22 November: Acts – God pours out the Holy Spirit, and our response …

Bethel Baptist Church
Worship Service @ Home
22 November 2020

Service available on Youtube, or as text (below), or for audio see the Podcasts page.

Welcome

Let us continue to remember those on the front-line in this second lockdown and pray we can see a significant decline in the ‘R’ number.


Testimony

(Thanks Mandy and Harry)

“We would like to thank everyone for their many kindnesses to us during this time when we have had Covid. We especially thank you for your prayers which we have been so aware of and believe the Lord has honoured these and brought us through. The most difficult part was the weakness we felt meaning we had to spend long hours in bed. Saturday 14th Nov. was the first time we got up and spent time downstairs. We’re still not through it but really do feel this time we have turned the corner. All praise and thanks to the Lord and to each of you for praying for us, Amen!”

Worship

Lord, We Long For You To Move In Power (Album: The Worship Collection, Vol-05)
T. Morgan, R Goudie, I Townend, Bankhead. Publisher:© 1986 Kingsways Thankyou Music

Word

Reading: Acts 1:1-14

Text: “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication …” (Acts 1:14).

Introduction

In the opening verses of Acts we see the things God has done, is doing, and will do, e.g.

In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach

Acts 1:1

after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen

Acts 1:2

He presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive

Acts 1:3

He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God

Acts 1:3

He gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised … in a few days you will be baptised with  the Holy Spirit

Acts 1:4-5

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

Acts 1:8

He was taken up … and a cloud hid Him from their sight

Acts 1:9

We also see the things the apostles were doing e.g.

Then they gathered round him and asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’

Acts 1:6

Jesus had to correct their wrong thinking:

He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority’

Acts 1:7

Then the angels had to correct them:

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

But the one thing the apostles did get right was:

They all joined together constantly in prayer

Acts 1:14

“When God intends great mercy for His people, He first of all sets them praying”

Matthew Henry

“Whenever God determines to do a great work, He first sets His people to pray.”

Charles Spurgeon

“At the heart of every revival is the spirit of prayer”

Arthur Wallis

We have already got the taste of Acts as being about the wonderful blessings of God:

Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Acts 2:2-4

and again,

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord

Acts 3:19

And we will see this more and more as we go through the book. But wherever we see the mighty acts of the Sovereign Lord, there must always be a human response of some sort. So here in Acts 3:19 just quoted these times of refreshing were coming from the Lord and to participate in them the people must repent and turn to God. Jesus had envisioned His disciples about what to expect:

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

Acts 1:8

But they had their part to play to make it happen:

‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit’

Acts 1:4-5

They weren’t called to wait and sit there twiddling their thumbs until this great outpouring of the Holy Spirit came upon them but they had to engage in fervent ongoing prayer waiting in the Presence of God which is what they did:

They all joined together constantly in prayer …

Acts 1:14

They were going to be taken to a new level, spiritually speaking, and this time in prayer would be a preparation for it. A time of:

(1) Conviction of sin

On many occasions when God is about to do a new thing He reveals something more of His holiness and such leads to a conviction of sin:

“What awe must have come to the hearts of that waiting band as they listened to that “sound as of the rushing of a mighty wind”—what a sense of the irresistible power of God! But there was also the appearance of “tongues parting asunder, like as of fire.” Fire typifies the activity of God’s holiness in relation to sin; fire consumes and fire purifies. When the Spirit came upon Christ, it was not as the fire but “as a dove,” for there was no sin in Him, as the Father then declared, “Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). But here the tongues “like as of fire” sat upon each of them, bringing not only a sense of the infinite holiness of God but of the activity of that holiness in dealing with all that was unholy in themselves.”

(Arthur Wallis, In The Day of Thy Power). 

cf. Isaiah:

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above Him were seraphim, each with six wings: with two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory.’ At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

‘Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.’

Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, ‘See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.’

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’ He said, ‘Go and tell this people …’

Isaiah 6:1-9

“Revival is God revealing Himself to men [and women] in awesome holiness and irresistible power”

Arthur Wallis

We think of Moses and the bush on fire and the words God spoke to him: “Take off your sandals, for the place you are standing is holy ground” – the desert was going to become the place of the Holy Presence of God and His church!

(2) Coming into God’s way of thinking

Some seeing the move of the Holy Spirit concluded: “They have had too much wine” – Compare those who have gone into meetings with hard hearts and one purpose only, to find fault and they have quickly left, not disappointed, for in their cynicism and hard-heartedness they found many faults with what God was powerfully doing. But compare also the cynic who went to a meeting “to have a laugh” and came out with a different laughter, that of having his sins washed away and of being born again of the Spirit of joy and laughter.

“Depend upon it, prayer does not mean I am to bring God down to my thoughts and my purposes and bend His government according to my foolish, silly and sometimes sinful notions. Prayer means that I am to be raised up into feeling in union and design with Him; that I am to enter into His counsel and carry out His purpose fully”

D. L. Moody

“If you would do the best with your life, find out what God is doing in your generation and throw yourself wholly into it”

Arthur Wallis

(3) Receiving more grace

We can think wrongly that Revival is purely and only a time of heaven on earth so to speak. It is this, but it is also a time when there is intense opposition to what God is doing in and through His church:

“If we find a revival that is not spoken against, we had better look again to ensure that it is a revival”

Arthur Wallis

Paul and his companions faced continued opposition:

They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. ‘We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,’ they said.

Acts 14:21-22

It is in such times of opposition that we need to receive more grace and the encouragement is that in such times God gives more grace and we receive and go on receiving more grace. In the well-known passage entitled “Paul’s vision and his thorn” (2 Cor. 12:1-10), he learned that Christ’s power was perfected in weakness. Paul wanted the thorn removing but God allowed it to keep the apostle in a place of weakness, humility and dependence on God. It was here that he learned that God’s grace was sufficient and His power was made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). Let’s learn to keep going to God for more and more grace!

(4) Unity

These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication” – The word for “with one accord” is one word in the Greek and is a favourite with Luke appearing 10 times (almost exclusively) in the Book of Acts showing there is strength in unity (Acts 2:46; 4:24; 5:12; 7:57 – negatively; Acts 8:6; 12:20; 15:25; 18:12 – negatively; Acts 19:29 – negatively). It’s only other occurrence is in Romans 15:6: “So that with one accord and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Such shows how important unity amongst God’s people is when referring to God’s blessing:

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! … For there the Lord bestows His blessing, even life for evermore.

Psalm 133:1-3

(5) Learning to Pray

Once they received the answer to this great prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, prayer-time wasn’t over! Luke places a great emphasis on the importance of prayer throughout his both books (Luke 1:10; 3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:18, 28-29; 11:1; 22:41; Acts 1:24-25; 2:42; 4:24-30; 6:6; 8:15; 9:11; 10:2, 9; 12:5, 12; 13:3; 16:25; 20:36; 21:5). It is interesting how Luke brings out that Jesus was in prayer when the Holy Spirit came upon Him:

When all the people were being baptised, Jesus was baptised too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased’.

Luke 3:21-22

As was the fledgling church in prayer when the Holy Spirit came upon them as we have already seen (Acts 1:14; 2:1-4) and equally important they were of one accord. The word “continued” or “constantly” is often connected with prayer (Acts 1:14; 2:42, 46; Rom 12:12; Col. 4:2) –

“it means resolute, sometimes obstinate persistence”

C. K. Barrett                                                             

Conclusion

It is a good thing to want to see more of God’s power, of God pouring out His Holy Spirit in a heaven-sent revival. But we must also be ready to play our part: to repent of anything the Lord convicts us of; to pray continually; to believe; to allow God by His refining fire to purify us and bring us into His ways of doing things. We must allow the Spirit to grace us so that we can put aside all our differences with one another and be of one accord. And we must receive more and more of His grace that we can bless our enemies and those who persecute us, Amen!

Quote of the Week

“Those who have left the deepest impression on this sin-cursed earth have been men and women of prayer. You will find prayer has been the mighty power that has moved not only God, but also [humankind]”

D. L. Moody – “Prevailing Prayer”                                                                                

Verse of the Week

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, ‘Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptised with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.’ So he ordered that they be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ.

Acts 10:44-48

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father, we praise and thank you for all the gracious powerful moves of Your Spirit throughout the ages, for ‘times of refreshing from above’ when many have come to faith and come back to faith in Your Son Jesus Christ. Lord, as we have been through times of refining, we pray for those times of refreshing. Father, do it again, pour out Your Spirit in Jesus Christ’s Name, Amen!