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Wait For God's Time

Acts 1:4-8
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 baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.' Then they gathered round him and 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.' (NIVUK)

Waiting is often difficult, especially if we think we know what should be done and when. The disciples were excited and relieved that Jesus was alive again; surely He would now overthrow His enemies and become the King of Israel. They had small ambitions, to be senior officials in Jesus' government in Jerusalem. But Jesus knew God's master-plan; it was much bigger, would be achieved very differently and to a different timetable (Mathew 24:4-14).

God had always intended to make the benefits of Jesus' sacrifice for sins available to everybody in the world, as well as the Jews. Salvation would no longer be Israel's exclusive privilege (Isaiah 49:6). Everybody who believed in Jesus will be made children of God (John 1:12) and part of His kingdom – wherever they lived and irrespective of their tribal or religious background (Revelation 5:9). But for the message to go to every corner of the world, Jesus would physically step off the world and send His Holy Spirit to live within every believer (John 16:7). Wherever they went, the life of Jesus would go and they would announce Jesus as the Saviour of the world.

So the disciples had to wait for the Holy Spirit (who came seven weeks after the resurrection). In the same way that water covers and overwhelms the outside of a person at their baptism, so the Holy Spirit would overwhelm the believers' hearts so that He could live inside them - just as Jesus had lived alongside them (John 14:18-19). People would see that believers represented their Master in character, and the message of salvation would be available to many. After Pentecost, the Spirit-filled believers had to start where they were but soon they would spread out; God even used persecution to assist that migration (Acts 11:19-21). Today there are believers in every country of the world.

Some people are eager to get on with what they think is God's will, but they have not stopped to ask Him what He wants them to do, or when. Others are reluctant to do anything new. We cannot work with the Lord if we go ahead of Him or lag behind. But He does not keep us waiting in the dark. He has already given us His written Word and His Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth. Can we not trust Him to guide us and get the timing right? Is He not more concerned to use us than we are to be used? Ask to be filled again with the love and power of Jesus (Ephesians 5:15-18) – start where you are, at your home and your work – living out His love and telling out His truth. Wherever you go, your prime responsibility is to be His ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20); and you are not alone - He is with you (Matthew 28:20).

God of time and space. Thank You for Your master-plan of salvation which You communicate to the world by Your people. Forgive me for either rushing ahead of You or lagging behind You. Fill me again with Your Spirit so that I may rightly understand Your Word and be guided to be Jesus' ambassador where I live and work and travel. And help me to keep in step with Your Spirit. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams