Ready for the Promise

In Acts 1:4, Jesus tells those who had assembled with Him before His ascension to return to Jerusalem and “wait for the Promise of the Father.” They followed His instructions and returned to the upper room and tarried there. Acts 1:14 says, “These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.”

These were men and women who had witnessed much, but in that moment, were faced with the fact that their Savior was no longer present, but they were to wait until the Promise came.  Wouldn’t you like to know what was going through their minds at that moment? I don’t think they had a clue what they were waiting for!But there was some work that needed to be accomplished in each of them individually and corporately before they would be ready to receive and steward the Promise that was about to be given to them.  Each of these individuals had been transformed by Jesus, but there was more. I believe that verse 14 reveals what needed to happen before they were ready to receive the Promise.

First, they needed to come into a place of singleness of mind.  Have you ever heard the saying that there were too many cooks in the kitchen? Consider that there was a room full of people who had walked, talked, and ministered with Jesus. We know that James and John had campaigned for the heavenly seat next to Jesus and it wouldn’t be much of a leap to anticipate that some felt that they should lead this remaining remnant.But for this group to have one mind, there had to be a transformation in their hearts and minds that brought their wills, thoughts, and self to a place of surrender.This required those in the upper room to relinquish their desire to lead and instead, allow their will to prefer others over themselves and to be willing to lay down their lives for each other as they had seen their Savior do.

There are times that the Holy Spirit wants to do a work in our individual hearts, but there are also times where He wants to do a work in our relationships so that He there is singleness of mind. Jesus is sometimes the confronter before He is the Comforter. He doesn’t want open doors for the enemy to gain access into our hearts and our church through a spirit of offense between brothers and sisters in Christ. It pains me to think that perhaps, the Holy Spirit is unable to pour out His presence, power, and blessing upon a church because of offense between believers. As a parent, I wouldn’t place my children in an unhealthy emotional, physical, or spiritual situation. Could the Holy Spirit not send His lost children to a church because it is unhealthy?Until there was singleness of mind, a lack of selfish promotion, and a heart of submission to each other and to the coming Promise, they were not ready to receive the Promise. I want to be ready to receive His Promise and I want the same for my church.

Second, we see that they devoted themselves to prayer. Jesus set the bar high concerning prayer and taught them to pray. But the spiritual muscle of prayer had to be strengthened and it was hammered out in this upper room.  Think about what they were going to face in the days ahead. Take for example Acts 16 and the situation that Paul and Silas find themselves in. Paul and Silas were severely beaten, put in stocks, and thrown into the inner prison, which was the septic system of the prison. What was their response? Verse 25 says that around midnight they were “praying and singing hymns to God.” Their spiritual muscles to go to prayer in the face of pain, disappointment, and persecution were not forged in that moment. No, they were forged in the days before! Just like those in the upper room, Paul and Silas had forged their spiritual muscle of prayer in their day to day life. We too must forge our spiritual muscles of prayer in our day to day life and circumstances, so that our immediate response to negative situations is to take it to prayer and begin to declare worship over those circumstances.

Finally, Acts 1:4 tells us that Jesus told them to wait for the Promise.  What would have happened if they would have given place to personalities, fears, offense, impatience, doubt, disappoint, or you can fill the blank in with whatever the enemy uses to distract and dampen your spiritual fervor? What if they had not waited? Therefore, it is so critical and vital that we are in healthy relationships with the corporate body of Christ who we share the same vision and focus with.  When we are buffeted by the winds and the waves, we have our brothers and sister who we are in healthy community with, lifting our arms, praying with us, and declaring that single focus over us.We spur each other on to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24).

Friends, please know this is why the enemy tries to keep us in isolation and separated from the corporate body.  The enemy knows the potential and damage that the Kingdom of God could wage against the kingdom of darkness if we have single focus, unity, and hearts devoted to prayer.  Consider the results of Acts 1:4 and 14. Acts 2:1 says they were in one accord, the Holy Spirit fell, each heard the gospel in their own language, and Peter preached a 90-second sermon that resulted in the salvation of 3000. No wonder the enemy fears unity in the church, no wonder he desires discord, no wonder prayer is fought and wrought with apathy, no wonder we have difficulty waiting.

Declaration

Jesus, we set our tenacious hearts on a single focus and devotion to prayer so that we are ready to receive the harvest of souls for Your Kingdom.