Scripture: Acts 1:12-15
(12) Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. (13) And when they had entered, they went up into the Upper Room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. (14) These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
There is nothing like walking in the favor of God. Without a shadow of doubt God's favor truly rest on my life. By favor I am referring to unmerited gifts bestowed upon me despite myself.
How else do you explain the opportunities afforded a young boy from Mississippi who grows up in California defying gang life, drugs and the various perils of society one day being invited to join a prestigious group of pastors, ministers and leaders on a visit to Jerusalem, the Mecca of Israel and many world religions?
While in Jerusalem I was favored with several highlights commencing with being baptized in the Jordan River. The thought of being baptized in the proximity of where John the Baptist baptized our Lord, and Savior Jesus Christ which caused the heavens to part at the thunderous voice of His Father declaring, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased (Matthew 3:17, KJV).”
I was also favored to visit what we refer to in the Western part of the world as the Wailing Wall, which ironically is called the Western Wall in Israel. Here, seeing a people so devoted to God and a lifestyle of prayer, tears began to flow down my face as a sign of submission to God's desire of such devotion from myself.
Then, I cannot overstate the feeling of favor that overcame me upon meeting a group of Ethiopian Jews who returned to their spiritual homeland on wings of an eagle fulfilling the prophetic words found in Isaiah 40:31.
Lastly, I know that favor rest upon me as it was my honor to deliver a word of encouragement in the Upper Room, the place of historical and Biblical events such as the washing of the disciples feet, post-resurrection appearance of Jesus unto His disciples, the gathering place of the disciples after the ascension of Jesus, and the election of Saint Matthias who replaced Judas Iscariot after his betrayal of the Messiah.
However, the Upper Room is most notably known for the Holy Spirit descending on the day of Pentecost according to Acts, chapters 1 and 2. Over two thousand years later and 7,569 miles away from home, one cannot help but wonder why God allowed me to travel not only to the Holy Land, but center me in the epic center of the foundation of Christianity.
And then it hit me, God disconnected me purposefully from my everyday surroundings, doings and schedules in order to renew, rejuvenate and reconnect me into the divine calling He has placed upon my life.
Matthew 14 informs us how even Jesus would disconnect from the crowd in order to gain renewed strength for the various tasks His Father had in store for Him. Hence, He withdrew unto an Upper Room setting.
Whenever we read of the term, ‘Upper Room,’ we should be reminded that God is disconnecting His people from the normal in order to renew, refresh and reconnect them to, with, and for a greater purpose. The Upper Room is also a place of elevation, exemption and equipping. Consider the following passages of scripture.
In II Kings 4:8-10, we read, “Now it happened one day that Elisha went to Shunem, where there was a notable woman, and she persuaded him to eat some food. So it was, as often as he passed by, he would turn in there to eat some food. And she said to her husband, “Look now, I know that this is a holy man of God, who passes by us regularly. Please, let us make a small Upper Room on the wall; and let us put a bed for him there, and a table and a chair and a lampstand; so it will be, whenever he comes to us, he can turn in there.”
In the New Testament passage of Mark 14:13-15, we find the following words: “And He sent out two of His disciples and said to them, ‘Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him. Wherever he goes in, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?’ Then he will show you a large Upper Room, furnished and prepared; there make ready for us.”
In both of these passages, the Upper Room, also referred to as a guest chamber, was furnished for the man of God, it was set-up and prepared that he might not be bogged down with such minuscule duties that would distract from his moments of disconnecting from all in order to be replenished for all.
Might I suggest that God has furnished and provided everything we need for where we are going in life. In fact, He has even set things up for where we are going so that we will not have to work as hard nor sweat as much moving and arranging things for our usage.
Lastly, God has prepared things for where we are going, but it mandates a disconnect first.
In Israel, we met military specialist Eliot Chordoff who informed us that at the age of eighteen, all youth, both men and women must report for service. The reporting is not optional, but mandated and is the normal expectation of all residents.
The young men and women are then enlisted into the army for a span of two to three years with the only exemption from the normal call of duty being to those pursuing studies at the university or within the rabbinical school.
Eliot remarked that in summation, “No one is excluded from the call, but some are exempt from the norm.” That powerful statement reminded me that whenever God summons us to the Upper Room, it is to remind us that while we are not excluded from the call of serving, we are exempt from a life of normal service in which God would require more of us as leaders.
I Peter 2:9 states this mandate likewise: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
In Acts 1:4, the disciples found themselves waiting on a promise, the promise that they would receive not just the Holy Spirit, but in fact power never seen before. In order to receive this power, they were disconnected from their surroundings and life of normalcy in order to be positioned for receipt of promise. The disconnect they would experience was ordained by God.
When we continue to read the second installment of Luke's writing, we discover in Acts 1:14 that before there can be fulfillment, there must be alignment as the text states, “They were gathered on one accord.” Until our will is in alignment with God's will, the fulfillment of the promise cannot descend.
Jesus understood this principle as He prayed in Matthew 26:39, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet, not as I will, but as you will.” He was getting in alignment with His Father's will.
On one accord, the disciples began to pray. We could unlock so many of the promises God has in store for us if we would remember that prayer is the key to our promises. In Matthew 6:5, we read the profound words, “And when you pray.”
The power of prayer and it being a key to unlocking God's promises for our lives is detailed again in II Kings 20:1-11 where King Hezekiah facing a death sentence, turned his face toward the wall and prayed for longevity of life. God answered his prayer much like He is waiting to answer our prayers.
Luke 18:1 declares, “Oh, that men might pray, and not faint.” When God's children humble themselves by bowing down in prayer, the promises of God will begin to fall down upon them.
I was reminded of this at the Wailing Wall. Men and women from all over the world rocking, reeling, bowing down and crying out in prayer, a prayer cry not of normalcy, but dependency upon God as a source for their every need and resource.
Gathered in the Upper Room (Acts 1), the disciples prayed and awaited God's promise of the Holy Spirit. It was in Acts 2 where the apostles, amongst a gathering of 120 again in the Upper Room, tarrying for the presence of God, disconnected from their day to day affairs of life, experienced the promise descending upon them.
The Upper Room is that place where and when we are willing to detach and disconnect from everyone and everything in order to go into His presence, power unlike anything ever previously witnessed comes down as promised by God.
The Upper Room is where we are reminded that if we truly want the promises of God, it mandates that we deviate from the average and a life of normalcy, remembering that everyone is called to service, but the chosen are exempt from a life of normality.
While in Jerusalem, I was face-timing a member back in the states when suddenly we experienced a disconnect. After waiting a while, I called and was reconnected to which the person replied, “Oh, that is so much better now.”
It occurred to me that when we are willing to disconnect from the jargons of life for a season to be alone with God, He refreshes, renews, replenishes, and restores us to the point such a light illuminates from us that all who would see must declare, “Oh, you are so much better now.”
That is indeed an Upper Room experience.