“…which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”
Has your life ever been turned upside down in a second? It’s not necessarily that what was coming caught you completely off guard. You may have had some indication of what was on the horizon, but when it got there, you felt totally unprepared. You were left standing in uncertain territory, unsure of your next move. It’s that surreal feeling that hits you when you realize things will never be the same, that you can’t go back, that you must go on though you have no idea what you’re going to do. You feel lost, alone, distracted, disconnected…it’s almost like you don’t even know where you are or how you got there! That’s the feeling I imagine was creeping over the disciples at this time.
What must it have been like for them between the ascension and Pentecost? They must have felt suspended between heaven and earth. They stood there gazing, jaws dropped open! “He’s finally gone!! We knew this day was coming, but what do we do now?” We read right over this passage without an awareness of the great trial they would endure in this brief period. So, what should you do in such a time? How do you make it when the world as you know it falls apart? The answer is quite simple! Don’t be like Naaman and refuse the simple instruction of the prophet because you were sure you’d have to “do some great thing”! (2 Ki 5:13) The disciples in Acts 1 are a tremendous example of how we should busy ourselves as we wait for the Lord’s further direction in these times.
- Obey the Lord’s command
There are some things that will be fuzzy at such a time, but there are also things that will be crystal clear! Whatever it is you know you’re supposed to be doing, do it! Jesus had just instructed them in Ac 1:4 to wait at Jerusalem until the Spirit was given. In Ac 1:12, they did just that, without any delay! “Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet…” Be busy about the Lord’s business—whatever you understand that to be at this present hour, and guess what God will do? When we walk in the light we have, He’ll give more light! I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. (Ph 3:14-15)
- Gather with the church
In Ac 1:13-14, we find the disciples gathered together in the upper room with “the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” Settle it in your hearts and minds. You’re not going to get any advice from the world that’s going to provide the spiritual help you need in these times, so don’t go looking for it there! You need to hear what Christ has to say, and the place to hear that is from His body! I imagine Paul felt a bit like the disciples here when he and Barnabas split in Ac 15:39. Who would have ever thought these two apostles (Ac 14:14) would disagree to the point that they would go separate ways! But, it was among the church that Paul found direction. Though he lost Barnabas, as we read on, we find he gained Silas and Timothy because they were recommended “by the brethren”! (Ac 15:40, 6:2) God has given the brethren to encourage us in our walk! There are areas where you lack. There are things at which you are no good but that need to be done. What has God given to supply that need? According to Eph 4:11-16, it is the church that is “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…” That spiritual body, “joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” Thank God for the brethren!
- Be steadfast in prayer
In Ac 1:14, we find that “these all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication”. Do you feel overwhelmed and unsure of your next step? Jesus said the key to moving that mountain is to “ask in prayer, believing”. (Mt 21:22) We overcome and receive direction through the prayer of faith! How important is prayer? It’s important enough that in times of heaviness, the Son of God would pray all night long! (Lk 6:12) Under the pressure of the plotting of the scribes and Pharisees (v. 11) and faced with the responsibility to choose the twelve apostles the next morning (v. 13), Jesus chose prayer over physical rest. In times of great stress, the world might say, “Take a break and get some rest,” but Jesus by His example shows us prayer is more needful! When Paul was keenly aware of the weight of his upcoming responsibility, the one thing he begged the brethren to do in Rom 15:30-31 was to “strive together with me in your prayers to God for me”. That word strive means “struggle”, and reminds us that prayer is not the easy way out. It is a struggle, a spiritual battle, and we must be steadfast in it to survive the times where we seek direction. Like Jacob wrestling the angel, we must persevere in it, refusing to give up until the Lord blesses us with a word from heaven. “…men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” (Lk 18:1)
- Refresh yourself in God’s word
It’s clear in Ac 1:15 that Peter had been meditating on the word of God as he stands up among them and says, “Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled…” In these times, stay in God’s word, and you’ll receive direction! What did the disciples do as they waited for the fullness of the Spirit? They picked another disciple to replace Judas. Why did they do that? “For it is written in the book of Psalms…his bishoprick let another take.” (Ac 1:20) Likewise, we should be able to back up our actions with chapter and verse! In meditating on the word of God, the Spirit will speak to you and give you the direction you desperately desire at this uncertain time. What “is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path”? “Thy word”!! (Ps 119:105)
One final encouraging thought is that, though the disciples may have been a little blindsided by the coming of this time, Jesus knew it was on the horizon in the disciples lives, and He made sure they had all they needed to survive the period between His ascension and Pentecost. In Jn 20:22, Jesus breathed on them and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” He gave them a measure of His Spirit so that they would have the strength to endure this season until the fullness of the Spirit should come. Thank God He doesn’t always give us what we want, but He always provides what we need! So, how did it turn out for these 120, seemingly defeated, souls huddled in an upper room in Jerusalem? We find them 3000 strong just one chapter later! God is able!! Are you at a crossroads, needing direction? Obey the Lord. Encourage yourself among His people. Be constant in prayer and the study of His word. The answer is coming. Just “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness,” and He’ll take care of the rest!