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

equipped for every good work

2 Timothy 3:17 (ESV)

16 … that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

 

It’s Scripture, God’s very breath, that helps us stay on the straight-and-narrow.

Guiding us like ‘a lamp to [our] feet
and a light to [our] path’ (Psalms 119:105).

Sometimes the instructions and commands are explicit, specific.

Other times it’s necessary to understand God’s will, His very nature, in order to find our way.

Like a cryptic crossword His purpose may not always be clear at first. It takes time and effort and persistence to come to a greater (if not complete) understanding of His intent.

But it’s well worth the effort. And His gentle prods and corrections are invaluable.

How else are we to do good work if we lack His guidance? And not just some but every good work.

Kim+

prayer : thank you LORD for teaching, reproofing, correcting and training me

action : help me to do good works

breathed out by God

2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV)

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…

 

What a wonderful image of the Word of God: His very breathe.

It brings to mind the beginning of time – when ‘the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters’ – just as God spoke and formed the universe (Genesis 1:2).

And as such we should never take His Word for granted. Never suppose to be above it. Never presume to fully understand it.

What we should do is seek to read it daily. Day & night.

Ponder it. Unravel it. Obey it.

Because it is the ultimate way we can know God’s mind.

His will. His grace. His love.

Kim+

prayer : thank you LORD for your Word

action : delight in and meditate on God’s ‘law’ day & night (Psalm 1:2)

the LORD will come in fire

Isaiah 66:15-16 (ESV)

15 “For behold, the LORD will come in fire,
and his chariots like the whirlwind,
to render his anger in fury,
and his rebuke with flames of fire.
16 For by fire will the LORD enter into judgment,
and by his sword, with all flesh;
and those slain by the LORD shall be many.”

I think we often forget that the LORD is a God of judgement as well as mercy.

And that His judgement will be harsh but fair (Romans 2:2).

Fire is considered a means of purification; a way of cleansing and refining. Like the process of melting down gold to separate the good bits from the bad bits and in so doing create a pure metal.

Because God hates sin, because He is angry with man’s ungodliness and unrighteousness (Romans 1:18), He will one day act to destroy those who sin: to ‘slay’ those who turn their back on Him.

In some ways it is a “fire & brimstone” message.

And we should all sit-up and take note of it. Because no one – not one of us – is guilt-free.

We have all – every last one of us – rejected God and “gone our own way” (Isaiah 53:6).

Yet that’s where Jesus comes into the picture …

Kim+

prayer : thank you LORD for your justice and mercy

action : confess my sin before God, repenting, and seeking His forgiveness and mercy

abstain from the passions of the flesh

1 Peter 2:11-12 (ESV)

11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

Abstaining from sinful desires is easier said than done.

Whatever our resolve, all know that we give into temptation. Why else would we need a saviour?

However, He too was tempted like us (Luke 4:1-13): to give into the hunger that gnawed deep inside (v.3); to reject God the Father and take what was rightfully His (v.7); to put God’s word to the ultimate test (v.9-11).

But He didn’t. He refused to be goaded by Satan. To be lulled by his empty promises and scheming deceptions.

Instead, Jesus Christ returned again and again to God’s word to sustain Him (v.4, 8 & 12). Putting His trust in God the Father alone. And not in the Prince of Lies.

Sadly, we are not nearly as strong. Yet it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to do the right thing.

So that our deeds may also ‘glorify God’. And in so doing, help others to repent & believe so that they in turn will ‘glorify God’.

Kim+

prayer : make me strong enough to withstand temptation yet humble enough to admit my sins and accept your forgiveness

action : during this time of Lent please help me to make a conscious effort to walk closer with you God and abstain from the passions of the flesh

now you have received mercy

1 Peter 2:9-10 (ESV)

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

How great it is to receive mercy.

The overwhelming relief. The love and gratitude we then feel in return.

How can we possibly repay our maker? What can we do in return for our redeemer?

Whatever it might be it can never be enough. The debt is too great.

Yet we’re told all our debts to God are forgiven. We are absolved of the need to repay Him.

Leaving us free to serve Him as we ought. With a clear conscience.

As one who is ‘chosen’. One of His ‘people’. Part of His ‘royal priesthood’.

Made ‘holy’ in His sight. And thus set apart for His good purposes.

In part, to show grace and mercy to others.

And what better way than by sharing our faith through ‘proclaiming’ His ‘excellencies’.

Kim+

prayer : may I fully appreciate the gift of ‘light’ and my rescue from ‘darkness’

action : help me to ‘proclaim’ boldly and faithfully