Have you ever been on a cruise? They can be really fun! You’ve got unlimited food, and everything is self-contained on the ship, right? That is until the power goes out! Do you remember back in 2013, when that Carnival cruise ship, the Triumph, lost its power? We actually had some friends on that cruise, and they told us it was a disaster. What happened was, a fire broke out in an engine room and knocked out the ship’s power, so the ship just drifted in the Gulf of Mexico currents. More than 4,200 passengers and crew were stuck. They couldn’t flush the toilets, use the air conditioning, and even keep the food refrigerated or cook the food. They lined up for the food that was left, they didn’t have enough clean water, they got sick, didn’t have anything to do. Passengers were sleeping in the halls and even outside because it was so hot inside and it smelled so bad. The news media called it, “the cruise ship from hell.”
The ship’s loss of power wasn’t just a problem for the passengers. Carnival lost hundreds of millions of dollars because of this incident. They ended up putting new emergency power capabilities on the ship. They learned their lesson: When the power goes out, the party is over! No power, no party!
Do you ever think about how much we depend on power? The power around us is important, but the power inside of us is even more important! How many of you ever feel like you don’t have enough power in your life to make it through the day? Sometimes I feel drained and powerless. We feel that way because we think we’ve got to live by our own power and strength. It’s a losing battle, because we’re not supposed to live off our own power. We have to be charged up. We have to be connected to a much bigger power source! That bigger power source is the Holy Spirit!
In your Bible, the book of Acts may be called the Acts of the Apostles, but a better name for this book is, The Acts of the Holy Spirit, because that’s what you see all through the book of Acts. The Holy Spirit comes, leading, working, and empowering the followers of Jesus.
When you look at the first chapter of Acts, Jesus is about to leave the disciples to go back to heaven. He is giving them His last challenge when He was with them physically. Someone’s most important words are their last words. This is what Jesus really wants them to remember. In this chapter, you’ll see three steps you can take today to make a difference in people’s lives from right where you are.
The first thing that Jesus told them was:
Wait for It!
Once when he was eating with them, Jesus commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift He promised, as I told you before. Acts 1:4
Jesus told them to STAY PUT where they were. Why? Because God is going to send you them gift! He’s going to send them His Holy Spirit to live in them and fill them with His power.
Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, a distance of half a mile. When they arrived, they went to the upstairs room of the house where they were staying. Acts 1:12-13
They were in an upper room where they could look out and see the people around who are confused and hurting and lonely.
Sometimes waiting is the hardest part. I’m very impatient. I am impulsive a lot of times. I have an idea and I think, what are we waiting for?
But, while you are waiting, God is working! God is working behind the scenes when you can’t even see it.
Right now, in the season we are in, we are waiting, but God is setting the stage for what He wants to do.
Jesus’ disciples weren’t quite ready yet. They didn’t have the power, yet. Just like the disciples, God has a calling on your life. At The Connection Church, every member is a minister. You may not be a pastor, but you have a ministry and a calling.
Jesus said – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
This isn’t what we usually call the Great Commission, but it is a Great Commission from Jesus. Jesus said, you will receive POWER when the Holy Spirit comes to live in you and fill you. The actual word POWER here is the Greek word, DUNAMIS. That’s where we get the English word for DYNAMITE!
That’s power! That same power is available to you. That Same Power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in you! So now, you can…
Go for It!
Jesus starts ascending through the sky and all the disciples are standing around watching, with their mouths wide open! “Look at Him go!”
They were looking intently up into the sky as He was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “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.” Acts 1:10-11
The angels say, “Hey people! What are you looking at?” The disciples respond, “Ummm! Are you seeing this?” But I love the attitude of these angels, “What are you standing around for? Jesus told you what to do! Get busy! Get after it!”
In fact, Jesus told them in the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19:
Therefore GO and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Therefore, GO!!! Go for It! With the power of the Holy Spirit! In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit!!!
Who do we go to? Jesus said, “All Nations.” Nations are not necessarily like we think of nations today. The Bible doesn’t talk about or obsess about “race” like so many people are doing today. Instead, the Bible writers talk about nations, which is the Greek word “Ethnos,” where we get the word ethnicity. Ethnos is a group of people united by their common culture, and their common traditions. They’re not united by the color of their skin. Jesus includes everybody, everywhere! No one is left out. Everyone is included. Because all have sinned and fall short of the perfect standard of God. Because everyone needs Jesus!
All Nations includes everywhere people are reading this today. And all of us are called to Go to them to share God’s love and truth!
When Jesus said Go, what Jesus was saying is, “As you go,” or “As you are going.” Which means, you don’t have to go very far to do what Jesus told you to do. “As you are going” about the business of your day. “As you are going” on a walk around the block with your dog. “As you are going” to the post office or to the grocery store, or “as you are going” to work. Wherever you go, that’s where God wants to use you to reach somebody for Jesus.
Who is God is calling you to reach with His love? If you feel stuck at home, you can reach your family! That can be hard, because your family knows you best. They see you at your best and at your worst. That’s okay. Say, “I’m sorry,” a lot. Show them what forgiveness looks like. Pray with them and lead them. Maybe you can reach your neighbors. Aren’t you seeing them more often now? Maybe this is your opportunity to reach them like you could never reach them before.
But maybe you’re afraid to go for it! The Holy Spirit gives you the power to be bold. The Holy Spirit wants to give you the power to bring people to Jesus.
After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness. Acts 4:31
They needed the Holy Spirit to give them the courage and the boldness to speak up about their faith. We need the same thing! We need courage now more than ever before.
We are in the middle of a pandemic called “fear.” Everyone is walking around afraid. But, as followers of Jesus, we don’t need to be afraid! We can be bold and courageous. People need to see you walking in courage, not hiding and cowering in fear!
“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished…” Acts 4:13
The people didn’t see how smart they were or how talented they were. They saw how brave they were!
And when it comes to sharing Jesus, we get afraid too. We think, “what if they reject me.?” Well, they’re not rejecting you, they’re rejecting the Jesus in you. “What if I say the wrong thing?” The Spirit will give you the words to say! “What if they laugh at me?” That’s okay, people laugh at me all the time!
This is too important to be afraid. There’s too much at stake! The people around you need you to be bold enough and brave enough to reach out to them. They need Jesus in their lives. We know their lives will be better when they get connected to a church family. And even though you may be afraid, God’s Spirit lives inside of you.
God’s Spirit doesn’t make cowards out of us. The Spirit gives us power, love, and self-control. Don’t be ashamed to speak for our Lord… Use the power that comes from God and join with me in suffering for telling the good news. 2 Timothy 1:7-8 (CEV)
Use the Power that comes from God and GO FOR IT!!!!
That means stepping out to a waiting, wounded world around you. Wait for it! Go For It! And then third…
(Don’t just talk about It) Be about It!
God had them wait in Jerusalem at that time because that’s where the people were.
At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. Acts 2:5
That’s where they needed to hear about Jesus. So, when the Spirit came over them, they went out and told people about Jesus. And look at what happened on that one day:
Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!” Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all. Acts 2:40-41
The kingdom of God grew exponentially on that day!
After Jesus died, there were 11 disciples left. In Acts 1, the number of believers had grown to 120. In Acts 2, 3000 people were saved that one day. By Acts 4, there were over 5000. By the year 100 AD, there were 25,000 Christians in the world. By the year 300 AD, there were 20 million believers in Jesus!
How is that possible? First, because they had the power of the Holy Spirit. And second, because they took the job seriously. They knew people need what only Jesus can give them and that’s what our world needs today!
God has us here, in this place, at this time, to share his message of salvation with the people around us.
So, we are going to talk about it! We are going to post about Jesus. On social media But, we will do so much more than that. We will be about it! We will live out our faith because we are filled with the power of the Spirit of God!
Remember, our actions speak louder than words. Our words should back up our lives! Our lives will look different because we’ve been changed by Jesus.
People need what you have. 9 out of 10 people in America aren’t living committed Christian lives. The statistics and surveys show that most people are just waiting for you to reach out them, But here’s the bad news: the numbers also are very clear that most people who are a part of a church never reach out to anyone else! That’s mind-blowing!
If I had the cure for coronavirus, I would go door to door, post on social media, stand in the middle of the streets, and tell everybody I could find about it. We have something even bigger than that. We have the cure for the COVID of the soul, called sin. Its effects are much more deadly and devastating! Eternity lasts forever, and we know how to change someone’s forever. We can’t keep it to ourselves! We have to reach out in every way we can.
Someone told you about Jesus sometime in your life. Aren’t you glad they were bold enough to do something? I hate to think about where would I be if no one ever told me? I’d probably be in an alley behind 6th street in Austin somewhere. Or worse, I’d be holed up in some nice house, but totally empty inside.
Everybody needs to know Jesus! What are you waiting for? We can’t afford to wait another minute!