Introduction: One book only 100 pages long published by the Department of Justice and that can be downloaded is a book that no parent wants to read. The title is When Your Child is Missing. Key bullet points and action steps are on the cover of the book, like, “You’re not alone,” “Hope is essential,” “Trust your feelings and share them with law enforcement officials,” “Distribute pictures,” “Keep your focus,” “Exercise caution,” and the final exhortation is “Never stop looking.” The book tells the stories of four year old Shelby Marie Cox and six year old Colleen Nick. The parents of Jacob Wetterling have been searching for him since 1989. They post messages saying, “We’re still searching for you and we will never quit.” Parents will spare no expense as with resolute passion they search for their missing children. So does God. God has lost children, who have gone the wrong direction, lost their bearings, lost their place in this life and lost their vision of the next life. God initiated a massive, three-phase search and rescue strategy to find his lost children. The first phase was Israel. God wanted a nation through whom to show his character and to call people back to himself. The second phase was Jesus Christ. Jesus declared, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” We are lost and Jesus is the way back home. By his death on the cross and his resurrection, we can be reunited to our heavenly Father. The third phase is the church. We will be looking at the Book of Acts, beginning with Acts 1:8.
I. The Book of Acts is the second of a two-book set written by Luke.
A. The Gospel of Luke describes the second phase: God finding his lost children through Jesus Christ.
B. The Book of Acts, written by Luke and addressed to the same person, Theophilus, as his Gospel, describes the third phase: God finding his lost children through the church. Acts 1:8 is the theme verse of Acts.
II. The disciples, 120 of them, wait in Jerusalem as Jesus commanded.
A. Why Jerusalem? Because the Day of Pentecost is approaching and about a million people will be in Jerusalem.
B. On the Day of Pentecost, the 120 disciples hear a mighty wind and are anointed with tongues of fire as the Holy Spirit is poured out upon them. Acts 2:1-4
C. The 120 disciples become cross-cultural missionaries, speaking the wonderful works of God in the languages of the world. Acts 2:5-12
1. The people are amazed at the miracle of the languages.
2. The burning question is: “What does this mean?” Acts 2:12
3. The Lord-denying disciple, Peter, now filled with the Spirit, boldly declares the meaning of the events of Pentecost: Jesus is alive and he is Lord. Read Acts 2:14-36
D. Three thousand respond to Peter’s explanation by repenting, being baptized, and becoming the first people in the birth of the church. Acts 2:37-41
III. The massive, diverse, multi-cultural crowd of 3000 believers becomes the unified community—the church. Acts 2:42-47
A. God is finding his lost children and creating a thriving family.
B. The diversity becomes astounding unity by the presence of the Spirit.
1. There are no singular pronouns in Acts 2:42-27.
2. The church is not a collection of saved individuals; it is a community living in the Spirit of God.
Illustration/Application: Max Lucado tells about an Episcopal priest friend of his, Jim Foltz, who is bishop of his diocese. Jim came to a Good Friday service wearing a huge golden cross. Max was inwardly judgmental about Jim wearing the cross until Max heard the story behind it. Jim served many years in his congregation and when he became bishop, he had to leave the congregation he loved. The congregation loved Jim and donated gold items that could be melted down and molded into a cross. In Jim’s cross were melted wedding bands, a friend’s ring meant for his bride, rings from widows and widowers, golden add- on beads, even some crowns from teeth. Over 242 different contributions made up Jim’s huge, golden cross. Stories of peace and pain were forged into a cross binding them altogether. The bishop’s cross is a picture of the church. When we hold a hand in the hospital, when a conservative loves a liberal, when a Hispanic loves an Anglo and an Anglo loves an African-American, when the young respect the elderly and elderly love the young, a cross is forged and visible for the world to see.
C. The new church met from house-to-house, eating meals together and using their homes as places of God’s love. Acts 2:46-47
1. The church spread into Judea and Samaria as Jesus commanded.
2. Saul of Tarsus was converted and became a missionary to the nations in the far reaches of the world. Acts 9
Application: Did you know that a military general’s command remains in effect until he issues a new command? Jesus’ last command is Acts 1:8. We have a task.
Illustrations (stories, humor)
The book no parent wants to read: Even though it’s free and only 100 pages long, no parent wants to read the book published by the Department of Justice and introduced by the Attorney General of the United States, entitled When Your Child is Missing. [See sermon outline for description of the contents of the book.] God has initiated a massive three-phase search and rescue strategy to find his lost children. [See Upper/Lower story for explanation.]
Pentecost: “What does this mean?” prompted Peter’s sermon. “What do we do?” led to the baptism of 3000 people from 15 nations and the forming of the first church. Pentecost blended, it integrated the segregated. The Jew was baptized with the Gentile, the male responded with the female. The master stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the slave. This church is a tinder box just one flick of a match away from trouble. How in the world can you create community out of such a diverse group of people?
Bishop Jim Foltz’s cross: [See sermon outline] The large cross around the Bishop’s neck was made for him by his congregation from 242 contributions of gold that were meaningful to each contributor, melted and re-formed in the shape of a cross. It is a picture of the church; when stories intermingle, the church is created.
Special Features (visuals, audience engagement)
Read together: In the military, the command of a general remains in effect until he issues a new one. The last command of our general, Jesus Christ, is this one. Read it with me. [Put Acts 1:8 on the screen]. You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and in Samaria and to the ends of the earth.
There is a time in our walk with God in which he just tells us to wait. We don’t know for how long, we don’t know exactly what for, but God just wants us to wait.
God’s plan is so simple. When we pray for power, something happens like in the New Testament church when they came to Jerusalem and prayed. When we proclaim the story of Jesus like Peter did, something happens. When we love one another like they did, something wonderful happens.
God who stirred the church to reach Jerusalem is the same God who is stirring Oak Hills to reach San Antonio, and we want to be part of it. I challenge you to underscore your commitment to be a part of the New Testament church.