A New Chapter

Today’s Reading: Acts 1:1-13; Psalm 57 & 108

ANOTHER CHAPTER IS COMING TO AN END

Why does the summer always have to go by so fast? It seems like last week we were celebrating the end of the school year and now we are buying school supplies, scheduling physicals and loading up on goodies for sack lunches. It seems like yesterday my girls were in grade school and now two of the three are headed off to college. Is it just me or do our children grow up way too quick?

This morning the “memories” feature on Facebook popped on my newsfeed. No matter how busy I am, I am compelled to stop and look through those every time. I love looking to see what we were doing 1 year ago…3 years ago…7 years ago. But this feature is also a reminder that time is passing quickly and my girls are growing up.

There are so many things I miss about my girls being little but, at the same time, I am really enjoying life with three teenage daughters. I can look back and be thankful for those memories while also looking forward in anticipation of all God has for them. There is this inner conflict of wanting to keep them here by my side for the rest of their lives and delighting in the beauty of watching them spread their wings and fly.

In the first chapter of Acts, we see the disciples at a similar point in their lives. A chapter is coming to an end and a new chapter is beginning. They have just spent 40 days with the resurrected Christ, listening and learning from Him, gaining understanding on what His life was about, why He had to die and about what was to come. Now He is leaving them and they are caught between “straining to see him” and anticipating what He said He would be sending to them.

A NEW CHAPTER IS BEGINNING

In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit. During the forty days after his crucifixion, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.

Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”

He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”

Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, a distance of half a mile. When they arrived, they went to the upstairs room of the house where they were staying. – Acts 1:1-13

STRAINING TO SEE HIM AHEAD

As we wrap up another season of our lives, I pray each of us is able to take some time to look back and look forward. Let’s look back at all God has taught us, all the wonderful times mixed with all of the hard times. He has been faithful and He has been present. The evidence of His presence can be seen in a glance but, when we take the time to “strain to see him,” we recognize His hands and feet in even more ways than we initially remembered.

Then let’s look forward in anticipation of what this school year will hold for us. God has promises for each of us. “John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” In the same way that He spoke to His disciples, Jesus is speaking to us – this is what is behind you and this is what is coming. Here are the wonderful things I have done for you, but in a few days…

Precious Father, we thank you for your Presence in our lives this summer. You have been faithful and You have been generous with us. You have blessed us beyond our expectations and we praise You! Lord, today we sit at your feet and intentionally seek You as we near the end one chapter of our lives and begin a new one. Thank you for all you have done so far and thank You for all You plan to do for us in the future. We love you. Amen.

My heart is confident in you, O God;
my heart is confident.
No wonder I can sing your praises!
Wake up, my heart!
Wake up, O lyre and harp!
I will wake the dawn with my song.
I will thank you, Lord, among all the people.
I will sing your praises among the nations.
For your unfailing love is as high as the heavens.
Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens.
May your glory shine over all the earth.
– Psalm 57:7-11

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