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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Christ Is Risen! Alleluia!

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When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, Who, will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb? But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has Risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, and tell his disciples and Peter, He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you. Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

Mark 16:1-8

According to the Scriptures, our Risen Savior appeared to different individuals before ascending to the Father. It was a random coming and going, but specific encounters to teach us certain things. This took place during the period between Easter and Pentecost, between the Resurrection and Ascension. In today’s Scripture verse, Jesus gives us some “resurrection comfort.” When the men who walked to Emmaus were back in Jerusalem with the joyful news of their encounter with the risen Jesus, the other disciples replied, “The Lord has really risen!” (Luke 24:34) Paul says, “He was seen by Peter and then by the twelve” (I Corinthians 15:5-6) All these pronouncements tells us that, firstly, the Risen Lord wants to give the remorseful sinner back his self-respect. The first apostle Jesus appeared to was the one who denied Him. (Peter) Here the greatness of Christ’s love is demonstrated. He thought about the bitter grief of the Peter who wronged him, instead of wrongs and grief He himself suffered. Put yourself in this situation. Imagine with how much trepidation Peter received this message! Could it be true? Did he hear correctly? Did Jesus really mention his name? He has been the cause of so much of Jesus’ sorrow. He had denied Him three times! But this is how Jesus treats the sinner. Wo will ever be able to fathom the depth of God’s forgiving grace?

Against the dark background of Peter’s denial, the light breaks through in the disciples’ words to the men from Emmaus: The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter (Luke 24:34) A jewel glitters so much brighter on a dark background. Likewise, the grace of God and His saving omnipotence are best seen in a deeply fallen sinner. This short extract from history should encourage even the greatest sinner to go to the Father and confess their sins.

The gospel gives us no sensational or gripping detail of the conversation between Christ and Peter. Peter didn’t tell anyone what happened between him and Jesus. In life there are intimate and personal things that cannot bear up under the harsh glare of public exposure. There are spiritual experiences that must remain private because they are part of one’s personal fellowship with God. We dare not reveal every spiritual blessings to inquisitive publicity seekers, or shout it from the mountaintops. 

Three long nights of consuming grief followed Golgotha as well as the shock of Judas’ gruesome death. The offering that God seeks is a broken heart and a downcast spirit; He will not break those who are struggling. Peter discovered what true remorse meant, being tearful, unsure of his next step, knowing he was a fallen sinner, with hands outstretched to heaven in an impassioned plea for grace. And Christ in His unfathomable love and mercy is there, a place of true repentance. He meets in quiet reclusion with the remorseful sinner.

Prayer: Dear Jesus:

I come to you with a humble heart asking for forgiveness of my sins that I have committed. I thank you for taking my place on the cross at Calvary. Help me to become more like you and to serve others in your name, as you did here on earth.    Amen

Blessings to All of You on this Easter Day!

 

Being A Witness for Christ

Acts 1.jpgThe book of Acts continues the history of Jesus’ followers in the period after Jesus’ ascension. Peter and Paul soon emerged as leaders of the rapidly growing church, which flourished and spread despite, and sometimes because of persecution of Jewish leaders and Roman authorities. These followers of Jesus at this time didn’t look like a leader did they, they never had an high school education and never went to college, which in fact never exist at that time. However, in spite of their short comings they seem to have God still use each of them to do mighty work for his kingdom. If we take a moment to think about it where were these same disciples on the night Jesus was be trade. When Jesus was in the garden to pray to God for strength they were asleep, after he was arrested they all seem to disappeared. Peter that night be trade his friend, his master not just once but three times, and when he was crucified where did most of these men go to, where they at the foot of the cross as Jesus was dying. After dying on the cross his body was laid in the tomb and for awhile the disciples all were in hiding. But six weeks later their lives all change in the upper room on Pentecost, as the Holy Spirt came upon all of Jesus disciples and other followers as well, their lives would never be the same. The same thing goes for us, once we accepted Jesus into our own lives we begin to change, and we too will never be the same again. As Max Lucado tells us in his book “Out Live Your Life”

You hillbillies will be my witness, You uneducated and simple folk will be my witness, You who once called me crazy, who shouted at me in the boat doubted me in the Upper Room.  You temperamental, parochial net casters and tax collectors, You will be my witness. You will spearhead a movement that will explode like a just-opened fire hydrant of Jerusalem and spill into the ends of the earth, into the streets of Paris, the districts of Rome, and the ports of Athens, Istanbul, Shanghai, and Buenos Aires. You will be a part of something so mighty, controversial, and head spinning that two millennia from now a middle-age redheaded author riding in the exit row of a flight from Boston to Dallas will type this question on his laptop?

Does Jesus still do it?

Does he use simple folks like you and me to change the world? We suffer from such ordinariness and my answer besides what is written in this book by Max Lucado, is yes Jesus still does use ordinary simply folks like us to share the good news of the Gospel. As long as you and I have the willing heart to serve Christ he will use us, to tell other about the “Great I Am” To tell all that their is nothing that you or I could ever do so horrible that is love cannot penetrate it.  Just open up to the book of Romans 8:38-39 to read the following words, by Paul the Apostle: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. When we come to know this kind of love we want to shout it from the mountain top and pass it on to all and I mean all who will listen, and my friend some will and some won’t listen to what you need to share with them, but that is okay we simply plant the seed of God’s love into their hearts and we allow God to do what God does best allow it to take root and grow. The words to a hymn that I have personally sung many times by Dan Schutte: Here I am Lord, Is it I, Lord? I have heard you calling in the night, I will go, Lord, if you lead me, I will hold your people in my heart. Beautiful words, God has been calling in the night, are you willing to witness to others what he has done and how much he loves you and all of his children, I am willing to go as he leads me down the road. Will you?

 

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

PENTECOST SUNDAY

Penetcost 2.pngWhen the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in on place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.                        (Acts 2:1-4)

As Christians we celebrate the birth of the church on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came in the upper room where all the eleven disciples were at that time as well as other believers.  It was on holy ground that the Spirit fell some fifty days after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  There were what seem to be tongues of fire and a sound like a rushing wind. The Holy Spirit had come, and wind and fire were metaphors that only weakly described the reality they experienced.  After Jesus was crucified the disciples all hid, why one reason is they could hardly believe that the man whom they all loved and come to know who he was had just died, second I am sure they were afraid that they could be crucified next. However Jesus was not just an ordinary man, he was and is the Son of the Living God, and this was all of God’s plan he would become the bridge that would bring man and God together because of sin that has separated us from God. Once the Holy Spirit came on these believers they began to speak bold for Christ, they were not afraid of what may or may not happen. They knew others must heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus had prepared these disciples as well as other believers for such as a time like this, and he also told them as well as us before hand.  “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father–the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father–he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.                                 (John 15:26-27 NIV)                          God prepares all of his children to do his work here on earth, as long as we have a willing heart to serve God can use us all.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE CHURCH

 

Grace and Peace to You My Friends