Water for the Thirsty
Weekly Devotional

Water for the Thirsty

Mission and Empowerment

Weekly Devotional

‘As the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you, O God’. (Psalm 42:1)
‘…Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink”…’ (John 7:37)

5th June 2011

As Jesus gives His farewell address before ascending into heaven He gives His disciples a mission and promises them assistance – the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit.

In the days before this farewell event, Jesus gave his disciples final instructions. But they still didn’t understand, even in the light of the resurrection, the full implications of his mission. They are still thinking in political and nationalistic terms, and so they ask: “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6)

Jesus gently reminds them, once again, that his mission, and our mission, is much broader than kicking the Romans out of Israel.

The message of Ascension is that we have received a commission to carry the good news that God is at work in the world, moving outward to the ends of the earth. We get to participate in this new act of God, beginning in our own back yard.

“…you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (V8)

And as we go forward we have the promise that the Spirit of God will come and bring the power and understanding so that this task can be accomplished.

“…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…” (V8)

The story of this going out of the Spirit fills the rest of the pages of the book of Acts, taking us all the way to Rome, where Paul bears witness to the message of Jesus in what was then the centre of the early Christian world.

But it doesn’t end there. As time wore on, the church discovered that the world is a lot larger than the borders of the Roman Empire, and so the job is not yet finished.

A future work beckons us.

It’s easy to pine for the days when Jesus walked on earth, teaching us the things of God, shepherding us so that we don’t get lost, but as tempting as this might be, that is not where our future lies.

The future lies with the empowering presence of the Spirit, who will guide us and support us, as we engage in the mission that God has set before us.

Luke tells us that as Jesus ascended the disciples “…were looking intently up into the sky as he was going…” (V10) They stare like a bunch of awestruck fans, not knowing what to do next.

They have a commission and instructions to wait for the Spirit, but they just get caught up in the wonder of the moment. Just at that point two angelic beings dressed in dazzling white break their trance, saying:

“Men of Galilee...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.” (V11)

These angels serve to remind us that we should keep focused on our calling.

Jesus may not be with us physically, but the Spirit has come upon us so that we can move ahead into the future, extending the kingdom of God, knowing that a time will come when Jesus will return again.

But, we can't get caught up in waiting for that day, because when we look out into our world, we discover that there are still people needing to hear the good news that God is gracious and merciful and seeking to renew a relationship with us through Jesus.

We are a church with a mission and with the empowerment we need. So let’s seek to be a church that is compassionate, serving, accepting, witnessing, spiritually joyful, and worshiping.

These are things we should be doing post Ascension, post Pentecost, and pre Christ’s Second Advent.

Have a good week living out your calling.

Pastor Barry

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