October 22, 2014 13:41 PM
I love new beginnings. The starting over, the hint of fresh, is always exciting. And I’m excited about this new series which really isn’t a series at all but a bit of potpourri. What I plan to do is go through the Book of Acts, some of the Epistles, then Revelation. Sprinkled in between will be comments on news articles I find interesting or relevant.
I so enjoyed following the footsteps of Jesus, seeing what He did and said. Believe me, I learned a lot as I went. I now look forward to learning even more as I follow some of the apostles. I think the Book of Acts is a great place to start.
Imagine you’re in an upper room full of frightened men and some women, too. They had seen Jesus’ miracles, heard His preaching, touched His wounds after His resurrection and interacted with Him for 40 days then watched Him ascend into heaven. And they had come to know He was no ordinary man but the very Son of God. Even so, most of them had to be depressed and confused. They had given up everything—family, friends, jobs—to follow someone they believed would overthrow the harsh Roman yoke from their nation and lead them to freedom and into another golden age like that of King David and Solomon’s time. With Jesus’ ascension these hopes were dashed. Now what? Should they go back to their communities and jobs? No. Jesus had told them to tarry in Jerusalem and “wait for the promise of the Father,” the Holy Spirit. But how could it possibly change anything since they no longer had Jesus with them? And how could they ever obey Jesus’ great commission and share the gospel of good news to the world? They were outcasts, even hounded men. Their futures looked bleak. But to their credit they stood together and prayed and even appointed, by lot, another apostle to take the traitor Judas’s place.
And then everything changed. Suddenly, the Holy Spirit came upon them like a mighty rushing wind and as tongues of fire, and filled them. Now instead of being frightened and confused, they became fearless, bold, and more sure of the path they should and would take. When they went outside, crowds gathered and Peter boldly proclaimed the message of salvation. Three thousand souls became Christ-followers that day. Pastor Joseph Prince does a wonderful teaching about how three thousand lost their lives at Mount Sinai when the Law was given to Moses, illustrating that the law kills but that God’s grace saves as shown by the three thousand that obtained the promised of eternal life at Pentecost. Something new had happened. It was a totally new beginning, the beginning of the Church Age.
And something new happens every time someone accepts Jesus for the first time. He becomes a new creature, with possibilities stretching out before him never thought likely. And for those who know Jesus, every day is a new beginning. A chance to start over, to let the Holy Spirit take more control of their lives than He had the day before.
Yes, I sure do love new beginnings.
Until next time,
August 5, 2013 14:00 PM
Sometimes only one or two of the gospels have a particular story. But this story about the apostles obsessing over their egos is in three of them: Matthew 18:1-4, Mark 9:33-35, and Luke 9:46-48. In the Amplified Luke tells that an actual controversy arose during which they argued over “which of them might be the greatest surpassing the others in excellence, worth and authority.” Really? Excellence, worth and authority? Here they were squabbling over their own positions, their “pecking order” as it were, and all the while the Creator of the Universe, the King of Glory, the living God was among them, eating the dust of the road, wearing coarse homespun, sleeping on the hard ground, giving himself away to anyone who asks, being touched by lepers and prostitutes alike, not worrying one bit about His position or seeking to exalt Himself.
And aren’t we still doing the same thing today? Here we are in the midst of God’s presence, His love, the move of His Holy Spirit, and we worry about our importance, what rung of the ladder we stand on. I suppose pride will always be part of the human condition and will need to be put under subjection. But here’s the thing, like John the Baptist who said, “I must decrease and He (speaking about Jesus) must increase,” the more we decrease, the more secure we actually become and the less need we have of proving ourselves, proving we are worth something.
But what of those who really want to become great? There is a secret to greatness, you know. And Jesus revealed it in these chapters. It’s a stunner and flies in the face of worldly wisdom. And the secret is this: we must become like little children, trusting Him, believing Him, relying on Him. And then the clincher: “For he who is least and lowliest among you all—he is the one who is truly great.” For God, greatness is attached to lowliness, to a servant’s heart, to one who is humble and who trusts Him. Today there are so many looking to promote themselves, to become noticed, to make “something” of themselves, when all the while God is saying we already are something and can be even greater in His eyes if we but follow His example of humility and service and faithfulness.
I think when we get to heaven and God pulls out His honor roll of those greatest in His kingdom, we’re going to be surprised over how many names are on it of people we have never heard of, people who led quiet, ordinary lives, lives submitted to our King, and lived out in holiness and humility. And the wonderful thing is that we can be among them if we care to apply God’s secret.
Until next time,
September 24, 2012 15:50 PM
When next we see Jesus He is a full grown man at the Jordan River facing John the Baptist (Matthew 3:11-17). In verse 11 John has already told the crowd that though he baptized in water, One was coming whose sandals John was not worthy to untie and Who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. He actually calls Jesus (John 1:29) “the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” But he is totally horrified when Jesus stands before him waiting to be baptized (Matthew 3: 14) and basically says, “I need to be baptized by You!”
I think it was a fitting reaction. After all, John had just recognized and proclaimed Jesus as the One who would take away the world’s sins, including John’s. Surely the lesser had no right to baptize the Greater!
And then here’s Jesus’ response. How characteristically humble it was! “It needs to be done,” He said, in order to “fulfill all righteousness.” So John, though a bit unnerved, I’m sure, baptizes Jesus and something awesome happens. The heaven’s open! “The Spirit of God, like a dove” alights on Jesus! And a heavenly voice speaks, saying “This is My Son, My Beloved, in Whom I delight!”
What an affirmation from the Father! Sin Bearer, God’s loved Son, God’s delight! Again we see God taking the trouble to publically reveal who Jesus is. Why? So that people would know? Yes. Certainly. But more, too. Jesus, in utter humility, is following Jewish law that requires a priest be at least 30 years old and purified in a “mikvah” or ritual bath, as consecration before beginning his ministry. And Jesus is a priest after the order of Melchisedec (Hebrews 5: 5-6) who would present Himself as a living sacrifice, but we’ll get to that another time. It is interesting that after Jesus’ immersion into water, the Holy Spirit descends upon Him. The Holy Spirit is often symbolized by oil, and part of the consecration of a priest after the mikvah was to be anointed with oil.
This public emersion in water followed by the anointing of the Holy Spirit signals the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and was again a sign of obedience. Who is more pure or righteous than Jesus? He didn’t need a mikvah or baptism to purify Himself. But here He is willingly and humbly fulfilling the law. And His Heavenly Father was pleased and made no bones about it, thus assigning His seal of approval upon Jesus and His coming ministry.
How amazing Jesus is! He is so far above any of us, yet so incredibly humble and obedient. And that’s the secret of gaining God’s seal of approval upon us, too. First we need to recognize and accept Jesus as our sin bearer as well as the marvelous Son of God. Then be anointed by the Holy Spirit. And finally, to live humble and obedient lives.
It’s so simple, really, when you think about it.
Until next time,
May 21, 2012 11:25 AM
When a good friend of mine and I first came to the Lord we use to go to every conference and church meeting we could find. Oh, how excited we were, and so on fire for God! We wanted to be like Christ. We wanted to know God’s word. We wanted to be all He desired us to be. We had learned that in order to accomplish this we needed to “die to self”. And when we tried putting it into practice all we succeeded in doing was to turn off those around us to the things of God. But that didn’t stop us. We were determined. Even our phone calls to each other were prefaced with the words, “are you dead yet?”
But being merciful, God began to open Zechariah 4:6b to us, “not by might nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts”. This call to holiness, this dying to self was not to be a grit-your-teeth I’m-going-to-do-this-if-it-kills-me exercise but a work of God’s Holy Spirit. And so the real transformation began—the gentle changing from within. People and situations that once bothered us or could press our buttons, no longer did. We began to see things differently, feel differently, act differently. It seemed too easy! It couldn’t be real, could it? All we did was to completely rely on God, confess our sins as they occurred, put them under the blood, then ask God to change our attitudes, our actions; ask God to make us more like Him in a given situation.
But it was that easy because God was doing the work. Yet in another sense, it was hard, too, because we had to see ourselves for what we were, acknowledge our short comings, then be willing to allow God to change those things in us. And this could cause pain or disruption our lives, and, at times, even turn them upside down.
Now, when my friend and I talk we never ask each other if we’re “dead yet.” We know better. As long as there’s breath in our bodies we’ll need the Holy Spirit to continue His work for there will always be issues needing attention. But we can take heart because we are God’s workmanship, not ours, and He’ll never give up on us. Doesn’t Philippians 1:6 tell us that “being confident of this very thing, that he (Holy Spirit) which hath began a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”?
It sure beats trying to do it on your own.
Until next week,
November 29, 2010 9:04 AM
Ever wonder why many of our present day Christian Churches are so anemic? I have. And the answer I’ve come up with is this: it’s because they are filled with anemic Christians. I mean, where are the Smith Wigglesworths of today? True, during the early to mid 1900’s he could pack a church like few others, but that’s not what I’m talking about. We have a handful of mega churches today with seating up to the rafters. And true, when he prayed for the healing of others, people actually got healed. But we have a few preachers today that do the same thing. And yes, it’s even true that up to fourteen people were reportedly raised from the dead by Wigglesworth. But in parts of Africa, some pastors in small churches are raising the dead too.
No, what I’m talking about is how Smith Wigglesworth was so connected to God, so sold out, so under the power of the Holy Spirit that often when he walked by a person that person became immediately convicted, and then just as quickly accepted Jesus as Savoir.
Wigglesworth often said that the only book he ever read was the Bible. He was a man who walked by faith; a man who lived by the Word of God. Oh, to be so sold out! If ever the world needed more Christians this saturated in the love and power of God it is now. But all too often what it sees are Christians who look or act no differently than the rest of society.
In the midst of these hard economic times, in the midst of “wars and rumors of wars” people are looking for answers. And that’s were the Body of Christ comes in. Most of us have not been called to preach in churches or even conduct healing services, but we have all been called to be “salt and light” and that’s not easy. It can only be accomplished by submission to the Holy Spirit and by cultivating a deep intimate relationship with Jesus. But unless we do this how can we be of any use in an ever darkening world?
Just some thoughts.
Until next week,