• Tony Birkhead

Are you Thirsty? Week - 3




If I go on empty, empty is exactly where I’ll find myself!


INTRODUCTION

When is your least favorite time to wait (i.e. in traffic, at a restaurant, on your spouse or children)?

When has something definitely been worth the wait?

At the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus told His disciples to wait. He was going to give them—and us—an incredible gift: the presence and power of His Holy Spirit. The disciples couldn’t have fully appreciated what all that meant, but they waited nonetheless. When the Holy Spirit came, He empowered Christ’s followers for a mission that was unstoppable. From that single location, their mission spread across the world, and continues today. The disciples’ longing for the Holy Spirit’s presence was surely worth the wait.

This obligation of gospel consistency extends to how we respond to being mistreated, as difficult as that can be. We believe in a God who promises to enact justice in the end, but this same God went about accomplishing justice in His world by becoming a man and suffering injustice Himself. Indeed, Jesus did not judge us according to our sin as He had every right to do; instead, He took the penalty for our sin by going to the cross. As the Master goes, so go the disciples. As Jesus entrusted Himself to the ultimate Judge in the face of persecution, we must do likewise when we encounter injustice committed against us.

KEY SCRIPTURE

Acts 1:4-14

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 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.” 9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “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.” 12 Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. 13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

To which “Father’s promise” was Jesus referencing in verse 4?

Why did Jesus tell the disciples to wait in Jerusalem? Why did they have to wait in Jerusalem before the Holy Spirit’s arrival?

To live the Christian life is borderline impossible. To love people when they are hurtful, to take the ethical high ground, to forgive those who have wronged you—doing as Jesus commanded is nt an easy task. The good news is, Jesus Himself knew how difficult walking with Him would be. Jesus never expected us to live this life in our own power. Indeed, Jesus Himself lived His life on earth in union with and empowered by the Holy Spirit. That same Spirit is the secret to the power we need to live and follow Jesus today. Living the Christian life is only possible with the power of the Holy Spirit living through us.

What do you find difficult about waiting on the Lord?

Apart from the power of the Holy Spirit, we can do nothing of importance in our lives. But once we receive His power at salvation, we can do anything He calls us to do. A little boy once heard that if he asked Jesus to be his Savior, God would come live inside his heart. The boy asked his parents, “How can God live inside my heart? He’s so big! He made the whole world! If He lived inside my heart, He’d stick out! Precisely. If God truly lives in our hearts, He’s going to stick out. His love will stick out. His forgiveness will stick out. His power will stick out. And the world will know.

READ ACTS 1:6-8.

What did the Israelites expect from Jesus in this passage? What were they hoping He would do?

Whose authority does Jesus reference?

What does the power of the Holy Spirit enable His disciples to do?

What is the job of a witness? How are we witnesses for Christ?

In verse 8, Jesus laid out God’s agenda succinctly. His mandate in this verse laid the foundation for the rest of the Book of Acts, which is largely about how the early believers carried out this mandate. Jesus told His followers to remain in Jerusalem and wait, because they would soon receive the power the Father had promised (see v. 4). When they were filled with the Spirit, they would be His “witnesses” telling what they had experienced with Jesus. They would do this with His power, not their own—the power of the Holy Spirit.

What do these verses teach us about God’s mission?

The Greek word for “power” is dunamis, from which we get our English words “dynamo,” “dynamite,” and “dynamic.” By the power of the Spirit, a tiny handful of believers turned the whole world upside down as the “gospel earthquake” rumbled from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. “Jerusalem . . . Judea and Samaria, and . . . the ends of the earth.” Jesus laid out a deliberate plan of expansion that began at home and moved outward geographically to include all people. We can apply “Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria” to our city, our nation, and our world. How can you impact each of these three areas for the gospel of Jesus Christ? How will the Holy Spirit help you to do so?

READ ACTS 1:12-14.

What do you do when you find yourself waiting on the next thing God has for you?

For many of us, prayer is often a last resort. We sometimes think, “When all else fails, pray.” Why is this a wrong approach to prayer?

What are some of the benefits of praying together as a group?

Look at verse 14. How did prayer unite the disciples? How does it unite us as modern-day disciples of Jesus?

Prayer maximizes “Thee” and minimizes “me.” Prayer says, “My agenda is unimportant, Lord, but Your agenda is all-important.” The reason for so much disunity in the church is because many Christians contend for their own agendas, rather than God’s. Yet, we cannot know God’s agenda without reading His Word and spending time with Him in prayer, both privately and corporately.

MOVING FORWARD

  • How can I wait this week and allow the Holy Spirit to fill me up?

  • What can I do to boost my time with Jesus in prayer?

PRAY TOGETHER

Thank Jesus for sending you the Holy Spirit when you trusted in Him in faith. Invite Him to lead your life.

COMMENTARY

Acts 1:4-14

1:4 The Father’s promise refers to the gift of the Holy Spirit, which would soon come (chap. 2).

1:5 John’s baptism was a symbolic washing to purify and to indicate repentance of sin. Jesus’ baptism of believers would be of greater impact and involved the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

1:6-7 Restoration of the kingdom of Israel was something for which all first-century Jews longed. It was commonly believed that Messiah, son of David and heir to his throne, would accomplish this restoration. Jesus deflected the disciples’ misguided question and repeated His command that they were to be His witnesses near and far (cp. Mt 28:19).

1:8 The major focus of the book of Acts is stated in this verse. Jesus said believers would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them, empowering them to be His witnesses in Jerusalem first and then spreading to the ends of the earth. Note three things about how this unfolds. First, the empowering presence is to be the Holy Spirit, not Jesus Himself. Jesus prepared His disciples for the transition when the Holy Spirit would come to be a constant presence in His bodily absence. Second, the growth of the church would come about through the witness of the disciples. From the beginning, the church is depicted as a community that actively witnesses to their faith in Jesus Christ. Third, the result of this witness will be measurable, geographical growth. This growth will begin in Jerusalem and then spread through ever-widening concentric circles to other Jewish areas (e.g., Judea), to areas on the edges of Judaism (e.g., Samaria), and eventually to “the ends of the earth,” which may refer to the known world of that time, likely coextensive with the reach of the Roman Empire. As new lands and peoples were discovered in coming centuries, the church understood that it must keep expanding its witness to reach the newfound “ends of the earth.”

1:9-11 Luke briefly told about Jesus’ ascension in his Gospel (Lk 24:51), and now he provides a somewhat fuller account. A cloud took Him out recalls the presence of God depicted as a cloud elsewhere (e.g., Ex 13:21-22). Thus Jesus was received by the Father in fulfillment of His words in Jn 7:33-34. Jesus’ final instructions and ascension to heaven provide overlap and transition between Luke’s Gospel and the book of Acts. The ascension took place on the Mount of Olives outside Jerusalem (Ac 1:12). Jesus’ return will be in the same way as He departed—bodily and visibly.

1:13 Luke 6:14-16 provides the same list of disciples. The lists in Mark and Matthew are similar, except for differences in the names of two disciples between Luke-Acts and Mark and Matthew. Several disciples had alternative names (Simon/Peter, Matthew/Levi; cp. v. 23), possibly accounting for differences between the lists. Simon the Zealot of Luke-Acts is probably Simon the Cananean, and Judas the son of James in Luke-Acts may be Thaddaeus.

DAILY QUIET TIME GUIDE

HOW TO HAVE A DAILY QUIET TIME

The QT Guide is designed to help you MOVE with God through Bible Reading, reflection and prayer. It can be completed in about 9 minutes.

UPWARD: 1⁄2 Minute Preparing Your Heart: Invest the first 30 seconds preparing your heart. You might pray, “Lord, cleanse my heart so You can speak to me through the Scriptures. Make my mind alert, my soul active, and my heart responsive. Surround me with Your presence during this time.

FORWARD: 4 Minutes Listening To God: Take the next four minutes to read the Bible. Your greatest need is to hear a word from God. Allow the Word to strike fire in your heart. Meet the Author!

INWARD: 2 1/2 Minutes Talking To God (Prayer): After God has spoken through His Book, then speak to Him in prayer.

OUTWARD: 2 Minutes Preparing your Action: Ask yourself this question: How can I take today’s Quiet Time and put it into action throughout my day?

DAY 1

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. 2 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.

Romans 12:1-2

It’s true that when we get caught up in life, it’s easy to mimic the often selfish and corrupt behaviors of the world around us. But when we genuinely seek to know God and what His Word says about our lives, then over time—even during difficult times—the Holy Spirit changes our thoughts and attitudes to be more like Christ (Ephesians 4:21–23).

When the Spirit leads us, our desires become the opposite of the temptations of the world. What once felt like sacrifice becomes a grateful act of self-control. It becomes easier to ignore our selfish wants, lustful desires, and everyday burdens for Christ to bear on our behalf, allowing us to focus on the things in our life that are pleasing to God, leading to a life of purpose (Galatians 5:16–26).

Is this always easy for Christians? No. Do believers and followers of Christ still allow themselves to succumb to the pressures of this world? Yes, far too often. But if we continue to keep the door open for God by intentionally pursuing and applying his Word to our lives, then when we do stumble and fall, we’re not likely to fall as far, and it’s much easier to find our way back onto the path He has laid out for us.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com

DAY 2

But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

1 Corinthians 9:27

The experts say it takes twenty one days to form a habit. After reading this, you may think, “Just 21 days of waking up early to read my Bible and then it will be easy!” Many others have thought that way too, but it doesn’t work like that. Spiritual self-discipline isn’t a pursuit that we simply force into habit; for if that were the case, there would be little need for the Holy Spirit in our lives. Remember Galatians 5 then, self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. We wouldn’t have it without the Spirit as it His gifting and work in us. This realization begs the question then: How do we become more self-disciplined in our spiritual lives?

Consider what Jeff Lorg puts forth in his book The Character of Leadership, “No fleshly effort will please God or build true discipline. Self-discipline refers to self as the object of discipline rather than its source. Even though discipline is learned, and self is the object of the discipline, the motivation and power to develop discipline comes from the Spirit.”

In order to become self disciplined, we need to stop trying to take on the Spirit’s role as the source of life-changing power and rely on the strength He will faithfully work in us. Paul told Timothy to be strengthened by the Grace of Jesus (2 Timothy 2:1). If our motivation isn’t coming from the Holy Spirit, then we will continue in vain and fail in the practice of self-discipline. Our motivation will be of an eternal scope when we press into the Holy Spirit, and He will give us the strength to “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com

DAY 3

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:3-10

Hunger and thirst are potent metaphors for our consuming passion for God. In the past, we may have been passionate about things and people who offered only empty promises that left us wounded and desperate. But now we read of Jesus’ promise to the woman at the well and find that the water He gives satisfies permanently. As we surrender our life to Jesus, we are filled with the Holy Spirit, who imparts a passion for righteousness that enables radical obedience. Eventually, our deepest pain and fears are healed, and our character is transformed. We may mistakenly think this is solely for our benefit. However, the promise and blessing of fullness are not just for us; they’re to be shared with others desperately seeking food and water.

Over time I’ve come to recognize that the words hunger and thirst have a particular meaning in the Scriptures—they speak to states of deprivation. Our world is filled with people who exist in poverty, distress, exclusion, and suffering. It is the disfavored and marginalized we are called to embrace and serve in our desire for righteousness. God’s righteousness is tied to affirming the basic human dignity and value of all of His children. We must be advocates for God’s grace and the power of redemption to restore and heal. I’ve come to understand righteousness means we must affirm that each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done. We are called to be steadfast in our conviction that we must love mercy and do justice and that God’s way is love.

Adapted From: http://intouch.org

DAY 4

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Acts 2:1-4

The Bible tells us to be “filled with the Spirit!” Have you ever wondered what that means? It may not be what you think. We might surmise to be “filled with the Spirit” means that we will have an emotional experience. Now, it could mean that, but you can have this encounter with God and have no emotional experience to speak of. I’m sure we would all love to have an emotional encounter with God every single day. It would be great to just get “zapped” every morning, wouldn’t it? But that is not necessarily going to happen.

In the Book of Acts, we read of the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon the first Christians and filled them. The day of Pentecost was like an explosion that set the early Church into motion. Like when you start driving a car, there is the “explosion” that starts the engine. But once the engine is started, you just drive the car. You don’t need the explosion over and over, just one to start the engine. Thank God for those powerful, emotional, life-changing encounters we have with Him. But Scripture reminds us, “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17). So we don’t need “another” Pentecost any more than we need “another” Calvary. We just need to appropriate and apply what God has made available for every believer. And that is the work and power of the Holy Spirit to help you be the person God has called you to be.

Paul tells us, “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). So we don’t need “spirits,” we need the Holy Spirit! The word “filled” has many shades of meaning. One translation of the word “filled” describes the concept of the wind filling the sail of a ship as it carries it out to sea. By that definition, to be filled with the Spirit is to allow God to fill your sails and guide your course through life, making His commands a delight, not drudgery. The word “filled” also speaks of something that should be ongoing and continuous. You could translate it “Be being filled with the Holy Spirit,” just like you have to put gas in your car. You need the constant filling of the Holy Spirit. And the good news is that God will not charge you!

Adapted From: http://harvest.org

DAY 5

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. 2 Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. 3 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. 4 Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.

Psalm 105:1-4

You are not done as a Christian. No matter how much you love, you ought to love more. No matter how much you pray, you ought to pray more. No matter how much you obey God, you ought to obey more. Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled" (Matthew 5:6 NKJV). We will not be completely satisfied until we see His face. Psalm 17:15 says, "I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness" (NKJV). Until that day comes, there will be a "divine discontent."

Let me ask you this question: Are you satisfied with your present spiritual state right now? Let me personally answer that: I am not. I need more—much, much more. I have far to go. Therefore, we want to spend our time in pursuing God.

We all know that snacking between meals can spoil our appetites. In the same way, there are certain relationships, pursuits, and things that take the edge off of the godly spiritual appetite we should have. These things may be quite harmless in and of themselves. The questions to ask yourself of relationships, pursuits, and such is: Does it make me more or less hungry for spiritual things? Does it draw me closer, or does it in some way keep me away from Jesus? Is it a "wing" or a "weight" in the race of life? If you really hunger and thirst for righteousness, you will find it. Why? Because "where there’s a will there’s a way." Are you pursuing righteousness?

Adapted From: http://harvest.org

MOVING FORWARD

One of the best ways to fight temptation and grow in your daily walk with Jesus is to memorize His Word. Begin to commit His words to your memory this week.

Memorizing may be as simple as repeating the passage aloud 10 times each day or writing it 5 times each day. It may be that you place a 3x5 card on your mirror to remind you each day. Whatever it takes you won’t be let down with His Word in your mind and heart. Consider this…

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

Romans 8:26

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