I’m writing these words in mid-January, and I feel like I should be saying, “Happy New Year”, but somehow that greeting doesn’t feel quite right today! No matter where you live in this world, none of us were exempt from trials in 2020, and for some of us 2021 seems all the more uncertain!
Though there is a lot going on around us that we can’t control, a very long time ago, eleven men were in a similar place. They were trying to sort out the events of the past and had no idea what to expect in the future. Jesus, their teacher and friend, had just been crucified. Can you imagine their sadness, loss, regret, and confusion? They had fully expected Jesus to deliver their people from the Romans. Instead of leading a mighty military move to drive them out, however, he died and left them alone!! Then, to make things more confusing, he appeared to the disciples and gave them some instructions:
He ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but rather to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “You heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.…But 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.” Acts 1:4-5, 8
The disciples fully expected Jesus to deliver their nation from the Romans. But he explained that he was going to bring his kingdom a different way - through them! God had an amazing plan for these illiterate, uneducated, men who deserted Jesus when he was arrested. But human flesh can never accomplish the works of God. They needed the Holy Spirit - and they got him!
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested[a] on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4)
After the Holy Spirit filled the disciples, Peter preached the gospel message for the first time, and about 3,000 souls came to believe in Christ. Now that could only have been accomplished through the power of the Spirit! And that was just the beginning. After Pentecost, the motley crew of disciples went out from Jerusalem and changed history. By the power fo the Spirit, they healed the sick, cast out demons, raised the dead, loved the unlovely, and saved the lost.
The kingdom of heaven was coming to earth.
In the same way, the Lord has not put us here to live in fear. He has given us all a job to do - to reflect the glory of God in the world and share his love with all who will receive it! But none of us can accomplish our highest calling without power from on high. We all need more of the Holy Spirit, and we can have more if we will do what the first disciples did - wait on God and pray!
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
Could you use some fresh strength today? Could you use fresh vision and direction from God? Then I encourage you to join me in pressing the pause button in your life and taking time to wait on the Lord. I felt this instruction so strongly in my spirit, that I just returned from a 3-day retreat with the Lord - just me, my Bible, a journal, a keyboard, and God. It was a powerful time. Not particularly “enjoyable”, but in the discomfort, I was able to hear the Lord’s voice more clearly. He showed me ares of sin in my heart that needed cleansing, wounds that needed healing, and thoughts that needed adjusting. I came away feeling lighter than before with clearer vision and fresh strength.
Yes, 2021 looks a bit foreboding at the moment, and I don’t think things will get easier any time soon. But if you and I take time to press into God and wait on Him, I know that He will renew our strength. Let’s dial down our distractions and spend more time reading the Word and listening to the Lord in prayer. Perhaps the God is calling you to fast television or social media for a time. Maybe waiting on him could include fasting one meal a day and spending that time praying and worshiping. Whatever it looks like - WAIT on the Lord, and He will fill you with the fresh power from heaven that you need to walk in victory this year….no matter what happens!