Wednesday, September 25, 2013

God's Time Table - Seven Bible Sticky Notes (Part 2)

Preached at Community Christian Church
David P. Kautt
Sunday Morning, September 22, 2013

Acts 1:12-26, “12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. 13 And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. 14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.  15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty), and said, 16 “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; 17 for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out. 19 And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms:
‘Let his dwelling place be desolate,
And let no one live in it’;
‘Let another take his office.’
21 “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”  23 And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen 25 to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” 26 And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Tick… Tick…  Tick…  God’s time table.  Tick… Tick…  Tick…  God’s time table!  Tick… Tick… Tick…  So far, in our look at God’s ‘time table’, at what He ordained and intended for the 10-day period between Jesus’ ascension, recorded here in Acts chapter 1, and the Day of Pentecost, as depicted in Acts 2.  So far, we have placed 4 ‘Bible Sticky Notes’ on the picture screen of our minds.  4 Bible stick notes that summarize, at least a part of what we read, learn and need to know from this important first chapter of the Book of Acts.  Do you remember what they are?  Let’s review them quickly, before we move on. 

First, there is the sticky note that says, ‘Eleven Waiting’.   Since the eleven remaining apostles didn’t have a window into heaven, a way to sort of look over God’s shoulder at His time clock, and since Jesus had said to them, “You must wait…” that’s what they did.  They waited, they obeyed Him, just like He wanted, and they waited!  Tick… Tick…  Tick…  Because of God’s schedule, and even more, in order to receive God’s strength, they waited!  Speaking of God’s strength and waiting on God’s schedule, ever come across these words before? 

Isaiah 40:28-31, “Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He never grows weary or tired; His understanding is never ending.  He gives strength to the weary, and to Him who lacks might He gives power.  Even youths grow weary and tired, and young men stumble and fall, but those who WAIT on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and NOTE grow weary, they shall walk and NOT faint!”  Waiting on God is not just because of God’s schedule!  No!  It’s in order to receive His strength! 

The eleven waiting.  That’s sticky note number one.  Then, number  two.  In Acts 1:13-14, we read about how the eleven, the women, the mother of Jesus and the brothers of Jesus, all 120 of them, were in unison – in Holy Spirit-oneness – praying.  We don’t have time to explore it at this point, but believe me, as we progress through our study of the rest of the Book of Acts, you’ll see it!  You’ll see that when God’s people pray, when they take the things of earth to the door of heaven, God hears!  God responds!  God causes hope to be reborn and sins to be forgiven!  In unison, the 120 were praying, as they were waiting! 

Prayer, humble, surrendered prayer – what a way to align oneself with God’s schedule, and open oneself to receive God’s strength! 

Next, we have in Acts 1:15-17, the Brethren Meeting, sticky note #3.  The Church, the people of God, we’re not a CLUB, and even though I like to use illustrations from the world of sports, we’re really not a TEAM either.  So, what are we?  The brethren meeting.  My loved ones, we are family!  God is our Father, Jesus is our Elder Brother, and the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus, is the One at work in us, who brings us together!  The brethren meeting.  No!  Those are not fighting words, they are FAMILY words, precious, favorite, family words! 

Then, one more sticky note from last time - #4, ‘The Scripture Fulfilling’.  When it comes to this Book, God’s Book, what one word says it all?  It is unbreakable!   Heaven and earth shall pass away.  Like grass and the flowers of the grass, all flesh, all of us, will wither, fade and fall, but God’s Word, God’s unbreakable word, will never pass away! 

Tick… Tick… Tick…  Well, that’s what our clocks and watches are doing, aren’t they?  And we have a couple more of these Bible sticky notes to post.  So, we better get moving, right?

Acts 1:18-19, Bible sticky note #5.  Let’s read it again:

Acts 1:18-19, “(Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out. 19 And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.)

The fifth of our Bible sticky notes has these three words written on it: ‘The Traitor’s Sinning.’  I don’t know if you have ever thought of Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of our Lord as a sin, but, here it is – Acts 1:18 – Peter calls it ‘iniquity’.  So that none of us gets confused, that’s just a fancy word for S-I-N, an old-fashioned word that means UN-righteousness! And notice what else Peter says about the traitor’s sin here.  He says that with the wages of it, the 30 pieces of silver Judas received as payment for his dirty deed, He bought a field.  Matthew 27:3-10 will give you the details, if you want to look it up.  Through the wages of his iniquity, Judas bought a field, his BLOOD MONEY purchased some real estate, the potter’s field, which became a cemetery for foreigners.  But, listen, here’s the marvelous thing about all of this: through Judas - the Betrayer bough property with his money – but Jesus, the Betrayed, our Kinsman/Redeemer, bought PEOPLE.  He bought you and me with His blood!  My loved ones, do you realize what all of that is?  That is one of the most amazing examples of the APPARENT victory of a man, an enemy of God, and of Satan, the evil one behind the Betrayer.  This is one of THE MOST AMAZING examples of an apparent victory of God’s enemies, turning out, actually, to be GOD’S victory in the end!  A victory that, through Christ, you and I can share in, in the end!  Praise the Lord!  Akel Dama, the Field of Blood.  That’s not the end of it, is it?  No!  The fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins, that cleasning fountain is the end of it! 

1) The eleven waiting, 2) were in unison praying, 3) the brethren meeting, 4) the scripture fulfilling, 5) the traitor’s sinning.  That’s five of the Seven Bible Sticky Notes from Acts chapter one.  Now let’s take a peek at #6.  Acts 1:21-22, ‘The Apostles’ Defining’. 

Acts 1:21-22, “21 “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” 

Because of the traitor’s sin, because of his failure to REPENT of that sin and to flee to Jesus for forgiveness of that sin; and, because the prophetic Scriptures in Psalm 69 and Psalm 109 HAD to be fulfilled, Judas’ replacement is now up for consideration.  And two men, two candidates, if you will, are put forth for consideration.

Now, here’s the key question that relates to this Bible sticky note: ‘Why these two men?  Why Joseph Barsabas and Matthias, and not two or three or five or twenty-five other men?’  The apostle’s defining.  It all comes back to the DEFINITION; how the term ‘apostle’ is defined.  Look again at verses 21 and 22, and say this with me: ‘I could never be an apostles based on this definition.’  What is the definition, found here in the text of Scripture, of an apostle?  Number one, he must be a he.  And, number two, he must have accompanied the other hand-picked apostles all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among them, beginning from His baptism by John to the day when He ascended back to heaven.  I could never be an apostle, not in this sense, at least, and never could you.  Why?  Because what was required was FIRST-hand testimony.  “We need a 12th man to be a witness with us of Jesus’ resurrection,” Peter said.  And to be able to give FIRST-hand testimony, guess what?  One must have had first-hand experience!  Anyone here qualify?  I know I don’t! 

Nevertheless, wouldn’t it have been neat to have been the one chose to take Judas’ place?  Sounds really appealing, doesn’t it?  Sounds pretty exciting, doesn’t it?  Chew on that for a moment, while you look up Matthew chapter 10 with me.  Matthew 10 – what’s that chapter all about?  Let me give you another sticky note right here for free.  Matthew 10 is the ‘Apostle’s Manual’.  Everything you always wanted to know about being an Apostle but were afraid to ask, is contained in Matthew 10.  Wouldn’t it have been neat to be an apostle?  Matthew 10:16 – Jesus said to His Apostles, His ‘sent ones’, “Behold, I am send you out as sheep among wolves…”  Verse 17, “you will be handed over to councils and beaten in synagogues.”  Verse 18, “you will be brought before kings and governors.”  Verse 21, “your brothers, your fathers, your children, they will betray you so that you can be put to death.”  Verse 22, “you will be hated by all men for My name’s sake.” …  I could go on, but I won’t.  Still thinking it would be neat and exciting to be Judas’ replacement? 

My friends, to be an Apostle, yes, to replace even the Betrayer, this would not be a life of trips to Six Flags and celebrity appearances on the Tonight Show!  No!  To be an apostle would have been the most demanding, the most difficult thing that any of these men had ever done!  But… Stay with me.  This is where this whole thing called Apostleship gets very, very interesting.  Remember sticky note #1?  The one about the eleven waiting?  Why were they told to wait?  Acts 1:4 and 8.  Jesus told them to wait because God had PROMISED to do something for them, to give Someone to them!  “Wait for the promise of the Father… [for when I send Him, when I send My Holy Spirit upon you…] you will receive POWER, divine strength, to do what would otherwise seem impossible! 

John 16:33 – Jesus speaking to the eleven said, “In this world, as My witnesses, you will have trouble!  But, in Me, you will have peace!  So, be of good cheer!  For, I have overcome the world!” 

Boil it down with me, will you?  What is Jesus’ message to His apostles?  Trouble is certain!  It is!  But, listen!  SO IS VICTORY!  Victory, in the end, for you, My witnesses, is certain.  So, don’t worry about what to say when they drag you before kings and councils; My Spirit will give you the words. 

Matthew 18:18-20.  Trouble is certain, but so is victory!  So, don’t worry that your enemies are thinking that they are somehow hiding their hatred of you from God!  They can’t hide it!  No!  He’s known it all along!  And, in the end, He will deal with it (Matthew 10:24-26). 

You want to be an apostle?  Think again – trouble is certain for every ‘sent one’.  But, that’s not all.  So is victory!  So, don’t worry if they kill your body!  “Don’t worry if you lose your life for My sake,” Jesus says!  “Don’t worry!  For in the end, you will save it!  In the end, I will confess you before My Father in heaven! 

The definition of an apostle.  Two words, two seemingly contradictory words: trouble/hardship/persecution, even death for Jesus’ sake.  AND, victory!  Victory!  So, my fellow ‘sent ones’, what?  So, preach openly (Matthew 10:7, 27).  So, minister generously (Matt. 10:8).  So, work trustingly (Matt. 10:9-13).  So speak, labor and give fearlessly (Matt. 10:26-31).  Why?  For Jesus’ sake!  Because you know the Risen One.  And, best of all, because He, the risen King of kings, knows you!

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