When God promises us something Hes revealing His heart. Hes showing us what He wants to do in our lives, but that doesnt necessarily mean it will actually take place. When God gives us something its ours, but that doesnt 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 didnt come true. Of course, its possible some of these were produced by wishful thinking rather than divine inspiration, so in some cases the word itself wasnt authentic. But there are also clear Biblical promises concerning Gods will for all of us that never seem to take place. And theres not one simple answer as to why. But one reason many of us go so long without receiving, is that we havent 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 thats not true. Theres 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 doesnt want to do, as disrespectful, as though such aggression is trying to push God to do something He doesnt want to do. But thats where the confusion lies. This kind of waiting isnt presumption, its faith. It doesnt offend Him, it pleases Him. He loves it when His children hear Him promise something, and wont be denied. He loves it when we lay hold of Him and wont 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
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 werent 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 didnt 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 (Marys sister), Mary, the wife of Clopas (Josephs brother?), Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James and John (Mt 22:55, 56; Jn 19:25), John Marks mother, Mary (Ac 12:12), and very possibly Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herods 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 werent 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. Its 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 wasnt 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)
Didnt 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 Gods appointed day arrived, the Spirit was already mightily at work.
Here are two examples of men who knew how to receive a promise:
1) Elijah: 1Ki 18:41-46
He discerned Gods 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 didnt 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 Gods covenant
He confessed the nations sins (including himself)
He confessed Gods justice in judging them
He confessed Gods mercy
He called on Gods 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, isnt needed anymore. They say the Spirit is given to every believer when they are born again. And theyre right (1Co 3:22; 2Co 1:20; Ac 2:38, 39). But as weve seen, being given a gift, and actually receiving it, arent 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 were finally ready to reach out and take what God is holding in His hand
until we know Hes 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?