Today is the 41st day that we have been counting the omer.

Luke 24:49-53 (NLT), “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.” Then Jesus led them to Bethany, and lifting his hands to heaven, He blessed them. While He was blessing them, He left them and was taken up to heaven. So they worshiped Him and then returned to Jerusalem filled with great joy. And they spent all of their time in the temple, praising God.”

Acts 1:8-11 (NLT), “’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!’”

Jesus had done all He could do to ensure that the disciples were convinced beyond any possibility of a doubt that He was alive. He had meals with them; He continued to teach them about the Kingdom of Heaven. He connected the dots for them from the prophets and through all the writings found in the Old Testament. He proved to them that He was the Messiah and would return to be the King over all the world. He knew all the persecution that would follow. He knew who would be the first to die for proclaiming that Jesus is the Messiah. And, He already knew who will be the last to die for faith in Jesus. For 40 days, He worked diligently to confirm His Father’s truths to them. He knew that they would be put on the witness stand and would have to be convinced beyond convincing that what He had told them was true. And now, He was leaving.

He commanded them to return to Jerusalem and stay there until they were baptized by the Holy Spirit. He did not ask them if they wanted to do that. He commanded them to do it. According to Jesus, it was essential, not optional. He knew that despite the fact that He had just spent 40 days confirming and reconfirming, teaching and reteaching, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was the critical piece that would be required if they were going to ready to be put on the witness stand of the world. He knew that the methods that would be used to bring about their deaths would require the indwelling of the Holy Spirit if they were to stand firmly. So He commanded them to stay in Jerusalem.

If it was essential for them, it is essential for us. More believers are dying for their faith today than at any time throughout history. We in the United States have not been persecuted like those in the rest of the world. But as we come down to the end of this age, it would not surprise me if we begin to see terrible persecution. Will we be ready? Only through the power of the Holy Spirit will we be able to stand! This was His last command, the last thing on His mind before He left. We must not ignore this command. It is ESSENTIAL.

Pastor Ann

May 22, 2020