Waiting is not an easy thing for me. I hate it when I have an appointment and am placed in a waiting room or an examination room and left for a long period of time. After about 15 or 20 minutes I get very restless. After 30 I open the examination room door and begin looking around. I once offered a certain doctor in town help in doing a better job scheduling his patients’ appointments but he didn’t seem to want my help. And in the 36 years I’ve been in Branson there were two times—a few years apart—when I had to go back and apologize to the office help at the doctors’ office because I got so upset with the delay.
And I have been known to leave my office and go someplace for a while when a person who had an appointment with me failed to show up after several minutes past the appointment time and failed to let me know.
I told you that the spiritual journey is a lifelong pursuit to be like Jesus. And I have to admit that my lack of patience is an area that has caused me trouble all my life. I believe I have mellowed in my senior years but there are those moments!
So, when Jesus told his disciples in Acts 1: 4 to “…not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about…” my heart rate tends to go up when I read that word “wait.” I remember that most of the 11 Apostles were not from Jerusalem—they were from the area around the Sea of Galilee, some 70 or 80 miles North of Jerusalem. And while we don’t know a lot about their individual domestic lives, we can assume that at least some of them had wives and children waiting for them. We know that Peter had a Mother-in-Law, so he must have had a wife! They all had lives. To be told to “Wait” must have created some stress.
I’m sure questions must have flooded their minds as they contemplated this instruction to wait: “How long?” “Is Israel about to overthrow the Roman control?” “What exactly are we waiting for?”
And Jesus reminded them how he had often spoken of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. But there is no indication that he told them how long they would have to wait.
This morning there are some points that stand out as I reflect on this passage:
I. WAITING ON GOD IS NOT ALWAYS EASY.
a. In our Board Meeting this past week we read the scripture in 1 Samuel 13 of how King Saul grew impatient waiting on the Prophet and Priest Samuel. So he decided to perform the priestly sacrifice himself. And Samuel called him a fool for failing to wait on the Lord and be obedient to the Lord’s command.
b. And after Jesus gave the orders for them to wait for the promised Holy Spirit, there were a lot of things that took place in the 10 days before Pentecost. From 1 Corinthians 15: 6 we are led to believe there may have been as many as 500 people that heard the command to tarry in Jerusalem, but we are told there were only 120 who were in the upper room during that period of time leading up to Pentecost. What happened to the rest of the 500? I can only surmise that many grew impatient and went home. Some felt their work obligations trumped Jesus’ command to wait. And 10 days of prayer without the Presence of the Holy Spirit must have required a lot of personal discipline. Waiting and not knowing when the answer will be arriving can truly be an endurance feat.
c. I think of the God’s Word to Moses at the burning bush: “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering…” (Exodus 3:7). And then I remember the Israelites had been in Egypt for 400+ years and most of that time had been forced to do slave labor. Waiting for God’s answer must have seemed hopeless after a generation or so had passed.
d. We are familiar with the scripture that says, “A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by or like a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4), and in 2 Peter 3:8, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day…”
In our human condition we want instant gratification. “Lord, give me patience, and give it to me right now!”
II. BUT THE PROMISE IS WORTH THE WAIT!
a. Jesus told them what would happen to them when the promise of Holy Spirit was fulfilled. In Acts 1:8 Jesus said, “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.”
b. Earlier in John’s Gospel He told his disciples that the Holy Spirit was the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, and the One who would testify about Jesus.
c. In Romans 8: we learn that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us, taking our prayers directly to the Father, and that He testifies that we are the children of God and Joint-Heirs with Jesus.
d. In Philippians 3: 13 we are told that it is God who works in us, energizing us to be the holy people He has called us to be.
e. And in Galatians 5: 22 we are told that, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…”Aren’t those virtue we all desire?
f. Pentecost and the arrival of the New Age of the Holy Spirit brought great benefits to those who received the Holy Spirit.
g. When I go out into the everyday world with all the stress, and temptations and challenges, because of the Holy Spirit’s Presence in my life, I don’t have to face all that alone or in my own power. The Holy Spirit empowers me.
h. When I am confused and searching for direction and guidance, the Holy Spirit is here to show me the way.
i. When I am afraid because of the darkness in my pathway, I have the Holy Spirit to reassure me and to give me “peace that surpasses all understanding.”
j. When I am accused by my enemies, the Holy Spirit is there to show me what to say and what to do.
k. Isaiah 40 :31 tells us “But those who hope (“wait” in KJV) in the Lord, will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.” YES, THE PROMISE IS WORTH THE WAIT!
III. THE FULFILLMENT OF THE PROMISE HAS CONDITIONS.
a. First of all, the disciples had to be obedient to Christ’s commands. If they had gone off on their own they would never have received the Holy Spirit.
i. Remember the story of Gideon in the Book of Judges? When he gathered the army together to go fight the MIdianites, God commanded him to reduce the number until finally there were only 300 soldiers. The reason God did that was so the all Israel would know it was God who gave them deliverance from the Midianites, not Gideon. And we must remember that the condition for God’s Blessings in our life is obedience to His commandments. It is not enough to know God’s Will—we must do God’s Will!
ii. There was a sense of unity and harmony among the disciples. Acts 2:1 says, “…they were all together in one place.” I like the way the KJV translates this, “They were in one accord.” God’s word makes it clear that Christian should “love one another,” and be “workers together in the vineyard.” The verse we considered in last week’s message speaks to this unity in harmony:
“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
iii. There must be a full surrender to the Holy Spirit giving Him total authority in your life. Romans 12:1 & 2 says it this way: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
iiii. Then, in faith, trust God to give you His Spirit. In his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, Peter said, “Repent and be baptized, everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are for all whom the Lord our God will call.” The Holy Spirit is God’s gift. He is Someone we do not earn or deserve. He is God’s gift to us to enable us to truly be the Holy People of God. In 1 Thessalonians 5: 23-24 Paul prayed, “May God himself, the God of all peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The One who calls you is faithful and he will do it!”
And so the Holy Spirit came and anointed those faithful followers of Jesus who had waited on the Promise. And they literally left the upper room and changed the world!
As we remember that historic spiritual event, let us remember that it is God’s intention that each one of us have our own Pentecost experience. God wants to put His Spirit into each one of us. He wants a people who are totally surrendered to Him, fully engaged in living for Him, and readily available to be used by Him.
Have you had your own personal Pentecost? Would you really want that experience?