The day of Pentecost celebrates the empowerment of Jesus’ disciples by the Holy Spirit fifty days after Easter. The Christian holy day is often called the birthday of the church and may be celebrated with balloons, cakes, banners, red cloths, crimson vestments and candles.
Acts 1-21 describes the disciples gathered in Jerusalem with a multitude of other Jews from the Jewish festival of Pentecost, the Feast of weeks, one of the three annual pilgrim festivals of the Holy City. The feast was observed at the beginning of the wheat harvest (Leviticus 23:15-21) fifty days after the Feast of unleavened bread. Having been told by the risen Christ to remain in Jerusalem until they received “power from on high” (Luke 24:49) a large group of disciples were “all together in on place. (Acts 2:1)
The experience of the Holy Spirit described in the book of Acts fulfills promises and predictions given in both books of Luke and Acts. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. John the Baptist said of Jesus in Luke 3:16. Jesus promised the same at the beginning of Acts. John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now (Acts 1:5)
The Holy Spirit conferred the ability to speak in other languages, so the disciples could be understood by all the Jews in Jerusalem, who had come from all over the Mediterranean world and spoke a variety of languages. This had the effect of reversing the Tower of Babel experience, in which separate languages confused and blocked communications which is in Genesis 11. The visiting Jews heard each in his or her language the disciples tell about “God’s deeds of power,” culminating in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Peter interpreted the event for them as a fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32, the pouring out of God’s Spirit before the final judgment. The purpose of the display of the power of the Spirit was salvation. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Acts 2:21)
The gift of the Holy Spirit equipped the church for ministry and witness. Peter, who once denied knowing Jesus, not once, not twice, but three times, spoke boldly to the crown some of whom may have cried “Crucify Him” fifty days before. Peter would lead, teach, and heal in the name of Jesus, and would soon be joined by Stephen, Philip, Barnabas, Paul and others. The manifestation of God’s power at Pentecost met a mixed reception, much like Jesus’ first sermon in Nazareth (Luke 4:22-30), suggesting that the church would soon be persecuted as Jesus had been.
What does all this mean? The disciples felt a new sense of power-power that changed them from quiet, hesitate believers to bold witness to the Resurrection. This power, they said, came from the Spirit resting upon them. It was like the power we feel in a “violent wind” or recognized in fire. The fire may suggest that power needs to be channeled into uses God intends, or else it can run out of control and become destructive and deadly. In any case, the Holy Spirit was present in the experience identified by the metaphors of fire and wind. The Spirit guides our growth in faith. How have your beliefs changed if any through the years of you become a Christian? As Christian, believers of the Risen Lord as we grow closer to our Lord we can begin to see the changes of ourselves from the inside, out.
Grace and Peace to You My Friends
Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20
This Scripture gives us the assurance of the holy and continuous presence of the living Christ. Our Savior makes sure there is no doubt about it. Christ appears to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. These apostles were the founders of the universal church. Would this small group be able to carry out such a challenging task? To found and expand the church? Not if it depended on their own abilities, but it was possible with the omnipotence of the Master, who said, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18) Christ rules His church through His Word and leads it through His Spirit. Our task is merely to contribute towards it. When is Jesus with us, in the church, and in the hearts of His believing children? Our Scripture says “always”! His promise is that He will always be present in our lives with His Spirit and with His grace, an enduring and uninterrupted Presence.
We know that all days are different: There are sunny days, but also ominous and dark days; there are days when our hearts sing with joy, but also days when our hearts sob with misery and grief. There are days of firm and unshakable faith, but also days of doubt and stumbling, when we need to plead, “Help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) In His supreme wisdom God broke our lives up into pieces that we call days. the days all differ, but Christ promised, “I am with you always!”
Prayer: Thank you Jesus for the promise that you will always be with us now and forever. Amen
Grace and Peace To You My Friends
The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the church in Rome. This letter presents theology om a logical, organized way and focuses on salvation, as a gift from God, through grace, by the blood of Christ Jesus. Romans 8:12-17 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry “Abba,” Father. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now it we are children then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Do you wonder about the disruption and confusion in today’s world? There is an answer: We have lost our homing instinct, we have become “world citizens.” As a result, many people have lost direction. The relationships in our lives are not coincidence. there is a reason the verse says, A man had two sons.” It is a silhouette of our connectedness with God. The devoted child of God sometimes longs for heaven with the same deep longing that we have for our birthplace implies our parents home, our childhood memories, our brothers or sisters. No wonder the first commandment that deals with human relationship starts with “Honor your father and mother.” (Exodus 20:12) He who understands the wonder of parenthood also understands the wonder of God’s loving Fatherhood, and of being a child of God.
Being lost is being without God, without anchors or connectedness unattached and unrestrained, this is perdition itself. Salvation is being inextricable anchored in God and confessing I know to whom I am entrusted. This is eternal life! This is heaven. And so our earthly attachments grow into eternal anchors. We don’t come from nowhere and we’re not on our way nowhere. We are attached to our Father for now and eternity. His word teaches me: “See how much our Heavenly Father loves us, for he calls us His children and that is what we are. (1John 3:1)
Grace and Peace to You My Friends
Today is Ash Wednesday the beginning of the Lent Season which is forty days between now and Easter Sunday, except that each Sunday in the season of lent in not counted. Ashes is a reminder that we are dust, and to dust we shall return, and repent, and believe in the gospel. Ashes were an ancient symbol of our humanity. In Genesis 2:7 Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. On the first day of lent, we come before God recognizing our humanity and repenting of our sins. Lent leads to Easter the day we celebrate that though our bodies are flawed, a day of resurrection will come when we lived in the presence of God forever. On Ash Wednesday we go to church remembering who we are, with the hope of who we can become.
Why Ashes? In Jewish and Christian history, ashes are a sign of mortality and repentance. Morality, because when we die, our bodies eventually decompose and we become dust/dirt/ash/Repentance because long ago when people felt remorse for something they did, they would put ashes on their head and wear “sackcloth” to remind them that sin is pretty uncomfortable and leads to a sort of death of the spirit. This was their way of confessing their sins and asking for forgiveness.
Where do the ashes come from? On what we now call Palm Sunday, when Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem while people waved and cheered him on. Less then a week later, Jesus would be killed. The palms that were waved in joy became ashes of sorrow. We get the ashes for Ash Wednesday by saving the psalms from Palm Sunday, burning them, and mixing them with a little oil. It’s symbolic.
What Do Christians do with ashes? At a service which is held on Ash Wednesday people are invited to come forward in the service and a pastor or priest make a small cross of their forehead by smudging the ashes. While the ashes remind us of mortality and sin, the cross reminds us of Jesus’ resurrection (life after death) and forgiveness. It’s a powerful, non-verbal way that we can experience God’s forgiveness and renewal as we return to Jesus.
Grace and Peace to You My Friends
What Is Lent?
Lent comes from the Angelo Saxon word lencten which means spring. The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wildness enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry. Lent is a time for repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection. Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and this year that day is on February 14, 2018. In the early church lent was a time to prepare new converts for baptism. Today, Christians focus on their relationship with God, often choosing to give up something or to volunteer and give of themselves for others. Sunday’s in Lent are not counted in the forty days, because each Sunday represents a mini Easter and the reverent spirit of lent’s tempered with joyful anticipation of the Resurrection. Every year the day of Easter is different the reason for this, is that Easter is the first Sunday after the full moon in spring, and this year will be March 31 I believe and Easter Sunday is April 1, 2018.
Mardi Gras? What does that have to do with Jesus?? Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday” It refers to the day before Lent begins. Lent always starts on a Wednesday, the day before is always a Tuesday. And it’s call “Fat” or “Great” because it’s associated with great food and parties. In earlier times, people used Lent as a time of fasting and repentance. Since they didn’t want to be tempted by sweets, meats and other distractions in the house, they cleaned out their cabinets. they used up all the sugar and yeast in sweet breads before the Lent season started, and fixed meats available. It was a great feast! Through the years Mardi Gras has evolved (in some places) into a pretty wild party with little to do with preparing for the Lenten Season of repentance and simplicity. However, with the next day being Ash Wednesday can begin a time of all Christian to self-exam their own lives.
Grace and Peace to You My Friends
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves received from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in your patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so we also share in our comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
Often, shortly after we have been through a difficult situation in our own life, we have found comfort, we meet someone who has to handle a similar situation. It is God who leads us to these people because the comfort that we offer is sincere and they know that we have wrestled with a similar experience ourselves.
In this letter in Corinthians from the Apostle Paul, Paul praises God for using the church of Corinth to “give the same comfort God has given us” What would it take for you to proclaim God as your helper and Deliverer? What would it take for you to look to God alone for the solution to your problems? When you find yourselves or an acquaintance in a difficult situation, approach God’s throne of grace in prayer. Declare boldly to God that you trust in Him alone to deliver you.
In prayer and with gratitude, consider all the ways in which God has comforted you in times of affliction and tell God that you are willing to let Him use you to bring comfort to others.
Prayer: Gracious God, thank you for the comfort you have given me in the past as well as the comfort you will give to me in the future, help me to comfort others in return.
Grace and Peace to You My Friend