Acts 1:4-8, 12-14; 2:1-4
by David Busic
In the sport of football a common practice at the close of the first half is the half-time locker room assessment meeting. The procedure is to review the first half of play: its successes, its failures, player personnel, and the game plan strategy. The purpose is to make needed adjustments so the second half will produce the desired win.
Acts 1 is Luke’s presentation of the half-time meeting of the early church after Jesus’ resurrection. Acts 2-28 is the story of the church emerging from their meeting to transform their world. Perhaps it’s time for today’s church to revisit that first half-time meeting to rediscover and recapture the dynamics that propelled the early church.
I. Jesus’ first priority was to reaffirm his disciple’s status as kingdom players (Acts 1:3).
A. Jesus taught them the significance of the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).
B. Jesus assured them of the favor of God on them (Acts 1:4-5).
It was a crucial game. The first half was coming to a close and both teams had played hard. The score was tied. The University of California was however moving the ball slowly but steadily down field when it happened. Their first string quarterback on a rollout was hit clean but hard and sustained a knee injury. The coach looked to the bench, to his backup quarterback, a sophomore who had never played a down in regular season. The instructions were simple. Hand the ball to the full back. The next play was a pitch to the half back. The third play, hand the ball to the full back. The plan was to go into the locker room at half time still tied. Under no circumstances take a chance.
The first play went well, the fullback gained six yards and the ball was now on the opposing team’s 30-yard line. The second play, the halfback made it around the corner and the ball was on the 25 yard line. The young quarterback called the next play and noticed a shift in the defense. He called an audible and took the snap running around the corner toward the goal line only to be hit hard and fumble. The ball was picked up and ran back for a dramatic closing half time touch down by the opposing team.
In the locker room it was quiet. The young quarterback sat alone in the corner. Head down, a towel covering his head, he cried in silence and shame. He had let the team down. He was the cause of their losing.
The coach concluded his talk. The team walked out, all except the young quarterback. The coach walked over, put his hand on his shoulder and gently said, “Let’s go son.” The young man responded, “I can’t coach. I’ve embarrassed the team, the school, myself, and you. I can’t go back out there. You don’t need me out there after what I’ve done.” The coach looked him in the eye, and lovingly, yet firmly announced, “What do you mean, I don’t need or want you in the game. Son, I’ve given two years for my life for you. Let’s go out and play the second half like I know you can.”
They walked out together and the young quarterback matured quickly, played a great second half, and led his team to win the game.
I. Jesus reset their expectations (Acts 1:8).
A. Jesus reminded them of their mission, “To be witnesses.”
B. Jesus expanded their mission vision from local to global.
II. Jesus, via the Holy Spirit, reignited their spiritual passion (Acts 2:3).
A. The Holy Spirit rekindled their flame of spiritual passion for Jesus.
One of the great devotional writers said, “The main thing God asks for is our attention.”
In Psalms 50:15, we read this invitation, “Call on me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”
The history of the great renewals in the church portray this truth in full color. When people begin to call on God with insistence, God responds by coming in the presence of His Spirit and the result is a rekindled spiritual passion. A rekindled spiritual passion transforms the church which in turn penetrates into its culture to transform it.
One such modern example is the story of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church. In 1972 it was a church barely existing with approximately twenty people in attendance. They had a new pastor, Rev. Jim Cymbla. They started out desperate for God, knowing without God’s intervention the church would not survive. They committed to seeking God with an obedient and receptive will and spirit. They cried out for God’s help. Without Him there would be no second half.
God was faithful to His promise in Jeremiah 29:13, “Those who seek me will be found by Me.”
Today Brooklyn Tabernacle Church is reaching thousands each weekend in multiple services. They are transforming their city because the Holy Spirit has rekindled in them a spiritual passion for Jesus.
B. The Holy Spirit rekindled their missional passion to witness.
III. The disciples renewed their commitment to the kingdom team (Acts 2:14-46)
A. They went out boldly to face their world.
B. They went out together, united in purpose and mission.
To recapture the evangelistic momentum of the early church, we need a half-time Holy Spirit moment. We too must experience a “Pentecost preparation.” Jesus has invested his life for us. He has promised his life to us. We now must renew, relive and appropriate, the dynamic of the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses for our second half of the game.
The church can and will have a cultural, and global impact as Jesus promised in Acts 1:8, when we too experience the fresh empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
The church today must like the early church in their half-time meeting, reaffirm a commitment to witnessing, renew a relationship of faith, and earnestly ask for and receive the rekindled fire of spiritual passion that comes from God’s Holy Spirit anointing.
Jesus’ invitation to the church is to receive His promised anointing. To receive this we, like the early church, must earnestly seek Him. I invite you to join me in seeking the Holy Spirit’s anointing.