Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Word of His Grace

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Acts 20:1-38

“So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified." Acts 20:32 (NKJV)

Paul met on the seashore near Miletus with the elders of the church at Ephesus. These were men into whom he had poured his life, and now he was speaking to them for the last time. He spoke to them of their responsibilities. He reminded them of the lessons of days gone by. He warned them about future challenges.

In the midst of all these valuable points of instruction, Paul makes perhaps his greatest exhortation: "I commend you to God and to the word of His grace."

He called the Ephesians elders and he calls us to a walk in the Word of God and to walk in the grace of God. Grace is like oxygen to your soul. It is the unmerited favor of God that not only covers your failure, but also empowers your future.

God has immense treasures to give us. As favored sons, He has provided us an INHERITANCE. This is far more than heaven when we die (although that is certainly substantial). It includes the blessings and benefits of living in Christ's Kingdom today. We cannot walk in this supernatural realm by our own power or effort or merit. It is BY THE GRACE OF GOD. So, may we live and breathe the grace of God. Grace has brought you thus far, and grace will lead you home.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Christ's Authority Over Demons

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Acts 19:13-41 15

And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?”. 16 Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. Acts 19:15-16(NKJV)

There are those who deny the reality of the spiritual realm that surrounds us. Our Western rationalistic mind-set tends to acknowledge only those things we can touch, taste, feel, or prove in a test tube.

The Bible, however, teaches us that spiritual evil exists and is personified in a real being called the devil and his emissaries which we call demons. This is not medieval superstition, but rather existence of an unseen realm that affects our visible world in a myriad of ways.

There is one only one way of legitimately dealing with the encroachments of spiritual evil. That way is the Person of Jesus Christ. He, through His Cross and His resurrection, has defeated forever the legal claims of Satan over fallen men. As we connect with Christ, we join in His great victory and engage His authority to enforce His victory.

This is not a trick or gimmick to be used for our entertainment. It is not a formula we can use apart from Christ. The seven sons of Sceva thought they could ACT like Paul, and they would then have the authority of Paul. NOT SO. It is unwise, foolish, and even dangerous to play with spiritual warfare.

Our power over demons does not rest in our techniques, but in our connection to Christ. If you know the risen Lord, you stand in His authority today. One of the great privileges of a relationship with Jesus is that we can increasingly learn to walk in His power and authority over the devil. May we each commit ourselves today to grow in this awesome dimension.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A New Thing

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Acts 18:23-19:12

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.”  And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?”  So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”  Acts 19:2-3 (NKJV)

God has more for you and me.  There is always more.  We all need to keep growing in God.  The tragedy of many believers' lives is that they have stopped taking ground -- they have stopped growing.  There are always higher and heights and deeper depths for us in Christ.  That is EXCITING!

Paul came upon twelve men at Ephesus who had gotten a good start but somewhere along the way had reached a stopping point.  They were good men.  They knew the Word of God.  They had made solid commitments in keeping with the amount of truth they had learned.

They were a part of the "John the Baptist Movement."  It had been wonderful.  They had seen many people come to repentance and get their lives turned around. But, unfortunately, they had not grown beyond this great moment in salvation history.  They were stuck in a movement that had seen its best days and was now a thing of the past.

God is always moving ahead.  It is so easy for us to get stuck in what happened yesterday, and then miss what God is doing today.  For these twelve men, they had to come to a new openness to the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  They needed to receive a new level of God's presence in their lives.  

This is not an easy step for many of us.  I remember when I became aware that God was doing bigger things than the small "box" I was accumstomed to.  It took courage and faith to become open to new levels of relationship with God and His purposes.  

Periodically, God leads all of us into these places.  He says, "I am doing a new thing."  He says, "Will you not know it?" (Isaiah 43:19).  These twelve men were willing to receive the "new thing" God was doing.  Are you? 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

You Are Not Alone

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Acts 18:1-22

Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.” Acts 18:9-10 (NKJV)

One of Satan's major strategies against each of us is to convince us that we are alone.  Satan wants to isolate you and tell you that no one cares and no one will help.  This is one of Satan's primary tools as he seeks to neutralize or destroy the follower of Jesus.

These are the voices that speak in the middle of the night and tell you that you are unappreciated, unloved, uncared for.  It tells you that no one understands your unique situation -- and therefore, you are all alone.  Anyone who seeks to follow Jesus must be aware of this because it is a trap that can put poison in your spirit if you let it.

Paul had faithfully served Jesus, but he found himself alone and in danger.  It was at this time that Paul found a wonderful truth of which the Psalmist wrote: When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take care of me. (Psalm 27:10)  The Lord is your help! 
There is one and only one who truly understands and who will never leave you: the Lord Almighty!  We are so glad to have good friends who will walk through the tough times with us, but NOTHING can take the place of the Lord and the Lord alone.

Right now, there are many people around you and near you who care very much for you.  God told Paul, "I have many people in this city."  This is an encouragement!  But, the greatest help is from the Lord Himself.  He says, "I am with you.  I will help you.  I will guard you."  YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

As Was His Custom

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Acts 17:1-34 2

Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” Acts 17:2-3 (NKJV)

The key phrase is found in verse 2: "as his custom was" . Paul had a particular manner in which he operated. He had a personal strategy for sharing Christ. It was his usual method that he regularly used to reach out and share his faith with others.

Paul would enter a town and find the Jewish synagogue. This was almost always his launching pad. He would go in and begin discussing the Scriptures with those he met there. There were usually three types of people frequenting a synagogue. First, there were Jews who knew and believed the Old Testament Scriptures. Then, there were Greeks who had converted to Judaism. They were called proselytes. Lastly, there were other Greeks who were somehow attracted to the Jewish faith but had not yet fully converted. This last group was called "God-fearers".

Paul had a method. He had a strategy. He knew that by starting at the synagogue, he would quickly find those who were hungry for the gospel. He would find in the synagogue individuals with whom he could most easily communicate the truth about Jesus.

Do you have a custom? Do you have a plan - or a usual way in which you seek the share your faith? There are several styles of evangelism. There is the confrontational method, the intellectual method, the friendship method, the invitational method, and many more. YOU NEED TO HAVE A METHOD. You need to have a way - a custom - by which you share the greatest news on earth.

Paul loved people. Do you love people? Do you believe that the gospel is really the GOOD NEWS? Then may God show each of us the unique and best way we can deliver this good news to a dying world. May God help us to do so.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Liberating Power of Praise

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Acts 16:16-40

25 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. Acts 16:25-26 (NKJV)

In Christ, you are NEVER helpless! Though you may be surrounded by fearful and imposing circumstances, yet in Christ you are never powerless. By prayer and by worship, you can bring the atmosphere of heaven into tangible reality right where you are.

Paul and Silas were locked in the deepest part of a foreign prison. Though friendless and abandoned by earthly standards, yet they were in the place of highest favor and power before God. The results were earth-shaking!

We must be reminded of the power of simple praise. When we open our mouths to glorify God, we are releasing far more than beautiful sounds or pleasant words. We are releasing the power of heaven.

God at times will plant you in hostile territory for the simple reason of displaying His glory. You are His sledge hammer sent to destroy Satan's chains. He sends you into prison to release the captives. Even now, they are listening as you sing the songs of THEIR deliverance. So, lift your voice. The chains are being broken. You are NEVER helpless.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Vision in the Night

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Acts 15:36-16:15

And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Acts 16:9(NKJV)

We all want life to be simple and uncomplicated. It is wonderful when our lives develop along clear and predictable lines. Unfortunately that is rarely the case.

There is a mistaken notion that when Jesus comes into our lives He will smooth out the rough places and lead us into clear sailing. No doubt, He DOES bring rest to our troubled hearts and blessed forgiveness for our sins. But, He does not always lead us out of testing or trial. In fact, following Jesus often leads us directly INTO the battles that define our victories.

As Paul launched into one of the greatest apostolic excursions of history, we was immediately met with ..... CONFUSION! Every turn he made seemed to be the wrong direction. The pressure built until he had a vision in the night. Thus, the missionary expansion of Christianity was changed, and for the first time, the gospel entered Europe.

God wants to speak to you. He wants to guide you. He wants to give you MAJOR breakthroughs. The context for this is often a season of great confusion and contradiction. Then... God will give you "a vision in the night."

So wait upon the Lord. Listen to His direction. If it seems that your path is cloudy, do not despair or give up. The dawn of new direction - new vision - new favor is upon you. He will lead you to a new era. His Word over your life will not fail. Remember, His guidance is first off HIS guidance. It is only secondarily yours. He holds it and will keep you.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Son of Encouragement

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Acts 9:26-43

26 And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. Acts 9:26-27 (NKJV)

Back in Acts 4, we were introduced to a man named Joses (Acts 4:36).  He had the nickname Barnabas, and it is by that name that we know him today.  Barnabas means "Son on Encouragement".  This man was an encourager, a helper, an empowerer.

In Acts 4, he was a giver.  He sold personal belongings and gave the money in order that needy brothers and sisters be taken care of.  He was the picture of selfless care for others.

Later in Acts 15, Barnabas stood up for John Mark.  He wanted this weak young man to be given another chance in ministry.

In today's passage, Barnabas played a crucial role in the beginnings of the ministry of Paul.  Because of Paul's previous activity as a persecuter of the church, he was not received by the church.  They did not trust him.  Paul found himself in quite a predicament.  His old friends among the Jews wanted to kill him because he had converted to Christianity, and his new friends wouldn't have anything to do with him.

At that moment, the Son of Encouragement shows up.  Barnabas took him to the apostles, the lead guys.  Barnabas was not afraid to identify with this new convert.  His trust level was high.  As a result, Paul continued to grow in effectiveness, and ultimately was used by God to plant churches and lay the foundation for much of the Early Church.  This "insignificant" act of encouragement was the set-up for one of the greatest ministries in church history!

We are today in great need of men and women like Barnabas -- folks who will provide the help that is needed at crucial moments -- folks who will stand up for each other when the chips are down -- folks who will enable each other in ministry.  Encouragement is like a drink of refreshing water.  May we be that to each other today.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Two Questions

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Acts 9:1-25
And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”  Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.  It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”  So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?”  Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Acts 9:5-6 (NKJV)

The conversion of Paul is one of the most dramatic stories in history of a men coming to Christ.  We even speak of a "Damascus Road Experience" when we tell of anyone meeting the Lord and making a complete 180 turn-around in their life.

As Paul lay flat on his back, he asked Jesus two very important questions.  The answers to these questions are part of any true conversion.

First, he asked, "Who are You, Lord?"  He, at that point, did not know Who had knocked him off his donkey, but whoever it was, IT WAS THE LORD!  Can you imagine the shock when Paul heard the words, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting"?  Paul had a personal encounter with the Living God, and he found out he had all this time been fighting against him. 

Conversion is not just about learning new ways to live -- better morals and breaking bad habits.  Conversion is about learning WHO GOD IS.  In fact, we will spend eternity learning more and more about WHO GOD IS. 

Paul's question is not just a matter of learning the identity of the one who knocked him off his donkey.  It goes further.  It involves learning what He is like -- what are His attributes -- what is His character. 

The second question was, "Lord, what do You want me to do?"  Conversion means that we turn from our way to God's way.  When we meet the Lord, there will be an automatic change in the way we live.  We surrender our will to His and humbly ask what He wants us to do.  We may not yet be ABLE to do all that He says, but we have a heart to desire His will.  This is part of what it means to "give your heart to the Lord."

These two questions are foundational to a healthy walk with God.  So, pray them today!  "Lord, show me Who You are.  Show me what You are like?"  and "Lord, what do you want me to do today?  What is your will for my life?  I want to do what you have called me to do."

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Guided by the Spirit

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Acts 8:14-40

Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert.  Acts 8:26 (NKJV)

Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.” Acts 8:29 (NKJV)

Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; Acts 8:39 (NKJV)

The formal name of the Book of Acts is "The Acts of the Apostles".  It has often been commented that the name of the book might just as well have been "The Acts of the Holy Spirit".  Throughout Acts, from beginning to end, we find amazing ways the Holy Spirit operates in the life of the Church and in individuals.  Our passage today is one of the most amazing of all.

Philip is a New Testament evangelist (see Acts 21:8).  We find the Holy Spirit using him in extraordinary ways to reach lost people for Jesus.  In the city of Samaria, he was used in mighty works of healing and deliverance.  Then, right in the middle of this great revival, Scripture says that God tells him to go south.

There are several ways the Holy Spirit guided Philip. 

1. The Holy Spirit said to go to the desert (vs. 26)!  That doesn't make sense.  If you want to lead people to Jesus, why would you go to a place where there are no people?  Principle: The guidance of the Holy Spirit does not always follow common sense.  In this story, there was an important individual, the Ethiopian eunoch, that the Lord wanted to reach. 

2.  The Holy Spirit spoke clearly to Philip to run after the eunoch's chariot (vs. 29).  It is not often that we might hear such a clear word.  Was this an audible voice?  I think it was an inner voice that was so distinct that Philip recognized that it was God the Holy Spirit speaking to him.

3.  When Philip and the eunoch came up out of the waters of baptism, the Holy Spirit snatched Philip up bodily and carried him to a city in another part of the country (vs. 30)!  This is truly amazing.  Only God could do this.  But, Scripture records that He is able to do it, and as we follow Him on His mission, He will provide such miraculous interventions as they are needed.

It is exciting to walk with God the Holy Spirit.  He may not always do such dramatic things as we read today, but He is still the same Holy Spirit, and HE WILL GUIDE YOU.  Let's walk in the Spirit.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Miracles in Our Day

"One year Bible" New Testament Passage Acts 7:51-8:13 5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. 6 And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. 8 And there was great joy in that city. Acts 8:5-8 (NKJV) One of the remarkable characteristics of the advance of the Kingdom of God is the reality of spiritual warfare and mighty works of the Holy Spirit. Throughout the Book of Acts, we find this to be true. There are those who teach and believe that these mighty works of God are a thing of the past - that the age of miracles ended with the death of the apostles. This position is both bad interpretation of Scripture and failure to see the valid works of God today. There are real miracles happening in our day AND the Bible teaches that we should expect them. But then, we might ask, "Why do we not see more miracles of healing and deliverance in our day?" I believe that such miracles are sent by God FOR A PURPOSE. They are not sent to simply amaze us and help us live a happier, healthier life. Such mighty works attend the ADVANCE of the Kingdom of God in evangelistic expansion of Christ's domain. When Phillip traveled into pagan territory, the demons cried out. When we cross into enemy territory, whether across the ocean or across the street, we will encounter demonic opposition. If we are not seeing enough miracles of deliverance, perhaps we are not crossing enough barriers. The Book of Acts is for today. The ministry of Phillip brought great joy to the city of Samaria. It will bring great joy to our city, too.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Where Does God Live

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Acts 7:1-50

“However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says: 49 ‘Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me? says the Lord, Or what is the place of My rest? 50 Has My hand not made all these things?’ Acts 7:48-50 (NKJV)

One of the themes that runs throughout Scripture is the question: "Where does God reside on earth?" "Where is God's dwelling place?"

Since the time that Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, men have been seeking the place where they could meet again with God face to face. When God appeared to Abram, he called the place Bethel, which means "house of God". Moses built the tabernacle in the wilderness which predicted the way in which God would some day fully relate with His people. The Temple of Solomon was nothing more than expansion of this basic model of the God-to-man relationship.

Man's problem is that we look for all the right things in all the wrong places. We look for buildings and houses, for gold, for grandeur, for the trappings of earthly beauty. At best these can only point to something bigger, grander, and more wonderful.

There is one truly sacred place on earth. It is the temple where man meets God. It is a heart that has been made clean and whole by the very act of God Himself. Where does Almighty God reside? Amazing! He resides in every person who has received the mighty work of God in the redemption of fallen man.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Ordinary People

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Acts 6:1-15

8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people... 10 And they (Stephen's enemies) were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. Acts 6:8,10 (NKJV)

The Bible is filled with stories of ordinary people who did extraordinary things. Stephen is one of them. In the early church, there is no doubt that the apostles held a very special place. The weight of leadership fell on them and they simply could not do everything that needed doing. Their primary responsibility was prayer and the ministry of the Word.

As a result, many were needed to step forward to do what might seem to be menial tasks like waiting on tables and handling daily distributions. Stephen was raised up to do difficult and demanding tasks that appeared to be very selfless in nature.

But, then we find a great truth: God uses ordinary people doing ordinary jobs and He accomplishes extra-ordinary results. The anointing of the Holy Spirit fell on Stephen as he waited on those tables. God started using him in miraculous ways.

It really doesn't matter what your job is - if God starts working in it, miracles start happening. Many people are waiting for some new promotion or some special invitation to begin walking in God's power. But God calls you to give your best in that which is before you today. He will take that and multiply the results. That's how Stephen became one of the heroes of the Book of Acts.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Worthy to Suffer Shame

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Acts 5:1-42 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. Acts 5:41-42 (NKJV)

There is a strange set of words in this passage: WORTHY TO SUFFER SHAME. Wow! That is such a foreign concept to much of society in our day. As a result, it is also a foreign concept to much of the Church in the free world.

Suffering is not a popular topic - and for obvious reasons. Suffering involves pain or difficulty or disadvantage. It is common for us to work very hard to AVOID suffering. Here, however, we find New Testament believers rejoicing that they counted WORTHY of suffering. Amazing!

We could say much about the entire subject of suffering, but I will only make a few brief points here.

1) As surely as anyone decides to follow Jesus, that will propel him or her into SPIRITUAL WARFARE. You automatically have an enemy who does not play fair. Therefore YOU WILL PAY A PRICE TO FOLLOW JESUS. That price may be misunderstanding by former friends, or simply intensified spiritual attack.

2) God often changes negative circumstances in our lives when we come to Jesus, but sometimes He DOES NOT change things. There is a particular set of responsibilities (some negative) that you are CALLED TO CARRY. Your joy will not come by escaping these circumstances, but IN THE MIDST of them.

3) Suffering and negative things that happen to you may not be a manifestation of God's perfect, pre-ordained plan, but it is ALWAYS a tool in His hand to cause you to shine. Therefore, we don't always thank God FOR everything, but we do thank God IN everything.

In this passage, the disciples were rapidly losing everything they owned. They were being imprisoned and impoverished. They were beaten and put to shame. By outward standards, it was not a fun day! But they saw God's hand. And as a result, ground was taken. Instead of losing, they gained. THE PURPOSES OF GOD INCREASED. It can be the same for each of us - NO MATTER WHAT!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage Acts 4:1-37 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. Acts 4:13 (NKJV) One of the fruit of the presence of God in our lives is BOLDNESS. But, this is perhaps a different kind of boldness than we might first think. Many times we associate boldness with a brash kind of extrovert-ish and pushy way of sharing Jesus with non-Christians. When we say someone is "bold in his witness", we think of someone button-holing a stranger. But this is not the best definition of boldness. Peter and John were filled with the Holy Spirit as they stood before those who attacked them. The Holy Spirit gave them inner strength and courage. In the midst of uproarious circumstances, they were secure and unruffled. When everything around them seemed uncertain, they were steady. Boldness and confidence are fruit of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Not a brash, offensive boldness, but a steady confidence to be able to shine in the midst of whatever situation you face. So, are you confident today? Your confidence doesn't come from education or training or how much money you have or how successful you are in men's eyes. Your confidence and boldness comes from the inner strength given by the Holy Spirit. You can have that today, so BE FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Only Believe

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage Acts 3:1-26 And 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. Acts 3:16 (NKJV) We do not put our faith in faith, we put our faith in the Person of Jesus and His character and ability. When we do that, miraculous things happen. Sins are forgiven, hearts are cleansed, minds are set right, even physical ailments can be healed. Faith is not a method of manipulating reality. It is not a mental or emotional formula. Faith is CONNECTION to God. It is the gaze of the soul as we turn our eyes on Him who is our help. Faith is the monetary system of the Kingdom of God. God does not require that we barter or bargain with Him. He does care about our resolutions for better conduct. He asks only that we BELIEVE - that we TRUST. In this story, God heals a beggar. While he remained a beggar, he remained un-healed. When he became a believer, his life changed. He picked up the pallet of excuses on which he had lain for so many years. He walked. In similar fashion, God says to us that while we remain beggars, we will stay in our predicament. He calls us to BELIEVE. One last point: verse 8 says that when the beggar was healed, he leaped up and entered the temple with Peter and John. By Old Testament law, the lame were forbidden from entering the temple. FOR YEARS, this man had been NEAR the temple, but never IN the temple. For perhaps the first time in his life, he was now able to to go where once he had been forbidden. That's what Jesus does for us. He makes a way where there was no way. So what must I do? ONLY BELIEVE.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Holy Spirit and You

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage Acts 2:1-47 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. Acts 2:1-4 (NKJV) Few passages of Scripture have come under closer scrutiny over the past fifty years than these four short verses. There is a vast array of different interpretation and application concerning the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. The result has been misunderstanding and confusion for many. So let's simplify things a bit. First, we should NEVER be afraid of the Holy Spirit. He is my friend, He is my Comforter, He is my God. Second, the Holy Spirit is given to ALL of God's people; not just a select few of super-spiritual ones. The Holy Spirit is the power for the entire Church, not just the "deeper life club." Third, the gifts of the Spirit are for today! ALL of the gifts of the Spirit. Entire denominations have been built on the belief that the gift of tongues is somehow unique from all other gifts and therefore more important. Let's simplify. Tongues is but one of MANY GIFTS. The Holy Spirit wants to release His power in your life so focus on the Holy Spirit, not just one gift. Allow Him to do what He wants to do. Fourth, the effect of the Spirit's presence is like WIND and FIRE. Our prayer is that daily He fill us with the winds that will carry us and guide us. Our prayer is that He set our hearts on fire with a passion for His presence and His will to be done. If you are a believer, a follower of Jesus, you have already received the Holy Spirit in your salvation experience. Now it is time to learn to move in the Holy Spirit - to be filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Prelude to a Revival

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage Acts 1:1-26 1 The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, 3 to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. Acts 1:1-3 (NKJV) What did Jesus come to do? There are at least four very important answers to this question. 1. He came to die on the Cross and thus make atonement for our sins. 2. He came to do many powerful miracles and speak mighty truths - to heal the sick and preach the Word. 3. He came to display to us what a God-surrendered life would look like in terms of character, compassion, and showing the world how to live. 4. He came to train 12 disciples in world mission and thus launch a world-wide movement. We often speak of "being like Jesus." "What would Jesus do." If we consider the four works of Jesus, it is the first one that we can never do. HE DID IT FOR US! And for that we are so thankful. But the other three are ours to carry forward. The key word in Acts 1:1 is BEGAN. In that sense (though it may seem funny to state it this way), the life of Jesus is the "pre-season warm up." It is the launching pad. It is the PRELUDE TO A REVIVAL. By the power of the Spirit, we are called to do the very same works that Jesus did - heal, preach, engage in spiritual warfare. We are called to ACT LIKE JESUS in terms of character and compassion. We are called to make disciples - to do just as Jesus did with the twelve. We help the followers of Jesus to live out this great adventure of living in the Kingdom of God. Jesus BEGAN this work. We carry it forward.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Picture of Discipleship

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
John 21:1-25

Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” John 21:18 (NKJV)

This is the picture of discipleship. Peter was a chosen vessel. He had walked with Jesus as closely as anyone. Yet there remained in him a tendency to gird himself and walk where ever him wished. Jesus had spent three years apprehending this wild heart.

A.W. Tozer once said that God cannot use anyone greatly unless He has first wounded him deeply. The height of our calling is also the depth of God's working. Peter had been self-willed. Now Jesus tells him that "another will gird you...another will carry you."

This is a picture of discipleship. Jesus never calls us to work FOR Him. He never asks us to DO things to please Him. He calls us to stretch out our hands like a child toward its parent - to surrender our lives, our wills, our ways - and allow Him to carry us.

He has marvelous plans. He will take us places we could never go on our own. This is what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

Friday, June 1, 2012


"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage John 20:1-31 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’” John 20:17 (NKJV) As Mary Magdalene encountered the risen Jesus on Easter morning she did not at first recognize Him. In similar fashion, we often do not recognize RESURRECTION LIFE when it comes to us. Too often we dwell in the death of yesterday and do not yet have eyes to see the LIFE of today and tomorrow. Jesus makes an incredible statement to Mary Magdalene. He says, "Don't stop Me. Don't hold Me. Don't retain Me in past stories and memories (good as they might be)." There is such a tendency in all of us to hold on to the past. There is such a tendency to feel that the best is behind us and all we have is fragments of past possibilities. Jesus also said, "I am ascending!" "I am on my way to My Father - My destiny." There was a trajectory to Jesus in His resurrection. There is also a trajectory to your life in God as you walk in resurrection power. Paul wrote about this in Philippians 3 when he said, "I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call (resurrection power) of God in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 3:13-14) "Don't stop me...I'm ascending!"