God's Call and His Protection
What jobs do you think God wants you to do?
Acts 1:15-17, 20a, 20c-26
"There has to be twelve of us," Simon Peter said. "Not thirteen, not eleven."
Andrew pressed his index finger against his mouth and shook his head. "You're right, brother. The number twelve means something is complete. There are twelve tribes of Israel. Jesus choose twelve apostles. There should be someone to replace Judas."
"Let's go talk to everyone here, then."
Again, Andrew shook his head.
About that time, a group of one hundred and twenty Christians gather together. Peter stood up among the believers and spoke. "Brothers, what the Bible said about Judas has to come true. Jesus chose him for this ministry. He was one of us. But, he led those people to Jesus so they could arrest him. The Holy Spirit has already spoken to us through the words of King David. The Psalms tell us, 'Let someone else take his place.' So, we need someone to join us as a witness to the Lord's resurrection. This should be someone who was with us the entire time, from the point Jesus arrived to the moment he left us. This person should have known Jesus from the early days with John the Baptist to the point God took Jesus from our sight."
They brought two men to stand before everyone. The first man was named Joseph, known as Barabbas. His name in Greek was Justus. The other man was called Matthias. They prayed, "Lord, you know people's hearts. Tell us which one of these men you chose to take his place in this ministry as an Apostle. He will replace Judas who left us and went his own way." They drew straws and Matthias won. From that point on, he was counted as one of the Twelve Apostles.
After the meeting, Matthias walked up to Simon and Andrew. "I'm honored to be with you. I mean I knew Jesus from just about the time you met him. I followed him. But he didn't call me like he called you. This is a real privilege."
Simon put his hand on the shoulder of Matthias. "He did call you, my friend. He called you when he called us. We didn't know it until we drew straws."
"I agree," Andrew said. "You were always meant to be one of us. This was God's will. Now you're an Apostle."
God gives us jobs to do. Some are small, some are large. He lets us know in different ways, usually through others. We might not draw straws to find out what he wants, we will find out one way or the other. Will we say "Yes" when he calls?
Who keeps you safe from mean people?
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and prayed:
Father, Holy One. Keep my followers safe with your power. Use the power you gave to me. Then my followers will be united, just like we are united. When I lived with my followers, I always kept them safe with the power you gave me. I guarded them from evil. None of them was lost, except for Judas, the lost son. In this way, the Bible saying came true.
Now I come to you, Father. I preached in public so my followers could share my joy to the fullest. I shared your words with them, but the world hates them. The world doesn't own them, just as the world doesn't own me. I don't ask you to take them out of the world, but I pray you will save them from the devil. The world doesn't own them, just as the world doesn't own me. Use your truth to make my followers your special people. Your words are the truth. I sent my followers into the world in the same way you sent me into the world. I promise to be your servant for their sake, so the truth will make them your special people.
Kaleb kept writing and erasing his mistakes on his arithmetic paper. Mrs. Ramirez leaned over Kaleb's desk.
"Kaleb, can you take this package to the office for me. Here's the hall pass."
Kaleb stared at his paper for a moment, then looked up at his teacher. "Oh..okay," he said. He took the package and the thin piece of wood that had "Hall Pass" written on it. He looked at his paper one more time and shrugged. He'd work the problem out later on.
Dustin sat at a desk next to the door. "Hey, Kaleb, don't get lost," Dustin whispered.
Kaleb smiled at this friend, turned, and walked out the door with the package.
Kaleb felt strange walking down the long corridor to the office. Kaleb first heard classroom activity in the distance, through the thick doors along the corridor; then he heard the sound of his own footsteps reflect off the hard surfaces of the hallway. During recess and lunch, the corridor was crowded and too, too noisy. Now, there was an eerie quiet.
Kaleb stopped and readjusted the package he carried. He was tempted to open it, but that thought passed quickly. When Kaleb passed old Mr. Drivett's class, he saw the teacher scowl at him through the glass in the classroom door. Kaleb flashed the Hall Pass at the teacher and moved on at a half trot. He turned, made his way down the stairs, then took a hard left. Yes, the school office. Kaleb balanced the package in one arm and opened the door with his other hand. The heavy door glided open slowly. He dropped the package on the counter and waited for the school secretary to notice him.
"Yes, what can I do for you," the secretary said. She peered at Kaleb over her half-moon glasses. Her thin lips drooped toward a frown. She was never known to smile.
"I have a package from Mrs. Ramirez." Kaleb stood there and waited for a reply.
The secretary gave him one more look over her glasses, then opened the package. She removed the brown paper only to find a gift wrapped in fine tissue paper. The card on the gift said, "Happy Birthday, Ms. Thompson." The secretary looked at the gift one more time, then glanced up at the ceiling and sniffed once.
Kaleb could see a tear roll down the face of the secretary. He looked down at the counter and saw the plaque with the secretary's name embossed on metal. He looked back up at the secretary and noticed the hard lines on her face had softened. "Happy Birthday, Ms. Thompson," Kaleb said with a smile.
She smiled back at him. "Thank you, dear." She took a tissue from the box and dabbed her right eye. "You'd better go back to class...wait." The secretary wrote a quick note and folded it in half. "Take this to Mrs. Ramirez, would you please?"
"Sure," Kaleb said.
On his way back, Kaleb stopped and opened the note. "Sarah, thank you for your kind gift. Signed, Terese. P.S. Thank you for sending it with that nice, young man." Kaleb smiled.
Mr. Drivett scowled through the glass in his door. Again, Kaleb flashed the Hall Pass at the grumpy teacher.
Mrs. Ramirez sent Kaleb on a mission and gave him protection with a hall pass. Jesus sent his followers on a mission and protected them with God's power. Unlike Kaleb, the Spirit didn't protect them from people who hated Jesus, but it did keep the devil away. While the followers of Jesus would suffer, they would not be defeated. Jesus dedicated himself to them. As he conquered evil and death, so would his followers. In the end, they would be happy, just like Jesus.
Jesus protects us in the same way. People may hate us and be mean to us, but we will be happy, because he loves us. This was his prayer to the Father for those who follow him. This is his prayer for us.
Pray for those people who hate you or are mean to you.