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Covid-19 Devotionals

The Commission on Ascension Day

Today’s walk was so much easier. No pain and it seems my time had either improved or I had not read it correctly yesterday. 11.68 minutes per kl. I wonder whether at my age I’ll even manage to achieve 10 minutes a kl?

Today is Ascension Day. This day comes 40 days after Jesus’ Resurrection and 10 days before Pentecost (The coming of the Holy Spirit as Jesus promised). This unique event is momentous, but it is part and parcel of God’s amazing rescue mission which started in the Garden of Eden and will be finally completed when we believers are together with God and each other in His glorious heavenly garden … paradise. There is much to happen before this materializes, some of which we find in Acts chapter 1.

Ac 1:6 So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

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.”

Like with many religious people of the day, the disciples anticipated the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel to its former glory. They wanted to be emancipated from the iron-fisted reign and control of the Roman Empire, its ruler and taxation system. They wanted the return of a “King David” as sovereign ruler to fight their wars, provide safety and security, create jobs, boost the economy and restore the non-existent Northern Kingdom to the Southern Kingdom as one united nation. That is the backdrop to verse 6’s question.

Maybe because of the use of the term ‘kingdom’, Jesus literal says something like … stop that talk. Kingdom restoration is not your business. That is the Father’s business. Don’t concern yourself with what is not your business … and then we have a ‘but’.

Ac 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

That is … your business is to get souls into the Kingdom through telling my Gospel story. I’m going back to heaven, but as promised, I will send the Holy Spirit. He will empower you to expand the gospel widely.

Interestingly, the word ‘power’ in Greek is the same as the word ‘dynamite’ in English. What is fascinating is that this power, this dynamite, is not destructive as we usually understand dynamite. In the coal mining industry, men are sent underground to drill deep holes into the rock face. After their shift, another crew comes along and puts dynamite into those holes. Then they wire up all the charges and once safely back on solid ground, someone remotely sets these charges off and the rock face explodes. Once it’s all settled, the next shift does the cleanup, sending the gold bearing rock to the surface to have the gold extracted. To obtain the gold, a destructive process takes place.

The Holy Spirit’s task is not destructive but rather constructive. He empowers the disciples (then and now) to fearlessly carry God’s message into unknown and dangerous places without fear because they are on the King’s mission. The Spirit not only gives power to go but power to speak. He helps us understand Gospel ingredients and helps us speak them with authority so that people hear and some believe and break out of darkness into spiritual light. And this mission is to be accomplished in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria … yes, even to the ends of the earth (meaning, all of the known world) … all at the same time. This work is ongoing … all at the same time.

Then, Jesus ascends into heaven and is now not seen. The disciples look at where He disappeared to and see nothing. They are dumbstruck … as if star gazing without seeing anything! Suddenly, two angels appear and speak to the disciples, saying, “men, get your act together. You are not going to see Jesus again until He returns (His second coming), so go and do what He told you to do! That is, return to Jerusalem and prepare yourself for the coming of the Holy Spirit through prayer” … and that is what they did!

It’s staggering that all too often we become dumbstruck. We star gaze … in place of doing constructive spiritual Kingdom work. Take prayer as an example … Kingdom work needs to be saturated in prayer, yet we don’t pray. When the disciples prayed continually in that upper room, the Spirit came in great power, and the results are seen in Acts 2.

Lord Jesus, help me not to become distracted and keep to the plan that works … the plan of prayer. Amen.

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