devoting themselves to prayer

Acts 1:12-14 (NIV)

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All of these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

 

Wouldn’t you love to be a fly-on-the-wall? To hear their prayers?

To know what was on their hearts and on their minds.

Excitement? Curiosity? Apprehension?

Whatever it was they were lifting it all up to God through the risen (and now ascended) Christ.

Who was and is now seated at ‘the right hand of the Majesty on high, …’ (Heb 1:1).

Who was acting as their ‘… great high priest …’ (Heb 4:14) and interceding for them; indeed ‘… for us.’ (Rom 8:34)

The fact that they were devoting themselves to prayer sounds to me like it was a full-on, wholehearted, totally committed time of intercession.

And even though the circumstances surrounding these events are quite specific, it isn’t a big stretch to expect Christians to always be devoted to prayer. (Rom 12:12, NASB)

Kim+

prayer : please help me to be devoted to prayer

action : ‘… pray without ceasing, …’ (1Th 5:17)

[He] will come back

Acts 1:9-11 (NIV)

9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

 

When?

When will Jesus come back?

Good question. However, ‘[it] is not for [us] to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.’ (Acts 1:7)

We simply don’t need to know. (1Th 5:1)

Yet we remain prepared. For ‘the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.’ (1Th 5:2)

Think of it as actively waiting: as we witness. (Acts 1:8)

Kim+

prayer : thank you Lord that you will return

action : ‘… shine as [a light] in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.’ (Php 3:15b-16)

to the end of the earth

Acts 1:6-8 (ESV)

6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

 

No limits. Without borders.

As disciples of Christ we are called to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, …” (Matt 28:19 | emphasis added).

It’s no small task.

In fact it’s ridiculous to think that we can do it on our own.

Hence the need for God’s Holy Spirit. To teach us; guide us; strengthen us.

And the support & encouragement – the prayer & fellowship – of the church community.

As ‘witnesses’ we are to tell it like it is. No embellishments; no fancy language; no bells & whistles.

It’s the role of the Holy Spirit to convict people. He gets the credit for their conversion. He takes responsibility for how the message is received.

Yet we are still very much involved. It’s not enough to think about it or talk about it or even plan it.

We need to do it.

But what a blessed relief that God is in control. We can hand over to Him the hard stuff and simply get on with the task at hand: bearing ‘witness’.

Kim+

prayer : thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit; please give me the strength I need to witness

action : be ‘… prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, …’ (1Pe 3:15)

you will receive power

Acts 1:6-8 (ESV)

6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

 

We live in a world where many chase after the allure of power.

Yet it’s an illusion. A folly. ‘… [A] striving after wind.’ (Ecc 4:16)

It may last for a day; a week; a year. Perhaps even a lifetime. But with death will come the loss of all one’s power.

For it is God who has all the strength.

And we are called to ‘… ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!’ (Ps 96:7). That is, acknowledge that He is the one and only God (Ex 20:3); ‘… the Lord God Almighty, …’ (Rev 4:8).

And, recognise that we need His strength to sustain us and empower us. “‘… [The] Spirit helps us in our weakness.’ (Rom 8:26)

It’s this trusting completely in God and all that He provides that truly glorifies Him.

Kim+

prayer : thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit; please give me the strength I need to witness

action : ‘I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.’ (Isa 12:2)

wait for the promise

Acts 1:1-5 (ESV)

1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. 4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said,  “you heard from me; 5  for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

 

How easy it is for us to become impatient. I know I don’t enjoy waiting for something even when I’m assured it’s worth the wait.

But what could be more precious than the promise of the Holy Spirit?

For deep down we know that we cannot live God’s way without His help.

Thankfully that help comes in the form of the Holy Spirit. Given to all believers as a guarantee of our inheritance (Eph 1:13).

And, as followers of Christ, we need not wait for this wonderful gift. For we receive it as soon as we repent & believe.

Instead, we must patiently await the return of Christ (1Th 4:13).

Kim+

prayer : thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit; help me to be patient as I wait for your return, O Lord

action : ‘Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.’ (Rom 12:12)

God, have mercy on me, a sinner

Luke 18:9-14 (NIV)

9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

 

Many people, even Christians, think that to be ‘righteous’ (effectively ‘right before God’) involves doing the right thing. Keeping the commandments. Obeying the Law.

But this completely misses the point.

It’s because we are unable do good all of the time that Jesus paid the price for us. Stood in our place. Received the punishment we so justly deserve.

We are all sinners. Each and every one of us. (Romans 3:10)

Acknowledging this and asking for God’s forgiveness is our only path.

Trying to earn His merit is a futile endeavour. No matter what we do we will never be good enough. At least, not without Jesus.

It’s such a simple, pure concept of substitution that we find it hard to grasp.

We are reluctant to accept such generosity. Such grace. Such mercy.

Perhaps it’s about time you stopped struggling to pay an insurmountable debt and instead accepted the gift on offer: eternal life.

Kim+

prayer : that friends & family would discover the joy of faith

action : share the hope I have in Christ with family & friends

I have finished the race

2 Timothy 4:7 (ESV)

16 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

 

As a long-distance runner I have always loved Paul’s analogy of the Christian life.

A journey that is not a quick dash but rather a long-haul, pavement pounding, heart-wrenching, soul-enriching marathon.

One that takes plenty of preparation, planning, and bucket-loads of perseverance.

To be able to come to the end of my own days and say, like Paul, that despite everything life threw at me I still managed to keep the faith would be quite an achievement.

Yet it’s one I’m aiming for, training for, and hoping for.

Knowing that by Gods grace I will finish the race, and finish strong.

Kim+

prayer : help me to persevere, keeping the faith no matter what

action : encourage a fellow brother and | or sister in Christ to persevere