Wait For The Promise ~ Acts 1: 12-26
"Wait." "Stay." This was the final instruction/word from Jesus for the disciples in preparing for the Holy Spirit's coming. This was the command for the interim. For us (2021 readers), we know the Spirit will come. We know what will unfold and when – the disciples did not. They did not know the details perfectly or a date and time. What should they do about their families back in Galilee? Should they call in sick to work? Should they start witnessing? Indeed, they were chopping at t
he bit to share about the resurrection and hope in Jesus! Maye to give the Sanhedrin a big “told you so!”
They had seen Jesus rise from the dead…heard His mighty words…saw Him ascend into heaven… spoke with angels…they still had to WAIT. We learned last week that it is evident in scripture - we can do nothing without God's anointing. We will be fighting against the tide…boxing the wind…we cannot accomplish any task God unless He has anointed us to do so.
Therefore, today's question is…what do we do while we wait? What does it mean to wait on the Spirit of God?
1.) While You're Waiting: Recognize God's timing is better than your timing.
Let's face it. We, humans, hate waiting. If we have to stay at a red light 2 seconds longer than we should…our fist slams into the horn. If our food is taking too long at the restaurant…we begin to whine…we become monsters, Why is this? Well…frankly…we are entirely self-absorbed. We know best. Our schedule is the most essential schedule on the face of the planet. HOW DARE anyone/anything disrupt our perfect plans?!
It does not take much life to realize that things rarely work out in our timing or proposed agenda. Most things are out of our control…yet…we still keep idiotically fighting for it.
Beloved, if we are going to be submissive to God as His disciples, we better recognize – HIS timing is best. I bet Peter wished they could start that very day that Jesus ascended. “Let’s go – we are wasting time! The day is half gone!” I know I would have. Yet – thank God for His mercy in telling us to "wait" – who knows what kind of trouble they would have gotten into if they pushed the timing.
Beloved, I have brought such stress and confusion into my life because I forced the timing. I thought I knew better than God and jumped out ahead of Him. We must fight this, egotistical instinct to act first. If God has not opened the door – we must wait for His signal.
Jonah needed to wait in the belly of the fish for three days so the fish could swim him back to dry land! Jesus is the vine. We are the branches. Apart from Him, we can do NOTHING. What branch thinks it can jump off the tree and start making fruit?
Trust God will make Himself clear when the timing in right. No one ever wondered “oh – was that the Holy Spirit?” on the Pentecost. You will know when God is giving you the green or red light (HE is a God clarity – as we will see).
While you're waiting – trust the timing of God.
Sometimes the reason we wait is that we will finally surrender as the Psalmist said in 31:15, "My times are in your hands; Deliver me!" Proverbs 3: 5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."
2.) While You're Waiting: Be Obedient To God's Word.
Right away, in verse 12, we see the disciples act in obedience to the words of Jesus. These rural fishermen stay in the big city and return to the upper room where they had the last supper with Jesus. Maybe they were running out of rent? Maybe their kids were sick back in Galilee? They had lives, obligations, logistical concerns, etc. Yet – they remained obedient to what Christ had said.
The disciples searched the scriptures for instructions on how to prepare. It appears that Jesus did not give them specific instructions on what to do about the loss of Judas. Jesus did not tell them to pick Matthias. Rather, they understood the Old Testament also to be God's word and authoritative in their lives.
(Remember this, Jesus could have given them a detailed plan straight from His mouth. Yet – He knew God’s written word was sufficient and the disciples would know what to do. Do you want to hear from God? Specifics? Check the word! You may find your answer!)
Peter sees in the story of David and Psalm 69 and 109 a similar parallel and prophetic fulfillment (maybe taught to him by Jesus). David, the writer of these quoted Psalms, knew what it was like to be betrayed by another. When David was a fugitive from Saul, a man named Doeg betrayed him (1 Samuel 21-22), and many innocent people died as a result. David may have penned these very Psalms about this betrayer.
When David was betrayed, he desired that the betrayer would be desolate and that another fill the betrayer's office. It wasn't hard to understand that the Son of David – Jesus, whom David often prefigured – would desire the same thing.
The disciples understood that their number (12) was significant in that they represented the new 12 tribes of Israel. Their mission in the kingdom of God is to testify to the lost tribes of Israel – to call the Jews to faith in Jesus Christ. (Remember in the last 40 days of Jesus' life, He taught about this coming 'kingdom').
In the same manner – while we wait on God – while we watch for His Spirit – we must be obedient to His word. The word of God is always relevant to our life. The word of God will always have an insight – it alive and active!
3.) While You're Waiting: Pray and pray with others.
(V.14), "They all joined together constantly in prayer." As we noted, the 120 or so disciples would have been in some state of confusion. Ok – we are waiting – what do we do now? In any group bigger than one, there is bound to be disagreement…disunity (even in 1 person sometimes). The apostles probably had different opinions on how to prepare – Yet the texts state they ALL prayed - Constantly.
Beloved, when you have no idea what to DO – Pray!
Again, in verse 24, "And they prayed." This was a notable way of doing what Jesus would do. We remember that when Jesus chose His disciples, He prayed (Luke 6:12-13). The disciples, following Jesus, prayed for wisdom to know how to wait and who the Lord would add to their number.
Here we see the model for Paul when he writes to the church in Philippi in Philippians 4: 6-7, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
In following this model of prayer. In listening and preparing their hearts before God – the church dodged the bullet of discord, disunity, gossip, and strife. Why? Because paying TOGETHER in this way will bring certain unity.
It is impossible to hate or have disdain for someone while you pray for them. Prayer is the glue of gospel community. Without we open up ourselves to all kinds of torments. Therefore, while you wait on God, in whatever situation, pray – but not just alone – but with each other. Pray with others that are waiting. Encourage one another in prayer. Pray without ceasing! (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18) and trust God hears every word.
As Joseph Scriven so beautifully wrote, "Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged, Take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful Who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness, Take it to the Lord in prayer."
Some of the most significant figures in the Bible - Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, and now the disciples - had to wait for many years for God's promises. Everything that happened in the meantime was used to prepare them, inwardly as well as outwardly. Then, when they reached their promise, they were blessed beyond measure. We have seen that Jesus often did His best work in the waiting, walking, 'going over' interim periods. Christ's ultimate work on the cross was done while the world slept, and the disciples waited. Remember, with God; there is no wasted time. There is no dead space in His will. God is always on the move. He is always saving, working, and reigning!
God invites us to trust in His goodness today and his faithfulness tomorrow. Relinquishing control to Him (via trust, obedience, and prayer) is the main route to experience His love and peace. It unites our hearts/desires with His. It creates a level of maturity and character that we will take with us into the future, and it enables us to enjoy His future blessings all the more. (Jade Mazarin). And boy…did the promise arrive!
Psalm 130: 5-8, “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord. More than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.”