Decisions, Decisions: Acts 1:15-26

[15] In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, [16] “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. [17] For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” [18] (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. [19] And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) [20] “For it is written in the Book of Psalms,

“‘May his camp become desolate
and let there be no one to dwell in it’;


“‘Let another take his office.’

[21] So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, [22] beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” [23] And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. [24] And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen [25] to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” [26] And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:15-26 ESV)


Both ease and disaster would befall us if we simply casted lots when installing leadership. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit has come and we do not need to resort to such a gamble. Last Sunday (02/01/2015) Veritas started a sermon series through Acts and I didn’t get to touch on verses 15-26. There are still a lot of lessons learned from Acts 1:15-26 and I want to make some quick applications from the text.

1- Be in Prayer (vs. 15)

The 120 + that were gathered there that day were saturating themselves in prayer. Notice that before Peter stood up to initiate Judas’ replacement the people were in prayer. Verse ll “these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” It was a priority to simply pray and wait for the Guidance and Helper to come.

Often times we make crummy decisions every day for the simple fact that we aren’t praying regularly. We are more like drive by prayers. When something is wrong, we pray. When we feel sick, we pray. Whenever we need something we pray. But how often do we steep ourselves in prayer, day in and day out even when it feels like we don’t need prayer.

But that isn’t what the scripture calls us to. We are called to “always to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1) or “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). The disciples and the other followers gathered together to pray because they new something big was about to happen. One of our problems with praying is that we don’t pray with anticipation. We forget or don’t think too much about what great things God is doing and will do so what we end up doing is popping our head out of our shell for a few minutes to ask God to do something for us and then it’s back in the shell again.

Be in Prayer!

2- Seek the scriptures (vs. 16, 20)

Now, I hope a lot of you are Bible people. You might be awful at prayer but you puff out your chest a little bit because this area you got down!

Peter stood up in the midst of their praying and proclaimed that the scriptures have to be fulfilled. In seeking the Bible they saw that it was important to God to replace Judas with another disciple. It was important to them to have 12. 12 wasn’t a magic number but probably because there were 120 people in their meeting they knew they needed to have another leader come into the leadership. So they found two that met the qualification.

It was very important in their decision to do it out of a need to fulfill what had been written beforehand.

We should spend more time seeking the scriptures to see what we should be doing!

I’ve always found that when making a decision the best answers are always found in the scriptures. As I often face various choices throughout life I find that the scripture is packed with similar, if not the same choices. People have been in similar situations and make good decisions or dumb ones.

So let us seek the scriptures as we seek to make proper decisions in life.

3- Pray about it! (v. 24-25)

As the disciples continued in prayer and saw in the scriptures the need to replace Judas it was time for them to move into praying more specifically for this situation. They put forward Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. Then they move into a time of prayer saying in verses 24 and 25, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.”

Both of these men were obviously qualified and the decision was not easy to make. So they sought the Lord in concerning their decision. They prayed through this choice because they knew that God was all knowing and all perfect and the next disciple had to be from God.

Have you ever had those church folks that when you asked them to do something simple or easy they responded, “Let me pray about it” and nothing ever gets done? Many times we use the famous “I’m praying about it” to get out of something, look more spiritual or because we can’t make up our mind.

When it comes to making an important decision let us do it with great humility like Nehemiah. Nehemiah was faced with the news that his city has been destroyed. He knew that God was tugging at his heart o do something about it so he “Prayed about it.” Saying, “As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” (1:4) Nehemiah humbly prayed to the Lord as he knew something had to be done about the city of Jerusalem.

When situations arise we should stop and pray about it. God desires to hear our concerns and we know that that drawing close to him in prayer blesses us in our decision.

4- Trust the Lord for your decision (v. 26)

Finally, We must trust the Lord for our decision. The disciples did this with a common method in those days—casting lots. Now this was the 11 deciding that they were going to head to Las Vegas for a night of “trusting God” but they genuinely wanted God to make the decision by, in essence putting the lot or dice in God’s hand.

The disciples wanted so deeply to make the right decision that they flipped a coin to see who would be in—knowing that God is the one who will make the coin land on one side or the other.

So, is this a pattern we should follow? When faced with an important decision should we toss the dice or flip that coin to see what we should do? No Way! Notice that there is not another instance in the rest of the scriptures where lots are cast. It would be wrong of us to flip a coin when it comes to making weighty decisions but instead God has given us a better method—the Holy Spirit.

It wasn’t long after the decision was made to replace Judas when Pentecost came in Acts 2. This was the arrival of the Holy Spirit and now we have been given the Spirit or our Helper. We don’t need dice, coins or tarot cards- we have the Spirit.

However, we can see from this text that we must be willing to let the coin fall wherever God desires it to fall. When we pray, seek the scriptures and pray again we have to trust that God is in control and our decision was what he desired.

by Pastor Nick Nye
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