Acts 1 presents us with the disciples seeking determine Judas’ replacement in their number. Peter proposes a solution: They will pray and cast lots, leaving the decision in the hands of God. If you only read the Bible occasionally you will most likely question why the Church no longer practices this form of decision making. You may ask, “When was the last time we cast lost in this Church?” “Where are the lots kept for when they do get cast?” Or even, “What the heck is a LOT?”
This is the importance of reading the Bible properly. Any fool can find one passage of scripture and claim the Bible is not taken seriously because we pick and chose what it says. After all, we no longer stone disobedient children or adulterers (Deuteronomy 21-22). We no longer slaughter goats and sheep (Leviticus). We no longer condemn the braiding of hair and gold jewelry (1 Peter 3). So what gives?
When you read the Bible you have to ask, “What was the original author trying to convey?” When Luke writes the book of Acts, his purpose for writing (Luke and Acts) is found in the first few verses of Luke. He’s writing an orderly account for a friend (Theophilus) about the history of Jesus and His Church. The point of Luke’s writing is so that Theophilus (and we) “may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:4).
When you read past the disciples casting of lots in Acts 1 you will notice the practice disappears from the pages of Scripture after the Holy Spirit fills the Church in Acts 2. Paul, Peter, John, James and Jude never mention it again in their writings. What they repeatedly mention (especially Luke) is the practice of prayer in step with the leading of the Holy Spirit.
- Peter and John go to pray in the Temple. On the way Peter heals a lame man in the power of the Holy Spirit through the Name of Jesus in Acts 3.
- In Acts 8 The Early Church prays and the Holy Spirit empowers Samaritans with the same gift of tongues the Jewish believers received in Acts 2.
- Peter is in prayer when the Holy Spirit speaks to him about going to the house of a Gentile Roman Centurion to bring the Gospel to an unreached people group.
- The Church prays in Acts 13 and the Holy Spirit speaks to them about sending Paul and Barnabus on their first missionary journey all over Asia.
What Luke has done with the book of Acts is subtly illustrate a point: When you have the Holy Spirit, live in community with believers and pray – God speaks! Which teaches us a few things about decision making:
1. You should pray. Decisions shape your life. Not talking important decisions the One who made you is a horrible mistake. And if you cannot pray about it, you probably should not consider it.
2. You should belong to a Church that prays regularly. Every time prayer happens and the Holy Spirit speaks in Acts, its in community, not in isolation. Some decisions need to be made in a community of faith because they are that big. At Waters we pray for an hour before first Wednesday and we pray before our first Saturday Service, after our second Sunday Service and we offer prayer in the front at the end of every Weekend Service.
3. You should listen. The Holy Spirit is a Person. He’s not a gut feeling or a vague impression. He is not a force. He is personal and so He speaks. You develop ears to hear from Him in prayer in COMMUNITY. Because Holy Spirit is part of a Community (the Trinity) He will usually to speak to and through community (the Church).
Every once in a while a big decision comes along that you should not make in a hurry. Get together with believers, pray, and listen to the Holy Spirit. It could change everything.