Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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26. Focusing on the Future – Part 1

Acts 1:1-11
In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit. 3 During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God. 4 Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before.5 John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 6 So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” 7 He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. 8 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.” 9 After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. 10 As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”

As we continue in our series, “Living in the Reality of the Resurrection” we come to one of the most monumental and yet least mentioned moments in all of Scripture, the Ascension of Christ. This is when the Risen Savior returned to heaven to rein at God’s right hand. Its here in Acts 1 that we catch a vision of His Victory, that He not only died and descended into the grave but rose again and ascended into glory. As Jesus prepared to depart He gave His final instructions to His disciples and as we listen to the Lords departing words we will come face to face with the question will we obey or delay? It starts with the:
1. Proof – Vs 3
Why did Jesus spend 40 days with His disciples after rising from the dead? Why not just show himself once and then head to heaven? Because Jesus was about to give them a humanly impossible mission, go and share his salvation with a world that has just ridiculed and rejected Him. When it came to Christ the disciples needed to be completely convinced and so Jesus provided them with proof. We still have a Christ rejecting world today, probably worse than we did 20 years ago. The problem is not that the world doesn’t want to hear the message or that the message we share no longer has meaning. The problem is that the church is not convinced that we need to go with the Gospel and share the story of Salvation. How did the disciples come to a place of confidence and conviction by spending time with the Savior. Why is the church not convinced? Because we are not spending time with Christ. The disciples needed multiple exposures so they would no longer doubt. It was time with Jesus that took them from doubting disciples to devoted ones. It was during this time that He established His Lordship over their lives. So let me ask you how much time are you spending with the Savior? Many of us are not walking with Him in His Word, when it comes to the bible we are not bold because we don’t know His Word. Then there are those of us who are studying scripture but we are not spending time with Jesus. We end up with a head knowing instead of a heart going. Today when it comes to witnessing we have created a results driven model instead of relationship driven one. We are busy looking for a formula and missing the friendship. Just like the Lord’s Prayer we have turned it into a formula for results when in reality it really provides a framework for relationship. Why don’t we witness? Because we don’t start first walking with God in His Word, we are walking in the world first and then coming to the Word. Most Christians I know spend more time whining than witnessing because they spend more time in the world than in the Word. The disciples became confidently convinced by spending time with Christ and so should we. In verse 3, Luke tells us about 40 Days of Appearances, I wonder what would happen today if those of us who call ourselves disciples would spent 40 days with the deity? Forty days is a common time frame in Scripture. You remember that prior to starting His public ministry the Messiah endured the Devil’s temptation for 40 days in the desert, and now the tables are turned as Jesus triumphantly parades His victory over the evil one. At the cross of Calvary when the Deity died Satan thought He had won but three days later Jesus rose from the grave and revealed Lucifer as the looser. Today Satan wants to try and convince you that the world is winning but you need to remind Him that 2000 years ago Christ defeated death and the devil and that for 40 days Jesus paraded the proof. Satan may have tempted for forty days but it was the Savior who triumphed and paraded the proof for 40 days. Why don’t we witness because we are not convinced, because we are not spending time participating in the parade. What about you are you participating in the parade or are you attending the pity party? When we participate in the pity party instead of living as winners we start acting like whiners. It’s time for us to ponder the proof and then proclaim God’s plan. Who do you know that needs to hear about the love of Jesus?

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25. Sharing the Savior – Part 3

Matthew 28:16-20
16 Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted! 18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

They went to the mountain they worshipped the Messiah and third they were a:
3. Witness to the Master
Its here that the Almighty gives them their assignment but notice that Jesus doesn’t start with the assignment he starts with His:
• Authority
Jesus deals with doubting disciples by reminding them of his position and power. He doesn’t just have authority He has all authority. Because of his power and position we are called to pursue His purpose. What voice are you going to listen to, the voice of doubt and fear or that of your Father? We are a power seeking people and God does give power but only after we have received authority. If we are going to receive legitimate authority, we must receive it from Him. Let me help you distinguish between power and authority. Imagine you were going to cross the street and suppose that a large truck was coming and you decide to stop it. You place your hands against it, and you stop it right? Well, of course you don’t it would run you over because you cannot out power a truck on your best day. But I have seen people step out in the middle of a busy street, hold up their arm and big powerful diesel trucks come to a stand still. What’s the difference? The one holding up their hand is wearing a police officer’s uniform. He has been invested with authority to carry out His assigned task. That officer doesn’t necessarily have more power but He has been given more authority, so that he might preform the task he has been given to accomplish. The centurion with the dying servant knew what authority was all about. In Luke 7:1-10 he asked Jesus to only say the word and it will be done. He was a man that had authority because he was under authority. We too, if we will reside under the authority of Jesus, will have His authority to carry out the task He assigns us to do. Many of us are not accomplishing what Christ has called us to do because we have not come under the authority of Jesus Christ. While we reside within our own power and ability we will only accomplish the temporary and the trivial. You can’t live out what the Lord calls you to do unless you are living under His Lordship. Who or what is the authority in your life?
• Assignment
“Therefore…” Because of His authority, Jesus has the right to reign supreme and to give commands to His church. Everything He says, and all that we have been given to do, is based upon His universal and unquestioned Lordship. His plan starts first with:
“Go…” This literally means, “as you go” or “in your going.” In other words, we are to make disciples in the natural course of our lives, wherever we go. Our moment on the mountain should cause us to move forward. Our problem is that we want to come to Christ for comfort not for a commission. But when we refuse to move we don’t just stand still we stagnate. We must move if we are to accomplish the mission. But today the church has turned the great commission into the great omission. Go is not a suggestion it’s a command.
“Make disciples…” This is the only command in this passage; the other words revolve around disciple-making. We are to go in order to make disciples. We are to baptize disciples. And we are to teach disciples to obey. A disciple is literally a “learner,” one who is being mentored by the Master. We are to do more than just evangelize, we must equip and edify so that new converts are encouraged to reproduce themselves.
“Of all nations…” The task of making disciples must extend to the ends of the earth. The word “nations” in the Greek is where we get the word ethnic. It refers to “people groups,” not just countries. Our task is not just to make disciples in the 193 countries of the world, but to go to the over 16,000 distinct people groups scattered across the continents. We are to share the Savior with our neighbors but I fear that we as American Christians have lost sight of the fact that there are thousands of people dying without Christ every day and waking up to the horrors of hell. What percentage of the world’s population resides in the United States? Just 4%, and yet we often act like we are the center of the universe. We must take the gospel to the globe! That’s why we support missions, but its more than just giving our money we need to be willing to give our lives.
“Baptizing them…” Baptism is a symbol of our salvation. That we have died to sin and are now separated from the world free to serve the Savior. Its where we pledge allegiance to the Almighty, an outward expression of an inner confession. All believers are called to be baptized, so if you claim to be a believer have you been baptized?
“teach them to obey…” Teaching is meant to be transformational not informational. We are not interested in just filling heads; we want filled up hearts and faithful feet that obey. Jesus doesn’t end with the assignment lastly we see the:
• Assurance
God’s assignment is sandwiched between His authority and His assurance. What Jesus promises to His disciples is not only the most precious promise it’s also the most powerful promise, His presence. The companionship of Christ, that we are not alone in the assignment. The word always means all the days. Days of strength as well as days of sickness. Days of success as well as days of struggle, days of plenty as well as poverty. Regardless of the circumstances we have Christ. If we are going to faithfully fulfill the assignment to go and to share the Savior then we need to listen to both the voice of authority as well as the voice of assurance. For some of you today you need to get going which means you need to listen to His voice of Authority, while for others you need to keep going and you need to listen to His voice of assurance.