“Begin Again”: A Weekly Devotional for a New Year, Week 2

‘Then they gathered around Jesus 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.”’

Acts 1:6-8

Is there something you hope for in the future, that you would like to know about today? If you could press a button, and hear the answer, would you? I think I would. I might like to know what my children’s first jobs will be. Who they will marry. What the church I lead will be like five, ten, twenty years from now. Where my wife and I will travel, when we retire. There are, of course, things I would not like to know, even if I could “push a button”: The day of my own death, for example.

I think it’s natural to wonder – to want to know what’s out there, in the future, especially when it’s something we truly desire; something we think we need to know. If you had the God of the universe – Jesus – standing before you, and it really seemed like he was only going to be with you for a few more minutes, I bet you and I would feel like asking: “Hey, how is it going to go for us? What’s next?”

When we wonder what will happen, for good or for ill, we often have very specific hopes and dreams in mind. That was the case with the disciples who asked Jesus if now was the time when he would “restore the Kingdom to Israel”. That was, maybe, their greatest hope. And they probably had a detailed picture about that hope in their minds, imagining every part of what that kingdom would be like for them.

Jesus, of course, says that’s not for them to know. Why “of course”? The story of our lives – even the hopes and desires that drive our day to day lives – is not fundamentally in our hands – God wants us to live by faith, by trust in him. Only God knows the times, the dates when all these things will happen … or not. That’s hard, especially if you’ve lived through a season when something did not come to pass, either at all, or in the way that you hoped.

But… But if you have placed your trust – your life – in him, there is a better promise: You will receive him. No matter what happens, Jesus will be with you. You are promised the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Jesus Christ – that’s him! The Spirit is not something, someone less than Jesus. The power he promises, is he, himself in you, in your life. And it is power to do one thing that changes everything, including what you hope for: To become his witnesses, wherever you are.

You may have felt, recently, like you were on the verge of saying Yes to that promise: You heard a ‘voice’; you had a dream; you have a feeling that just won’t go away; you had a conversation – and one, or all of these, seem to be saying: “Learn to listen to Jesus, again.” Or: “Step out, and trust him, for the first time.”

I don’t think it’s an accident that you read this far, so please pray the prayer, below, and take the next step with Jesus, trusting that whatever he wants for you, is best. And that whatever he gives, when he gives it, will be more than enough, because he will be with you to lead you through it.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, come and live in me. Rearrange everything inside me, if you feel like that’s what you need to do. I want to have, what you want to give. I want to become, what you want me to be. So please, Lord, change me: My mind, my emotions, my home life, my work life, my family. Amen.

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