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When God is going to work, MOST often...
He uses His people
He prepares His people
AND… His people should be in a state of preparedness to be used by God!
As we observe the early church today in our passage, we will take note of several things that prepared them to be used by God for an amazing work He was going to do in Jerusalem that would flow to the rest of the world!!!
Unity of the brethren
Fellowship with Scripture
Christ is building His church and as we look at how He does this in the 1st century church we will also consider the things which are DESCRIPTIVE and PRESCRIPTIVE in the Scriptures.
As we look at Acts 1:12-26 let’s remember the instruction from last week in Acts 1:8 which sets the tone and flow of this book of Acts.
The Narrative Overview
How and why would these things fit in with ministry preparation?
This group not knowing what is in store obeys and goes back to Jerusalem to wait… Waiting does not mean we do nothing, and neither did they (more on that in a minute)
This upper room where they waited was most likely the place of the last supper meal with Jesus.
Peter we know was the original leader of the Jerusalem church… then it later transitioned to James, Jesus’ brother.
Led by God to do this, given insight by the Spirit to fill this spot
Nowhere do we see God rebuke or correct this...
Paul later too would be considered an Apostle of Christ but we will look into him later in our study of Acts
Men and women alike are gathered here (120) and they now look to fill the role of Judas...
Throughout scripture there are significant numbers we see and 12 is significant with Israel...
Twelve Tribes (the twelve sons of Jacob “Israel”)
Twelve apostles… these would reach the twelve tribes and beyond with the gospel of Jesus
One was now missing… JUDAS!
He betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver
Threw it back at the after he felt regret
Hung himself and died… Judas did not purchase the land however the religious leaders did out of fear of using this money another way.
There were apostolic standards for filling this position...
It must be a man… women were there that could meet the other standards too
Had to be there during the time of Jesus’ teaching beginning with the baptism by John the Baptist
Had to accompany even to the time He assended to Heaven
A witness of the Resurrection, seen Him alive!
Of the 120 there two men met this criteria… Joseph and Matthias.
After prayer the decision was by lots… a casting of a die / stone a choice made by “chance” or giving the outcome to the One who rules the outcome.
Matthias is sometimes argued that he was not God’s choice it was Paul that God chose due to this is the last time we see him mentioned in scripture
If we hold to this logic however, then consider this… hardly any of the other eleven are mentioned either!
God chose Paul for a specific reason and task, Matthias was chosen to fill the void for the ministry ahead required leadership
Peter along with the others in this group here know that what Jesus has given to them as their task is no small matter… if there are holes to be filled and they take care to fill them!
Let us now quickly look at the areas I believe help prepare them for the ministry ahead of them and see how we too can implement them into our lives and ministry...
Jesus had given instructions… Acts 1:4
Go to Jerusalem… Wait...
Going can be exciting, adventurous, gives accomplishment… HOWEVER
Waiting can be difficult, especially when there is an unknown that you are waiting for… THE SPIRIT/HELPER
What will it be like?
When will He come and how?
What power will He bring, will I like what He wants me to do?
Waiting however does not mean one does not prepare ones self in this time… so as you and I obey, maybe wait, how can we too prepare...
Practice Unity!
Proverbs 16:6 there are six things the Lord hates… the seventh is an abomination to Him… (Discord among the brethren!)
We see here that as they all gather they are “with one mind” or “one accord”
This is the Family of God… BRETHREN!
Believers in Christ, men and women!
Drawing together as the family of God in UNITY as the BODY of Christ!
In the church there is the bond of family, yet room for variety.
The devil tries to disrupt unity.
Two chickens tied at the legs and thrown over a clothesline may be united, but they do not have unity.
—Leslie Flynn, Great Church Fights
We are bound together by our common faith in Christ but unity does not come naturally, it is worked for, fought for as we understand that Satan’s best attack comes from the inside!
Consider what Paul Brand had to say on this subject...
Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations & Quotes Unity
Using the analogy of the human body, there are some diseases that can spread infection throughout the body of Christ.
The mind can become swollen with pride.
The heart can grow cold and indifferent because of sin.
The digestive system can get clogged by sterile theory and unapplied theology, so the body can’t digest what needs to be turned into energy or eliminate what needs to be released.
When that occurs we start to fight among ourselves or we lose our equilibrium and find ourselves unable to stay balanced.…
Sometimes a dreaded thing occurs in the body—a mutiny—resulting in a tumor.…
A tumor is called benign if its effect is fairly localized and it stays within membrane boundaries.
But the most traumatizing condition in the body occurs when disloyal cells defy inhibition.
They multiply without any checks on growth, spreading rapidly throughout the body, choking out normal cells.
White cells, armed against foreign invaders, will not attack the body’s own mutinous cells.
Physicians fear no other malfunction more deeply: it is called cancer.
For still mysterious reasons, these cells—and they may be cells from the brain, liver, kidney, bone, blood, skin, or other tissues—grow wild, out of control.
Each is a healthy, functioning cell, but disloyal, no longer acting in regard for the rest of the body.
Even the white cells, the dependable palace guard, can destroy the body through rebellion.
Sometimes they recklessly reproduce, clogging the bloodstream, overloading the lymph system, strangling the body’s normal functions—such is leukemia.
Because I am a surgeon and not a prophet, I tremble to make the analogy between cancer in the physical body and mutiny in the spiritual body of Christ.
But I must.
In His warnings to the church, Jesus Christ showed no concern about the shocks and bruises His Body would meet from external forces.
“The gates of hell shall not prevail against my church,” He said flatly (Matthew 16:18).
He moved easily, unthreatened, among sinners and criminals.
But He cried out against the kind of disloyalty that comes from within.
Before Christ death on the cross… He prayed for the Unity of His church!
In order for UNITY to occur in the church as it should PRAYER is vitally important!
Prayer is Central!
These were praying for the same thing!
They all gathered together to pray… cooperate prayer!!!
Church, you want to see God begin to work??? PRAY TOGETHER!
Continually Devoted… faithfully working hard at prayer!
When God says wait… use that time to Pray!
When God says He wants to use you… Pray!
As you go along each day… Pray!
Struggling with unity… Pray!
Your elders spend a great portion of our meetings in prayer… WHY?
Because God works through prayer!
They were selecting new leadership… They prayed!
They were waiting for God to send power… They prayed!
Throughout Acts we will see prayer central to the work and ministry of God… Just as it was central in the life of Christ so should it be in ours!
As this early church gathers together for fellowship, not only is prayer central, but so are the scriptures!
Fellowship with Scriptures
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