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First Baptist New Orleans

What Are We Waiting On?

I want you to take yourself back to this moment. Your leader and teacher that you have been with every single day for the last 3 years is leaving you. He instilled in you everything you would need to be able to continue your job without him, but yet when the moment finally arrives and he is gone, there is a feeling of fear and inadequacy. I know the disciples had so many emotions going through their minds as Jesus returns to Heaven. The context of the book of Acts opens with a period of significant transition. Hint, hint, we as a church family are going through a transition as well. All I know to do is to take us back to the beginnings of the church where we can study, model, and evaluate our effectiveness based on the example we get from the Acts. So this summer this is is what we are going to do. We have a daily Bible reading plan focused on the book of Acts, and we have a daily prayer plan. So this summer immerse yourself in Acts.

Jesus is the Leader of our Church:

"And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, 'you heard from me.'" — Acts 1:4

           

The disciples are given specific instructions from Jesus. They are told to not make any plans. He told them to wait. There are many of us in this room who absolutely hate waiting. I’m in and out of lines of traffic regularly because even though I might not get there any faster at least I am moving forward. Patience requires discipline and self control. It does not come easily for most people. Yet Jesus tells his followers to wait.

  • Again, put yourself in the shoes of Jesus’s disciples. Jesus has just been raised from the dead. NOW is the opportunity to go and show all of these people who didn’t believe that they were wrong. NOW is the time to capitalize on all of the people who want to put their faith in Jesus. This would be the worst possible time to sit on your hands and wait, and yet Jesus tells them to do just that.

Don’t miss the significance of what Jesus is doing here. He is teaching his followers a very important lesson. The movement of Christianity is not time sensitive. It has no deadline. It is not dependent on any human will or effort. It is solely based on the work of Jesus. He moves and acts according to his own will, and WE are invited to be a part of what HE is doing.

We shouldn’t make decisions at this church based on our own preferences, and our own decisions. We seek the Spirit of God and follow his direction and his guidance.

  • The Pew Research center released some new data regarding the trends of religions in the world. They say that if current trends continue by 2050 the number of Muslims will nearly equal the number of Christians, Christianity in America will decline to 2/3 of the population down from 3/4 of the population, and that 4/10 Christians in the world will live in Sub-Saharan Africa.

I see data like this, and I rejoice. I see opportunity. I see the work of missionaries around the world coming to fruition as Christianity in Africa is growing rapidly. I see the opportunity for Christians around the world to establish intentional relationships with Muslims in order to proclaim the Gospel. Jesus is the leader of the church globally, and he is the leader of this church. We bow to him, and his will for the future of First Baptist New Orleans.

Do not Presume What’s Next:

"So when they had come together, they asked him, 'Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?' He said to them, 'It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.'" — Acts 1:6-7

The apostles had big plans regarding what Jesus should do next. Is it time for Israel to take over again? Is now the time when we can finally take down these Romans once and for all? Will the apostles finally get to be in charge of taking over the world? They wanted power, they wanted prestige, and they wanted influence.

Jesus’s answer I am quite sure was a bit disappointing for them. Even Jesus himself submitted to authority when he answered the question. He told them that God himself makes that decision. Even the Son of God was not willing to presume something that was not for him to decide.

The disciples’ expectations did not match the reality. They wanted to make all of the decisions, they wanted to be in charge, they wanted people to listen to them and get in line. But this was a good reminder for them that true leadership in Jesus’s eyes is the person who submits, who serves, and who suffers.

  • Friends, we have no idea what God has in store for us. But we echo the words of Paul when he says, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” God will use this church to do mighty things, but we must remove our personal agendas and be ready to hear from him.

Always Be on Mission:

"'But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.'” — Acts 1:8

           

Now the reason that Jesus wanted his disciples to wait is revealed. He knew that they would not be able to accomplish anything until the Spirit came upon them. Before they were able to act in mighty ways because Jesus was with them, but now that he is gone they would need something else, the Holy Spirit.

In order to accomplish the task that Jesus set before his followers they would have to have the Spirit leading and guiding them. There is no power apart from the Spirit at work in our lives.

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ this morning, then you have what you need to be on mission everywhere you go. The Spirit of God resides in your heart, and because of that you are on mission wherever you go. Acts 1:8 is not a verse written to missionaries, or pastors, or theologically astute people only. It is written to every single believer of Jesus Christ who has ever lived.

The greatest mission field for most of you in this room is your job. You spend more waking hours with people that you work with than almost any other group of people. 40+ hours a week, for 50 weeks a year. Be intentional with those people. Don’t just make those people that you work with. Invest in their lives.

You are on mission at the ball field with your kids, at the Saints games, in your home, and with your neighbors. The Holy Spirit never departs from you, but if you continue to ignore the Spirit’s work in all of these different areas of your life you can quench the Spirit’s effectiveness in you.

This church will not grow because of the meetings we have in here every Sunday, but it will grow if we are intentional in going out and sharing the Gospel with those we know outside the walls of this church.

  • As you leave today there is a table in the lobby with business cards. I want every person in this room to take a handful of those cards. They are invite cards for you to hand people. As you pass out those cards to them tell them the difference Jesus has made in your life. Did you know that most people when invited specifically to something will not decline? This includes church. Invite them to worship, take them to your small group, and then buy them lunch. It’s a simple way to be on mission.

 Get to Work:

"And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.'”

 Jesus had already communicated to his followers that the Spirit would be coming to give them power, yet they still stared as he left them. Perhaps they were hoping it was just a cruel joke, and Jesus would come back down to earth. I’m not really sure what they were waiting on, but it was long enough to force the angels to say something to them.

The angels basically tell the followers to quit standing around. Get to work. There are people that need to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Your mission doesn’t end when Jesus returns to heaven it is only the beginning.

Brothers and sisters there is an urgency to our calling to be on mission. Jesus Christ is coming back. We are tasked with making sure that those we know around us hear about him.

  • Scientific research on boredom in teenagers has revealed that boredom is much more than simply “having nothing to do.” Teenagers have technology at their fingertips today. They can watch a movie, send a text message, read an article, all from the phone in their hand. With smart phones there is always a way to occupy time, and yet teenagers are saying that they are bored. The group of psychologists concluded that boredom is “the unfulfilled desire for satisfying activity.” In other words, people are bored because they are not satisfied.

I have decided upon reading this research that I will not use the word “Bored” anymore. Because what this study is implying is that boredom comes primarily from a lack of fulfillment or a lack of purpose. I know exactly what my purpose is in this world, and if you are a believer in Christ then you do as well.

We don’t have time to be bored friends. 76 murders in the city of New Orleans in 2018 so far. Last year, there were 157 murders in our city. People in housing communities around our city get up in the morning and they just try to survive the day. They don’t see a future for themselves. They don’t have a hope, and when you don’t have hope life isn’t worth living. Students are being passed through school without the proper knowledge needed to go to the next grade. I sat through a high school graduation ceremony a few weeks ago for a public high school in Orleans parish. The commencement speaker got up to share with the graduates. She gave example after example using the same key phrase “net worth.” I don’t know anything about the lady’s spiritual condition that gave the speech that day, and I certainly understand what she was trying to say but I couldn’t help but think she just lead a whole room of high school graduates to think that “net worth” is the most important thing in their lives. I wanted to stand up in that arena and say don’t believe this lie! A lot of miserable people in this world had a large net worth. It will not make you happy. Your toys won’t make you happy. Your relationships with other human beings will only make you a happy for a season. Ultimately, all of those earthly pursuits will leave you unfulfilled. They will all leave you bored.

The only cure I have for boredom is to get to work on the mission that God has called every single one of us in Christ to be on.

Here are some tangible ways you can be on mission: Invest in one coworker over the next few weeks. Take them to lunch, hear their story, and share your story with them. Get to know one neighbor who lives on your street.  Find out about their job, their family, and their hobbies. Take one family on your kid’s sports team out for pizza after a game. Invest in them. Make a difference. Be on mission. Get to work.

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