“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.”
God knows best. So trust Him. The end…
Of course there are comical connotations in the above statement, yet in reality, this should be our life statement. It really is as simple as that. God really does know best, so that is why we should trust Him.
Not only should we trust Him, but we should learn to distrust or rather not depend on our own understanding. In truth, that is probably harder than trusting God. We can trust God because we know that He is all powerful and sees all things and knows all things. But the difficult part is letting go, and letting God. We want to be in the driver’s seat of our lives, because although we know that God knows best, we still want to be in control.
It is like when we follow a satellite navigation route. We program it, follow its route, yet when we are led into a route or an unknown road that is not familiar, we tend to have less confidence in the GPS and start to take back control ourselves by not following the navigation’s instruction, which of course ends up causing us to become even more lost. It’s the same with our lives. When we try to take back control from God’s leading in our lives, we get even more lost and confused. We should simply put our trust in God, actively seek His will, seeking the next step, decision or words we should say, and let Him show us which path to take, what to do, and what to say.
We can have full confidence that God knows best. His plans for us are for good. Trust Him and see that He is good.
“..but someday He will return from Heaven in the same way you saw Him go!”
‘Men of Galilee.. why are you standing here staring into Heaven?’ Don’t we do the same too. When life gets tough, when there is hard decisions to make, we do the same right?! We stare into the Heavens, knowing that we are helpless to control our situations. When sportsmen make mistakes or scuff their shots, they look up to the Heavens in anguish and desperation. The reason we do this, is because we are naturally wired to be dependant on something that is higher than us.. GOD. When we look to the Heavens it is like we are asking for divine help from above because we know we in our own strength we cannot do it alone.
Here in today’s passage the disciples were too left gazing into Heaven, watching their Master, Teacher and Friend be taken up, probably too wondering were there help would come from now. Yet just as the Angels said and Jesus Himself said, He hasn’t left us! He is in our hearts. Furthermore, He will come back again to be with us physically. We may not always feel His presence, but HE IS WITH US. And He will come back again. Don’t loose hope. One day He will be back! All our pain and suffering will end. Yet know that through the storms here now, He is with YOU.
“But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Did you know that there is no-one too far out of the reach of the grace of Almighty God. His love reaches beyond our understanding, and His measure for who deserves His love and who doesn’t, goes far beyond our human limitations. In fact God wants all men and women everywhere to be saved. That is why it says in His word that ‘all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ That includes everyone. No matter where you are from, your gender, social class, age or the like, no-one is excluded from God’s love.
This was demonstrated on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out among the disciples and apostles. The writer of Acts goes into great detail, naming each province or area’s language that was being supernaturally spoken by those who had been filled with the Holy Spirit. The writer could have easily skipped this point, but he chose to leave this important information in, to highlight the fact that God wanted and wants to reach all people with His truth, irrespective of your nationality and so on. God’s love is for all people, everywhere.
““Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?” She thought He was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken Him away, tell me where you have put Him, and I will go and get Him.” “Mary!” Jesus said. She turned to Him and cried out, “Raboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”). . . . Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them His message.”
John 20:15-16, 18
Mary Magdalene was a wonderful woman. Healed of seven demons (Mark 16:9) and a regular supporter of Jesus ministry (Luke 8:2-3), she had the privilege of being the first person to see the resurrected King. When she went to the tomb, on the third day, after discovering that it had been opened and Jesus’ body was no longer there, she stood weeping in confusion and sorrow. The Man who had miraculously delivered her from demon possession, had just been crucified and now His body was not even in the tomb.
When Jesus appeared to Mary, at first she didn’t recognise Him. Yet when Jesus called her by name, just as He did when He called her to follow Him, she immediately recognised that it was her Master and Teacher. Mary knew the voice of kindness, love, mercy and victory. She knew that once she had been called by that voice, her life was never the same again. After seeing the resurrected Jesus, she immediately ran to find the other disciples and share the Good News of the resurrected King, her Raboni and Teacher.
We too can have the same response as Mary did. When we hear Jesus call our name, when we receive the restoring and regenerating work of Christ in our lives, when our lives become radically changed by the power of His love, our next action should be to go out and share about it, just as Mary did. She heard His voice and then ran to tell others about it. Have you heard Jesus call YOU? Then go and share the Good News that our King is not dead but alive.
“On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place.”
Do you ever wonder what the disciples and apostles were doing after Jesus’ ascension? Well, of course, the book of Acts tells us that they appointed a new apostle, Matthias, and met together as one. Wouldn’t it have been great to be a fly on the wall at one of their meetings? What were they talking about? What were they doing? What were they feeling?
Yet this simple, one verse, in the book of Acts, tells us exactly what they were doing. They were meeting, waiting and being obedient to what Jesus told them to do. Jesus told them in Acts 1:4 “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.” Of course, this was the baptism, empowerment and outpouring of the Holy Spirit. You may ask why is this significant? It is significant because it symbolises a deeper message. When God promises something to us, even if it is straight from the mouth of Jesus, we might need to wait before it comes to fruition.
The disciples could have easily been super zealous to spread the Gospel. They had their commission, and they saw the resurrected Jesus. What more did they need right? Yet Jesus knew best. Jesus knew that by being filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit, they would not only receive boldness to preach in the face of persecution, but the right words to speak at the right time, and most importantly, they wouldn’t be ministering in their own strength and power but through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
We too can sometimes receive a promise from God yet get discouraged when it doesn’t come to fruition. But just like the disciples and apostles modelled for us, there is great blessing in the waiting, and even more when His promise is fully fulfilled. Keep trusting through obedient waiting. God has great blessings coming your way!!
“So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking Him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our Kingdom?””
The first verses of the Book of Acts, boldly tell us that time and time again, after His resurrection, Jesus revealed Himself to His disciples, fellowshipped with them and even ate with them. Yet for some of the disciples, Jesus’ resurrection surely would mean that He would liberate the nation of Israel from the hand of Roman oppression. But Jesus’ liberation was not just limited to an earthly Kingdom but was for all people, in all parts of the world, from then and forevermore. His liberation was not limited to restoring earthly rule, but restoring people’s hearts back to God through the forgiveness of sins, bought by His own blood. This was the GOOD news that needed to be shared.
Jesus’ answer to the disciples was that they must wait for the Holy Spirit’s baptism and empowerment, so that they too may understand and participate in the sharing of this wonderful news. And indeed, after the disciples were baptised with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, they grasped that Jesus’ death and resurrection was for something more powerful and much bigger than the liberty of one nation. Jesus’ salvation was for all, everywhere.
Let us too not be limited in our thinking but think big. Trust Big. Pray big. And for so much more. We too can be filled with the same Holy Spirit so that we can be empowered to carry on sharing Jesus’ love and mercy to all nations. The time has come for Jesus to liberate all people.
“Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”
What an amazing truth this is. Jesus willingly laid down His life, not just someone who was upright, not just for good people, but for sinners, for people who may not even accept His sacrifice. What amazing love is that! It’s like we have been let off the hook for something we have clearly and blatantly done wrong, but don’t receive punishment for! We are forgiven, because Jesus chose to die for us at our worst to give us His best!
As you reflect upon this devotion today, think about what you have been saved from, and rejoice that it was while in that situation, moment, or wrong decision, that God gave His only Son for YOU. Rejoice that that is how much you are loved. Rejoice that God no longer identifies you with that wrong choice or action, but instead sees His resurrected Son standing in the place of your punishment and judgement. What grace! What Love!
““Teach new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.””
When Jesus was taken back up to Heaven, the disciples could have been disappointed once more, that their Messiah was again not with them. The first time He left they thought He was dead. And now, before their eyes, ‘He was taken up into a cloud… and they could no longer see Him.’ Yet instead of moping around in shock, disbelief and fear, they met together and prayed and within a few days church growth exploded coupled with the Holy Spirit’s baptism.
Jesus’ last words or ‘the Great Commission’ as it is better known, was not just a commission for a select few, but for all believers then and now. The commission hasn’t changed. We too are commanded to make disciples of Christ, spreading His Good News in love to all. And just as the disciples were empowered by the Holy Spirit’s anointing, so can we. We have a choice to make though. Do we continue looking to the clouds gazing hopelessly at Jesus’ ascension, or do we trust that just as He said, ‘Jesus is with us always, even to the end of the age.’ If Jesus is with us, and if we are empowered by the Holy Spirit, then let us not wait to share His Good News, but spread it with haste and purpose. Just as He promised, He is with us always.
“So Judas came straight to Jesus. “Greetings, Rabbi!” he exclaimed and gave him the kiss.”
Today’s verse tells us of the moment that the disciple Judas, betrayed Jesus with a kiss. One can only imagine what was going through Judas’ mind at that time. Of course scripture tells us that this was not a spontaneous idea but a premeditated action, previously arranged with the leading priests in exchange for thirty pieces of silver. We also know according to scripture, that Judas probably didn’t just act on his own, but allowed satan to influence his thoughts, and enter his mind. Yet the ‘not so talked about’ part of Judas’ life is the regret and remorse he had knowing that he had just betrayed an innocent man with the kiss of death. His remorse was so deep, that not only did he try to return the ‘blood’ money, but he also eventually hanged himself.
Friends, as we reflect on our lives, on the things that we have done wrong, even the actions we have done that may even blatantly deny Christ, know that there is still forgiveness for you. You don’t need to die in condemnation, because you can live in freedom from guilt and shame. Don’t let you actions lead you to hate yourself so much that you can’t live with what you have done. Jesus’ forgiveness was for all mankind, and His love reaches even the darkest places in our lives. Turn to Him. Repent of your sins and accept the renewing and restoring work of the blood of Christ, freely shed to wash you clean.
““Why are your hearts filled with doubt? Look at My hands. Look at My feet. You can see that it’s really Me. Touch Me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.””
If Jesus didn’t physically rise again in bodily form, why would we worship Him? It would be the biggest farce and cover up of all time. The Pharisees even tried to cover up Jesus’ physical resurrection, claiming that the disciples had somehow robbed the tomb in the middle of the night. Even to this day, there are many who do not believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus. However if Jesus didn’t rise again in the flesh, then His death on the cross would have been celebrated as a Martyr’s death and Jesus would be remembered as just a good leader.
Furthermore, His work would not be finished. He hung on the cross taking all our sins, and died in our place. But it is in His resurrection that we find forgiveness and freedom from our sins. Jesus demonstrated that the ultimate price of sin, death, was not only paid for, but defeated when He rose again. Jesus proved that sin, death (the result and punishment for sin), was overcome in His resurrected body. Death now is no longer the end but the beginning of a new life. Choose the Author of life. Have no fear. He is resurrected.