Planting churches is worthwhile. This is what Jesus did. By reading the Gospel of Luke we see Jesus doing this work. Three years before his death Jesus began his ministry. He spent the time preparing the apostles for them to be the leaders of the church. Then after his resurrection, Jesus instructed the apostles to speak about repentance and forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ name to all nations. Jesus’ Father was going to be giving the apostles the power to be the living church. We also have that power from Jesus’ Father.
It may have been a long time since Gladeville/Mt. Olivet was planted. The steps we see here in Acts 1 are repeated every time a successful church plant happens. First, there is preparation. We cannot be a living church if we deny Jesus Christ is God’s Son, risen from the dead. For it is this Jesus who gave instructions to the apostles. Next, the apostles then and now are given power. This power compels us to be Jesus’ witnesses. The final part of the prelude of planting a church is prayer. For when the apostles, women, and others prayed, they were best able to receive the power that God had for them.
1. Jesus worked and taught, so do the apostles
2. Jesus suffered to fulfill prophecy about the kingdom of God
3. The apostles were going to receive the Holy Spirit
4. I hope you get a chance to read the Gospel of Luke. For when we know Jesus through his work and teaching we are able to see what God can do through us. Oh, we will be tested. People will question us. But we will be able to catch people. We will also be able to heal people. We will call others to follow Jesus. We will be even able to raise people from the dead! We will be able to have laborers for the harvest that God will provide. We will be able to cast out demons. We can do all these things, plus teach about Jesus, because God is going to supply the power for us to be a living church!
1. We won’t know the time that God will restore the kingdom to Israel
2. When the Holy Spirit comes upon us, we can be Jesus’ witnesses
a. Jerusalem – can’t stay there!
b. We have to go to all Judea – all of the Twin Counties?
c. Then we go to Samaria – those places we don’t want to go
d. Then we go to the ends of the earth – We may be sent to Utah or even South Africa, nevertheless we keep going were God sends us!
3. Have we received the Holy Spirit, the power of God to work in this world?
a. Are we already Jesus’ witnesses in this world?
b. Are we doing the work that Jesus did?
4. The apostles stayed staring up at the sky when Jesus ascended. Then the angels had to remind them that Jesus would return. But we cannot be always looking at the sky. When the power that Jesus promised comes to us, then we are to be his witnesses. For us to be a living church, what do we do until we have that power Jesus promised?
C. We pray
1. The apostles went to the mount called Olivet
2. 120 people were devoted to praying!
a. What would it look like if we gathered together to pray?
b. St. Mark’s UMC in Zimbabwe has a 4 AM Prayer service called “rumuko” – it can draw 500 people at a time!
– Geared around individual prayer
– Started by older women in 1929
– Now attended by men & teenagers also participate
– Teaching about prayer helps
– Eggester Jokomo tells of how God answers prayers. People thought that she was a widow, for they did not see her husband. After 28 years of abandoning his wife, he returned. (http://www.umc.org/news-and-media/early-morning-prayer-service-draws-hundreds)
3. Through prayer they chose a replacement for Judas Iscariot – Matthias
4. Prayer is the best way to get ourselves to communicate with God. Before we can do anything, from holding a revival to giving food to our neighbors, we pray. The answers we are seeking my not come right away. But that is alright. As we devote ourselves to prayer, we are letting God know that we are devoting ourselves to him. In order for Gladeville/Mt. Olivet to be a living church, we devote ourselves to prayer.
What do you say? Would you come out to the church at 4 AM to pray? It may be a sacrifice for us to do this work. But prayer is the work we do for this church to be a living church. Then we can see what God can do through us!
Will we be able to teach like Jesus, when we pray?
Will we be able to heal people like Jesus did, when we pray?
Will we be able to raise people from the dead like Jesus did, when we pray?
It has been a while since this church was planted. But this church has apostles who have or going to receive the Holy Spirit. As we receive the Holy Spirit we do the work that Jesus did. This is how we show that we are a living church, doing what Jesus did.
God is preparing us to be a living church. The power that God gives to us will bring people to God. But we won’t receive this power unless we pray. If St. Mark’s in Zimbabwe can have a vibrant prayer ministry, then this church can as well. Can we devote ourselves to prayer so that we can be a living church?