OBEDIENCE AND DEPENDENCE
- In the book of Acts we see the mighty work of God on display as the NT church is birthed and established under the power of the Holy Spirit
- Acts is the continuing story of the power of the gospel to transform lives, as the Good News spreads out from Jerusalem, to Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth
- God had promised to draw to Himself a people from every nation, tribe, and tongue
- He will see that accomplished.
- The unstoppable ministry of Jesus Christ continues, by the power of the Spirit, through the witness of God’s people
THREE PRIORITIES OF THE EARLY CHURCH:
- Expectant Obedience
- “And while staying with them He ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father…” 4
- “Then they returned to Jerusalem from the Mount called Olivet…” – v.12
- The Lord had commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit
- There was urgency to this mission
- After seeing their Lord ascend back into heaven, you can be sure they were eager to begin the mission
- But the Lord told them to wait
- And they displayed humility by obeying Him, by waiting on Him
- They expected Him to act, even as they obeyed His command
To Obey is to Trust
- As a young boy, when my father told me to do something, I did it
- Because, while no earthly father is perfect, I knew that he loved me and had good in store for me
- The same principle is true of our Heavenly Father
- He is perfect in all His ways, true in all that He speaks
- So we can obey Him, and do what He says, even when we may not be able to see how obeying will be for our good
- Expectant Obedience to the Lord’s commands requires that we believe He is for us, believing that He is good
- God is good and does good!
- And every word that comes from the Lord is good
We can expectantly obey the Lord because we can trust every word God tells us in scripture!
“All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” II Timothy 3:16
- Everything that God says in His Word is truth!
- Every command, every precept, ever word is true!
“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart, the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” Psalm 19:7-11
- As we are convinced that what God tells us to do in His Word is true, we will obey with expectation
- Is there any place in your heart where you are aware that you’re not obeying His word?
- Willfully disobeying?
- We cannot expect to experience the blessing of God when we walk in direct opposition to the Spirit, to the Word of God
- The Spirit and the Word are in conjunction!
- The early church, numbering about 120, were “devoting themselves to prayer” – v.14
- What does it mean to be devoted to something?
- It means that it takes a high priority in your life
- That when choices have to be made about what you will do and won’t do with your time, that which holds your devotion will be done
- To be devoted means your time, energy, attention, and focus will be brought to it
- And the early church devoted themselves to prayer
Why such devotion?
- Because they knew that they were utterly dependent upon the Lord for everything
- They knew that they needed the Lord in order to accomplish anything – “for apart from Me, you can do nothing” – John 15
- So they set aside time
- Made a plan
- Took the initiative
- And committed themselves to prayer
- And we see other places in the NT where the devotion of the early church to prayer was evident
- “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Acts 2:42
- “We will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” Acts 6:4
- “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.” Colossians 4:2
- Devotion to prayer demonstrates where we believe the real power for change is located!
- God, by the Holy Spirit and through prayer, can change in 10 seconds what we couldn’t do in 10 years!
- The power is in prayer – is in seeking the face of the Lord
- He loves to answer us
- Hear again this reminder from Jesus:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find, and to the one who knocks, it will be opened.” Luke 11:9
- Brothers and sisters, let us be devoted to pray, to seek the Lord
- For in seeking we will find
“I would rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach.” CH Spurgeon
- Evaluate – personal/private prayer?
- Corporate prayer
- All church prayer meetings are part of our calendar because we want to grow in our devotion to prayer!
III. Glad Submission to Scripture
- As the apostles were aware, because of the teaching of scripture, Judas’s role needed to be replaced
- “Brothers, the scriptures had to be fulfilled” – v.16
- “Let another take his office” – v.20
- These two scriptures held forth the way to proceed, and so the disciples submitted themselves to the Word
Governed by the Word
- Notice – they didn’t just go their own way
- They could have just gone forward with the 11
- They could have added more than 1, as the gospel task they were facing was huge
- But instead, they trusted the counsel of God and yielded themselves to it
- They were governed by the Word!
- There are times when we may need to submit to the Word without understanding the wisdom of the Word
- We might think we have a better way
- But we don’t!
- And we can trust the Author of the Word to give us right counsel, every time!
- From the outset of the early church, they were determined to be shaped and guided by the Word of God
- They chose to look to it for instruction, for teaching
- In prayer, we talk to God
- In the Word, God talks to us
- And as we gladly listen and submit ourselves to His Word, we will find His grace mightily at work in us
- I pray the Lord stirs us afresh as we are reminded of these essential components of our faith
- Expectant obedience
- Devoted prayer
- Glad submission to the Word
Questions for Application:
- How did the early church display their utter dependency on Christ?
- What does obedience to God require? Talk about trusting God even when we’re tempted to take matters into our own hands.
- What are ways that we can grow in expressing our dependency on Christ?
- Please share a story or two of how God has blessed you by your submission to the Word of God
- How can you personally, and we as a church body, grow in our…
- Expectant obedience
- Devoted prayer
- Glad submission to the Word