2012 Prayer

"My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead. Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make ever effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus." Philippians 3: 10-12

Friday, May 25, 2012

Part 5--Waiting...

Resurrection—Now What?
It’s Friday and Memorial weekend has arrived.  The kids are ready for school to be out, teachers are REALLY ready for school to get out, and parents are beginning to fret as to what they are going to be doing with their kids all summer!!  I love summertime because it gives me the opportunity to catch up on things that don’t get done during the school year.  It allows me a time to relax and not have everything on a schedule.  It allows me time to spend with my family experiencing new things together. 

The time for Jesus’ earthly ministry had ended with His death and resurrection.  He had spent 40 days appearing to His disciples and followers and was now ready to ascend to take His place at His Father’s right hand.  Jesus left them with the words that He would never leave them as well as some final instructions.  Today we visit this period as we are preparing our hearts for the day of Pentecost on Sunday. 

“I wrote the first narrative, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day He was taken up, after He had given orders through the Holy Spirit to the apostles He had chosen.  After He had suffered, He also presented Himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during 40 days and speaking about the kingdom of God.  While He was together with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father’s promise.  ‘This,’ He said, ‘is what you heard from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy spirit not many days from now.’  So when they had come together, they asked Him, ‘Lord, are You restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?’  He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by His own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’  After He had said this, He was taken up as they were watching, and a cloud took Him out of their sight.  While He was going, they were gazing into heaven, and suddenly two men in white clothes stood by them.  They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven?  This Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you heaven seen Him going into heaven.’”Acts 1:1-11
“The 11 disciples traveled to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them.  When they saw Him, they worshiped, but some doubted.   Then Jesus came near and said to them, `All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.   Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”  Matthew 28:16-20
“Then He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.   And these signs will accompany those who believe: In My name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new languages; they will pick up snakes; if they should drink anything deadly, it will never harm them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will get well.  Then after speaking to them, the Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.  And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the accompanying signs.  Mark 16:15-20
Then He led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up His hands He blessed them.  And while He was blessing them, He left them and was carried up into heaven. After worshiping Him, they returned to Jerusalem with great joy.  And they were continually in the temple complex praising God.Luke 24:50-53
It is amazing to me when you begin to look at scripture as a whole, the undeniable unity of the Word of God.  All four passages speak to and/or confirm three things surrounding Jesus ascension. 
First, Jesus commands them to stay in Jerusalem (Acts 1:4).  This is confirmed in Luke 24:52).  Second, Jesus tells them they will receive the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:20, Mark 16:20, Acts 1:5).  Last, He tells them what is expected of them when they receive the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15, 20, Acts 1:8). 

Let us spend some time looking at how the disciples and His followers carried out Jesus’ command to stay in Jerusalem as well as the significance of His command to share the gospel. The day of Pentecost covers the receiving of the Holy Spirit. 

Waiting in Jerusalem
It is clear from the scriptures that Jesus wanted His followers to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit.  Jesus did not tell them how long they would have to wait.  They were just told to wait.  Have you ever been in this situation?  I have more times they I want to admit.  Waiting has never been my strongest quality.  As a child, I heard on multiple occasions from my dad, “Wait on the Lord.”  So what did they do while they were waiting? 

Luke tells us they praised God (Luke 24:50).  When we continue reading in Acts 1:12-26 we find out they were praying (Acts 1:14). These two qualities are of worthy note.  Scriptures teach us throughout that we are to pray and petition with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6).  So while we wait for whatever it is we are waiting to hear from the Lord, we should be in a spirit of prayer and praise.  However, there is one other thing the disciples do while they wait that we need to examine further and see if we too find ourselves in the same situation.
During these days Peter stood up among the brothers—the number of people who were together was about 120—and said: ‘Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled that the Holy Spirit through the mouth of David spoke in advance about Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.  For he was one of our number and was allotted a share in this ministry.’  Now this man acquired a field with his unrighteous wages. He fell headfirst and burst open in the middle, and all his insides spilled out.  This became known to all the residents of Jerusalem, so that in their own language that field is called Hakeldama (that is, Field of Blood).  For it is written in the Book of Psalms: Let his dwelling become desolate; let no one live in it; and Let someone else take his position.  Therefore, from among the men who have accompanied us during the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among usbeginning from the baptism of John until the day He was taken up from us—from among these, it is necessary that one become a witness with us of His resurrection.’  So they proposed two: Joseph, called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.  Then they prayed,  You, Lord, know the hearts of all; show which of these two You have chosen to take the place in this apostolic serviced that Judas left to go to his own place.’  Then they cast lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias. So he was numbered with the 11 apostles.”  Acts 1:12-26
Did you see yourself?  I saw Alicia.  Often times while I am waiting I pray and praise God.  But my impatience gets the best of me and I have to find something to do.  I try to make it spiritual and say it is for God, but deep down, I am stepping out of my faith in trusting in God for the answer and begin to work in my own strength.  The disciples seem to be doing the same.  Peter, while his motive was probably pure, stepped out of the waiting process and took matters into his own hands.  They replaced Judas through the Old Testament strength—casting lots instead of waiting for the Holy Spirit to be received in their lives and working in God’s strength.  Even though we as Christians have the power of the Holy Spirit within us, we often times choose to not use it and revert back to our own strength.  Herein lays many problems.  May we take heart today in waiting on the Lord through prayer and praise instead of in our own works.

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15).  Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age’” (Matthew 28:19-20).  “‘You will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’’  (Acts 1:8)

There is no doubt what Jesus wants His disciples and followers to do upon receiving the Holy Spirit—share it!!  Not just while we are in Sunday school class or at a bible study.  While we do need to share with other Christians the work God is doing in our lives, it is not to stay within the walls of the church. No!  It is to be spread to all of creation, to all nations, to the ends of the earth.  Sound intimidating?  It does to me.  Maybe that is why Jesus also tells His followers simultaneously they are not alone.  He is with us always, even to the end of the age!  Thank you Jesus!!

My Heart’s Prayer:  I exalt You, my God the King, and praise Your name forever and ever.  I will praise You every day; I will honor Your name forever and ever.  Yahweh is great and is highly praised; His greatness is unsearchable.  One generation will declare Your works to the next and will proclaim Your mighty acts.  I will speak of Your splendor and glorious majesty and Your wonderful works.  They will proclaim the power of Your awe-inspiring acts, and I will declare Your greatness.  They will give a testimony of Your great goodness and will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.  The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and great in faithful love.  The Lord is good to everyone; His compassion rests on all He has made.  All You have made will thank You, Lord; the godly will praise You.  They will speak of the glory of Your kingdom and will declare Your might, informing all people of Your mighty acts and of the glorious splendor of Yours kingdom.  Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; Your rule is for all generations. The Lord is faithful in all His words and gracious in all His actions.  The Lord helps all who fall; He raises up all who are oppressed.  All eyes look to You, and You give them their food at the proper time.  You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.  The Lord is righteous in all His ways and gracious in all His acts.  The Lord is near all who call out to Him, all who call out to Him with integrity.  He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him; He hears their cry for help and saves them.  The Lord guards all those who love Him, but He destroys all the wicked.  My mouth will declare Yahweh’s praise; let every living thing praise His holy name forever and ever.” (Psalm 145)

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