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"Taking Jesus to Heart"


Devotion
 
May 19, 2020
 
Acts 1:12-14 - Then they (the disciples) returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away. 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. All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and His brothers.
What a time this must have been! The shock of Jesus' resurrection had occurred only a few weeks earlier. (No doubt the disciples were still reeling from that!) Since then Jesus had spent time with His disciples, conversing with them, relaying priceless details on the kingdom of God and why all the things that had taken place were necessary. He also "presented Himself alive ... by many proofs" and told them to wait in Jerusalem for the coming "Baptism in the Holy Spirit" (see Acts 1:3-5).

After Jesus' ascension the disciples "were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and His brothers." With His departure, their beloved Rabbi, Teacher, and Friend was gone. While recent events showed God at work in a marvelous way, this still had to be a bittersweet time for the disciples. They so wanted to believe all Jesus had said and done. How they must have pressed their memories for details from His intimate talks with them, to hear again the truths He spoke about God's forgiveness and their need to love one another. But those conversations were gone.

With Jesus' departure, things were uncertain.

If you were there among Jesus' followers after His ascension, what do you think you would have done? What would have gotten you through that difficult period? Would Jesus' post-resurrection proofs have been enough to weather the storms that would follow? Would you cling to the Person whose words you had come to trust, whose life was now the model for yours, who gave Himself for your sins?

Or would the sneers and insults from an "I'm-not-buying-it" public chip away at your faith? Would the cold shoulders and little side comments (first from those you didn't know and then from those you did) start to grind you down until you, too, were scaling back your conversations about Jesus—even to your family and friends?

The disciples must have wondered: how do we keep the faith now that Jesus is gone? And what is this "Baptism in the Holy Spirit" all about?

Jesus had told them already at their last supper together. (He said) "But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness about Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning" (John 15:26-27).

It was a time for waiting patiently to see what God would do. It was a time for prayer. They would not be disappointed.

THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, strengthen us by Your Holy Spirit to stand firm in the faith when things appear uncertain and out of our control. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Paul Schreiber.

Reflection Questions:

1. When times are difficult and trying, does your prayer life change in any way?

2. What do think praying "with one accord" means? Would that have any special implication for Jesus' followers after His ascension?

3. Do you seek God's help when your faith is criticized or put down by others?
 
Today's Bible Readings: 2 Samuel 21-22    Psalms 18    John 6:22-40

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