Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Promise—kept!

Holy Spirit as a Dove - Artist unknown
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Acts 1:1-11

TO CHEW ON: "And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem but to wait for the Promise of the Father, 'which,' He said, 'you have heard from Me.' " Acts 1:4

Here Jesus, in His last goodbyes to His disciples, gives them some explicit instructions . They are not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for the "Promise of the Father." What is this "Promise of the Father"?

[The word "promise" here is the Greek word epangalia. It refers to "both a promise and the thing promised, an announcement with a special sense of promise, pledge and offer" - Dick Mills, Word Wealth, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1516.]

In the next verse, Jesus tells them what this promise is: the Holy Spirit.

What sort of expectation does this raise in the disciples, who are familiar with the law, psalms and prophets (our Old Testament)? Here are some OT scriptures that may have come to their minds, and the expectations they raised:

Isaiah 32:15 - "Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field…" = Fruitfulness.

Isaiah 59:21 - "… this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you…" and the verse continues with a promise = Believing Generations.

Ezekiel 39:29 - "And I will not hide my face from them anymore for I shall have poured out My Spirit…" = a New Intimacy with God.

Joel 2:28 - "I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions" = Supernatural Insight and Communication.

Zechariah  12:10 - "And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication…" = a New Favor with Man and Power with God.

As we look at these OT promises, we see that every one of them is fulfilled at the coming of the Spirit on and beyond the day of Pentecost.

  • Fruitfulness: 3,000 people become believers after Peter's sermon that day and the church only keeps growing from there.
  • Believing Generations: The church that begins on the day of Pentecost continues till today.
  • A New Intimacy: Through the Spirit believers through the centuries have assurance of a vital connection to God as His children. Paul and John express this well in Romans 8:16; Galatians 4:6; and 1 John 4:13.
  • Supernatural Insight and Communication: Peter refers to the passage in Joel in his sermon, interpreting the coming of the Spirit as fulfillment of Joel's prophecy (Acts 1:16-21). The book of Acts continues with many examples of this: Acts 5:1-11; 8:14-23; 9:10-16; all of Acts 10.
  • Favor with People, Power with God: The early church has "favor with all the people" - Acts 2:47 and power when they pray - Acts 4:31.

The wonderful thing is that the same Holy Spirit is still available to us and working in and through Christ-followers all around the world. His presence and activity in our lives is still able to energize us and make us powerful and effective in these ways.

The question becomes: Are we making ourselves available to Him?

PRAYER: Dear Holy Spirit, all of You is available to me but I fear I often don't make all of myself available to You and so I stifle Your activity in my life. Help me to be better at giving myself to You for whatever You would do through me. Amen.

MORE: Ascension Day

Today the church celebrates the day Jesus ascended to heaven--Ascension Day. The day's liturgy begins with this collect:

Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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