I am continuing to read the book of Acts in a different way, and that is with the backdrop of our India trip in my mind as I ponder the events. In verses 6-11, I find some interesting thoughts in relationship to our upcoming trip.
Acts 1:6–11 — 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.”
Jesus had spent 3 years preaching the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. He had spent the last 40 days speaking to them about the Kingdom of God (1:3) and now they want to know if the Kingdom is going to be restored to Israel. How limited their view is of the Kingdom of God. How limited is our own view of God’s Kingdom? We Westerners may think that the Kingdom of God originated here and that we have the corner on God, His Word and all the “techniques” for growing God’s Kingdom. However, the Kingdom of God is not for a single group of people who are deemed as God’s favorites. In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus told his followers to make disciples of all nations (people groups), so the command is to carry God’s Kingdom into all areas of the world. One of the most exciting aspects of our India trip is the opportunity to carry the message of the Kingdom into an area that has never heard the gospel. We do not want to go into India with anything other than the gospel of the Kingdom and I believe we are the ones who will benefit the most as we experience hungry hearts that want to know our Jesus.
Secondly, after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, the disciples are seen “looking or gazing” into heaven. This reminded me of the rapture mentality often seen in the church, and the realization that much of the church has spent the past 2000 years gazing into heaven and has not moved out into the world to expand His Kingdom. Jesus directed His followers (Mt. 28 & Acts 1) to make disciples among all people and to be witnesses for Him. Just as Jesus was about His Father’s business, so are we to be about our Father’s business and that is to seek and disciple others. The responsibility of the church is to equip people to minister, not to entertain them during the weekly Sunday event called church and never affect the world around them.
As we go into India, we are there to love, disciple and equip. Lata says one of her greatest needs is to equip the pastors to take the message of the gospel back into the villages. This is a Biblical principle of multiplication and impartation where the pastors will take the single message they receive from us and multiply it many fold into the lives of the people of their villages. And equally important, the women and children need to see the love of God transcend culture and skin color. Thank God our team has hearts filled with the love of God.
In Acts 1:14, the disciples then left and gathered in Jerusalem with the others, 120 people total, and “devoted themselves to prayer.” The Greek Interlinear says they all joined together constantly in prayer. We must be devoted to prayer as we prepare for what God wants to do through us. During our prayer this past Saturday night, we agreed to fast and pray each Wednesday for our trip. Let’s follow this Biblical example as we depend upon God to empower us to do what He has called us to do. If you are close enough to join me at church on Wednesday’s from 12-1, do so and let’s pray together. Don’t forget Saturday night prayer as one of our focal points is Project India.