Monday Morning Devotion (Building the Kingdom)

In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. Acts 1:1-3 (NIV)

I will admit that the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts are favorites of mine. I see things in the ‘white spaces’ that come from Dr. Luke. In these three verses, Luke doesn’t just say “After his death” but he says that Jesus experienced “suffering” AND gave “convincing proofs that he was alive”. I see the physician in Luke testifying from his professional viewpoint that the lies of the Pharisees re: Jesus’ death and resurrection (that it didn’t really happen) are just that – lies! How awesome to use your God-given gifts to testify to the power of God! Often in my teaching, God reminds me of incidents in my nursing career where healing in body or in spirit occurred and could not be explained away with medical science. I LOVE it when God confounds the doctors and nurses!!!

I began this reading in Acts two weeks ago because I had a question: What worked in the early Church that we have forgotten or chosen to forget? What is holding us back? The last sentence of these three verses gives me some insight.

1) Jesus was welcome in their group. They wanted to SEE Him and so they spent time together, making Him the focus, and keeping their eyes up – looking for Jesus. When I come to worship, is it about me worshipping God (period) or about what worship can do for me? I have checked myself in the last few months and I am not satisfied with the focus of mind during worship. Too often it is about me asking God to bless me with something instead of “Entering His sanctuary with thanksgiving and praise” (Psalm 100:4) for ALL that He has already given me!!! I am a work in progress and my Lord is faithful and patient!

2) Jesus “spoke about the kingdom of God”. The Church was headed toward terrible, horrific persecution. Jesus knew that. Did He warn them about persecution? Did He tell them how to pray to avoid that? Did He show them an escape route for persecution? Did He tell them how they were going to financially prosper; God meeting all their wants? No. He spoke about His kingdom: how to BUILD it, how to LIVE it, and how to MAKE DISCIPLES in spite of the persecution! Jesus said that He came so I would have an abundant life – in Him. Are my eyes looking with ‘eternal vision’? Do I look at opportunities to serve Him with eternal consequences or am I stuck in ‘instance gratification’? Ouch. Jesus had little time left with His disciples and so He kept pointing them toward working for His Kingdom to grow now and receiving the eternal rewards later. Do I seek to know and understand more about God’s Kingdom? Does He call me a Kingdom Builder?

So when they met together, they 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 (NIV)

“GO, Jody!!! Don’t worry about ‘stuff’ that isn’t your business and you have no control over any way! You will receive all the power and gifts you need to equip you to do what I need you to do! Don’t just stand there enjoy what has been but TELL what has been and what is and look forward to what WILL BE!!!”

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