Sermon notes for the video teaching – 05/21/2023
How many times have you been mesmerized by something, so captured by it that it was like you were in a trance?
The word “mesmerize” dates back to an 18th-century Austrian physician named Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815). He established a theory of illness that involved internal magnetic forces, which he called animal magnetism. (It would later be known as mesmerism.)
Mesmer believed that good physical and psychological health came from properly aligned magnetic forces; bad health, then, resulted from forces essentially being out of whack. He noticed a treatment that seemed to work particularly well in correcting these misaligned forces.
It involved giving his patients medications with high doses of iron and then moving magnets over their bodies (Goodwin, 1999). During these treatments, Mesmer’s patients would go into a trance-like state and emerge feeling better. He saw this as substantiating the success of his therapy.
Of course, the medical community eventually debunked Mesmer’s belief that this was some sort of medical power or treatment, but still, we can find ourselves today in a state of trance about some things.
Often, we may find that we don’t know how to break free of this trance state.
Imagine yourself on the shore of the lake with the disciples of Jesus when Jesus ascends into Heaven. Can you imagine standing there in a trance-like state, not being able to make yourself move?
Let’s read today’s Word and we’ll see where this leads us.
In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”Acts 1:1-11 ESV
Background of Acts
First off, this is the beginning of a new writing by Luke, a physician, and companion of the Apostle Paul. He is likely a gentile man, and his writing dates back to around 60 A.D.
He’s actually writing a letter to a friend, possibly a high-level Greek named, Theophilus.
He even mentions that this is his second book, referencing that he had already dealt with all that Jesus had said and done until His ascension. And in Acts 1 he begins there telling Theophilus of Jesus’s death and resurrection and His appearing during 40 days time to the disciples.
Within this letter, he tells the story of the beginning of the Church and his and Paul’s activities, along with the other disciples in these early days following Jesus’s ascension into heaven.
Jesus, tells the disciples before ascending, to stay in Jerusalem until they receive the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit will come upon them giving them power. And He says “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
So He says:
- “Stay where you’re at until you receive the Holy Spirit.”
- “You will receive power.”
- “Then you will be MY witnesses.”
- “To Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Luke then says that while Jesus was ascending into Heaven, the disciples watched and were left “gazing” into Heaven while He went.
I’ll call this their trance phase.
It isn’t until the two men appear next to them asking, “Why do you stand here looking into heaven?”
Notice, the men didn’t give the disciples any further direction, they just asked the disciples why they were still standing there. But the intent in their question was likely to get the attention, or to help the disciples “snap out of it.”
It’s like you telling someone to do something and when you go back to them a couple of minutes later their attention is still affixed on what they were doing when you gave them the task to do.
Like me hearing Allison ask me to do something but I sit there another minute or two to finish a segment of a TV show and she has to come back in and remind me. If she hadn’t come remind me, what might I have done?
I would have forgotten! I would have remained mesmerized, or in a trance focused on what I was into and not her needs.
Jesus Told Them
So without saying it, these two men, in their question, were reminding these entranced disciples, “He told you what to do, so get to it.”
If it weren’t for these men capturing the attention of the disciples, they might still be there today! Probably not.
However, it is true in our own Christian lives, that we too can become mesmerized with being in the faith to the point of not sharing, or doing the work of the faith.
We can get stuck in just trying to draw closer to Christ through knowledge, and trying to know more about Him, to the point of not actually living for Him.
Even the new believer can come to Christ for salvation and have this great desire to grow closer to Christ through delving into the bible.
There’s nothing wrong with these things either, as I too suggest these activities for new and old believers. We must be in the Word. We must know that it is an important part of growing in our faith.
However, we mustn’t get stuck there.
This was one of the problems of the Pharisees. They’d become obsessed with the Law, which in itself wasn’t bad, but to the point where they missed the relationship with God, the work of God in loving others and doing good works for others.
Their concern had become about not doing bad things to the extent of not doing the good works God had planned for them, and neglecting to do good deeds for the community of believers.
Before ascending to Heaven, Jesus told these disciples…
After they were to receive the Holy Spirit they would have work to do. They would be witnesses “to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
In essence, this was from their hometown, their home state, their nation, and to the rest of the world. And this is the same command, and way, you and I are to work towards spreading the Gospel.
WE Have Work To DO
Jesus doesn’t say, “Keep to yourself. Keep your faith silent, it’s just between you and me, no one else can know.”
No, He says GO! Do! Make and baptize disciples in the Great Commission as we looked at last week. In other words, “Be My witnesses, at home, in your community, in your city, in your state, and progressively support or make me known to the rest of the world.”
What’s God’s Will for My Life?
Many of us, at some point or another, are asking this very question. Of course, many of us are more concerned about our own everyday life than the “ultimate/non-specifically us-defined” purpose or will.
You’re not going to find your future mate or future career listed in God’s Word most likely. But you will find things such as the traits you should have and you should seek in your future mate, or your future career.
What you will also find are explicit commands in how you are to live, and how you are to serve the Lord, being a witness in all you do.
Listen to these words:
Matthew 28:19–20 ESV
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 5:16 ESV
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Romans 12:11 ESV
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
James 1:22 ESV
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
1 Peter 4:10 ESV
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.
The One Anothers
Love one another (John 13:34-35; John 15:12, 17; Romans 13:8; 1 Thessalonians 3:12; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:11, 23; 1 John 4:7, 11-12).
Serve one another (Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 4:10).
Bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).
Be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32).
Encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 10:24-25).
Pray for one another (James 5:16).
Submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21).
Forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13).
Build up one another (Romans 14:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:11).
Show hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9).
Bear with one another in love (Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:13).
Teach and admonish one another (Colossians 3:16).
Jesus teaches to care for and to do for the least of these…the poor, the lonely, the homeless, the outcast.
He says when we do these things we do them to Him.
What better witness is there than that?
When starting Innovate Church, doing what the Scripture say for us to do was to be the DNA of our church. We were, and are, to be in the world doing these commands Jesus has given us, making a difference in local communities as His witnesses.
Paul reminds us to carry each other’s burdens, to pray for one another, to share with one another, and not merely look after our own interests but to the interest of others.
And the Bible is so clear on so many other things, as Paul reminds us:
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.Ephesians 2:10 ESV
You Have a Purpose, You Have Work to Do
Every one of us, no matter our situation, no matter if we are homebound or free to go where ever we desire, has work to do. We have been given a purpose to live out.
Our purpose is to make Him known to the world by being His witness, by doing the works He commands in His Scriptures, to those nearest to us to those we may never see face to face on this side of eternity.
We cannot be a Holy huddle, we have to move out of the proverbial building, and into the streets and workplaces to spread the Gospel, to do good deeds, so that others may know and become part of the Kingdom of God as you and I are.
Let us hear the call of the two witnesses at Jesus’s ascension calling out to the disciples, “Why do you stand there looking to the heavens?” Go! Do! Make Him known. Be witnesses in all that you do, and do it with purpose.
Jesus will be returning soon. It may not be in my lifetime or yours but the truth is, as we see stated here to the disciples, He will come again.
When the Master returns He shall find His servants being about His work.