Sermon 02 - Acts 1,12-26 - Dice In The Prayer Meeting - 06-06-04

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1.      ((illus)) 06-09-26-28-34.

a.    Do you know what those numbers mean?

b.    They mean that you are a Fantasy Five winner and that the Florida Lottery owes you $188,174.34.

2.      Why am I telling you this?

a.    Because that winning ticket was sold at a Sunoco gas station in Tampa on Jan. 1 of this year and you only have until midnight of June 29 to claim your money or lose it.

b.    In other words, the state of Florida can not find the winner, (as well as several others).

3.      Do you know where the term “lottery” comes from?

a.    The dictionaries talk about the Middle English and the Middle Dutch and they say that the first use of the word “lottery” in English comes from about the year 1550.

b.    If you trace it back far enough, you discover that lottery comes from the ancient practice of casting lots, which goes all the way to the Old Testament.

c.    A lottery refers to the act of making a choice based on the outcome of a random event.

4.      The believers in our portion of Scripture for this morning used a form of lottery to determine the will of God, after they had a prayer meeting.

a.    Somebody brought dice to the prayer meeting!

b.    There was a tough decision to make and with God’s help they would make it.

5.      Follow with me in today’s text.

a.    Remember that the disciples

i)        Were recently given a charge to charge the Good news with the whole world

ii)      To wait for the promise of the Holy Spirit

b.    They had just witness the ascension of Jesus from the Mount of Olives.

Acts 1:12-26 (page 921)
12 The apostles were at the Mount of Olives when this happened, so they walked the half mile back to Jerusalem.
13 Then they went to the upstairs room of the house where they were staying. Here is the list of those who were present: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon (the Zealot), and Judas (son of James).
14 They all met together continually for prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus.
  - here is the last mention of Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the NT, praying rather than being prayed to

- the brothers of Jesus praying when they had been unbelievers.

15 During this time, on a day when about 120 believers were present, Peter stood up and addressed them as follows:
16 “Brothers, it was necessary for the Scriptures to be fulfilled concerning Judas, who guided the Temple police to arrest Jesus. This was predicted long ago by the Holy Spirit, speaking through King David.
17 Judas was one of us, chosen to share in the ministry with us.”
18 (Judas bought a field with the money he received for his treachery, and falling there, he burst open, spilling out his intestines.
19 The news of his death spread rapidly among all the people of Jerusalem, and they gave the place the Aramaic name Akeldama, which means “Field of Blood.”)
20 Peter continued, “This was predicted in the book of Psalms, where it says, ‘Let his home become desolate, with no one living in it.’ And again, ‘Let his position be given to someone else.’
21 “So now we must choose another man to take Judas’s place. It must be someone who has been with us all the time that we were with the Lord Jesus—
22 from the time he was baptized by John until the day he was taken from us into heaven. Whoever is chosen will join us as a witness of Jesus’ resurrection.”
23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias.
24 Then they all prayed for the right man to be chosen. “O Lord,” they said, “you know every heart. Show us which of these men you have chosen
25 as an apostle to replace Judas the traitor in this ministry, for he has deserted us and gone where he belongs.”
26 Then they cast lots, and in this way Matthias was chosen and became an apostle with the other eleven.

6.      Do you ever find yourself in a “pickle?”

a.    Facing something that is potentially embarrassing but will not go away and which requires a decision on your part?

b.    ((illus)) A woman awoke on Valentine’s Day and announced excitedly to her husband, “Honey, last night I dreamed you gave me a pearl necklace for Valentine’s day! What could that mean?” He replied with certainty, “You’ll know tonight.” Sure enough, he arrived home that evening carrying a small, beautifully wrapped package. She tore it open eagerly to find . . a book titled The Meaning of Dreams.

7.      For some it might be:

a.    Which college/university will you attend.

b.    Should you stay with your present employment or look for another job.

c.    Is this the right house for you.

d.   Should you keep that friend.

e.    ((illus)) Bruce Larson once said, “Life is the great evangelizer.” If you meet somebody who tells you, “I don’t need God,” don’t bother arguing. Just wait. If they live long enough, they will come to the point where life knocks the stuffing out of them. Their dreams will shatter. And that is the beginning of wisdom.


Making Tough Decisions with God’s Help

Acts 1:12-26


a.    What a way to start the church of Jesus Christ!

b.    With a suicide.

i)        This was not an ideal situation

¨      Potentially embarrassing

¨      But the early church faced it.

ii)      Suicide is not the unpardonable sin.

¨      Whoever believes on the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved.

iii)    In the case of Judas, the Scriptures make it clear that in his heart he was not a true follower of Jesus and therefore went to hell when he died.

¨      Jesus called him a devil (John 6:64, 70–71; cf. 17:12)

c.    Judas represents the greatest example of wasted opportunity in all of history.

i)        He had the rare privilege, given to only twelve men, of living and ministering with Jesus Christ, God incarnate, for more than three years.

ii)      He had the same convincing, overwhelming opportunity to come to faith in Him as the eleven did.

iii)    Yet his motives for following Jesus were never anything but selfish.

d.   All this was prophesied in the OT as well as instructions that he should be replaced.


2.      THE SELECTION OF A DISCIPLE :16,17,21-26

a.    :21-22 – Here the requirements are given

i)        He was to have been with the Lord in His earthly ministry since it’s beginning.

ii)      He must be known to the apostles.

iii)     He was to seen Christ in resurrection form.

¨      This means that no one living today could be an apostle.

¨      They may do apostle-like work, but not hold that office.

b.    Two godly men are chosen – Barsabbas and Matthias

i)        Which one would you choose?

ii)      Well, you’re thinking about buying a house, so which one do you buy and how much do you pay?

¨      Or you’re offered a good job but you’re happy where you’re at although changing jobs doesn’t sound bad either.

¨      Or you’ve applied to 3 colleges and been accepted at two. How do you choose between them?

c.    How do you determine God’s will?

i)        These people prayed to God :24-25

ii)      And then rolled the dice - :26

iii)    One possibility about this was not uncommon for the times.

¨      Each name was written on a stone and placed in an urn.

¨      The stone which dropped out first was the chosen one.

d.   The casting of lots was used in the OT to make important decisions.

i)        When the promised land was apportioned among the twelve tribes (Joshua 14:2)

ii)      For choosing temple servants during the days of the kings (1 Chronicle 24:5).

iii)    One of the most significant lotteries took place on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:7-10) when the High Priest would choose two goats—one to be sacrificed as a sin offering, the other to be released into the wilderness as a scapegoat. The High Priest cast lots in order to determine which goat was sacrificed and which one released.

e.    Proverbs 16:33 - The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.

i)        God controls the outcome

f.     This was the last occurrence recorded in Scripture of using lots among believers.

i)        In time, the Holy Spirit came to give them guidance.





a.    I think the key to God revealing His will is in the ATTITUDE of the leaders.

i)        13 Then they went to the upstairs room of the house where they were staying

ii)      14 They all met together continually for prayer

iii)    24 Then they all prayed for the right man to be chosen. “O Lord,” they said, “you know every heart. Show us which of these men you have chosen

b.    Here were hearts submitted to God and His will.

i)        They did not pray to change God’s will but to know it.

ii)      They understood the first rule of spiritual life – God is God and we’re not.

iii)    ((illus)) During the Civil War someone asked President Lincoln, “Do you think God is on our side?” “I do not know,” he replied, “I haven’t thought about that. But I am very anxious to know whether we are on his side.”

iv)    It’s one thing for God to be on your side, it’s something else for you to be in his side.

v)      There are really only two prayers in the universe: “My will be done” or “Thy will be done.”


How do you make touch decisions?

1.      Seek Godly counsel

2.      Search the Scriptures

3.      List your options

4.      Pray for God’s guidance

5.      Make the best decision you can

6.      Move on and leave the results with God.

a.    But what if you make a decision and you later conclude you made a mistake?

b.    My answer is this: If your heart is set on obeying God and your will is surrendered to him, that can’t happen.

c.    One footnote to that: Your decisions may not always work out the way you want—or expect—and sometimes they will blow up in your face.

i)        But a bad (or even negative) result doesn’t necessarily mean you made a mistake.

ii)      Many “good” decisions often have “bad” results, humanly speaking—even decisions made in the will of God.

iii)    Those “bad” results are simply part of God’s plan for your life—part of his step-by-step training process to make you like Jesus.

d.   Let me leave you with this final thought.

i)        Everything in this passage is based on the fact that Jesus Christ is alive today.

ii)      That’s why the disciples could pray to him with confidence, knowing that he would answer.

iii)    That’s why they could trust him to make the decision for them.

iv)    As the Head of the Church, he can be trusted to make the right choice.

e.    What he did for them, he’ll also do for you and me.

i)        If you will ever dare to let go and let the Lord Jesus take control, he’ll lead you from where you are today exactly where he wants you to be tomorrow.

ii)      Are you willing to let go of your own agenda and let him lead the way?

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