What Does God Want Me To Do? |06.16.24| Actions Speak Louder pt.1
Drew Williams   -  

Acts 1:1-11

Pastor Drew Williams


Have you ever wondered what God wants you to do with your life? I’m sure you have! I sure have!


Anyone that has faith in God has at one time or another asked that question, “What does God want me to do? …With my life? …With this opportunity? …With this decision?”


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And when I was growing up, I would wonder that and I would wish that I could just have a direct line to God so that I could ask him…AND get back an immediate answer in a way I could understand.


I wished I could just flip open the Bible, point my finger somewhere random, and get a message from God for my exact situation. Unfortunately, the few times I tried that, I ended up in some passage talking about not boiling goats in their mother’s milk or something about Babylon.


It was discouraging, because all I wanted to do was do the right thing. I wanted to do what God wanted me to do. Or, at least, I wanted permission from God to do the thing I wanted to do.


Because there was a part of me that knew there was a big purpose for my life. And not just MY life, either, EVERY life. I had read these stories and heard of other people experiencing these incredible things as they followed God.


Some people sacrificed everything and served God in remote countries. Some people trusted God against all odds and experienced business success beyond their wildest dreams. Some people lived quiet, content lives of loving and serving their family and neighbors. But they all seemed to have something I didn’t have: a sure sense that they were doing what God had called them to do.


And I wanted that.


Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever felt like you were doing what God had called you to do?! Even in the midst of adversity, you probably felt peace. You probably felt determination and trust.


But I’m sure there are other times when you aren’t sure what God is calling you to. If we’re honest, that’s probably how most of us feel a lot of the time, if we’re even asking that question.


That’s why we’re going to spend most of the summer looking at the book of Acts, because it tells the stories of the earliest Jesus followers who began to live out their journey after Jesus rose from the dead and sent them on mission and ascended into heaven.


No longer were they disciples who were following around their rabbi every day from village to village, watching what he did and listening to what he said. Now they were learning to follow God’s Spirit at work in them. Now they were learning how to take next steps in faith, even though they didn’t have Jesus in the flesh next to them any more.


Now they were experiencing life like every follower of Jesus has experienced since then…the same way WE experience it.



So let’s open our Bibles to the book of Acts, which can be found on p90 of the NT in the black, seat-back Bibles. The book of Acts is sometimes referred as the Acts of the Apostles, since it picks up with the stories of Jesus’ first followers after he dies and comes back to life and give them his mission.


And it follows their stories as they spread the good news of Jesus to people in Israel and all around it.


But it’s actually a bit of a misnomer to call it the Acts of the Apostles, because #1, that makes it seem like it’s talking about what Peter and James and Paul did FOR Jesus. And it’s easy to think, “That was them. I can’t do what they did.”


But it’s also not fully correct, because it actually is the story of what happens when Jesus sends his followers out with HIS spirit at work in them. So it might be better to call it the Actions of the Holy Spirit THROUGH normal people.


So, with that, let’s read together.


[ACTS 1:1-11]


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As we start this book, we realize it’s a letter. It’s written to someone named Theophilus by the apostle Luke. Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke (also sent to Theophilus) all about what Jesus BEGAN to do and teach.


Now he’s writing the sequel to that letter, showing what Jesus is CONTINUING to do through his Spirit at work in his followers.


[SLIDE 5] Luke 24:46b-49a

At the end of Luke, Jesus is quoted as showing his followers that the whole point of his ministry WASN’T to take power and rule, but it was to subvert the power of the world, to SERVE, to suffer die and rise again, SO THAT all people everywhere can be invited to repent, to turn from their way of life, to turn towards Jesus’ way of life, and be offered forgiveness.


And his followers are to be the witnesses, the messengers, filled with the Spirit of God.


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So Luke is picking up from there and reminding his reader of the fact that Jesus actually beat death. He came back to life. He PROVED it multiple times in multiple ways over the course of 40 days.


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Then he told them not to rush off and spread this news quite yet, because he had a defined plan with defined timing. They’re supposed to WAIT for the Holy Spirit.


They were all in Jerusalem for the big festival that Jesus was killed at. They had stuck around because they were afraid they would be arrested, too. Then Jesus came back, so they stuck around more. Now, Jesus is saying, keep waiting here in Jerusalem. Don’t go back to your “normal” life and activities. I’m inviting you into my journey now.


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And the disciples still don’t fully get it. They had watched him build a following, do miracles, teach incredible things about God, and they had thought his job was to kick out the oppressive leadership of Rome. They thought he was the savior of Israel who would make Israel great again.


Then he died. And their dreams were dashed. Then he came back to life, and they were SURE he would take power and lead Israel.


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But Jesus doesn’t even spend time correcting them. He had already explained that the “restoration” of Israel wasn’t going to be a restoration of POWER, but a restoration of their IDENTITY. They were originally called by God when he called Abraham.


God told Abraham, “you will be blessed to be a blessing.” That was the plan all along for God’s people. They get to join in with his work of blessing others and creating pockets of heaven on earth. Not by taking power, but by being used by God.


So Jesus simply says, “Stop worrying about that for now. God’s got it. It’s his timing.”


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YOUR job isn’t to think about whether I’m going to TAKE power. I’m not. I’m GIVING power…to you…to be witnesses. Not to re-seat Israel among the nations, but to be SENT among the nations so that you can point to me and the kingdom of God way of life.


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And we’ve got to pause here, because I think that it’s so reassuring that the first followers of Jesus were asking the same questions as us. However, I think it’s alarming that we are still asking the same questions as them, because it means we haven’t been taught to listen to what Jesus told them.


Those first disciples thought that Jesus was going to change things BACk to what they once were. They had heard the stories of the glory days of Israel. The stories of when Joshua and the armies took over the Promised Land.


The stories of the judges who protected the people from their enemies and maintained justice.


The stories of the first kings of Israel like David and Solomon, when Israel was powerful and rich and influential. The glory days, when life was better. When they were God’s chosen.


It sounds eerily like conversations we hear today, doesn’t it? Conversations about how our country has gone to hell in a handbasket. How it’s not like it used to be. It’s not like the glory days, when we had Christian values as a country.


It’s not like it used to be, when my neighbors believed the same thing I did. It’s not like it used to be, when family was important, when faith was important, when going to church was important.


Maybe you’ve heard people talk like that. Maybe you’ve talked like that. I know I have.


It’s natural to look BACK and think that maybe the better days are behind us, especially when our world is changing so rapidly. Change is always hard, and it doesn’t always seem to be for the better.


And that can be scary. Inflation is going up, and that’s scary because I wonder if it will every level out, or if I will ever be able to save up for those goals we have as a family, or if I will ever be able to feel margin in my budget again.


Politics is seemingly always angry and vengeful and shady, and that’s scary because I don’t know how that will affect my life, and I don’t know what kind of country we’re handing to our kids.


The values we held in our younger years seem to be at odds with the values of people today. That’s scary, because it seems like the way of life that we knew, whether that was from 50 years ago, or even 5 years ago, it’s different now.


So it’s sad. I’m sad sometimes. Because the things I care about, the way of life that is important to me, isn’t something that is shared with everyone. And I don’t want to get swept up in the frenetic race of life that is around us, where people seem to be elbowing each other for prominence, fighting over the little that’s available. I don’t want my kids swept into that.


So it’s natural to look to God and say, “What are you doing God? When are you coming back? When are you taking us BACK to the glory days?”


Maybe you’ve heard people talk like that before. Maybe you’ve talked like that yourself. I know I have.


But Jesus’s response to his disciples hasn’t changed in two thousand years. “It’s not your job to figure out how everything will work out. It’s not your role to worry about the whole picture. It’s not for you to know the times or periods that God has set.”


It’s your job to trust that God HAS set it. That God knows. That He has a plan. And that he is inviting you to participate in his plan.


Right here, right at the moment before Jesus ascends into heaven, he lays out the good news.


[SLIDE 11]

When we follow Jesus, we are given grace AND a job. That’s the good news. That’s the gospel. He gives us mercy AND marching orders. He gives us forgiveness AND a future.


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Some people think that the good news of Jesus is ONLY about grace or forgiveness. And we’ve heard this version of the good news, right? We’re taught that Jesus was to give you forgiveness for your sins, because your sin is separating you from God. But he died in your place, took the penalty of your guilt, and has traded his own righteousness for your sin. And now that he’s given you forgiveness, he has gone to prepare a place for you in heaven.


And that is all true! And it’s good. It’s good news! The focus is on Jesus and his work for us (which is absolutely Biblical and good), and the part that involves us is about heaven (which is a focus on LATER…someday).


But if that’s all that we believe about Jesus, then leaves open this big question mark in what we’re supposed to do now. What does God want me to do? How am I supposed to live now? What if I mess up again? Will I lose my spot in heaven?


And the more you read the Bible, you realize Jesus actually had a lot to say about how we live in the here and now, and so some other people have thought about and taught that the good news is that God was to restore the earth.


He’s working to renew all things, he’s coming back, and he’s bringing heaven to earth, and he expects US to be a part of that. We hear things like the commissioning that Jesus gives his disciples (I am sending you to be my witnesses). Or the one that Matthew wrote down (Go and make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to obey all that I’ve commanded).


Or they look at Old Testament passages about the Lord renewing the earth, and they take that as a mandate that we’re supposed to join in with that work.


And I’ve got to tell you, all that is absolutely true as well! God IS renewing creation, and he DOES invite us to participate with that work. But if all the focus is on OUR effort, that’s really heavy. People start to think that we just have to reach every people group on our own effort to trigger Jesus’ return. Or we think we have to work to get rid of pollution or social injustice in order to MAKE heaven on earth.


But the good news is that Jesus gives us grace AND a job. The good news that God is inviting us into is that he has FREED us from the penalty of sin and death. Jesus beat death. We’re not slaves any more…


AND… Jesus gives us his spirit to be working THROUGH us to reveal the kingdom of God, here and now. “You will be my witnesses,” “Go and make disciples, baptizing and teaching them to obey my way of life…” That’s a job we get to participate in NOW. Not to create something, but to point to the Creator and Savior. Not to fix the world on our own, but to point everyone we meet to the Healer who can.


And when we step into that journey of being transformed by Jesus, THAT’s actually the full, abundant, eternal life that Jesus offers to us…now AND forever with him in eternity.


The good news of Jesus is that our sins are forgiven, and that means we can participate in sharing that forgiveness with others.


The good news of Jesus is that we aren’t slaves to sin and death, and we now get to invite others into a life of freedom and following Jesus.


The good news of Jesus is that his grace is given for us, and we can now join him in a kingdom of God way of life. We GET to. Not by our own power, but because the spirit of God is in us.


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So what is your next step? Where is God inviting you to follow him more? Maybe you’re listening and you need to receive God’s grace for the first time, or for the first time in a long time. Maybe you’ve been trying to get things done on your own, or in your own time, and God is inviting you to just receive his grace, and his timing. Later in the service, come up during communion, receive the bread and wine, and go to the railing to pray. I’ll come pray with you if you want.


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What’s your next step? Maybe God is speaking to you right now about recommitting to a habit of reading scripture or prayer. Maybe you realize that you need that daily reconnection with his word to guide you each day.


What is God inviting you to do in response to what you’ve heard today? Maybe he’s prompting you to reach out and invite some people to come to church with you. Maybe he’s prompting you to share your story with people over coffee or food, maybe even at lunch today! Sharing a story of how God has been there for you as a way of being a witness to Jesus.


Maybe you sense that God has you in a season of waiting. That’s exactly where the first followers found themselves in our passage today. Jesus told them not to run right back to their normal activities, but to wait for him to give them his Spirit, and then they would be able to take that next step of following him.


One of the elders on our leadership team, Paul Chromek, shared something on Facebook this week that said, “If you’re in a season of waiting, then do what waiters do…serve others.”


Maybe God is putting someone on your heart right now that you can serve in a simple way.


Because the good news is that Jesus gives us grace AND a job. We GET to join in with him. So all of us have a next step that God is inviting us to take.


So maybe instead of asking “What does God want me to do?” we should instead pray, and ask God, “What are YOU doing? How can I join? Who can I tell?”


[SLIDE 15]

God is at work around us, sharing his love, renewing his creation, restoring relationships, and healing hearts. And he invites us to be a part of that plan. For some reason, he CHOOSES to work through us!


And so we GET to take small steps each day. We GET to join Jesus in his work around us. We GET to receive grace and share grace. Because we follow the one who beat death, who secured eternal life, and who is making all things new.


Isn’t that good news?