But God is not fair. If he were fair, we would be dead but rather than fair – he is good and wise.
- Or we give up; give in to depression, despair, and turn to addictions to ease our pain.
When God seems silent and does not answer our prayers … when he seems distant and uncaring … And when God sets us in a waiting room that lasts a season …. Our response reveals our character. Maybe it took 13 years for Joseph to finally accept and trust in God.
Maybe our waiting rooms would be shorter if we would just trust and obey.
We can look back on Joseph’s waiting room and see how God used that time to grow Joseph into the person who accepted that this was all part of Gods plan. He became a humble and gracious leader who did not misuse his position of leadership and who did not seek revenge when given the chance.
Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the gift of the Father.
– We often want the Father’s gifts but not THE gift
o James 1:17 says every good and perfect gift is from above
o We ask for jobs, success, healing, deliverance, protection, and even for our team to win
But Jesus told the disciples to wait for THE gift … the promised Holy Spirit
- He spoke about the Holy Spirit as the comforter, counselor, spirit of truth, helper as one who comes alongside us.
- The gift was to be a baptism. John baptized with water but the gift of the Father is a baptism of the Spirit who gives power to be witnesses – even to face martyrdom – right in Jerusalem and to the ends of the world.
But to receive the gift they were to wait …. And for 10 days they waited. Acts 1
- They returned to Jerusalem vs12
- They shut themselves in the upper room vs 13
- They joined together constantly in prayer vs 14
- They began to organize themselves for ministry vs 15-26
What are we to do when God says for us to wait? How do we respond to God’s ordering of our life?
Is our response just human? Whine, complain, argue, fight, blame, give up?
How long will we remain in the waiting room until we begin to accept this is Gods will and plan?
In our waiting:
- Remember God’s promises; read scripture, study John 14-16 where Jesus spoke of the coming Holy Spirit
- Pray with praise; pray for Gods best gift. God does not always answer our prayers according to our time table and to our specifications. At times he says no to our requests, so we remember to pray for his perfect will. We also remember to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.
- Seek someway to serve. In prison Joseph was given a place to serve others. In the upper room the disciples began to work together – no longer seeking to be first but “joined together” learning to serve.
Pentecost is all about the Holy Spirit. And it is fitting that it is the longest season of the church year since we are to learn how to live in the power of the Spirit. Most of the NT is given to this theme.
Song: Holy Spirit, Be My Guide (STTL #299)
Holy Spirit my heart yearns for Thee
Holy Spirit abide in me
make me clean oh make me pure
I must know the double cure
Ne’er my trust will be in vain
nought to lose and all to gain
take my life, my self. my soul
burn the chaff and make me whole
Holy Spirit be my Guide
Holy Spirit my door’s open wide
make me to know Thy will divine
Holy Spirit be Thou mine.
Just as there are 12 days of Christmas and 7 days of holy week … there is a week between Ascension Sunday and Pentecost Sunday. Use this week to seek and pray for a new outpouring of Gods promised gift to you. Be looking for my devotional each day this week.
From Carol, other songs for your meditation as you are seeking the Spirit
Fullness – Elevation Worship https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9xxWz_vXws
Holy Spirit – Francesca Battistelli https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zARVp3420I
Spirit Song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWEDBaFy0SI
Come, Holy Spirit, I Need You https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iC4z4ZlP3nY