Pentecost

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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

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Being Born Again

John 3.png   Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” How can someone be born when they are old? Nicodemus asked. Surely they cannot enter a second times into their mother’s womb to be born!  Jesus answered, Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit, gives birth to the spirit.                                             John 3:1-6

Nicodemus conversation with Jesus started with his statement that one couldn’t help but be impressed by the signs and wonders that Jesus performed. Jesus’ answered was that the signs and wonders were not so important, the most important thing was the change in a person’s inner being, and that could only be described as a new birth. When Jesus said that one must be born again, Nicodemus misunderstood Him. Jesus meant that to be born again you had to undergo such a radical change that it looked like a new birth. The process is not only a human achievement but is brought about by the grace and omnipotence of God. 

This idea of rebirth runs through the entire New Testament 1 Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Romans 6:11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus, and there are other Scriptures as well. This is exactly what happened when a heathen became converted to Judaism: He become a new person in all respects and therefore Jesus could assume that Nicodemus understood the concept.

So what does rebirth mean to us? It embraces a few important things: It concerns the kingdom of God that cannot be entered unless rebirth has taken place; the fact we cannot be God’s children without being born again; and the idea of being children of God as well as having eternal life.

Prayer: Lord Jesus

          I have accept you as my Lord and Savior, come into my heart to live forever and change me from the inside, out to become born of Water and Spirit. Your grace, Lord Jesus, is immeasurable; because of this sinners can become your children, and I thank you and Praise You Name, now and forever.                             Amen

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Sorrow Becomes Joy

 

 

 

 

John 16a

Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.” At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me, and ‘Because I am going to the Father? “What does he mean by a little while? We don’t understand what he is saying.”

Jesus was looking beyond the present century to the new period that would come. He used an image that was deeply rooted in the Jewish mind. they believed that all time was divided into two parts, the present time and the time to come. The present was altogether bad and subject to damnation. The time that would be the Golden Age-the time of God. The time in between was called the time of the Messiah.

Jesus knew the Scriptures and He knew about these images, he said to his disciples, “I am leaving you now, but I will come back when My kingdom comes and I start to rule. Before this, however, you will have to suffer hard times.” Jesus went ahead to outline all that the Christian would have to endure. There would be times when Christians would experience sorrow, but their sorrow would be changed to joy. And the day would come for a turnabout. The world’s reckless joy would change to sorrow, and the Christians’ apparent sorrow would change to hoy. Christians should always remember  this when their faith is costing them.

There are two exceptional things about Christian joy: First, it can never be taken away because it is rooted in God. For this reason, this joy will be complete, while there is always something missing in the pleasure the world knows. Second, the sorrow that went before Christian joy is forgotten like a mother forgets labor pains, like the martyr forgets their suffering in the glory of heaven.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

 

Jesus At The Temple

Matthew 21.pngJesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.” It is written,” he said to them, “My house will be called a house of prayer, “but you are making it a den of robbers.” The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them, But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.                         Matthew 21:12-15

It was Passover week. The Passover was the highlight of the Jewish calendar. People came from all regions and many countries to be present for the celebration. Upon arriving, they were obligated to meet two requirements. First, an animal sacrifice, usually a dove. The dove had to be perfect, without blemish. If you brought a sacrifice from your won source, it would be considered insufficient by the authorities in the temple. So under the guise of keeping the sacrifice pure, the sellers sold doves at their price. Second, the people had to pay a yearly temple tax. During Passover, the tax had to be rendered in local currency. Knowing many foreigners would be in Jerusalem to pay the tax, money changers conveniently set up tables and offered to exchanged the foreign money for local for a modest fee, of course. It is not difficult to see what angered Jesus. Pilgrims journeyed days to see God, to witness the holy, to worship his majesty. But before they were taken into the presence of God, they were taken to the cleaners.

So I often wonder if Christians today take the time on a Sunday morning to just worship God,  one of the ten commandments is this Remember the Sabbath to Keep It Holy, or are we too busy conducting other business instead of doing what we are called to do. To be able to spend sometime on a Sunday morning worshipping God should be an honor for all, to give thanks for all He has done this past week. In order for all of us to have a walk with our Risen Lord we need to take the time in getting to know the “Great I Am”

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Ash Wednesday

25446120_10156169087488627_7353441604527499735_n    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 

 

Jesus Teaches On Prayer

Matthew 6.pngAnd when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you ray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many ways. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.                       Matthew 6:5-8

Few nations had nobler expectations of prayer than the Israelites, and no nation placed prayer higher on their priority list than they did. “Prayer is vital,” the rabbis said,” more important than all good works. However, certain crucial errors entered the Jewish prayer life. In Jesus’ time there was a growing tend towards strictly formal prayer. The Jews prayed according to three prescribed things: The first was the Shema that consisted of there short Scriptures. All Jews had to pray the whole Shem every morning and evening, and for this reason it ran the risk of becoming an idle repetition of words.

The Jewish liturgy also prescribed certain prayers for different occasions. There was scarcely and event or occasion that did not have special prayers: before and after meals; prayers concerning light, the new moon, lightning, comets, rain, storms, the sea, dams and rivers, receiving good news, and entering or leaving a town or city. This had to do with the fact that every event in life was brought to God’s attention. But because the prayers were so precisely prescribed, the whole system tended to become very formal. The prayers slipped from the tongue automatically, with little meaning. So, don’t view prayer as a formal commitment to ensure God’s grace. In the same way, we don’t want our quiet time to degenerate into a habit and become a mere formality.

He thought prayer to be more his business than anything else, and I have seen him come out of his closet with a serenity of face next to shining.

(By John Wesley, Founder of the Methodist Movement)

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

The Father And I Are One

John 10.pngAgain his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which  of these do you stone me?” We are not stoning you for any good work, ” they replied but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God. Jesus answered them, “is it not written in your law, ” I have said you are gods” If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came and Scripture cannot be set aside–what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why, then do you accuse me of blasphemy, because I said, “I am God’s Son?” Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. But if I do them, even through you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.                 John 10:31-38

For most people, it’s what others do not say, that counts. When Jesus spoke He spoke with authority, but when the people asked Him who He was, He pointed them to the things He did. he asked them to take not of His deeds. These deeds were acts of compassion, healing and miracles. Jesus was far more than simply a traveling Teacher who spoke about God and His kingdom. Jesus didn’t perform miracles because He wanted to impress people. everything He did was God’s deeds. Christ was God’s man in action.

You and I are also called to do more than just talk. As a disciple of Christ you must be were the action is. Make no mistakes: it is good to talk about God and for God, but it is better more powerful and more impressive to do deeds that prove you are a God-directed person. Deeds done with compassion and kind-heartedness reflect Jesus deeds. Charity that cost you something is the way in which Christians disciples prove that they are God’s people in action. Don’t let your religion stagnate; do something and become a doer of the Word and not just an idle hearer, fooling yourself.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends