The ten days between Ascension Day and Pentecost Sunday must have seemed endless to the disciples. They had been told by the Lord Jesus to “stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high” Luke 24 v 49. But they were not told how long they would have to wait. It would be “in a few days” Acts 1 v 5. Waiting can be hard work. It all depends on what you do while you are waiting. Doing nothing was an option; waiting around lazily, relaxing and letting time slip by. But that is not the sort of waiting the Lord had in mind. They were to wait expectantly. They were to prepare themselves for the great event. Pentecost was a great event. Ten days without Jesus; ten days without his voice and his touch; ten days without power; ten days that must have seemed like eternity. But then the day arrived. What were they doing during those ten days? After they had witnessed Jesus ascending into heaven, “they returned to Jerusalem…they went upstairs to the room where they were staying…they all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” Acts 1 v 12 – 14. When the Holy Spirit was finally given on that first Whit Sunday, they were ready to go out into the streets of Jerusalem and make the Good News known to everyone. They had prepared themselves in prayer and the Lord had given them the power of his Spirit to do the work effectively.
We have not been waiting ten days but ten weeks. Last Sunday was the tenth Lord’s Day our chapel and all others like it has been empty. We don’t know how many more weeks will be like this. But however long, let’s not simply allow time to pass us by. Let’s take the example of those early followers of Jesus. Let’s spend the time in expectation not only of a return to the chapel, but to the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst…something that we can be praying for.
Brief Devotional: Down Days
We all have “down days”; days when our spirit is low and our minds are filled with dark and troublesome thoughts. Charles Spurgeon knew all about such days. The Prince of Preachers in the Nineteenth Century, who was privileged to preach to thousands and saw a great revival in England, was often low. He wrote daily devotionals called “Morning and Evening”. His entry for May 22nd is helpful for those of us who find that some days are a struggle. Here is what he says:
A change in circumstances often leads the anxious believer to inquire “Why is it like this with me?” I looked for light, but lo, darkness came; for peace, but behold, trouble. I said in my heart, “My mountain stands firm; I shall never be moved. Lord, you hide your face, and I am troubled” Psalm 30 v 7. It was only yesterday that I could read my name clearly; today my signs are dimmed, and my hopes are clouded. Yesterday, I could climb to Pisgah’s top, and view the landscape, and rejoice with confidence in my future inheritance; today, my spirit has no hopes, but many fears; no joys, but much distress. Is this part of God’s plan with me? Can this be the way in which God would bring me to heaven? Yes, it can be. The eclipse of your faith, the darkness of your mind, the fainting of your hope, all these things are but parts of God’s method of making you ripe for the great inheritance upon which you shall soon enter. These trials are for the testing and strengthening of your faith–they are waves that wash you further upon the rock–they are winds which waft your ship the more swiftly towards the desired haven. According to David’s words, so it might be said of you, “He brought them to their desired haven.”Psalm 107 v 30. By honour and dishonour, by evil report and by good report, by plenty and by poverty, by joy and by distress, by persecution and by peace, by all these things is the life of your souls maintained, and by each of these you are helped on your way. Oh, think not, believer, that your sorrows are out of God’s plan; they are necessary parts of it. “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” Acts 14 v 22 Learn, then, even to “Count it all joy… when you meet trials of various kinds.” James 1 v 2.
There are valleys in the believer’s life as well as mountain tops. We must pass through these valleys on our way to glory. The Lord Jesus is with us in the valley just as much as on the mountain tops. He knows where to lead us for our good and to teach us lessons of faith hope and love. May he be with you today, especially if you are having a down day.
Brief Prayer Requests
1. This week is Spring Half Term Holiday for schools. That doesn’t mean much at the moment with schools still closed for most pupils. But let’s not forget that teachers have been working all through this lockdown, either at home or in school hubs looking after children of key workers. They have been keeping in touch with their class and setting work to be done at home. Shall we pray for teachers, parents and pupils this week that they may have time to relax and to enjoy the good weather, even if it is in their gardens? But pray that the Lord will bring to mind the many Bible lessons they have taught or received. Pray for a great harvest of souls amongst the younger generation.
2. Last week we prayed for Noddfa, Abersychan Their Pastor John Funnell has asked for prayer because thieves broke into the chapel last week and stole several very valuable musical instruments. I was in a Zoom Meeting (like so many of us at the moment) with John a few days ago and he told us that the local community has raised well over £1000 for them to replace the instruments. We thank the Lord for this.
3. We know that we can’t meet for Sunday worship at the moment, but there are many other meetings that are also suspended. Please remember the teenage girls who come on Monday Evenings, the over 60s who come to the Afternoon Tea, the Parents and Toddlers who attend Teeny Tots (some have had their babies, or are due to give birth in the next few months), and not forgetting our Sunday School children. We are reminded that our contact with them is only for a while and is subject to God’s will.
Finally, for those who are following the daily readings, here are the readings from this Wednesday
Wed 27th Psalm 80 Thursday 28th Psalm 81,82
Friday 29th Psalm 83,84 Saturday 30th Psalm 85
Sunday 31st Psalm 86,87 Mon. June 1st Psalm 88
Tuesday 2nd Psalm 89 Wed 3rd Psalm 90
Warmly yours in the Lord Your Pastor Jeremy 25th May 2020