Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Waiting for Pentecost
Pastor Steve Schell
Acts 1:4-14
When God promises us something He’s revealing His heart. He’s showing us what He wants to do in our lives, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will actually take place. When God gives us something it’s ours, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we will actually receive it. There are forces within and without that can prevent us from receiving what God has given us.

Not understanding this fact causes a lot of confusion. There are many people who have received prophetic promises which apparently didn’t come true. Of course, it’s possible some of these were produced by wishful thinking rather than divine inspiration, so in some cases the word itself wasn’t authentic. But there are also clear Biblical promises concerning God’s will for all of us that never seem to take place. And there’s not one simple answer as to why. But one reason many of us go so long without receiving, is that we haven’t learned to wait. The problem is we think waiting is, well…just waiting. Which is to say, going on with life while keeping one eye open to see if God actually comes through on what He said. After all, He knows where we live so when He decides to do it, He will, right?

But surprisingly that’s not true. There’s much more to waiting on God than that. Promises and blessings have to be pursued, fought for, held on to. Often our own hearts have to be changed before we can receive. Some might hear this as trying to force God to do something He doesn’t want to do, as disrespectful, as though such aggression is trying to push God to do something He doesn’t want to do. But that’s where the confusion lies. This kind of waiting isn’t presumption, it’s faith. It doesn’t offend Him, it pleases Him. He loves it when His children hear Him promise something, and won’t be denied. He loves it when we lay hold of Him and won’t let go. He loves it when we set aside the distractions of the world, and wait till He shows up. Just like the disciples waited for Pentecost.

What does Luke say?
DBS – Tuesday, Friday

Verse 14
Jesus told His disciples to “wait for what the Father had promised…” (v4), and He told them what their assignment would be, but for now they weren’t to go anywhere. Not yet. Something had to happen first. Now they were to go back into the city and wait. And they did. Thankfully, in this verse Luke gives us a brief, but carefully-worded description of what happened curing those ten days. He says, “All of these were continually giving their attention to prayer, with one mind…” (literal). There are, at least, four elements to observe here:
1) “All of these”: They waited as a community. They didn’t scatter and find a lonely rock somewhere and sit. They gathered daily, men and women, not just the eleven, but also “the women,” which undoubtedly included Salome (Mary’s sister), Mary, the wife of Clopas (Joseph’s brother?), Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James and John (Mt 22:55, 56; Jn 19:25), John Mark’s mother, Mary (Ac 12:12), and very possibly Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and “many others” (Lk 8:1-3). We often overlook the fact that there were women disciples who traveled with Jesus and His disciples. Luke also mentions Jesus’ mother and His brothers, who obviously had a change of heart when they saw their eldest brother resurrected (Mt 12:46, 47; Mt 13:55, 56; Jn 7:1-10; 1Co 15:7). The word which is translated here as “women” can also mean “wife.” Since we know some, maybe all, the disciples were married (Mt 8:14; 1Co 9:5), there may have been some wives present as well.
2) “continually giving their attention to…”: They set aside other things and focused on God. The word Luke uses means they “were strong towards.” It implies consistent attention and the expenditure of energy. In other words, they weren’t passive. They were actively calling on God to do all that He promised. Now, undoubtedly, during the process each one gave attention to his or her own spiritual condition. They would have attended to any unconfessed sin, hidden resentments, and wrong attitudes toward God. Their goal was to “prepare the way of the Lord” (Is 40:3, 4).
3) “with one mind”: The word Luke uses literally means “the same mind.” It’s used ten times in the Book of Acts (1:14; 2:46; 4:24; 5:12; 7:57; 8:6; 12:20; 15:25; 18:12; 19:29). Paul used it in Ro 15:6. It means to genuinely agree as to your purpose and work together as one. These disciples refused to withhold themselves from the Body of Christ, loved each other, gathered harmoniously, joyfully pursuing the Lord as a team, not as isolated individuals.
4) “in prayer”: How do you pray for ten days? What do you say? One can say all the appropriate things that need to be said in ten minutes, then what? We know they went to the temple each day to worship. They were “blessing God” (Lk 24:53). But to pray that long takes quiet listening, reading the Word (or listening to it being read or recited), praying specific things as the Spirit leads. When numerous people listen together in unity, and pray out as God guides, a theme emerges and is prayed for in remarkably insightful ways. Then another theme emerges and is prayed for as different people sense God give them something specific to pray. Rather than being chaotic or dull, such Spirit-led prayer becomes very inspiring and time passes unnoticed. Undoubtedly, God led them to pray for their city, their families, their nation. Undoubtedly, they declared by faith the great things God would do, doors would open, souls would be saved, the oppressed would be delivered, the sick would be healed. After all, they had watched Jesus minister and He had already sent them out at times to minister in His name, so what lay ahead wasn’t a mystery to them. They knew they would soon say: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind. To set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” (Lk 4:18, 19)

Didn’t Jesus say “…as the Father has sent Me, I also send you”? So, much faith-filled thanking of God for what He was about to do must have filled that upper room and Portico of Solomon. And when over a hundred disciples are doing this together, people take notice. By the time God’s appointed day arrived, the Spirit was already mightily at work.

Waiting aggressively
Here are two examples of men who knew how to receive a promise:
1) Elijah: 1Ki 18:41-46
• He discerned God’s will. He heard “the sound of the roar of a heavy shower”
• He knew his intercession was essential (Jas 5:16-18 “the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much”).
• He didn’t quit till the answer arrived, “…he said ‘go back’ seven times.”
• He was strengthened by the process, not weakened. “The hand of the Lord was on Elijah, and he… outran Ahab to Jezreel” (17 miles)
2) Daniel: Dn 9:1-27 (Jer 25:11-13)
• He prepared himself to pray (fasting, sackcloth, ashes)
• He confessed God’s covenant
• He confessed the nations sins (including himself)
• He confessed God’s justice in judging them
• He confessed God’s mercy
• He called on God’s compassion
• He received divine revelation. Intercession often results in revelation, which produces more focused intercession (Isa 62:6, 7 watchmen).

These disciples were waiting for the promised Baptism of the Holy Spirit. And they received that “baptism”” all at once, ten days later, on the day of the Feast of Pentecost. But God offers this same gift to us. Jesus continues to baptize believers into the Holy Spirit, so we too can be His witnesses. Some people argue that “tarrying” (waiting), like the 120 did back then, isn’t needed anymore. They say the Spirit is given to every believer when they are born again. And they’re right (1Co 3:22; 2Co 1:20; Ac 2:38, 39). But as we’ve seen, being given a gift, and actually receiving it, aren’t the same thing. We, too, may need to prepare our hearts so we can actually lay hold of what God has already given us. We may need to surrender, confess sins, refuse condemnation, break old bondages, and stir up faith to take hold of what God has already given. And that can take time, as much time as we need, until we’re finally ready to reach out and take what God is holding in His hand…until we know He’s come to live inside, until we too are changed like they were. In other words, for a true believer the process of waiting is a matter of waiting for us to prepare ourselves, not for God to give.

1) Have you ever had to wait and aggressively pray-in a promise? Tell us how God worked inside you during this process.
2) If you have received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, tell us how you know. When did this occur? What changed in you?


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