This past Tuesday at Lifegroup we did a little digging in that first chapter of Acts.
“While He was together with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father’s promise…
So when they had come together, they asked Him, “Lord, are You restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?”” – Acts 1:4-6
World changers. Miracle workers. Birthers of the Church. But they didn’t have a full understanding of what this whole thing was all about. After three years of life on life with Jesus, they still didn’t get the big picture. They thought one thing, while He was planning something else. Story of my life. Anyone else?
God isn’t intimidated by what we don’t know, or by the smallness of the picture we can see. He still sends us out.
“He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by His own authority.” – Acts 1:7
But inquiring minds have always wanted to know so they built an information highway and now we have literally trillions of bits of things we can know. But we still don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I believe our not knowing and therefore not controlling is at the root of our rampant anxiety. I also believe that our freedom begins with the truth –
There are things that are not for us to know. As Christ followers, our need to know what’s coming and when it’s coming must take a knee.
Only God has the authority to set the times of our lives. Not luck or fate or the universe or the government or our employer or that internet prophet guy and certainly not the devil. Take heart Church, our times are in God’s hands.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:8
I can tell people my testimony without the power of the Holy Spirit. So can you. That isn’t the “witness” that Jesus was talking about in this statement.
The Greek word for “witness” = martys. It’s where martyr comes from. But it has other meanings. In this verse it means “ those whose lives and actions testified to the worth and effect of faith…”
You can tell people you’re a Christian and what God has done for you all day long but if your life doesn’t speak of the value of faith, then you are not His witness. Speaking words doesn’t take the power of the Holy Spirit, but turning those words into the way you live your life does. Jesus gave us the power of His Spirit to enable us to live a life of witness, not just speak words that testify.
If we say we are a man or woman of faith, but we live in fear of tomorrow, we are not His witnesses. If every bump or wave that hits us sends us into anxiety or “fix-it” mode, we are not His witnesses.
If we say we are a man or woman of faith while we tend to our collection of idols of money, fame, attention, approval, escape, and comfort and fill-in-your-blank, we are not His witnesses.
And we should not wonder why there is no power in our lives.
We cannot live by both fear and faith. We cannot build both our own kingdoms and the Kingdom of God. We cannot live sacrificially while indulging our flesh. We cannot lay down our lives and love them too.
The Church cannot live a double life, and have the power of the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses.
Those 4 verses were the last words Jesus spoke to them on this earth. Of everything He could have said to them, He chose to promise them the Holy Spirit so that they could be His witnesses. He chose to tell them He would give them the power to have lives that match their words. Lives that testify to the value of faith in Christ.
Honestly? The Church should be waiting in the upper room today, waiting for our turn to be filled with the power to be His witnesses. And by the Church, I mean me. And I mean you. Not them. Us. Because we are the Church, you and I. We are the ones who need to have those last words of Jesus ringing in our ears.
We are the ones today. Yesterday was theirs, and tomorrow will be for others. But this is our time to be filled with the Spirit of God and be His witnesses in all the earth. Today is our day.