Daily Devotion for May 2, 2011
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Methodist Church Choir Aba, from Nigeria, singing a charming version of "I am Planting in My Garden".
Prayer for the Morning
I call upon you, O Lord. In the morning you hear me; in the morning I offer you my prayer, watching and waiting.
I lift my heart to you, O Lord, to be strengthened for this day. Be with me in all I do, my God; guide me in all my ways.
I will carry some burdens today; some trials will be mine. So I wait for your help, Lord, lest I stumble and fall.
I will do my work, Father, the work begun by your Son. He lives in me and I in him; may his work today be done.
Prayer to Live Christ's Word
Gracious God, Jesus is calling me to a new beginning; to a fresh call to discipleship. You are asking me to deny myself, take up my cross and follow you. It was at my baptism that you claimed me as your child.
Today, I affirm that I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. I surrender my will, my desires and my life to you, O God. I commit myself to your call to discipleship: to pray, study your Word, worship you, invite other people to a life of discipleship, encourage Christians in their life of faith, serve those in need, and give joyfully of the gifts that You first gave me. This I pray in Jesus’ name.
Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make me perfect in every good work to do his will, working in me that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
For whoever finds me finds life, And obtains favor from the Lord;
But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; All those who hate me love death.
Acts 1:4-11 (NKJV)
And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
Notes on the Scripture
The twelve apostles, being devout Jews, have not given up the idea that Christ came to restore the Kingdom of Israel. This shows how ingrained the concept of the Messiah was to the Jews; they had always been taught that the Messiah would be a Jewish Messiah, not the savior of the Gentiles as well. But when they ask if the day has arrived, Christ gently rebukes them on two accounts. The timing is not for them to know, but their purpose lies not simply in Israel, but to the end of the earth.
The end of the earth has two meanings. It refers to the fact that Christ's word will be spread over the entire planet. It also seems to indicate that Christ's word will live until the earth (or at least human life upon it) ceases to exist.
Christ notably dodges the question of whether the Kingdom of Israel will be restored by God. Christ does not discount the possibility. Some Christians believe that modern Israel — whose existence does seem near miraculous, given its history — might show the direct intervention of God; others do not. In fact, a few people view the modern nation of Israel as prophetic of the end of the world — but most think that this is going overboard.
The passage ends with an account of the Ascension. The two men in white might be angels, or they might be visions of Elijah and Moses, whom Mark, Luke and John all recount at the Transfiguration. They promise Christ's return “in like manner” as his ascension, a theme to be much elaborated in the Book of Revelation.