Last week we saw that Peter and the boys just could not follow Jesus’ very specific instructions to wait – to wait until the Holy Spirit came to them on Pentecost. Jesus knew they could not possibly know the next right thing to do without the Spirit’s clarity and guidance.
And neither can you.
He also knew Peter and the boys were not inclined to wait. This, “I must take action,” this, “I must make a decision and act on it … now!” trait is all too human, and has led to so many bad decisions and untimely, unnecessary, and unhelpful actions.
Can I get an “Amen?”
Blaise Pascal, the French mathematician and philosopher, the man credited with the origins of calculus, said this:
“All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.”
Perhaps a bit of hyperbole, but perhaps not by much.
So, what happens next? Peter takes action. First, he stands up and quotes scripture. This is always a bit dicey when one is quoting scripture without the same Spirit who wrote the scriptures. Actually, he misquotes scripture.
And based on his misquoting of scripture he says this:
“Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” (Acts 1:21-22)
Do you see the action imperative words here: “necessary” – “must”? I think it would have been helpful if someone in the room would have said, “Peter, why is it necessary … why must we …? Should we perhaps do what Jesus said, and wait?”
Now look what happens next. This is so classic. I have no doubt I have done this several times over the years. They formulated a plan, put the plan in motion, and then asked God to bless their plan.
So they nominated two men … Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” (Acts 1:23-25, Bold added)
“They nominated,” and then they prayed. Not, “They prayed and then they nominated.” No sir. They nominated – and then they asked the Lord to bless their plans.
Have you ever done this? Of course you have. Have your church leaders ever done this? You bet they have.
I have a plan. I like my plan. So I put my plan in action. And then, perhaps to curry a little holy insurance, I pause to pray. I do not wait for an answer, mind you, because I already have my plan. I am not actually looking for an answer; I am looking for God to cooperate.
And to really add insult to injury, look what the disciples did next:
Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:26)
They cast lots. Jesus’ dedicated followers cast lots. They rolled the dice. Do you think they learned this from Jesus? I have read the gospels many times, and I have yet to find Jesus playing dice games to discern God’s will.
But when one is executing one’s own plan, with no guidance or clarity from the Holy Spirit, one might as well roll the dice. Or consult the tea leaves, or that month’s horoscope.
My friends, please learn to wait, to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. I promise you, actually Jesus promises you, it is safe to wait. I can assure you the Holy Spirit will help clarify your situations, and he will provide guidance for you, if you want him to.
And if you want him to, you must be willing to wait. Maybe only for a few seconds, or minutes, or hours, or days – more likely days – but please, please learn to be still.
Note: To hear much more from me on Pentecost, including many fun and interesting details and connections and teaching points, tune into our YouTube Channel at 721minsitries.org.