Peninsula Community Church
What’s Your Assignment?
April 23, 2017
Acts 1:6-11 – So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
Today we will be taking a look at the interaction Jesus had with His disciples just before He ascended into Heaven. This short interaction gives us insight into the calling and the priority He placed on everyone who is a passionate follower of Christ. In His interaction with the disciples, He confirmed that He had not come to establish an earthly Kingdom but one that was to be deposited in the heart of every passionate follower of Christ. His greatest and utmost desire had been and continues to be to reign in the hearts of believers. You see by reigning in our hearts He empowers us to change, change our families, change our communities, and eventually change our government. It all begins in the heart.
Secondly, Jesus confirmed that the Holy Spirit would come to give us the power to be witnesses to those around us. We get to be on mission with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. How awesome is that? As I prepare this message, I am thinking about the theme music from “Mission Impossible.” I am also thinking about the fact that you and I have been chosen for a special assignment. We have been chosen to be ministers of grace to our families, our communities, and our different spheres of influence. If you and I accept this mission, and we should, we will be given everything we need to succeed.
However, there is an important difference between Mission Impossible and our ministries as witnesses. In the movie Mission Impossible if things went south, the organization disowned the team and would act as if they never existed. But as a believer in Christ, if our mission goes south, Jesus will never forget us or abandon us. It is for that reason Jesus promised that if He went away, as He was about to do, He would return. The one truth we can hold onto is that He will not forget us nor will He forsake us.
So with that in mind let us dive into this passage and unpack the truth in this text. In this passage, we find two truths that should encourage us and cause us to focus on God’s initiatives and His work in our life. But before we investigate these statements let me give you one key insight into the success of the church. The calling to follow Christ is for the individual but it is also for the corporate body called the church. Here is the truth. As individuals we are a part of the universal body called the church but we are also connected to a local body. In our case, we are connected to Peninsula Community Church. Because the local church is made up of individuals, the success of the church comes as individuals seek God’s will and His destiny for their life. In the body of Christ, each individual does their part to make the church a success in the sense of providing ministry. We all have a role to play. We all have a calling to achieve and that calling is possible through the truths revealed through this passage.
The first truth exposed here is that the disciples continued to question Jesus about His Kingdom. With all that had transpired, the disciples continue to exert a false expectation about His kingdom. Listen to their question. “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” The answer Jesus gave perhaps threw them a bit because He responded by saying “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons that the Father has fixed by His own authority.” In essence, I believe that Jesus is saying stay focused on truth. Focus on the present and not the future or what is to come. Once again, they missed the concept of the kingdom and they lacked an understanding as to the fullness of what Jesus was saying.
Too many times, we can be distracted with issues that do not mean much or at least are not relevant to our ability to accomplish the will of God. While the disciples were still looking for an earthly kingdom, Jesus was trying to establish a spiritual kingdom where He would rule and reign. His kingdom was not made with hands but one established in the hearts of men. You see the disciples wanted something they could touch and feel. They wanted something they could see, but the Kingdom of God was an invisible kingdom made up of individuals who had been given membership into this kingdom by way of the new birth.
Today, we can invite Jesus into our hearts to establish His kingdom within us. In so doing, we are called to live as kingdom people. Peter understood this when he said But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy (1 Peter 2:9-10). As the chosen of God, we have the privilege to live as kingdom people.
For that reason, Jesus makes a second statement. In setting up a spiritual kingdom in our hearts and calling us to live as kingdom people, He also fills us with the Holy Spirt to be witnesses of Jesus’ kingdom. We are to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the world. Notice a couple of things here. First, He has empowered us to be witnesses. Notice that He does not state that we should preach, teach, or do any other work. He calls us to simply to be witnesses. He is saying in essence, be the salt and be the light. In other words, the Holy Spirit will shine through us to touch others. The Holy Spirit within us will impact others as we engage them and interact with them. It is noteworthy that we do not have to become the salt or become the light, we are the light and we are the salt because the Holy Spirit is living and abiding in us.
To understand this concept of being a witness, we must examine what it means to be a witness. First of all, we are a witness of Jesus by our actions and the way we interact with the people we encounter. The question to be asked is do we represent Christ in a positive way or do people have an unfavorable view of Him because of our actions? When we walk into a room do we brighten the room or is there a cloud of darkness that precedes us? How do we represent Jesus in terms of our language? Are we encouragers who speak the truth or are we given to unhealthy criticisms, fits of anger, gossip, and lies? These actions and attitudes do not bear a very good witness for Him. In fact, they destroy the witness of Christ.
With that said, we must realize that we are always giving a witness. We can be giving a positive witness for Christ or we can be a witness against Christ. How many times have you watched a court room murder movie or show when the witness for the prosecution turns into a hostile witness and becomes a witness for the defense. If we are believers, we must seek to be a positive witness for Christ. We must choose whose side we are on.
As witnesses, we can be assured that God is using everything in our life to bear witness to who He is and what He has done in us. People are watching how we handle stress, false accusations, hurt and pain, and whatever else comes our way. They look to see how real we are. Do we live a fake a life where we are hypocritical in our approach to life? Do we force others to tow the line while we take advantage of others and do the minimum of what is required? Do we cut corners? Do we act in dishonest ways! Do we lack integrity in the way we handle people, our business, and our work ethic. How is the witness of your actions for Christ?
We also bear witness by what we say. How do we communicate Christ in our life? Is our language and our actions disconnected? Is our speech seasoned with salt? Do we carry a big stick? And, do we use it to beat the word into people’s lives or do we season our speech with the grace of God? When we are asked about Christ do we come across as arrogant or do we express the love of Christ? Do we draw people to Christ with our speech or do we push them away by our actions and by our words?
As we consider all of this, we must remember that we can be a positive witness for Christ because the Holy Spirit is in us. He, the Holy Spirit empowers us to be witnesses. We are empowered to speak truth. He can use us even when we do not realize it. You see my desire is that the Holy Spirit would be so evident in me that what people experience is the Holy Spirit through me but I also desire that His work would flow through me naturally but in a supernatural way.
This is how it works. The Holy Spirit takes our personalities, our experiences, our successes, our failures, our education, and all that we are to speak a message of hope to others. I have often said that the experiences you have can be used to touch others. You will reach people I can not reach because you have experienced things I have not experienced. God wants to use everything in our life as a means to reach those who God has destined for you to reach. God has positioned you within the sphere of influence you have been given so He can work through you.
For that reason we must pray for God to use us! We must pray for God to provide divine opportunities to share His love and grace with others. I can tell you that if you ask for the opportunities, He will open some amazing doors to share your faith with others. When this happens, the Holy Spirit takes our efforts and empowers them to be so much more effective. We do not move in our own power. When we are honest and allow the Holy Spirit to move through us, we will find there are times God will use what we do or say without us even knowing that He is using us.
Personally, I have been amazed at how many times the Holy Spirit has used me when I did not even realize it. Just this week, I have been amazed at the opportunities I have been given.
Several times the door of opportunity has been opened and I have been a vessel used by God to encourage others. In most of these cases I did not even realize the impact I was making until later in the week when they would call or someone would share they had talked to that person. To be honest I did not feel I did very much at all. I was simply present and shared my life with these folks in the moment. The promise for each of us is that if we seek Him, He will do the same in you, I can promise you that He will.
So as we close today would take some time to ask God to direct your steps. Would you ask God to work out some divine appointments this week? Ask and you will receive.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom