Reading: Acts 1:1-14
[a] Ascension is an important time, for it marks, not only the time of Christ ascending to Heaven, but also the last promise from the lips of Jesus regarding the coming Holy Spirit, and the dynamic statement from the angels as to the return of Christ!
[b] There is an old clichť that says, what goes up, must come down!
Perhaps I could take license, and reverently apply it to what the angels said about the Lordís return!
[c] "Youíve seen Him go - well in the same way He will return!"
[d] It was also a time, when they had to learn patience - for they were to await Godís time when He would give to them the Holy Spirit.
[e] Now, you could say Iíve got a can of peas for you, because Iíve divided my message into headings which each begin with ĎPí.
[a] The first of these Iíve just mentioned - namely PATIENCE! "Wait for the promise."
[b] What is it someone said about it being found seldom in a woman, but never in a man!! Obviously made up by a woman!
[c] Although it is part of the fruit of the Spirit, which every Christian is expected to show in their lives, it is not usually something we are very good at!
[d] To be patient, they tell us, is good for your health!
[e] To be impatient, leads to fretting, worry, aggravation, stomach upsets, ulcers, even heart disease!
[f] Dear Friends, where would any of us be, if the Lord had not been patient with us?
Scripture tells us, that He is Ďlongsufferingí, not willing that any should perish.
[g] The disciples, were to Ďwaití for the promise of the Father.
[h] Now if they had not heeded the instruction of Jesus, and rushed out Ďhalf cockedí, they would have been totally inadequate for the task - powerless - without the Holy Spiritís ability - doing it in their own strength - like so much of the Church today!!
[i] You and I are here in this meeting as people washed in the blood of Christ - because they (the early Christians) took the patience to wait until God fitted them for the task - with His power and ability!
[j] Announce a prayer meeting to wait upon God, and Christians think it a waste of time - they must do - because for the most part - they donít turn up! They answer the question by their absence!
[a] The second ĎPí is of course the PROMISE! "Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost."
They were to wait for the personal baptism in the Holy Spirit!
[b] Only then could they be world changing witnesses, by proclaiming the Gospel effectively in power! Otherwise they would be just going through the motions - maybe even saying all the right things - but it would not be a word of spiritual power that would move the hearts of men.
[c] Why is it that so many Christians today donít feel they need the promise of the power of the Holy Spirit??
[d] Why are we satisfied with a mere trickle of converts ?? Why are we not on our knees seeking God for a personal fulfillment of His promise to us??
I have been to corps where they havenít seen anyone at the Mercy Seat seeking Salvation for years - AND THE WORST OF IT IS - NO ONE SEEMS TO CARE!
[e] May God forgive our apathy and wake us up to see the lost and dying world through His eyes!!
[a] The next ĎPí is POWER. "Ye shall receive power."
[a] On the day of Pentecost, there was a sound as of a MIGHTY RUSHING WIND sweeping through that upper room.
[b] Now we sometimes speak of the wind of the Spirit, in the terms Jesus uses to Nicodemus in John 3, as though it is but a gentle breeze blowing through the trees, and indeed that is one aspect of the Spiritís work.
[c] But think of a mighty hurricane uprooting trees, demolishing houses, throwing cars high in the air, causing tidal waves, changing coastlines! THAT TOO IS THE WIND!
[d] If we are going to see the Ďforts of darknessí demolished - IT WILL ONLY BE THROUGH THE RUSHING MIGHTY WIND OF THE SPIRIT!
AND THAT WILL ONLY HAPPEN AS WE PRAY AND WAIT!!
[a] The PURPOSE of the promised Spirit. "Ye shall be witnesses."
[b] Too many Christians today are rushing about like headless chickens - but getting no-where, because they have not sought God and His power.
IT IS NOT SOMETHING FOR THE FEW! God offers to every child of His, the might of the Spirit, to live and witness effectively for Him.
[c] HE WILL CALL ALL OF TO ACCOUNT FOR WHAT WE HAVE OR HAVE NOT DONE WITH THE MEANS HE HAS PROVIDED FOR US!!
[d] I remember someone telling me once that they were not up to the task God had given them. I said, "You are insulting God and His ability!!" HE NEVER ASKS US TO LIVE FOR HIM, OR DO HIS WORK IN OUR OWN STRENGTH! HE GIVES US HIS STRENGTH, THROUGH HIS SPIRIT!
[a] In this chapter, we see Jesus PARTING from His disciples. They will have been reminded of His words in John 16:7, "If I donít go away, the Holy Spirit will not come."
[b] We are here entering into the dispensation of the Holy Spirit of God.
[c] He was coming, in a very special way to take the place of Jesus - to, if you like, fill the gap left by Jesus departure!
[d] Unfortunately today, we have two distinct camps - those who speak so much about the Holy Spirit, that it is almost as if Jesus was never here!! And those who totally reject everything of the Spirit, as if He had never come, and Jesus had never gone!!
Now obviously the truth must be somewhere in between, without being fanatical in either direction. There must be a balance!
[e] Our reading shows us very distinctly, that firstly, Jesus ascended into Heaven, and secondly, that He sent the Holy Spirit to take His place!
[f] Therefore, a rejection of the Holy Spirit, is in a sense, a rejection of Jesus.
[a] Also in these verses, we see the PROCLAMATION of the angels, "This same Jesus, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven."
[b] So often I have gone to churches and Army halls, and preached on the coming again of the Lord, and people have come up to me at the end and said, "Itís years since I have heard anyone speak on that subject!"
[c] If our expectancy of the near return of Christ has waned - our message will not be urgent - we will be like the foolish virgins, who had no oil in their lamps when the Lord came to the wedding feast!
[d] We will not be praying with urgency for those we love - or witnessing to them with the kind of sincerity that realizes they are on the brink of a lost eternity!
[e] If you knew for certain that Jesus was returning this coming Friday at 12 noon, how would you change your lifestyle, your prayer life and your witness??
[f] I say this, HOW DO YOU KNOW HE ISNíT - IF NOT BEFORE IT!!
THE PROPHECIES HAVE BEEN FULFILLED!! ALL WE ARE WAITING FOR NOW, IS THE VERY TRUMPET OF GOD!!
[a] May we each one go from this meeting, with the promise of the angels ringing in our ears, "THIS SAME JESUS SHALL SO COME IN LIKE MANNER AS YE HAVE SEEN HIM GO!!"
[b] The ascension of Jesus, speaks of patiently seeking God for the personal fulfillment of the promise of His Spiritís power, fulfilling the purpose of enabling us to witness effectively.
[c] It also reminds us through the parting of Jesus, and the proclamation of the angels, that He will return, and that we must be ready and waiting - living lives of expectancy. Hallelujah!! Even so, come Lord Jesus!!