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January 12, 2020, 8:56 PM

Winning for God in 2020


Your family gets a new game for Christmas. You sit down with it and open the box. What is the first thing you see? Instructions. From those you want to know two things: how to play and…how to win.

 

Truly some of you may not be all that concerned with winning. Many of you, and you know who you are, admit to skipping reading the instructions right to the end. You want to know how to win.

 

The study of Acts, that I start today and will be working through this year, will be your guide as you seek to understand both of those objectives. Through God’s Word we will see how we are to “play the game,” that is how we are to do this business of serving God and reaching our world. We will also learn how to “win,” that is how to complete the “game” we are playing successfully.


Acts 1:8-11

8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

 

Our Audacious Mission

What are we to do? We are to be witnesses. Witnessing sounds like a scary word but it is not as difficult as we make it. We witness to that which we know, telling what we have experienced. Jesus commanded them and us to share what we know from our own experience. Jesus said be witnesses, “unto me.” That’s it, really. Just tell what you know about Jesus.

 

How are we to do it? We have a promise that if we do what we are supposed to do we will have power. How do you know if an outlet has power? Plug into it. You will never know how much power you have available until you plug into it. The Holy Spirit is the sources of our spiritual power. Do what you are commanded, and you will know that power flowing through you. He will be like dynamite empowering us

 

Where are we to do it? For those early disciples the place was Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and then the uttermost parts of the earth. Our modern parallel is our city, then the region around us, those places around us where the people are like us.

 

The mission then reaches out to Samaria. For them it was an area where the people are different, they are unlike us. To be honest we may not even like them very much. But they need Jesus and we must take the message to them.

 

The message then goes to the “others.” These are the people outside of our natural realm. Tell them. They need to hear. How will they hear if we don’t tell them? Again, it is not about preaching a message or giving a long theological treatise. It is simply telling them what we know, sharing what we have experienced.

 

The Necessary Ascension

As Jesus spoke these last words to the disciples He was taken up through the clouds. Lifted right before their eyes. This event is called the ascension and it is a hugely important part of our story for two reasons.

 

The ascension is important because of where Jesus went. He went into heaven. He is there right now. While He is spiritually present everywhere, His physical presence is right in heaven. He is seated beside the Father, where He has been every day since that day.


The ascension is also vital because of what He does. He currently sitting beside the Father acting as our Great High Priest. While the subject is broader than this space will allow, we know that one of His ministries is praying for us. He is right now seated there praying for you. He always lives there to bring your needs to the Father.

 

The Understandable Reaction

Like a calf looking at a new gate, the disciples stood gazing at the sky. Their reaction is not difficult to understand. They were grasping at one last glimpse of their Savior. Long after He is gone, they stare for one last look.

 

The Gentle Challenge and Rebuke

As they stood there gazing at the sky, two messengers come to them. There is much debate about who they are. Are they angels? Are they men who serve as messengers? The language is ambiguous. Either way the message is the same.

 

They issue a gentle rebuke. “Why are you staring up at the sky?” It is a waste of time to spend all our days looking up. The messengers tell them it is time to stop looking up and start looking out. There are too many people living in yesterday and waiting for tomorrow. Today people around us are dying without a knowledge of Jesus. Today we must tell them that Jesus is able to save them.

 

They issue a promise. This same Jesus is coming back. This same Jesus! He is coming back. He will come back through the clouds. He will come again to earth to receive all of us to ourselves. He is coming back for us.

 

Finally, they issue a challenge. Time to stop gazing and start going. We can trust His presence as we go. We can rely on His promise as we go. Most significant to us is that we must go.


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