Peter went to the house of Cornelius as Jesus had told him to do. When he arrived there was a large gathering of gentiles there. He testified of Jesus and explained:
“…that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”” Acts 10:43 ESV
As Peter was speaking the Holy Spirit was poured out on those who heard him just as He came at Pentecost.
“For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”” Acts 10:46-47 ESV
The same Holy Spirit that filled the disciples gathered at Pentecost came and filled the new Gentile believers! They began to speak in tongues and praise God! Then Peter baptized them with water.
God never changes. He is not a “one and done God” never to come and fill again! The promise of the Holy Spirit was for the Gentiles gathered and for all who would come after them. What He did for the believers at Pentecost, He did for the Gentile Believers at Cornelius’s house. He will also do this in our day for a heart that hungers and thirsts for Him. He will fill!
Peter was a devout Jew. He did not touch the things considered “unclean”. There was a list of forbidden foods that included pork and catfish. The Jewish people did not eat them. They would not go to a gentile (non Jewish) home and eat dinner with them. Peter followed that law too. But Peter had a vision. Jesus had plans to teach Peter that He was not only Savior of the Jewish nation but of the whole world. Jesus declared, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” This is good news for a Missouri girl. I can go ahead and enjoy my BBQ pork steak and fried catfish! But much more than that! When God is in our lives He makes us clean! We are part of the promise of Abraham a part of God’s holy nation! We are His people as well!
What Peter saw was a part of what God spoke in Joel chapter two:
““And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.” Joel 2:28 ESV
The Holy Spirit gave Peter the vision, and it was a vision God used to reach the Gentiles with his Good News. Or as Joel 2 said God “Will pour out His Spirit on all flesh…” including the Gentiles! More Good News for a Missouri girl! We are included in His precious promise!
Two major miracles! One…Peter commands a man paralyzed for eight years to get up and walk in the name of Jesus! Two… Peter commands a believer who had died to get up and she did! In both cases people heard of the miracles and “turned to the Lord.” They “believed in the Lord.”
Peter was empowered by the Holy Spirit, not only with boldness, but with the Spirit displaying signs and wonders through his commands. All of this was done in the name of Jesus! It pointed to Jesus, who was and still is alive!
The Holy Spirit wants to empower us today to see signs and wonders that bring glory to Jesus and testify of His living lordship over all. May we hunger and thirst to be full of Him so we can be a display of God’s love, His image here today! And May we see the Holy Spirit work the unimaginable through our lives so all will see and be in awe of our glorious God!
The young man Saul, who held the coats of the men who stoned Stephen, grew to be a man who was known as one who persecuted the church. Then Jesus stepped in. Jesus appeared to Saul as he walked along the road to Damascus with authority to arrest Christians when he arrived. Jesus spoke to Saul was blinded by the great light from heaven and Jesus told Him to go into the city. So he did. He waited and prayed. God appeared to a man named Ananias and sent him to Saul. Ananias went to Saul and prayed for him to receive his sight again and to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
God had plans for Saul to make him a “chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles.” God has a plan and a purpose for us as well. The Holy Spirit fills us so that we can be a witness, or testify, of Jesus the Son of God. He gives us boldness to lift Jesus up to those around us so that Jesus can draw all men to Himself!
May we seek to know this fullness of the Holy Spirit so we can “Know God and Make Him Known!”
An Angel of the Lord tells Philip to go to a certain desert road. It is there Philip sees a haricot with an Ethiopian eunuch that was a court official for the queen of Ethiopia. The Holy Spirit tells Philip to go to the chariot. The official on the chariot is reading scripture and doesn’t understand it. He invites Philip to ride along with him so Philip can explain the scriptures to him. The man believes and Philip baptizes him. Then Philip is “carried away” by the Spirit of the Lord.
Philip was very in tune with the Holy Spirit’s prompting and he was obedient to the Holy Spirit’s directions. He was used by God as he listened attentively to what God directed him and obeyed. Because of Philip’s obedience, he was able to witness to and be a part in introducing someone to Jesus.
The Holy Spirit wants us to listen to Him as well. He wants us to obey His prompting. He desires to use us for His greater purposes. As we are filled with the Holy Spirit, He will speak to us and direct us. He will lead us just as He did Philip after he was filled with the Holy Spirit in the upper room at Pentecost.
May we be overflowing with the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and follow His leading!
After Stephen was stoned to death, persecution grew against the early believers. Much of it was at the hand of Saul who later became the Apostle Paul. Many believers were put in prison. Those who were not imprisoned spread out from Jerusalem witnessing of Jesus and His resurrection wherever they went. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and declared Jesus. Signs followed him, demons were cast out of people. Simon the sorcerer, who practiced magic in the city, bringing glory to himself. The people living there saw his feats and said, “ God had made him great.” When the people saw and heard from Philip what was real and true. They believed in Jesus and were baptized. Even Simon believed.
Peter and John were sent to Samaria because they had heard the people had not had the Holy Spirit fall on them. So they came to pray for them to receive the Holy Spirit. As they prayed for the people to receive the Holy Spirit, Simon the sorcerer was amazed. He offered money to be able to pray for people like that. Peter rebuked him because the gift of God cannot be bought with money.
The Holy Spirit is a gift to us. His indwelling is not something we can buy with our own influence or power. He comes to those who are seeking to be filled with Him for the glory of God. He comes to testify of Jesus and magnify Jesus through us. Simon the sorcerer was about himself, not God.
These believers had been baptized in Jesus name but the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon them as the apostles had experienced at Pentecost. That is why Peter and John came to pray for them. They needed to know about the gift of being filled with the Holy Spirit.
May we examine our hearts. Are we as Simon the sorcerer, full of ourselves. Do we think only of our plans and our glory? Or are we as the apostles, full of the Holy Spirit, testifying of God everywhere we go, bringing glory to Him in our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit? Are we full of the Holy Spirit?
The religious leaders arrested Stephen and set up false witnesses to testify against him. As they accused him, they asked Stephen if the testimony against him was true. Stephen then recites a summary of the history of Israel. In this testimony he points out how God had been faithful to the people, but the people had not been faithful to God. They followed their own selves and “resisted the Holy Spirit.” They killed the prophets who announced the coming of Jesus and eventually killed Jesus, the “Righteous One.”
This angered the crowd all the more so they seized him.
“But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”Acts 7:55 ESV
Stephen told them what he saw. They rushed at Stephen and they stoned him to death.
There standing in the crowd, approving of the killing, was a young man named Saul, who eventually encountered Jesus and became the Apostle Paul. Stephen’s witness, empowered by the Holy Spirit, influenced a man who became one of the first missionaries and a writer of much of the New Testament.
The Holy Spirit’s power in Stephen’s life enabled Him to endure persecution and death. The Holy Spirit’s presence in Stephen enabled Him to bring glory to God no matter the circumstances. We live in a world that is increasingly wicked as the world in Stephen’s time was. We need the power to be a witness that Jesus promised before Pentecost.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”” Acts 1:8 ESV
I love the account of Stephen in Acts. Stephen is a man that the Bible describes as being “full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.” He was chosen to take care of food distribution in the early church because He had those attributes. As Stephen was faithful in His role, he was “full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people.” He spoke with wisdom and the Spirit’s power.
Stephen did some of the more ordinary work within the early church with extraordinary power. Why? Because He was experiencing the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in His life. He was full of the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit was not only given at Pentecost for the twelve Apostles to work signs and wonders as they witnessed the resurrection of Jesus to the world around them. The Holy Spirit came so everyone within the church could be full of Him. The Holy Spirit used a man in charge of food distribution to widows within the church to perform “signs and wonders” and the Holy Spirit gave him supernatural wisdom and power as he spoke as well.
The Holy Spirit’s power to be a witness is for everyone within the church! He longs to empower us and to work through us giving supernatural wisdom, signs, and wonders as we do whatever our role is when we follow Jesus.
May we be as Stephen was “full of faith and the Holy Spirit!”
The apostles performed incredible miracles in the name of Jesus. The people knew the power of the Holy Spirit was within the followers of Jesus! They would lay their sick in their beds out on the streets so Peter’s shadow might touch them as he walked by. Crowds gathered bringing their sick and demon possessed to be prayed for. All were healed.
This made the religious leaders jealous. So they arrested the apostles again. This time an Angel set the apostles free. Now the religious leaders are very concerned. They wanted it stopped.
Peter and the apostles once again told the religious leaders that they crucified God’s Son, and in repentance, forgiveness of sins comes. Then they said:
“And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”” Acts 5:32 ESV
It was the Holy Spirit within the apostles that gave them the power to be witnesses of Jesus! The Holy Spirit was a witness too! Their testimony evidenced by the miraculous was impossible to deny! Unless one chose to ignore the evidence and turn the other way.
The Holy Spirit longs to testify of Jesus within our lives as well! He wants to show a life changed and empowered by Himself to those around us! He wants to work within us to create what God intended for us to be all along, the image of God! He desires to display the miraculous!
That is the purpose of Pentecost all those years ago! The Holy Spirit within us, empowering us to be a witness- a living testimony of what God is like to the world. As we give ourselves to Him and ask for Him to fill us to overflowing, and we obey Him, we will be a display of the miraculous power and love of our Heavenly Father. Our lives, through the Spirit, will glorify Him!
Come Holy Spirit! Make us a witness, with You displaying the miraculous, as Peter and the apostles were over 2000 years ago!
Ananias and Sapphira wanted to look good like some of the others who had sold their property and given the proceeds to the Church. They conspired to give but lie about how much they gave. They kept some of the money for themselves. They lied to the Holy Spirit and to man. Both of them fell dead when confronted with their sin.
After reading this I ask myself do I try to lie to the Holy Spirit as well? Do I act as if or try to give the impression that I am following God whole heartedly when I hold back,on purpose, things that I do not want to surrender to Him? The Holy Spirit who fills us with Himself, knows us. Pretending to follow Jesus so that we look good is offensive to God. God knows living wholehearted for Him is what is best for us. The Holy Spirit does not want us to pretend or be half hearted. He wants to consume all of us! It is the same as Jesus told the Church at Laodicea regarding their acting like they were following God wholeheartedly:
““‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”Revelation 3:15-16 ESV
A good cup of coffee is only good hot or ice cold as ice coffee. Lukewarm it is only worth spitting out and throwing away. It is the same for us. May we never try to lie within our hearts about our devotion to God! May we be flaming HOT in our love for Him! May we not lie to the Holy Spirit regarding what we come to give to Him!