Monday, April 09, 2012

the day after Easter

I love Easter. Sunday comes, and we are filled with joy. We delight in His amazing resurrection from the dead, and see it in a whole new light. It’s like the mountain top high of life in Jesus- we rejoice in His mercy, ready for life in Him!

Then Monday returns, along with coffee, and daily routines, and we wonder how to continue through life in the same joy we felt yesterday. How do we carry it into regular life?

Sometimes you have to wonder if that’s how the disciples must have felt after Jesus ascended into Heaven…

They had this great sorrow for three days and then amazing joy in His resurrection and return for 40 days. They were all ready… ready to be with Him, to live in His kingdom. And then they watched His ascension into Heaven…

I love this passage in Acts 1 that sets up the scene:
4 And while stayinga with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
9And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
Was that moment like the Monday after Easter where they wondered…what do we do next? And today, are we still standing here and gazing into Heaven, waiting for Jesus to come back?

What followed Jesus’ ascension was nothing short of amazing. We know the story of Acts, but it’s important to notice what happened before the Holy Spirit came.

In Acts 1, the disciples actually offer us an awesome practical example of what to do next:
12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 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. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
1. They obeyed His word.
He told them to go back to Jerusalem and wait for the Spirit back in verse 5 of chapter 1. After the angels got their attention, they went down the mountain back to Jerusalem. They listened to what He said.

What can we do? We can obey what He told us to do in His Word. To love one another. To share the truth. To show mercy. We can all do that today, in our own homes.

Love Jesus. Love your family. Love your enemies.

Love.

2. They stayed together in community.
The group that had seen Jesus rise again and ascend stayed together as a group, united in faith and in what they’d just experienced. They went back to the upper room and met together.

And this is so true for us- we can do the same as the body of Christ. We need each other- we saw the resurrection together yesterday, and we need to be together, to remind each other of what happened.

We need to live in community.

Practically, what could this mean? Call your sister in Christ. Facebook her to let her know you’re praying for her today. Invite a church family to your house this week. Stay together. We weren’t meant to do this life alone!

3. They prayed fervently.
They devoted themselves to prayer, waiting for what God was going to do. Jesus didn’t tell them every detail of what was to happen next. Like little children asking if we’re there yet, they wanted to know if He was restoring the kingdom right now.

But Jesus told them they weren’t to know that- only God did, but go and wait for power of the Holy Spirit.

Can you imagine what they thought when Jesus told them that it still wasn’t going to play out as they’d hoped? I can almost see myself being upset, thinking that after all these days and trials, it still wasn’t happening?

But it didn’t matter to them- they obeyed what He said to do, they stayed as one, and they prayed constantly.

And that’s such an important part of today. Pray fervently. Pray in your home. Pray together. When was the last time we just gathered as friends and fellow believers to pray together? Almost never, right?
What would happen if we did? Can you imagine?

It’s hard to picture what life could look like if we followed the example we have in Acts- it would be unlike anything we’ve experienced in regular life now. But it’s completely and totally possible for us.

Obey. Live in community. Pray like crazy.

And wait for the radical change of the Holy Spirit.

Because He’s coming. :)
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