Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

 The Lord’s Provision
Acts 1:1-11

 

Introduction

Jesus understood the needs of His disciples before they knew they had a problem.  I can relate to that, because I think that I may know my wife so well that I anticipate her problems; and at times, I can tell that she has prepared in advance for some difficulty that I am having. That’s the way it is, when you have been married as long as we have; forty-six years. 

Our knowledge comes from experience and it is very limited, but Jesus’ knowledge is unlimited, and He could see into the future.  He knew that in the future, when they began to preach the gospel, that they would encounter hardships and persecution.  He knew about the difficulties that were awaiting His disciples, and so He prepared them for those trying days. 

He made provision for them to continue to live victorious lives. Human nature has not changed since the time of Christ; all the same temptations are still around.  We give them different names; for example, today we call adultery, an open life style.  Homosexuality is called the gay lifestyle.  Do you remember when gay meant happy?  Now I don’t even use the word, because of what is connected to it. 

We may never experience the same circumstances that brought crisis to the disciples, but we have the same needs; we need a Savior, we need the help of the Holy Spirit, we need the word of God, we need fellowship, we need to be blessed by God.  We have the same needs, and we have the same supplier of needs.  It is important to understand, that the same Jesus who provided for them, will also provide for us.  He is the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. 

Our text illustrates three areas of life, in which believers would be inadequate if it was not for Jesus’ provision. 

And our three points are: first, HE PROVIDED THEM PROOF OF THE RESURRECTION; second, HE PROVIDED THEM POWER TO CARRY OUT THEIR ASSIGNMENT; and third, HE PROVIDED THE CONFIDENCE TO BELIEVE IN A BEAUTIFUL FUTURE.

I will read the text for our Bible lesson from the New Century Version.

1 To Theophilus. The first book I wrote was about everything Jesus began to do and teach
2 until the day he was taken up into heaven.  Before this, with the help of the Holy Spirit, Jesus told the apostles he had chosen what they should do.
3 After his death, he showed himself to them and proved in many ways that he was alive.  The apostles saw Jesus during the forty days after he was raised from the dead, and he spoke to them about the kingdom of God.
4 Once when he was eating with them, he told them not to leave Jerusalem.  He said, “Wait here to receive the promise from the Father which I told you about.
5 John baptized people with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
6 When the apostles were all together, they asked Jesus, “Lord, are you now going to give the kingdom back to Israel?”
7 Jesus said to them, “The Father is the only One who has the authority to decide dates and times.  These things are not for you to know.
8 But when the Holy Spirit comes to you, you will receive power. You will be my witnesses—in Jerusalem, in all of Judea, in Samaria, and in every part of the world.”
9 After he said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
10 As he was going, they were looking into the sky.  Suddenly, two men wearing white clothes stood beside them.
11 They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing here looking into the sky?  Jesus, whom you saw taken up from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you saw him go.”

 

Let’s begin by seeing how HE PROVIDED THEM PROOF OF THE RESURRECTION. 

It was important that the disciples had no doubts about the Resurrection, because everything that Christianity teaches depends upon its validity.  For example: the virgin birth and the Resurrection go together, and the Resurrection proved the virgin birth.  You can’t believe one and not the other.  Paul declared, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is worth nothing, and your faith is worth nothing.” 

If this supposition were true, it would destroy the most important pillar of Christianity.  If it were true, that He was not raised from the dead, we who witness for Christ would be false witnesses.  If Christ was not raised, the gospel would be a joke.  What reason would there be to preach or to witness?  If Christ was not raised, we would still be living in our sin; we would still be guilty and condemned.  If His blood had been shed, and His life taken away, without ever being restored, what evidence could we have, that through Him, we are justified and have eternal life.  If He had stayed dead, how could He have delivered us from the power of death?  There is no justification or salvation, if Christ has not risen.  And faith in Christ amounts to nothing, if He is still dead. 

Jesus knew how vital it was that all questions be removed, and that is why He provided infallible proofs.  We are told in verse three, “After his death, he showed himself to them and proved in many ways that he was alive. The apostles saw Jesus during the forty days after he was raised from the dead, and he spoke to them about the kingdom of God.”  The greatest evidence of His Resurrection was that He showed Himself alive to His apostles.  He walked with them and He talked with them; He ate and drank with them.  They knew it was Him because He showed them over and over, the nail prints in his hands and feet, and the wound in His side. 

Jesus continued to teach the apostles up until His ascension, and that’s another proof that it was Him; he continued to teach them about the Kingdom of Grace, how it was going to be here on earth and in heaven; no one but He, could have known these things or spoke so clearly. 

His body was human, because they touched Him and He ate, but He miraculously disappeared at times, and He was able to walk through doors.  He was seen by them over a period of forty days; and He brought them by degrees to be fully satisfied that it was Him.  He stayed with them for such a long time, to confirm their faith, and to comfort their hearts. 

It is so reassuring to witness His compassion for believers, and it is just another assurance that we have a great high priest that is touched with the feeling of our infirmities.

In 1 Corinthians, chapter 15, Paul lists six documented appearances by Christ.  He was seen by Peter, then by the apostles when they were all together; after that He was seen by five hundred at once.  He was seen by James, and then Paul says that even though he was the most unworthy of all the apostles, he saw Jesus; he was the last to see Him.  Now it should be noted that all the enemies of Christ had to do to disprove the Resurrection was to produce His body.  They started a rumor that the disciples had stolen it, but that was not well received since Roman guards had been posted to prevent that from happening.  The fact of the matter is that they couldn’t produce His body, because it was gone; the tomb was empty.  He had been raised from the dead.  He was the Son of God!

Jesus’ followers were so convinced of His Resurrection that they became an irresistible force.  They practiced all that He had taught them.  For three years He taught them about the kingdom of God; how to pray, what to do in the face of opposition, how to present the gospel, to have compassion for the poor and sick, to condemn false pride and religion, to recognize what is sin, how to live their lives and much, much more.  They were ready!  They were trained!  He entrusted the building of His church to this small band of men.  And at the heart of their ability to serve Christ was their unqualified belief in the Resurrection, and it enabled them to live up to their potential as Christians.

 

Our second point is, HE PROVIDED THEM POWER TO CARRY OUT THEIR ASSIGNMENT. 

Jesus assigned believers to live in such a way, that the rest of the world would have reason to believe in Him.  That meant that they would live in peace, purity and pleasure.  They were not to be involved with those who were advocating insurrection; freedom from Roman rule. 

It would take the help of the Holy Spirit, but they were to live lives that would bring honor to Christ; that meant that they were to strive to be godly men, set apart for God. 

And they were to be joyful; but there joy was to be in Christ.  He was to be the source of their joy.  Paul and Silas had that joy, when they were in the prison for preaching the gospel; under threat of death, they sang songs and praised God.  The world would be able to see Jesus through the lives these men were living. 

We are to be known by our fruit.  Our fruit is the fruit of the Spirit; such things as love, peace and joy.  It was the same for the early believers.  These were evidences of their special relationship with Christ; and they were blessed to be identified with Him.  They were blessed by receiving the power described in Acts, chapter 2; because that’s the power that Christ promised them-the power of the Holy Spirit.  They needed that power to enable them to live the Christian life. 

Verse 8 says, “But when the Holy Spirit comes to you, you will receive power. You will be my witnesses—in Jerusalem, in all of Judea, in Samaria, and in every part of the world.”

Our assignment is the same today.  I have heard it said many times, “We may be the only ‘Jesus’ that many people will ever see.”  That’s true, since most people never go to church, and don’t read their Bible.  And if you are a Christian, their whole perception of Christianity may be what they observe of your life.  I don’t believe that we regard that responsibility as highly as we should.  We are going to influence these people whether we want to or not.  Our life will either be a positive influence for Jesus, or it will be negative. 

Our prayer should be, “Dear God, bless me with a spirit of love for others, make me at peace with all men so I can witness to them about Jesus’ love, and give me a joy that comes from faith, so that others can see that Jesus is a reality in my life.”  It is when the Holy Spirit can be seen in the lives of believers that the world can see the truth about Jesus. 

I can see the Holy Spirit in others, and I had a recent experience that showed that others can see Him in me.  I was looking at some books that I was considering buying at a Christian book store, while Sierra was looking for music.  A man walked up to me and asked if I was a preacher.  He said, “I can tell you are a Christian.”  And you know, I could tell he was a Christian too.  Something passed between us, that wasn’t from our human side; it was spiritual; and it was by the power of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is real! He is God!

 

Our final point is HE PROVIDED THE CONFIDENCE TO BELIEVE IN A BEAUTIFUL FUTURE. 

They were confident that heaven was a real place, and that confidence led them to live fearless lives.  They lived like they had everything to gain and nothing to lose; they believed that they would gain heaven, because Jesus told them in John 14, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.  And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

Heaven will be made even more wonderful by the knowledge that Jesus will be there.  Revelation 20-21, describes heaven, and the picture is of a glorious creation, where we will live in a close relationship with Jesus, and God will be the source of everything that we receive.  The disciples believed in heaven, and they wanted to go there, and that enabled them to keep the faith.  The assurance of heaven should help us to live confident lives today.  For the Christian, it is as Paul said, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” 

Let me get a little personal now; I had a heart attack in 1991, and the same week I had a triple bi-pass.  During the hours before my surgery I had one of the greatest experiences of my life.  I put my trust in Jesus and I was excited about the possibility that I might die, because I was confident that I would go immediately to be with my Savior.  Well, I didn’t die; I guess He wanted me to do what I am doing now.  But I am looking forward to heaven.   No one who is thinking clearly would want to miss going there. 

No one has to miss going to heaven, because Jesus told us how to get there.  He said, “I am the way.”  The price of admission is faith in Jesus Christ.  It’s a free gift to us, because He paid for our ticket with His life. 

Conclusion

We live in a fallen world, and no one can live as a Christian in their own power.  We can’t; it’s too hard.  It’s the Holy Spirit that lives within each of us who gives us power to live victoriously in this fallen world.  We are told in Hebrews, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.” 

Let me end with three words from this verse, “substance”, “hoped for”, and “evidence.” 

As Christians living victorious lives, we have substance and evidence for our faith; we have the Holy Spirit and the proof of the Resurrection; and our “hoped for” reality is heaven. 

Now we can say, as Paul did “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now, a crown is being held for me—a crown for being right with God.  The Lord, the judge who judges rightly, will give the crown to me on that day—not only to me but to all those who have waited with love for him to come again.

We have seen how the Lord provided for His apostles; but He has also provided for us.  He gave us a ticket to heaven, but while we are waiting to go, we have the Holy Spirit to help us live the Christian life. 

Let’s go to God in prayer at this time and thank Him for His gracious provision.

 AMEN! 

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