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ACTS WEEK 1: DIVINE ANTICIPATION: WAITING FOR THE SPIRIT




We are beginning a new series, walking through the Book of Acts. We are glad you are with us and taking this journey. This book is a guide for the church even today, especially as we witness the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into the lives of believers. It is also a confirmation of the testimony of the Christian community and how it is empowered to be a missional force unto the world. This first week, we dive into one thing that a lot of us probably hate to do is waiting.  There are two sides to waiting, and the first part is power.  There is a literal power in waiting for what is yet to be or yet to come.  The second part of waiting is impatience.  Not all of us are good at waiting for what God has for us, a God response, or an answer to prayer.  But I go back to the first part, and I see that there is power in waiting. 


Let’s read the scripture passage again.


While they were eating together, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for what the Father had promised. He said, “This is what you heard from me: John baptized with water, but in only a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

As a result, those who had gathered together asked Jesus, “Lord, are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel now?”

Jesus replied, “It isn’t for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has set by his own authority. Rather, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

After Jesus said these things, as they were watching, he was lifted up and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 While he was going away and as they were staring toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood next to them. 11 They said, “Galileans, why are you standing here, looking toward heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you saw him go into heaven.”

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, which is near Jerusalem—a sabbath day’s journey away. 13 When they entered the city, they went to the upstairs room where they were staying. Peter, John, James, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James, Alphaeus’ son; Simon the zealot; and Judas, James’ son— 14 all were united in their devotion to prayer, along with some women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.


In this story in the book of Acts, there is a call to wait, and here is what it says in Acts 1:4-5 “While they were eating together, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for what the Father had promised. He said, “This is what you heard from me: John baptized with water, but in only a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”  The instructions were to wait for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, but the problem is the disciples still did not quite understand what was going to happen.  In Acts 1:6-8 it says this, “As a result, those who had gathered together asked Jesus, “Lord, are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel now?” replied, “It isn’t for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has set by his own authority. Rather, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”


The struggle in their impatience and not waiting they began to wrestle with possible questions like,

  • When will your Kingdom come, and when will Rome fall? Is it going to happen now?

  • When will the descendants of David take charge?

  • When do we get our ruling seats in the Kingdom?

  • When do we get our rooms in the Temple?

Jesus responds in verse 7 by saying “Jesus replied, “’It isn’t for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has set by his own authority.’” Then Jesus leads into the call of the Holy Spirit onto the believer’s life.  Verse 8 says, “Rather, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  There is this expectation of the Holy Spirit that is to come and the power that pushes the believer to do great things in Jesus’s name.  Remember, the last piece of verse 8 says that we will be a “witness.”  To be a witness means to affirm that one has seen, heard, or experienced something.

Well, as soon as this charge was given, they experienced the ascension of Christ. Starting at verse 9:

“9 After Jesus said these things, as they were watching, he was lifted up and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 While he was going away and as they were staring toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood next to them. 11 They said, “Galileans, why are you standing here, looking toward heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you saw him go into heaven.”

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, which is near Jerusalem—a sabbath day’s journey away. 13 When they entered the city, they went to the upstairs room where they were staying. Peter, John, James, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James, Alphaeus’ son; Simon the zealot; and Judas, James’ son— 14 all were united in their devotion to prayer, along with some women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.”


Here is this moment when what they thought would happen didn’t happen. Then, what really happened was that a new command was given to those who followed Christ: the command to be a witness, and then Jesus left them with this charge. So here is the question: within the waiting for the Holy Spirit, at what moment do we see the disciples truly fleshing out the spiritual importance of waiting? I think we see it when they returned to Jerusalem and instead of being frantic and wondering when is this going to happen, when is God going to show up, and when is the Holy Spirit going to pour out on us, they took time as it says in verse 14:  “all were united in their devotion to prayer.”


Waiting is significant and powerful. The question then becomes, what do we do in the waiting? John Wesley stressed the importance of the means of grace. As the Acts bible study states, “In his sermon, “The Means of Grace,” John Wesley explores the concept of “ordinances” as channels for God’s grace. He argues that Christian practices like prayer, scripture reading, and sacraments are essential for conveying grace.” We should be actively pouring into the means of grace in order to better understand God’s grace in our own lives and also to impart that grace to others. Participating in the means of grace will help us with the practice of patience. 

I was in a drive-thru the other day getting food, and there were about ten cars in line. The one car in front of me was so impatient that it couldn’t take the line anymore. They backed up and almost hit me before they pulled out of line, speeded off, and left. The reality is that we live in an immediate access world.  We can get food fast, we can get Amazon same-day delivery, we can get almost anything you want within a blink of an eye, but when it comes to God, we expect God to act like a vending machine.  We put in a prayer and expect God to pop out an answer. However, in this passage, Jesus stresses this word; verse four says, “While they were eating together, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for what the Father had promised.”  Wait, yes wait, wait for God to do big God things.  There is power in waiting. It is in waiting that “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

We wait and receive a power source of witness to the world. At this point, the question becomes, what do we do with it? I am going to give you a word: REACH.  I will say it again: R E A C H. Here is what I want you to remember:


  • Remember those who have been wronged

  • Embrace others, be inclusive

  • Affect others, inspire others

  • Correct injustice

  • Help the disenfranchised (deprived of their rights)


Imagine if the disciples had not waited.  What if, like today, the impatience level was overwhelming? What kind of effect would it have on the world if we could not REACH others because of our impatience and not waiting?

  • Remember those who have been wronged

  • Embrace others, be inclusive

  • Affect others, inspire others

  • Correct injustice

  • Help the disenfranchised (deprived of their rights)


Remember, it is in the waiting that, like the disciples, “we will receive power, and you WILL be my witnesses.” The power is essential.  If it weren’t Jesus would not have said wait to go share about Me until you receive this power.  Special power is essential for an expanding witness to Christ.  


Too often, we ask God why don’t I have this or that, why is this happening, why, why, why? Instead, we should be asking what God can do through us. God answers with a voice like the sound of a trumpet, You Shall Be My Witnesses.  So this week I want you to practice the power of waiting.  Use some of what John Wesley describes as Means of Grace, prayer, searching the Scriptures, receiving the Lord’s supper and in that “wait” and see what the Lord does. 


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