Birthing Christ in our Hearts
Chapel Theme: “Knowledge on Fire”
THEME VERSE: ACTS 4:31 (NRSV):
“When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken: and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.”
MESSAGE FOR 20-24 SEPT. 2021
TODAYS SCRIPTURE: Acts 1:1-14 (NIV)…
In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suﬀering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, 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.”
6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” 12 Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. 13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
Significant and Unforgettable Moments…
It happens to all of us sooner or later. A very defining moment that changes all the rest of life. It is a moment that seems to be etched into our memory as we often remember many details about where we were and what was happening at the moment the news came.
Whether it is the death of a significant loved one, maybe it is the betrayal by someone we thought to be a friend, or a painful trauma that leaves you stunned, confused, and emotionally scarred, or even a joyous unexpected moment when you saw a loved one who had been taken from you even years before, these are moments we are not likely to ever forget during this life.
Birthing a child yields moments that are not soon forgotten as well. I have birthed both a biological child and an adopted child. And that birthing process takes time, energy, and a lot of nurturing. While my children are now 25 years and almost 21 years of age I still nurture them. The intensity and level of involvement may have changed but the nurturing is still there.
Pastor Jane Muitame, one of the pastors at University Church and an ANU student, has a great joy in birthing goats as she is raising goats for milking.
In our passage today we are seeing a significant moment for the early Christ followers as the church of the resurrected Jesus Christ was being birthed. It was joyous and yet challenging at the same time.
God’s desire from the beginning of time was to walk in communion with mankind. No barrier would prevent Him from pursuing this plan. It worked well in the Garden of Eden until Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s one key instruction which then brought a division of sin between this divine/human relationship. God continued to pursue and found the way to restore the relationship through His own sacrificial salvation act. Beyond that amazing cross sacrifice, God planned the way to conquer and restore His kingdom on earth from within the human heart and not through outward acts of violence. A power that captures with love.
We see the promise of the coming Holy Spirit foretold in Ezekiel36 (NIV):
26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
What we see in today’s passage from Acts Chapter One:
1) Reality of the Resurrection of Jesus…(vs. 3)
We see that Jesus instilled the reality of His resurrection in the hearts of the disciples as part of the preparation for the telling of the story they would need to do in the days, months, and years ahead.
2) Last teachings and Instruction (Vs. 4 & 5)
Jesus clearly gave the command for them to wait for the Holy Spirit empowering. They needed to stay together as the Holy Spirit would bring unity at His baptism.
3) Promise of the Holy Spirit coming to them (vs. 5)
Jesus again gives the promise of the Holy Spirit coming making it clear this was the next step for the disciples of Jesus. They could now trust Jesus and understand His declarations to them in ways they had not known before Jesus’ crucifixion.
4) Not when but how… (kingdom restored through the Holy Spirit empowering)
Jesus clearly redirects the questions of the disciples about the timing of the restoration of His kingdom. He helps them see the most important thing was “how” this would happen and they didn’t need to know when. The power of the Holy Spirit from within their hearts would completely change them and give the boldness they would need.
5) Empowering of the Holy Spirit is grassroots empowering. (vs. 7)
Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to empower his fledgling disciples in to bold apostles who will carry his good news to many lands and many people. Jesus is transforming fisherman and common people into people who can relate scripture with authority and power as well as demonstrate the power of the Spirit through signs and wonders.
6) Disciples needed reassurance of what they witnessed. (vs. 11)…
I can imagine that these disciples are somewhat confused as they were just getting to understand the scriptures and prophecies about Jesus when He is suddenly leaving them and flying up in the sky and into the clouds. The assurance of the two men in white (we don’t know if these are angels) who are apparently sent by God is a culminating push to them to continue on as Christ has instructed. It also is a glorious hope filled prophecy that they give that our Lord Jesus will return for us.
7) Disciples practice obedience and pray… (vs. 12-14)…
We see that they returned to Jerusalem in obedience to what Jesus told them… This preparation time included constant prayer. They now know how to communicate with God through prayer. What they had asked Jesus to show them was now being lived out. They were praying themselves.
It was so important for the disciples to wait on the Holy Spirit to reveal and bring to life the scripture that they knew. We also see from the last instructions of Jesus in Luke’s gospel that Jesus was giving them understanding for interpreting the scriptures about Himself. (Luke 24: 44-49 (NIV)…
44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suﬀer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
BIrthing the Life of Christ in our Hearts…
You too, have the opportunity to birth new life. For students it is a time to reflect on whether you are choosing for Christ Jesus to empower you in the field of study and in your dreams for the future. Do you desire to know the power of God and operate in His kingdom so that you might have a boldness in the Spirit to speak and live out this new life of peace, harmony, and joy.
This new kingdom reality is being birthed in people’s hearts and it will conquer the kingdoms of this world. We already know the ending.
Take a moment to wait with God now and ask the Holy Spirit to cleanse and fill you for His purposes and then walk in obedience in the light He is giving you.
GO IN THE PEACE OF CHRIST TODAY
You will find the audio-only version HERE.