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Seventh Sunday of Easter: Acts 1:15- 17, 21-26; Psalm 1 (or Jeremiah 10:1-10a); Psalm 108; 1 John 5:9-13; John 17:6-19

Seventh Sunday of Easter: Acts 1:15- 17, 21-26; Psalm 1 (or Jeremiah 10:1-10a); Psalm 108; 1 John 5:9-13; John 17:6-19

We need the Holy Spirit.
We read, in John 7:39, that ‘the Spirit’ would not be ‘given’ until Jesus was ‘glorified’. Now, as Jesus was about to be ‘taken up... into heaven’, He tells His apostles, ‘the Holy Spirit’ will ‘come upon you’ (Acts 1:11, 8). He gives them His Word of promise: ‘I send the promise of my Father upon you’. He gives them His Word of command: ‘stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high’ (Luke 24:49). They wait upon the coming of the Holy Spirit. They cannot fill themselves with the Spirit. They can only ‘be filled with the Spirit’ (Ephesians 5:18). Waiting for the Spirit, the apostles ‘devote themselves to prayer’ (Acts 1:14). They do not earn the Holy Spirit as a reward for spending much time in prayer. Waiting on God, their strength is renewed as they receive God’s gift (Isaiah 40:31; Luke 11:13).

We need the Holy Scriptures.
The first Psalm contrasts two ways - the way of the Word and the way of the world, the way of blessing and the way of judgment. Encouraging us to build upon the solid foundation of God’s Word, the opening Psalm sets the tone for what is to follow. To whet your appetite for the Psalms, here are some early lessons: stability in the Lord (Psalm 1:1-2); service for the Lord (Psalm 2:11); salvation of the Lord (Psalm 3:8); sanctification from the Lord (Psalm 4:4-5); singing to the Lord (Psalm 8:4); strength in the Lord (Psalm 9:9). These are some of the blessings promised to those who ‘delight in the law of the Lord’ (Psalm 1-2). With a God like this - full of so much blessing for us - what else can we do but rejoice in Him?

We need to worship the holy God.
‘The Lord is the true God; He is the living God, the eternal King’ (Jeremiah 10:10). Can there ever be anything more important than worshipping the Lord? We know the answer as soon as we ask the question! Very often, our lives give a very different answer. We have taken our eyes off the Lord. We have forgotten that He is the true and living God. We sing the words, ‘O Lord, Thou art my God and King... Each day I rise, I will Thee bless...’- but they have a hollow ring about them! Here’s a prayer to help you to make a real commitment of your life to the Lord: ‘Teach me to live, day by day, in Your presence, Lord... Teach me to praise, day by day, in Your Spirit, Lord... Teach me to love, day by day, in Your power, Lord... Teach me to give, day by day, from my wealth, O Lord...’ (Church Hymnary, 346; Mission Praise, 627).

The holy God leads us in the way of holiness.
‘With God we shall gain the victory. He will trample down our enemies’ (Psalm 108:13). In ourselves, there is only defeat. We are no match for ‘our enemies’ - the world, the flesh and the devil. We are surrounded by the world - ‘The world is ever near. I see the sights that dazzle. The tempting sounds I hear’. We live with the constant problem of the flesh - ‘the storms of passion, the murmurs of self-will’(Church Hymnary, 434). Behind the world and the flesh, there is an even stronger enemy - the devil: ‘Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against... the spiritual forces of evil...’ (Ephesians 6:12). Our situation seems to be utterly hopeless. How can we possibly win the victory? The simple truth is: We cannot. There is, however, a deeper truth: God is with us - and ‘with God we shall win the victory’!

We walk in the way of holiness when we keep our eyes on Jesus Christ, our holy Saviour.
What a great blessing we receive through faith in Christ - ‘Every one who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God’ (1John 5:1). Our life as God’s children is not a life of tranquility. We face conflict, real conflict - a battle. In this spiritual warfare, we have God’s promise of victory. In 1 John 5:5, we have a question: ‘Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?’. The answer is contained in the question. Our victory is in Christ. We are not victorious because our faith is so strong that we couldn’t possibly fail. Many times, we fail. We take our eyes off Christ - and we are defeated. What are we to do? - when temptations seem to be so many and so powerful. When you feel so weak, let Christ be your Strength. ‘With Christ within, the fight we’ll win’.

As we walk in the way of holiness, we are supported by the powerful prayers of our holy Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Jesus prays for you. Jesus prays for me. We have come to faith in Him through the written Word of His apostles (John 17:20). The story of the Cross (John 17:1-5), the story of the first disciples (John 17:6-19) is an ongoing story. It continues in us. The saving effects of Christ’s death are still being felt today. The written Word of His apostles is still exerting its powerful influence on today’s world. Jesus is still praying for us (Hebrews 7:25). He prayed for His first disciples - ‘that they may be one’ (John 17:11). He prays the same prayer for us (John 17:20-23). Among His first disciples, there was Judas Iscariot, ‘the one who chose to be lost’ (John 17:12). If we are to ‘maintain the unity of the Spirit’, we must take account of ‘the Judas factor’ - ‘take notice of those who create dissensions... avoid them’ (Ephesians 4:3; Jude 4; 1 John 2:18-19; Romans 16:17-18).

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