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April 22

Acts 1:1-11

1 I wrote the first narrative, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach 2 until the day he was taken up, after he had given instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After he had suffered, he also presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. 4 While he was with them, he commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father’s promise. “Which,” he said, “you have heard me speak about; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit in a few days.” 6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 After he had said this, he was taken up as they were watching, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 While he was going, they were gazing into heaven, and suddenly two men in white clothes stood by them. 11 They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you have seen him going into heaven.” — Acts 1:1-11

What Have You Witnessed?

by Lauren O’Neill
Avenue South Campus

Have you ever assumed God would answer one of your prayers a certain way? Has the fulfillment of God’s promise in your life ever looked different than you expected? Sometimes the plan looks different than we thought it would, and often God desires to accomplish more in our lives than whatever we’ve anticipated.

When Jesus told His disciples to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the Father’s promise (v.5), none of them at first understood what He meant. They immediately assumed the baptism of the Holy Spirit would somehow entail the restoration of Israel.

For centuries, the Jews had waited and longed for it. And it wasn’t a bad thing to hope for—on the contrary, God had promised to do it! It was consistent with Jesus’ teachings, and they’d walked with Him for three years. He’d already fulfilled His promise to raise from the dead… so surely now He’d restore their beloved nation!

But it wasn’t time yet. The promise God was referring to in verse 5 actually encompassed much more than the restoration of Israel. God wanted every single soul on earth to hear the good news about Jesus first.

Just like the apostles, in many cases the things we long for aren’t wrong. We may long for good things like reconciliation within our families, repeal of sadistic laws, or healing from sickness. All those things are close to God’s heart, and He has promised to someday set all those things right in His perfect way and timing (Acts 3; Romans 12:19; Revelation 21). But the things we long for may be merely a shadow of what God longs to accomplish in the scope of eternity.

And sometimes the way He fulfills promises might look different than we expect. In verse 8, Jesus explained that the restoration of Israel would not yet take place—but rather, the disciples would receive power when the Holy Spirit came to them.

I can imagine their minds may have filled with endless questions. What kind of power would they have? Would the power help them restore Israel somehow? How would they know the Holy Spirit had come to them? Would they be physically changed somehow? What would it mean, to be Jesus’ witness? And then: “After He said this, He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid Him from their sight.”

What an overwhelming mantle of responsibility to place upon ordinary men! Yet it’s the same mantle we’re honored to carry today: to join the voice of His witnesses here on earth, and tell others what we have seen…

Tell them how much He loves them. Show them how He served. Express the joy He gives. Share the grace we’ve been given. Exhibit the peace His presence affords us. Reach out the way He reached for us. Offer hope when none can be found.

What have you witnessed?

Praxis

  1. Identify the main things that are heavy on your heart right now. What are the things you’re asking God for? What are the primary needs or longings you’re praying about?
  2. Scripture tells us to come boldly to God with our requests, if we are His children—and to take comfort in knowing He hears us and cares for us (Matthew 7:7; Philippians 4:6). If you haven’t already done that today, spend a couple minutes doing so right now.
  3. What have you witnessed? What have you seen God do in your life and the lives of those you love? Think about one specific way you can share the impact of that with another person today, and ask the Holy Spirit to give you power to do so!
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