The Story, Week. 28 04/23/17—Highland—Meute
Acts 1: 6-11; John 14: 16-20
Pearl: The amazing, powerful name of Jesus the Christ coupled with the immediacy of the Holy Spirit.
Function: To encourage trust in the efficacy of the Name of Jesus the Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Prior to his leaving his disciples and ascending into heaven, Jesus spent 40 days with his followers. Just before his ascension he explained to his disciples and other followers what would happen. He instructed them to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit to come upon them.
1. This week The Story took you into the Book of the Acts of the Apostles which is actually a continuation of the Gospel of Luke. The writer of Luke also wrote the Book of Acts.
a. It is somewhat unfortunate that John is in between Luke and Acts because they really are Part 1 and Part 2.
2. The scriptures reveal, and you are seeing through The Story, that God from the beginning launched a massive search and rescue strategy to redeem and restore his creation.
a. This past week the nation rejoiced with a set of Tennessee parents whose teen-age daughter was rescued from a teacher who abducted her and drove across the country. A massive search and rescue operation was conducted with a good end.
b. The first phase of God’s “search and rescue” operation was Israel. God wanted a nation through whom to show his character and to call people with whom to relate.
c. The second phase of God’s operation was Jesus Christ. Jesus declared, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” People find their way to God through the work of Christ.
d. The third phase of God’s great plan of the redemption and restoration of all things is through the universal church.
3. The disciples, 120 of them, waited in Jerusalem as per Jesus’ instructions.
a. He told them to wait there because the Day of Pentecost was approaching when about a million people would be in Jerusalem.
b. It was on that Day that the 120 disciples heard a mighty wind and saw tongues of fire resting on each other’s heads that everyone also began speaking in diverse languages. Strangely, the diverse ethnic cross-section of people gathered in Jerusalem each heard their own languages being spoken and they heard the wonderful works of God being spoken in their own languages.
4. Everyone was amazed at the events of that powerful day in Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit came upon the followers of Jesus the Christ.
a. Read through the first 10 chapters of Acts in your regular Bible and note how often you read that people were “amazed,” “astonished,” or “filled with wonder” at what was going on.
People were stunned at the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ!
1. There were frequent and constant incidences of signs and wonders being performed in the Name of Jesus the Christ.
a. What fills you with wonder?
i. Are you filled with wonder at scenes of dramatic beauty?
1. This is the time of the year when wave after wave of beauty greets you daily as creation wakes up from a long winter of dormancy.
2. This week it was the dogwoods, the magnolias, and the red buds which demanded your notice!
ii. Are you filled with wonder at musical presentations?
1. Remember when Susan Boyle shocked the world with her unexpected talent? As she sang you felt goosebumps and not a sound was heard while her raw, natural talent stunned everyone in that music hall.
2. There are moments of musical power in our worship every week.
iii. Are you filled with wonder at people showing bravery by standing up to their oppressors?
1. Just this week a solitary woman stood up to an armored vehicle in Venezuela while tear gas canisters were thrown at her feet. She stood her ground kicking it away and standing with her back to the armored truck as it nudged her and pushed against her.
iv. Wonder at unexplainable phenomena?
1. As a child I remember one winter day when all of the neighborhood kids were sled-riding on the hill behind my house. We had two levels and we were sledding on the upper level. You didn’t want to go to the bottom level because there was a cyclone fence at the bottom. As you might have guessed a friend took off from the top and rocketed down the slope on a flying saucer heading straight for the fence. I was sure this would end badly. Somehow, unexplainably, he flew down the slope and went underneath the fence without a scratch. There were no holes in the fence. There were no weaknesses in the fence. I stood there amazed!
2. After the Holy Spirit came upon all of the followers of Jesus Christ, amazing and wondrous things began happening all over the place. Jesus’ followers stunned people everywhere that they went–praying for people, laying their hands on people, always in the name of Jesus, and wondrous things happened.
a. The disciples testified about “the Name” of Jesus as being the key to the power and wonders. It is written, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to humankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
b. The spiritual authorities were upset by what was happening among the followers of Jesus and they tried to put it to a stop. More than once apostles were imprisoned and miraculously led to freedom by spiritual beings/angels.
c. Followers of Jesus began to be persecuted, tortured, and even martyred. The scriptures record the disciple’s joy in being persecuted for the “name” of Jesus:
“As they left the council, they rejoiced that they were considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name” (Acts 5:41).
d. Stephen was the first official Christian martyr. One can be sure that the Holy Spirit of God was in him because while he was being stoned to death he prayed out loud, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them,” echoing the very same words of Jesus from the cross!
It is amazing and wondrous to see the results of the powerful name of Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit. It is a wonder that everyone who puts faith in Jesus the Christ can walk in this power of the Holy Spirit!
1. The age of the church, which includes the present, is part of the third phase of God’s search and rescue operation and his jaw-dropping, world-changing power is still working wonders.
a. A Methodist pastor in my former Ministerium, Pastor Lee, told us about his call to the ministry. As a child in Korea his parents were Methodist. He spoke of his call as “his parent’s call.” This is because as a child both of his parents believed that they heard a warning from God that they would lose their son in an automobile accident. So they launched into a season of prayer and fasting. They even had their son watched by his grandparents so that they could concentrate on prayer for their son to be spared. During this season of prayer they received a notion from God that he would spare their son if he would serve in pastoral ministry some day. Pastor Lee fought this call all through his young life until he finally accepted that it was his destiny.
i. “The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective” (James 5:16b)
b. I used to pray regularly for a young person who was painfully shy. I prayed that she would come out of her shell and blossom. She finally began to talk to me and showed signs of growth. I continued to be amazed at the power of prayer in the name of Jesus Christ! I think it is appropriate to be amazed. His ways are wondrous, astonishing, and amazing! His grace is AMAZING! It’s okay to be amazed and filled with wonder at the works of God.
2. There is power in the name of Jesus the Christ! Do not underestimate the power of the name of Jesus! In this age of the church the risen, Christ reigns almighty over all!
Do you have a healthy sense of wonder at the name of Jesus the Christ?
1. If not, then pray! Praying, with faith, in the name of Jesus the Christ will teach you the power of God’s Holy Spirit and the amazing name of Jesus the Christ. Conduct experiments in prayer.
2. The slightest, weakest, most humble and unlikely of us can walk in the greatest of power. Jesus transformed common men and women into those who would establish the church. Prayer in the name of Jesus is the stuff of the heroic!
a. The scribal elite, religious establishment types were amazed at the disciples of Jesus. As recorded in Acts 4:13: “…when [the Elders and Scribes] saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus.”
3. There are reports that more people have come to salvation in Jesus Christ in the last 20 years than in the last 15 centuries.
a. It is amazing to travel the world and to see the church alive and well in such vastly different cultures.
b. Today’s world-wide church traces its roots all the way back to when Cornelius became the first Gentile covert.
It is by the power of the mighty name of Jesus Christ and through the work of the Holy Spirit that God is restoring all things! And God is doing it through his church still today!