Wednesday, May 31, 2017



According to the Bible, the Jewish calendar and historical records, today is the Feast of Pentecost.

Many people imagine that Pentecost is a New Testament phenomenon referred to only once in the book of Acts, chapter 2. However, Pentecost is one of the seven Feasts that has taken place each year since the Children of Israel began their exodus from Egypt almost 3500 years ago. The Feast of Pentecost was a yearly observance for the Jews and they knew the exact day on which it would take place. Pentecost is the second most important of the top three Feasts of the year. The Feast of Pentecost was to be celebrated for one day. It was on that special day immediately following the ascension of Jesus that God planned and sent His Holy Spirit to rest upon and abide on the earth.

The purpose of God sending His Holy Spirit to the earth is so that He might anoint ordinary people with special power to do special things as a witness for Him. However, Acts 2 is not the first time we see the Holy Spirit of God active in the earth anointing and empowering people to do God’s work in a special way. The Holy Spirit is first introduced to us in the very first chapter of the Book of Genesis. The first three verses of the Bible introduce the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Genesis NKJV
1  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
2  The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

God does nothing without the anointing of the Holy Spirit covering His work. These first three verses of the Bible constitute the Gospel of Christ, the Anointed One. Anointed with what? Jesus, anointed with the Holy Spirit of God. We continue seeing the Holy Spirit prevalent throughout the Old Testament in the Torah, the Psalms and the Prophets.

Psalms 51:11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Numbers 11:25 Then the LORD came down in the cloud, and spoke to him, and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and placed the same upon the seventy elders; and it happened, when the Spirit rested upon them, that they prophesied, although they never did so again.

Judges 3:10 The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel. He went out to war, and the LORD delivered Cushan-Rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed over Cushan-Rishathaim.

Judges 11:29 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh, and passed through Mizpah of Gilead; and from Mizpah of Gilead he advanced toward the people of Ammon.

King Saul
1 Samuel 10
1  Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him and said: “Is it not because the LORD has anointed you commander over His inheritance?
6  “Then the Spirit of the LORD will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man.

Elijah and Elisha
2 Kings 2:9  And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.

Micah 3: 8  But truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the LORD, And of justice and might, To declare to Jacob his transgression And to Israel his sin.

The Rod and Branch
Isaiah 11
1  There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
2 The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.

The Elect Servant of the Lord
Isaiah 42: 1  “Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.

Jesus Baptized in Water and in the Holy Spirit
Luke 3
21  When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened.
22 And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”

Jesus Filled and Led by the Holy Spirit
Luke 4:1 Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.

Jesus’ Confession of His Anointing by the Holy Spirit
Luke 4
18  “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19  To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”

Peter’s Estimate of Jesus
Acts 10:38  “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.”

Cornelius and His Household
Acts 10
44   While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.
45  nd those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.
46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered,
47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”
48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.

The Prophet Joel
Joel 2
28  “And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions.
29  And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
30  “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke.
31  The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.
32  And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the LORD has said, Among the remnant whom the LORD calls.

Peter at the Feast Pentecost
Acts 2:16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

The Day of Pentecost
Acts 2
1  When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
3  Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.
4  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Zechariah 4:6  … “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” Says the LORD of hosts.

Sons of God
Romans 8:14  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

Disciples at Ephesus
Acts 19
1  And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples
2  he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”

·        So many times the Believer does not experience the fullness of God;
·        Because the Church does not teach the fullness of God;
·        Because the world does not understand the fullness of God … so neither do our children.

6  And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.

The Promise
Luke 24:49  “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”

The Gift
Acts 2
38  Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
39  “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

·        Acts 1:8 You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
·        You have not because you ask not. (James 4:2)
·        Luke 11:11-13 … how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!
·        Acts 8:14-17 Peter and John laid their hands on and prayed for born again and water baptized Believers in Samaria so that they might receive the Holy Spirit … and they did!
·        Acts 5:32  God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him.
·        Ephesians 5:18  And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not about speaking in tongues, prophesy, healing or greater faith … it’s an anointing of the of power to do pull down strongholds and do more for God. It does not make you better than others but it does make you a better you. The anointing of the Holy Spirit makes you better able to do whatever you are called to do in a greater way.

A Word about Tongues

Isaiah 28:11  For with stammering lips and another tongue He will speak to this people.

John 7:38  “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

1 Corinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.

1 Corinthians 14:18  I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all.

1 Corinthians 14:5  I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.

1 Corinthians 14:22  Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe.

1 Corinthians 14:23  Even so, if unbelievers or people who don’t understand these things come into your church meeting and hear everyone speaking in an unknown language, they will think you are crazy.

1 Corinthians 14:39  Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues.

The Holy Spirit is not an experience – rather – The Holy Spirit is God!

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is not all about speaking in tongues but rather about the anointing of God which releases power. From Genesis to Revelation, the Holy Spirit of God is consistently involved in the lives of ordinary men and women anointing the with a special power to do special things for God.
·        The world does not often understand the fullness of God;
·        The Church often does not teach the fullness of God;
·        The Believer often does not experience the fullness of God;
·        The lost are not often touched by the fullness of God.

The Holy Spirit desires to anoint each one of us with a greater power to reach the lost and accomplish the work and will of God. Open your heart and mind to the God possibilities. Perhaps it has been great … with God … life and ministry can always be greater. Be filled with the Holy Spirit!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

A Day to Remember

A memorial is a remembrance of someone who has died. In our nation, we understand that freedom and peace have a price. Freedom and peace costs us the lives of our sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors.
In honor of those who gave their lives in sacrifice for our freedom we have set aside a national day of remembrance, we call it Memorial Day, which we celebrate tomorrow, and this is Memorial Day Weekend. Everyone is encouraged to take a moment at 3 p.m. tomorrow and remember those brave souls who chose the course and served the cause, giving their lives in defense of our Nation’s decided best interests.
There are so many heroes in our past who served in one way or another to make America great. Men and women alike … those who sailed with and supported Columbus, families on the Mayflower, the colonialist who braved the elements of a new harsh world, those early pioneers and settlers of the west, men and women of science and medicine, those who brought the railways to connect the Atlantic with the Pacific, people like Lewis and Clarke, Henry Ford, the Wright Brothers and the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Jr., … so many educators and philanthropist, inventors and astronauts, homemakers and shipbuilders, factory workers and farmers … first responders across America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, a land filled with heroes.
Every day of the year could be a special day commemorating a different segment of our society for their unselfish and sacrificial contribution in making America great and leaving a legacy behind.
However, one class of citizen stands out on the front lines of our nation when we think of the heroes of our past, it’s the American Soldier. Memorial Day is about those who died defending us in war.
Bow your hearts with me as we remember these brave men and women in a prayer of thanksgiving to God for their service and their sacrifice.
John 15 NKJV
12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
One Sunday morning a father and his young son were sitting in church and the young lad noticed a plaque hanging on the wall with several names engraved on it. “What is that father?” the young man asked. It’s the names of all those who died in the service, the father replied. Which service was it, questioned the son, the 9 o’clock or the 11 o’clock.
In our 10:30am Service today we are going to honor 74 Sailors who lost their lives on June 2, 1969, serving on the USS Frank E. Evans, a Naval Destroyer, number 754. Our Church has purchased 100 folded flag necklaces through Point 27 from Shields of Strength, which we will be sending to the Gold Star families of these sailors who gave their all in defense of our nation’s decided bests interests.
There is nothing like the noble death of a family member or friend who has been lost in the line of duty whether military or first responder. Many have placed their lives on the line and returned home … some have not. We owe a debt of gratitude and thanks to them and to their families for the sacrifice made. May we never forget!
Let’s look again at our scriptures for today from John 15
John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
Three Lasting Truths
1.   If you want to be great you must become a servant.
2.   Life is not always a choice but, how we live is.
3.   God never forgets a sacrifice … nor should we!

May God bless America and the memory of her best and bravest sons and daughters who gave their all. And may we never forget the debt we owe our Heavenly Father for the sacrifice of His Only Son so that we might have a peace filled eternity when our work on earth is done. 

Lest We Forget


One of the greatest concerns known to man and shared by God is a concern that we might forget the price that was paid for us by others.

John 15:13  “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends."

Before we get to the heart of our message today it behooves us to realize where we stand in history, how we got here and where we will go from here. It’s Memorial Day weekend in the United States and this is an important week on God’s calendar in history.

1 Corinthians 15:46  However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.

There is a governing principle which allows us to observe eternal spiritual truths acted out in life. Even the very things of nature cry out concerning the truth. Just as seeds in good ground produce an expected harvest, so God’s Word laid in our lives produces an expected harvest. We most often see what God plans to do in eternity by observing what He has already done in the earth.

When God sent Moses to deliver the children of Israel from Egypt it was a both a revelation and a reminder of what God would later do to save people from their sin and bondage to this world. Moses was a type of Jesus and Egypt represented the World system to which people are enslaved. Pharaoh was a type of satan and the Land of Canaan which was promised to the Children of Israel represents heaven that awaits the followers of Christ. The wilderness experience parallels the period of time followers of Jesus live in this world after we have been saved and delivered from satan.

God continued revealing His eternal plan through each encounter and every step made by the Children of Israel. God instructed them to keep certain feasts each year at the set time He had established. Each feast was ordained by God to be a dress rehearsal for a coming event which would ultimately be fulfilled by the promised Messiah.

God gave strict instructions concerning how each Feast was to be observed. Every step reveals yet another piece to God’s master plan of redemption. Jesus will meticulously fulfill every tenant of each Feast in order to accomplish the plan of God and secure us for all eternity.

For example: Moses told the Children of Israel to take a lamb and sacrifice it in the afternoon on the day just before Passover began that evening at sundown. He further instructed them to take the blood of that lamb and cover their houses so that the angel of death would “Passover” them and all who were covered by the blood. Their journey to the Promise Land began that next day with the start of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

The Children of Israel were free from Pharaoh but found themselves trapped between the taunting enemies of their past and their bright new future by a body of water, the Red Sea. God parted the waters and the Children of Israel were all baptized the sea. Those same waters closed upon their enemies and shut their mouths to every claim they could make. It was in that type of water baptism that the enemies of those saved by God were drowned to be heard from never again.

The Children of Israel were saved, delivered, safe, secure, well fed and well led. Although they were on their way to the Promise Land, yet God had one more important stop for them along the way. He knew they needed greater direction and more confidence if they were going to go up against the giants that awaited them. God wanted to give them something which can only come through a dynamic personal spiritual encounter with the living God. So instead of going straight to the battle with the Canaanites, they were led first to the mountain of God, Mount Horeb.

It took about 40 days to reach Mount Horeb. On the 50th day after the day they began their journey God appeared to them at Mount Horeb. God had instructed them to count from the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Count 7 weeks, making 49 days, and on the 50th day they would observe the Feast of Weeks, as spoken of throughout the Old Testament, called the Feast of Pentecost in the New Testament.

It was on that day that the Holy Spirit of God descended on the Mount and appeared unto everyone with power and passion. There was thunder, lightning, smoke, fire and a voice from heaven. This instilled such great and respectful fear in the Children of Israel. On this mountain they received the Ten Commandments written by the finger of God.

These commandments, the New Testament reveals, are no longer written on stone but are rather written in our hearts and minds. The things experienced by the Children of God that day would be forever commemorated by the yearly Feast of Pentecost. The prophet Joel spoke of a day when God’s Spirit would be poured out on His servants. In Acts 2 Peter proclaimed that prophecy fulfilled through God sending His Holy Spirit accompanied by signs, wonders and miracles.

I have said all of that to say this – Today is the 47th Day since the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread this year. According to the Jewish calendar and the instructions of God, the Feast of Shavuot, or Pentecost, will take place this coming Wednesday beginning at Sundown. What a wonderful day for us to remember and celebrate God sending the Comforter and Guide on that day and the awesome power made available to every Believer to be a witness through this Pentecostal experience.

The Holy Spirit is not spooky and did not pass away. God still saves sinners, sanctifies them to Himself and fills with His Holy Spirit. He knows we need the awesome in order to deal with and conquer our enemies while we live in this worldly wilderness on our way to our Promise Land.

Now for today’s Memorial Day weekend message: Lest We Forget

Not long before they will go into the Promise Land, Moses reminds the Children of Israel concerning the need to remember how they have been blessed by God in the past and what it took to get them to this place.

Deuteronomy 4
7  “For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the LORD our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him?
8  “And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day?
9  “Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren,
10  “especially concerning the day you stood before the LORD your God in Horeb, when the LORD said to me, ‘Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.’
11  “Then you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the midst of heaven, with darkness, cloud, and thick darkness.
12  “And the LORD spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of the words, but saw no form; you only heard a voice.
13  “So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone.
14  “And the LORD commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that you might observe them in the land which you cross over to possess.

Today there is no nation under heaven which is so blessed by God greater than the United States of America. No nation has such laws which protect the innocent and punish the guilty. No nation enjoys a greater religious freedom or the rights to pursue life, liberty and happiness. We are one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. We hold certain truths to be self-evident among those truths is the equality of all men.

We are a nation by God’s design, formed by the Holy Spirit moving on the hearts of men and women. The seeds of democracy and the pledge of freedom for all men have been sown by us in the soil of nations all around the world. These seeds have been well watered by the blood, sweat and tears of American soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. We will never forget the price paid by those who laid down their lives so that we might live in peace.

May God bless America and the memory of her best and bravest sons and daughters who gave their all. And may we never forget the debt we owe our Heavenly Father for the sacrifice of His Only Son so that we might have a peace filled eternity when our work on earth is done.

I have but three closing questions for each one of you today:
1.  Are you saved?
2.  Are you right with God?
3.  Are you filled with His Holy Power to be a witness?

It is yours for the asking … ask and receive that your joy might be full when the times of refreshing shall come from the Lord. Let’s Pray …

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Great Power & Great Grace Continued … Part Two


Last week we discussed how that on the day Jesus was arrested, beaten and crucified, His closest followers went into hiding. They were confused and afraid. The disciples expected something completely different than the death of their Messiah. After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to the 11 several times and gave them to understand the plan of God and their part in the continued work of reaching and teaching the lost.

Over the initial 40 days after His resurrection Jesus appeared to more than 500 people and proved Himself alive from the dead with power and glory. When the time came for Jesus to ascend to His heaven and await the time of His second coming, He gave strict instructions to His disciples.

1.   Tarry in Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.
2.   Go into all the world, evangelize and equip others to continue the work of God until I come again.
3.   Powerful signs, wonders and miracles will accompany those who believe in Me.

While on earth Jesus told His disciples that He was with them but shortly He would live in them. Jesus spoke of the necessity for Him to go away so that the Father could send the Holy Spirit.

Note: We discussed what happened on the day of Pentecost.
·        People were visiting Jerusalem from all around the known world.
·        120 Believers who had been behind locked doors because they were afraid, lost their fear and with a new boldness came out of that upper room with power, speaking in tongues and glorifying God.
·        They themselves did not understand what they were saying but others visiting from many other countries understood perfectly. They heard them telling the wondrous works of God in a language native to that person’s country and culture.
·        3000 people were saved that day because they believed what they heard concerning Jesus.
·        Many of those new converts returned to their homes in other cities and countries and shared the Good News. This gave birth to Churches and initially fulfilled the Great Commission.

The Bible describes the actions of those early Believers and confirms the Four Pillars of the Church

Acts 2:42  And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
1.   Apostles Doctrine
2.   Fellowship
3.   Breaking of Bread
4.   Prayers

·        Things were going great for the Church as is often the case in the initial startup of a new congregation. Such excitement and expectation permeated the Church and it must have seemed as if it would never end.

Acts 3 begins with an account of Peter and John on their way to prayer about 3 o’clock in the afternoon one day. As they went into the Temple they encountered a man who was lame. The lame man was begging and asked them for money. Something different happened in Peter’s life that day than had happened at other times when he had passed by this man.

Acts 3:2  And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple;

Acts 4: 22  For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.

It is reasonably evident that Peter and John, along with the other Disciples and even Jesus Himself, had passed by this man many times. Yet this time is was different. Sometimes it is just different. We can’t control it but we do know it.

For example, Acts 19:11 says that God did special miracles at Ephesus through the Apostle Paul for a season. And, when these things were ended, according to a later verse in Acts 19, there arose in the heart of Paul to depart and go to another city.

There are special times and special seasons and specific unctions of the Holy Spirit. These moments are like a prodding, a word of wisdom or word of knowledge perhaps … at any rate it’s like: A powerful leading of the Holy Spirit within the heart of the Believer who is filled with the Power of God. This is that unction which grants the “Manifestation of Faith” spoken of by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12.

It is completely unexplainable but it is so powerful. When the Holy Spirit desires to manifest, for reasons that we cannot calculate and in ways we cannot fabricate, He moves us and shows and leads us by the Spirit to accomplish His will. This act of the Holy Spirit is often called “The Anointing of God”.

I have been praying for the sick, studying the word, sensing the leadership of the Holy Spirit and acting in faith ever since I received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in 1980. It was then and there I was filled with power to be a witness. I have seen miracles and received healings and watched God move through words of wisdom, prophecy, acts of faith and blind obedience to His Word. I’ve seen lives changed, people delivered from demons and curses reversed all in the mighty name of Jesus. However, in all I have seen in the Churches I have pastored, within my own family and around the world, I have never once been able to manufacture God or fabricate the moving of the Holy Spirit to fit my desires or at my will.

Faith cannot be reduced to a formula and God does not respond favorable to anyone pitching a fit. God is not only almighty, God is sovereign! He and He alone decides when to move and what He will do about any situation. Our part is simple. Philippians 4:19 says:
1.   Don’t worry about anything;
2.   Pray about everything;
3.   Tell God what we want;
4.   Thank Him for everything He does.

It never gets any more complicated than a child asking a loving father for something they want or need.

I don’t know all the factors that moved God to demonstrate His power that day in Acts 3 and to heal the lame beggar but I do know what moved Peter to have such faith … It was the fact that he had been baptized with the power of the Holy Ghost; he was prayed up; and he was ready when God called on him that day. We must also be prayed up, ready and willing in the day of God’s power! (Psalms 110:3; Matthew 17:21)

God responded both to and through Peter’s faith. And God will do the same through any believer who is operating under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. It is not by our might nor by our power but by the Spirit of the Lord and in the mighty name of Jesus! (Zechariah 4:6)

The people all imagined Peter and John had healed this man …

Acts 3
12 ¶  So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?

16  And (it was) His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

19  Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

“Just get right with God and turn your life over to Jesus and you will be given seasons of refreshing which come from the presence of the Lord” … presence of the Lord??? – talking about the Holy Spirit!!!

Acts 4
1 ¶  Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them,
2  being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
3  And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening.
4  However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.

There is nothing like a few healings mixed with a little persecution and good preaching to grow the Church …

13  Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.
14  And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.

Thankfully the Holy Spirit will never leave us without evidence of our faith. It baffles people when we believe the Word against the odds. But: Greater is He Who is in us than he who stands against us. What’s inside you is bigger than what’s in front of you. (1 John 4:4) So, when Peter and John were released from jail they immediately found the other Believers gathered together and reported everything to them. Let’s read:

Acts 4
23 ¶  And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.
24  So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them,
25  “who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things?
26  The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the LORD and against His Christ.’
27  “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together
28  “to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.
29  “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,
30  “by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”
31  And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
32 ¶  Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.
33  And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.

The great Power of the Holy Spirit was evident among those Believers in the early Church and that same Power is available to Believers in the Church today.

We have only one example of how Church should be. The New Testament is a snapshot of only 40 years, one generation. Those first 40 years of evangelism and discipleship were accomplished by simple, ordinary, often uneducated and illiterate followers of Christ who believed the message and opened their heart in prayer to be filled with the Power of the Holy Spirit. Then, they went gave witness of the resurrection of Jesus with great power and great grace was upon them all. Go and do likewise!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

When the Dust Settles


During the first year after God poured His Spirit out on Believers at Pentecost, things got a little crazy in Jerusalem. People were being healed by just the shadow of Peter touching them and large numbers of Jews were converting to Christianity. The Church was growing and the religious Jewish leaders were losing control. It was notably evident that these followers of Jesus had power and were gaining great popularity.

Acts 5
17 ¶  Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation,
18  and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison.
19  But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said,
20  “Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.”
21  And when they heard that, they entered the temple early in the morning and taught. But the high priest and those with him came and called the council together, with all the elders of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.
22  But when the officers came and did not find them in the prison, they returned and reported,
23  saying, “Indeed we found the prison shut securely, and the guards standing outside before the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside!”
24  Now when the high priest, the captain of the temple, and the chief priests heard these things, they wondered what the outcome would be.
25  So one came and told them, saying, “Look, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!”
26 ¶  Then the captain went with the officers and brought them without violence, for they feared the people, lest they should be stoned.
27  And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them,
28  saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!”
29  But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.
30  “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree.
31  “Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.
32  “And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
33  When they heard this, they were furious and plotted to kill them.
34  Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while.
35  And he said to them: “Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men.
36  “For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing.
37  “After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed.
38  “And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing;
39  “but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it — lest you even be found to fight against God.”
40  And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
41  So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.
42  And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

Peter and John were some characters to be reckoned with in those early days. They gave the established religious leaders fits. The High Priest and the Sanhedrin council in Jerusalem were enraged to see so much attention being poured out on these illiterate and unlearned leaders of this group of Believers in Jesus. Gamaliel, a well respected teacher of the law, gave good advice in Acts 5:39: “If this is not from God it will simply fade away in time and if it is of God, you don’t want to be found fighting against God!”

Meanwhile people were being healed and the numbers of converts to Christ were growing daily. Unexplainable miracles were commonplace and undeniable. There was such a rush of opposing passions in Jerusalem and God kept growing the Church in numbers and strength.  

Fast forward about 60 years to about AD90 - a lot had happened:
·        The Roman government had taken over the persecution of these Christians as a national affair. (AD64)
·        These Apostles which had been so exalted among the people and of whom the High Priest had complained had all been martyred for their faith. They died in various ways and in many countries spreading the Gospel … all that is except one … the Apostle John.
·        Not only were the initial leaders and followers of Christianity disbursed or dead and off the scene but also Jerusalem had been overrun by the Romans; the Temple had been destroyed, (AD70); the Jews taken captive and now there were no complaints and no complainers. The dust had settled a bit.
·        All of those things which were such irritants and so controversial in Acts 5 were now far from the thoughts or concerns of anyone who had been present in that council at Jerusalem …
·        They were all gone except the Apostle John …
·         60 years later, nearing the turn of the first century, around AD90, this elder Apostle John is the last living Disciple of Christ. He is a long way from the shores of the Galilee where he and his brother James decided to follow a man named Jesus. John lived to be an old man and lived in Ephesus, more than 1000 miles from Jerusalem and the Galilee where he was born and walked with Jesus. All that happened 60 years earlier in Acts 5 is but a memory. The dust had now settled.

It took a few years but when the dust settled and John was the only one left standing, he had something to say. John did not focus on healing, prosperity or world evangelism … John wanted to talk about relationships. John’s goal was to tell Christians how they could please their Father God.

1 John 1
1 ¶  That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life — 
2  the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us — 
3  that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
4  And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.
5 ¶  This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
6  If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
7  But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
8 ¶  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
1John 2
1 ¶  My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
2  And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
3 ¶  Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.
4  He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
5  But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.
6  He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

When the dust settles …
·        Everyone will know who was right and who was wrong.
·        Things which seem so important now may not be so important then.
·        The one question will be: “Did I please God?"
·        Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord!

Perhaps we should refocus our priorities and realize what’s important before the dust settles! What’s important? Our relationship with the Father.