Well, we’re in Williamsburg, VA this evening, visiting Janet’s parents, and we are getting ready to head to our favorite resort, the Greenbrier, tomorrow. We left home on Thursday, spent the evening in Charlottesville, Va. and then finished the trek to Williamsburg on Friday morning. It’s been great spending the week-end here, as aside from the family relationships, this is one of my favorite cities in America.
The first time I visited Williamsburg was in 1966, when my father and mother brought our family here under the pretense of a family vacation when in fact my father had to visit a contact; and he tried to bundle the two agendas into one trip – I guess it worked. I remember going to Colonial Williamsburg for the first time and how enthralled I was with the whole set-up. Several years ago, Janet and I drove down Route 60 and actually found the motel I stayed in more than 45 years ago with Mom and Dad.
Williamsburg has changed throughout the years, and there are outlet malls, and Christmas shops, a Yankee Candle store and many other things to do, in addition to the wonderful historic district itself. In fact, it’s also the home of William and Mary, one of the schools that I had been encouraged to attend when I was in high school. Now, looking back, I wish I had considered it; but I never really did. I didn’t think my folks could afford it and Northwestern University was my first choice. I actually got accepted at Northwestern, but I didn’t go there either. But that’s another story….
One of the things that I have enjoyed throughout the years, in addition to Janet’s family, is the Williamsburg Community Chapel, the church that Janet and I always attend when we visit. We have watched it grow immensely over the years, and have been impressed with their God centered teaching and their intense love of people. We have enjoyed the teaching of the same senior pastor; and it was one of the first places, other than Grace Community Church, our home church, where we got involved in contemporary worship.
Anyway, we attended the 11:00 am service today and were treated to a wonderful message on the first eight verses of Acts. Apparently, the Chapel, as it is locally know, is dedicating the year to reaching beyond the physical walls of the church to promote missions work throughout the world. And when you really sit down and think about it, Jesus spent the 40 days following His resurrection and before His ascension, teaching the disciples about the Kingdom of God on earth. Now just think about that a minute. He taught His followers how to communicate the message and the method to use in delivering the Good News of the Kindgom of God. Of course, the message was one of everyone being able to have direct access to the God of the Universe, while enjoying the opportunity to accept the gift of eternal life as well. The method was what we refer to as the Great Commission – spreading the Gospel message to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the outermost reaches of the earth.
Bill Warrick, the Chapel’s Senior Pastor, taught that this was to be accomplished by “going” – that is, traveling across the world to spread the Good News. And this could only be accomplished by the disciples “coming” to be competently taught by Christ Himself – in other words, coming and then going. The remarkable part of this message is that the good doctor Luke was able to capture the essence of this mandate in the first 8 verses of the book of Acts. The same mission, carrying the same message by the same method is still the purpose of the church today.
But there is a part of the story that we don’t focus on very much. And that centers around the meaning of one word in the middle of verse 8. For Christ told the disciples that after His ascension, they should wait until they were baptized by the Holy Spirit; an event that would happen within several days. And when they were visited by the Holy Spirit, they would be endowed with power to fortify them on their journey. And it is this word “power” that it is so important to understand. Because, as you may have guessed by now, it is a Greek word, pronounced “dunamis” which has morphed into our English word for dynamite. That’s right – that explosive combination of products that, when put together in just the right proportions, causes an incredible release of energy that can be used for man’s benefit.
In fact, dynamite was invented and then patented by Alfred Nobel in 1867 – and as you undoubtedly know, the Nobel Prizes are an outgrowth of Nobel’s desire for the beneficial, rather than destructive, use of his invention. Technically, the Greek “dunamis” means to be “connected with power” and that is exactly what happened when the disciples were taught by Jesus Himself and then endowed by the Holy Spirit with “power.” The right ingredients were put together in exactly the right proportions, the formula created by God Himself, and as we all know, for the past two thousand years, we have experienced explosive results.
But the job isn’t finished – by a long shot. The population of the world continues to grow and we have a responsibility to continue to reach the “ends of the earth.” As you have undoubtedly already guessed, the verse for tonight is from Acts 1:8, the verse I have been referencing this evening. Dr. Luke tells us, after being visited by the Holy Spirit, the disciples, “shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
My encouragement this evening is that, as a follower of Jesus Christ, you have already been indwelt by the Holy Spirit; and that means that you have the same explosive power in you that the disciples had in them. And that’s great news for the rest of the world. Because it’s our job to be “witnesses” to those who don’t know the Savior and my prayer this evening is that God will nudge you into being a little better ambassador for Him this year – as you celebrate being connected with the power of the God of the Universe. Grace and peace……