Acts 1: 3-9 “After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’
So when they met together, they asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’
He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 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.’
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.”
There are two things that strike me about this passage. The first is how Jesus commands his disciples not to begin their ministry until they had received the “gift my father has promised” ….the Holy Spirit. Even though these men had given up their lives to follow Jesus, and had spent 3 years in intimate relationship with him, Jesus knew that would not be enough to carry the torch to the world. They could not begin this work on their own. They needed the Holy Spirit.
The second part that hits me is where he tells them they don’t need to know the date or time when Jesus will restore the kingdom…he just assures them they will have the Holy Spirit…which is power!!
That is such a great reality check for me. So many times in ministry, I get frustrated because it seems like my efforts don’t bear fruit…and my first thought is always, “How could I have handled this situation better? I should have said this….or that. How arrogant! The Holy Spirit can surely cover my human limitations. I was reminded of this last week when my friend Leo called.
I worked with Leo several years ago at my first pharmaceutical job, and Jon and I have kept in touch with him over the years. Leo is not a Christian. He is a very deep thinker…maybe a “spiritual type”? But at the same time very logical, and not willing to believe in anything that he could not touch, taste, and feel…though he did admit to me on one occasion that he really wished he could. The whole time I worked with Leo, I “worked on” him; always trying find ways to make Christ seem more appealing to him. Most of the conversations in which I was trying to “save him”, I usually walked away doubting my own faith and feeling confident in my lack of impact. I finally got to a point with him, that I thought enough was enough…so I sent him a book (Blue Like Jazz), and hoped that he would read it, and that Don Miller would be more persuasive than I was. That must’ve been 3 years ago.
He called me last week to tell me that he found himself watching some strange movie the other night….and the end of it, he learned the title was “Blue Like Jazz.” And even better….he told me that the next morning he walked out into his garage and opened the garage door. As the light started to flood in, a book buried under some beer cans and bags of fertilizer caught his eye. Guess which one?!!! So he decided to pick it up and move it to his reading room. Though I know that he still has not come to Christ, I feel strongly that this was the work of the Holy Spirit! And I don’t believe that He is done with Leo!
This reminds me that He is the one opening the hearts of people. I am only an instrument. But he doesn’t require me to do it perfectly, he just asks me to do it, and promises me that I don’t go alone. Thank you Holy Spirit! Halleleuia!