God’s kingdom is unshakeable and his power, love and influence are unstoppable. The book of Acts is a powerful story of the early church. It is such an encouraging account of the unshakeable, unstoppable reign of God. Throughout the book, the Holy Spirit worked in and through the church to expand the influence of God’s kingdom; but it all began with a ten day period of waiting on God.Waiting in Jerusalem
After he had risen from the dead, Jesus spent forty days with his disciples teaching them about the Kingdom of God and the amazing truths of God’s rule and reign. However, he did not immediately send them out to announce the good news that Christ was risen and salvation had come through him. Instead Jesus told them to wait for ten days in Jerusalem.Acts 1:4 … he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (NIV)
Can you see the apparent contradiction? The first thing Jesus asked his disciples to do in Acts was wait. An unstoppable God said stop and wait. The disciples did not want to wait. After centuries under the brutal rulership of emperors and empires, they wanted freedom. You could understand them wanting God to act immediately to bring about some changes. But God asked them to wait on Him. Why?Why Wait?
The older I get the less I like waiting. I think that reflects an unhealthy cultural aversion in western society. We measure times not just in minutes and seconds but milliseconds. We have become the microwave generation. We are frustrated when our restaurant order is a little bit late. Rage erupts on the road over the smallest of irritation. However, frustrating as it is, waiting has benefits:
• It challenges us to release control to God;
• It teaches us humility;
• It produces perseverance or patience (James 1:2-4); and
• It prepares us body, soul and spirit for what is ahead
So why do you think God asked the disciples to wait for ten days? I wonder if was because there were some things he wanted them to learn in that waiting period. Perhaps there were some habits he wanted them to develop that would help them after the Holy Spirit came. Certainly, the disciples were not passive over that period.
• They waited in prayer (Acts 1:13-14)
• They waited for a word (Acts 1:15-16. Acts 1:20)
• They waited together with one heart (Acts 1:14)
They developed a rhythm of waiting on God together so they could work with God. And this rhythm continued on in the life of the church life after the Holy Spirit came (Acts 2:42-47).Actively Waiting to Work with God
Similarly, when we are forced to wait by trials and circumstances, there are constructive things we can do as we wait on God. From a devotional point of view we can continue to pray and read the word of God. From a relational point of view, even in a pandemic, we can continue to gather together online to mutually encourage and support each other. From a discipleship point of view, a time of waiting can be an opportunity to learn more about God’s word and principles of Christian living. LifeTracks Online is one way of doing that in this season. From an outreach point, waiting can be a time to build new relationships and connect with people who don’t know Christ, even while observing appropriate social distancing.Conclusion
Waiting can help prepare us for what lies ahead. Sometimes when we are waiting we can become a little bit impatient like the disciples. But God’s timing is perfect, he allows trials, and testings to happen so that patience can complete its work (James 1:4). Waiting can produce heart changes, mindset adjustments and behavioural shifts that can prepare us to work with God, rather than working for ourselves. So let’s use this season to wait on God and develop healthy spiritual practices that equip us for the expansion of his unstoppable Kingdom in our own time and generation.Discussion Questions
1. Why do you think Jesus had the disciples wait for ten days in Jerusalem?
2. Read through Acts chapter one. What do you think God was doing in the hearts of the disciples at this time?
3. Our society has a problem with impatience. Do you agree and why?
4. How do you respond when you have to wait?
5. What are some of the constructive benefits of waiting?
6. During this season what are you waiting for?
7. How can you constructively use this time of waiting for the pandemic to be over?ResourcesDaily Devotionals
- To help us go deeper into the Word of God and the book of Acts over this season, our teaching team has put together daily online reflections on the book of Acts and related scriptures. These will be available on our website, Facebook and Instagram from Wednesday, 20 May. We pray that they will also be a valuable devotional resource to you.The Conversation
- In addition to these discussion notes, we will continue to provide a weekly video called “The Conversation” where some of our teaching and pastoral team briefly discuss the previous weekend’s message on the book of Acts. You can show all or part of this to your Life Group using online tools such as Zoom to help facilitate your own group discussion.
Join Andrew Chisholm and his guests in The Conversation as they unpack each week’s message. Watch now.