Today’s Reading: Acts 1:8 (NIV)
8 [Jesus said,] “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.”
Lord, you really want me to be your living witness where?
This is a question that comes up daily in my personal devotion time with the Lord. Christ commands us to go make disciples of all the nations. That is one tall order for this short order cook! Being a person who finds herself directionally challenged, I struggle to unpack the specifics of this direct command.
I begin the process by trying to define where Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria are in my life. Jerusalem is the place where the disciples gathered, as they waited for the Holy Spirit power to come upon them. It was there they first saw the Lord, alive and well, after His crucifixion and burial. The disciples found the Upper Room in Jerusalem to be a holy place of refuge in a volatile social and political climate. This room had become their home away from home. My Jerusalem is definitely home; home with my family; home with my Faith family. It is the one place I can go and know that I will be loved unconditionally and without reservation. It is a safe oasis in a difficult social and economic climate. I can express my love for Christ freely, knowing that the people who surround me understand what I feel because they feel it too. I am called to be a living witness in my home, with my family, and at church, in the presence of my Faith family.
Judea takes the disciples out of their comfort zone and moves them out into the communities surrounding their home base. Moving into unknown territory can be frightening, especially when folks who do not share your enthusiasm or love for the Lord begin to judge you. How did the disciples convince people who did not yet know Jesus to believe in Him? They put themselves in harm’s way just to share Christ’s saving message outside the walls. The Holy Spirit equipped the disciples to go into Judea, standing on Christ’s Word alone. My Judea is the place where I work and study and live each day. It is the neighborhood where I reside. Jesus holds me personally responsible to share the Good News with the folks I meet, everywhere I go. This is where I need to improve my spiritual serve, knowing that I will surely face rejection, judgment and hostility from many. Am I willing to take Christ's message to the streets?
Samaritans were considered despicable by the Jews. They were the outcasts of all good society. Jesus had no problem hanging out with Samaritans. His love broke every social class, boundary, and cultural standard. Jesus was judged harshly for eating with tax collectors, healing lepers, and befriending Samaritans. Where is my Samaria? Is Christ calling me to go to the place I would rather not go to serve Him? Maybe I need to make a visit to the local bars in St. Charles. This is a very hard place for me to go, given my childhood upbringing. Nothing scares me more than an out-of-control drunk than a convicted felon. Maybe Christ wants me to take His Word into the prisons. Am I willing to walk through my Samaria and love as Christ loves me?
I realize that the Holy Spirit power is not manufactured in America. I cannot purchase it in any other country, for that matter. The Holy Spirit power is an amazing gift from the Father, given freely to all who believe and receive Jesus as Lord. When we believe with our hearts and confess with our lips that Jesus Christ is Lord of all, we ask by faith to receive the Holy Spirit power, and He pours it out over our lives. This power is the exact same power that the disciples carried with them throughout Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. He equips us to leave the creature comforts of our homes, our churches, and go outside the walls in ministry and service for His kingdom.
Where is Jesus Christ calling you to be His living witness today?
Grace and peace,
Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO
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