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Luke 24:44-53; Acts 1:6-11 May 30, 2015

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After his death and return, Jesus reminded his disciples that everything written about him in scriptures and prophesies had and would be fulfilled. He further told them that “repentance and forgiveness of sins” were to be proclaimed “to all nations”. They were to stay in Jerusalem and wait until they had been “clothed with power from on high”. They asked if this would be the time of Israel’s restoration and he said they could not know that. The Holy Spirit would come upon them and they were to be his witnesses. Then he led them out in the country and rose up into heaven.

After Jesus rose into heaven, “two men in white robes” asked the disciples why they stood staring up at heaven. It was time for people to get to work – and it still is!

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Ephesians 1:15-23 May 20, 2015

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Paul writes of his joy from knowing there are faithful new Christians in Ephesus. He writes of his prayers and hopes for them, that they grow in wisdom and enlightenment as they come to know Christ more and more.

James Harnish, this week’s devotional writer, comments on Paul’s run-on sentence prayer. It’s all his wishes and desires, like water gushing from a spring. He wonders if this might be what Paul meant when he wrote about the Spirit praying “with sighs too deep for words”.

Romans 8:22-27; Acts 1:1-5 May 19, 2015

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As we wait and hope for some sign or action from God, it is as though we are groaning with growing pains. We wait with some form of patience, but we still groan and push and strain, like a woman in labor anxious to see that new life.

Paul writes that the Spirit intercedes for us by translating what we can’t put into words. The Spirit is with and in us as our umbilical cord to God.

New life and God’s new ideas and actions are waiting for us to meet and bring to life!

John 17:6-19 May 17, 2015

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Jesus prayed to God before his arrest and crucifixion, thanking God for the people he was given to be his disciples. He speaks of past and future – of returning to God’s presence as before the world existed, of protecting these disciples who were God’s before meeting Jesus.

Having been taught by Jesus, he declares his disciples “do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.”

They will no longer do as much of society does, they will take the higher road and do and say what is right and just. For this, they (and all of us who follow)  will not be liked by many. In many cases, they will be hated and mistreated.  Jesus protected his disciples while he was with them. Now he asks our Father to protect and guide his followers; to sanctify them in the truth, as they are sent into the world to continue the work Jesus started.

Tricia Nowacki, this week’s Upper Room Disciplines devotion writer, notes that sanctification in various religious traditions generally sets the sanctified person apart for holiness. Closeness to God inevitably separates a person from worldly things.

Nowacki notes that this doesn’t mean we are to abandon the world. She reminds us that God lovingly created “the world” and so loved it that God chose to enter it and live as a human being. Not being of this world doesn’t mean to dislike or abandon the people, vegetation or creatures God created. The world’s “false idols” of great wealth and power, the concepts and ways of life that allow greed and violence and self-preservation above all else – these are the parts of “the world” that should be rejected.

Jesus indicates that the truth, God’s word, sanctifies – sets the believers apart from the world in service. They do not leave the world but receive divine protection as they operate in the world. We too are sanctified in God’s word – set apart – to do God’s work in the world.

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Psalm 1:1-3 May 16, 2015

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Following God’s laws over those of humans should delight us. We have a foundation we can live from, and then we are

like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither.

The devotion writer, Tricia Nowacki, notes this psalm refers to the instructions in the Torah but she refers to the greatest commandments Jesus taught. When we love God, neighbor, and self, we have a map that helps us in our living and relating to the world.

John 15:12-17 May 8, 2015

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Jesus commanded us to love one another just like he loves us. That means overlooking differences, forgiving slights, and serving, even sacrificing, for people other than ourselves and those closest to us.

How can we learn to sacrifice for others?  Look at firefighters for a clue. May I have that willingness to help people I don’t even know!