A Post Resurrection Temptation

The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

Following several resurrection appearances, Jesus gave a great promise to His people.  They were scared, frightened and had little sense of direction of what they should do.  His promise transformed a group of fearful followers into a fearless fellowship that went out to change the world!

That promise is recorded in Acts 1:6-8 when Jesus said, “And you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, then you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  That promise was that they would always have His power and His presence in everything they did.  It also contained the purpose for their continuation of His work as they became His witnesses.

But after making that promise, Jesus disappeared into a cloud, leaving them staring up into the sky after Him.  As they were straining their eyes for just another glimpse, two angels appeared and said, “Why are you standing here gazing at the sky?” (Read Acts 1: 9-12)

It was natural for Jesus’ followers to desire one more glimpse of Him.  They were probably hoping He would come back in a few minutes.  They were wondering if He had any other word to say to them.  They were standing there “sky gazing.” Then the angel told them to quit gazing and start going to fulfill the mission Jesus gave them.

It’s a lot easier to gaze into the sky than it is to go and fulfill God’s purpose.  Sky gazing is a pretty good pastime of the Church today.  It’s easy to sky gaze and talk about how things used to be.  It’s easier to discuss how Jesus disappeared.  It’s easier to debate some of the things that He said.  But in today’s world it’s time to stop sky gazing and start going about the mission that Jesus left for us to do!! (Tweet that!)

The book of Acts is named Acts of the Apostles because it is a record of how the apostles acted.  It’s not about how they thought positively or creatively – it is about how they acted.  They went out to witness and to serve.

It is easier to gaze than to go.  Sometimes our gazing takes the form of “God’s just going to do everything.”  If we think God is going to do everything while we do nothing that is not faith but spiritual stupidity.  We must know that God’s part we cannot do – and our part God will not do!

One of the old comedy routines of Bill Cosby was called “Noah’s Ark.”  There were two hippos that were being herded through the door of the Ark, and God said, “Wait a minute, Noah, both of those are male.  We need a female.”  This infuriated Noah.  He complained that it was difficult to turn a hippopotamus around in a boat, much less take him out and round up another one.  God said, “I don’t care. Get another hippo!”  Finally, Noah shouted in desperation, “Why don’t you just change one of them?”  God’s next words were, “Noah, how long can you tread water?”   Don’t ask God to do what He told you to do!

Sometimes we do our gazing in the form of procrastination.  It’s easy to put off a responsibility for another day.  I heard that Satan called a board meeting of leaders in hell.  He said, “We need to come up with a new strategy for causing havoc on earth.  Do you have any suggestions for a new means of reaching people for our side?”  One devil suggested telling people there is no Heaven.  Another had a better suggestion – tell people there is no hell.  Then the prize-winning suggestion that was judged to be most effective was – tell them there is no hurry.

The time is urgent.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “If Jesus returns tomorrow, then tomorrow I’ll rest from my labor.  But today I have work to do.”

Stop sky gazing and start going to accomplish God’s mission!



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