Pentecost in Acts: Acts 4:1-22 Filled With Boldness!

Peter and John were arrested and out in jail for preaching Jesus and His resurrection power. The religious rulers could not have them spreading the good news. It threatened their power. After a night in jail Peter and John were brought before the religious rulers to be questioned. They did not cower in fear!

Verse 8 says that Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit when he replied to their questions. The word says they were bold! This was a testimony that they knew Peter and John had been with Jesus!

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13 ESV

Life can throw circumstances that seem insurmountable. But through the power of the Holy Spirit we can be bold to face them! This will be a testimony to all those who are around us that we have “been with Jesus.”

The Holy Spirit that came at Pentecost comes to us still today to fill us full of Him so we can be bold and show the world Jesus to those around us!

Holy Spirit fill us with boldness!

Pentecost in Acts: Acts 3:1-10 What I Do Have

Peter and John now full of the Holy Spirit were headed to the temple to pray. There they saw a lame man begging. Peter told the man to look at him.

“But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!””Acts 3:6 ESV

“What I do have….” As spirit-filled believers, what do we have? The name of Jesus! We have the authority He has given us in His name. It is through this name that we are assured by the words of Jesus we are able to do “greater works.”

““Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” John 14:12-13 ESV

But do we live this way? Is our communion/ connection with God so tight that we live as His visible representation to the world around us?

Peter and John were God’s representatives that day. Through the power of the Holy Spirit they were witnesses of the all powerful God to whom lame legs are meant to be a display of His healing power. They were a conduit of God’s presence that brought “wonder and amazement” to those who were near them.

We are meant for such things! May our lives be fervently HOT with the power and presence of the Holy Spirit so those around us take note that we have been with Jesus! And they would desire to KNOW Him!

Holy Spirit fill us as You did at Pentecost!

Pentecost in Acts 1:1-11: This Same Jesus

I have to say I’m pretty excited about the direction I feel the Holy Spirit prompting me to go in reading the Bible as we approach Pentecost Sunday. I’ve spent several months reflecting on the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) speaking of what Jesus said and did as he walked the earth over 2000 years ago. BUT there is more! What started then was only the beginning.

The Book of Acts is actually the sequel to the book of Luke, written by the Luke. I love what he says in Acts 1:1 :

“In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach,”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭1‬:‭1‬ ‭ESV

“…all that Jesus began to do…” The life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus was only the beginning of what Jesus would do and is doing today! Jesus spent forty days appearing to the disciples, giving them convincing proofs of His risen body, and teaching them about the Kingdom of God. With His final instruction, “…wait for the gift my Father promised… you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” he gave before He ascended to the Father.

Days earlier, before Jesus death on the cross and resurrection, Jesus had spoken of what was to be fulfilled in the entire book of Acts.

““Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”
‭‭John‬ ‭14‬:‭12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We will read of these greater works as we approach and celebrate one of the greatest days of history, Pentecost- the coming of Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church. As we read, may we always remember the words written in Hebrews:

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭13‬:‭8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“This same Jesus…” that walked our earth and spoke of God’s Kingdom and did miracles that showed us the Heavenly Father’s glory, might, love, and power has NOT changed! He assured the disciples as He was taken up to heaven The Holy Spirit would come and give them power to be His witnesses. “This same Jesus…” is most assuredly coming back as well when time is fulfilled. For now, we have only seen the beginning of what “this same Jesus” has done when we read the gospels. As we contemplate the chapters of the book of Acts, we will see that we have only seen the beginning of what “this same Jesus” will do in and through us now in our day and time through the power of the Holy Spirit who came at Pentecost and still comes into a life that asks to be full of Him.

Come Holy Spirit! Fill us to overflowing with You once again!

Reflections on John 21: “Do you love me?”

Have you ever made a conscientious decision to disobey God? I have. Have you ever made a choice to go and do things your way instead of His? I have. Have you ever found yourself sitting with Him after you have done one or both of these things feeling unworthy or unloveable? I have.

In today’s chapter Peter is sitting with Jesus face to face next to a breakfast that Jesus had prepared for him and the other disciples who were with Peter. Jesus always has His way of speaking to our hearts. “Simon son of John (Peter’s given name) do you love me?” Three times He asks Peter this question. Each time replying “Feed my lambs”, “Feed my sheep.” Ending the third time with “Follow me.”

I believe Jesus did this once for each time Peter denied Jesus as He was watching Jesus be tried and led to crucifixion. Jesus did not look at Peter and say, “You know Peter… you are a failure. I have no use for you.” He instead told Him to care for God’s flock, His church, and to follow Jesus for the rest of his days.

I stand in the same place as Peter faced with my willful choices to sin. I know the places it has led me. I know the pain of failure. Yet Jesus calls to me as well. In fact, we all do this. He wants us to let Him pick us up set us firmly on His rock and to use the things meant to destroy us to proclaim Jesus as Victor over all! Feed Jesus’s sheep with the truth of the Word and Follow Him!

Side note- Peter did just what Jesus said. He preached at Pentecost and 3000 Believed in Jesus! Think of what Jesus can do through you when you answer the question, “___________ do you love me?”

Reflections on John 20: The Breath of Life Once More!

“And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:22 ESV

Death could not hold Jesus! This chapter records many accounts of the resurrected Jesus appearing to the disciples. Historical texts of that time written by the Jewish historian Josephus confirm the resurrection to be true. The evidence of the resurrection occurring is overwhelming. It is truth that we can build our lives upon! Our Lord Jesus is alive!

What strikes me in this chapter is how real the encounters the disciples had with the resurrected Jesus were. Disheartened, frightened, unbelieving, misunderstanding, unconvinced, disciples are the very ones Jesus came to after His resurrection. He came to them so they could live in peace, without doubt, believing. Not only did He appear to them, He restored! Jesus set right all that was wrong when sin entered our world.

Jesus breathed on them saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” The breath of God breathed on man, sounds familiar doesn’t it? Genesis 2:7 speaks of the other time God breathed on man with the breath of life.

“then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” Genesis 2:7 ESV

Of all creation only one creature received God’s breath, the breath of life, mankind. Sin had brought death at the fall of man. But our resurrected Jesus has defeated death and once again God breaths His life into us! When we receive Jesus as our resurrected Lord, Jesus breaths on us as well. His Holy Spirit enters us, His life, His breath!

The resurrection of Jesus assured us that we are no longer subjected to the separation that we all experience by death. Because God— Jesus has breathed, the life giving breath of the Holy Spirit, on us once more !

Reflections on John 17:13-26: That They All May be One

We really don’t know what it means to live in unity, oneness. Back in the garden when Adam and Eve sinned, separation became all we knew and still is all we know. Sin separates us from God and others. Death separates us from loved ones. We live our lives very familiar with being separated from the ones we were meant to be in unity/ oneness with here and now. It may be physical separation, emotional separation, or spiritual separation. We know nothing but separation, but Jesus came to end separation.

In this section of scripture, Jesus is praying to the Father and speaks of something that as a sinful human being seems impossible, even scandalous to believe.

“that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” John 17:21 ESV

Jesus speaks of Himself being one with the Father and being “in” Him. Then He prays that we are in them, the Father and the Son. We are invited into a life where separation from God is no more. We are invited to participate in His nature and to be His representative here on earth. We are invited to such closeness to God that we are one with Him: Having His mind, the mind of Christ, Having His Spirit, the Holy Spirit connecting us to Him. It is all about relationship with God, which is fellowship or friendship.

We settle for far less than we were intended to have by living after ourselves (our flesh) and not God. We want our own ways and to follow our own paths. YET We have the greatest invitation of all, to be united in oneness with God and to go with Him.

Jesus longs for us to be in Him and to experience Him fully. May our hearts cry be the same!

Reflections on John 17:1-12 : To Know God

“And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”John 17:3 ESV

Jesus tells us what eternal life is. It is to know the Father and the Son! Jesus came to reveal the Father to us so we are able to know Him. Our job is to accept what Jesus said, to know He came from God He is His God’s Son, and believe it. We are to hope with confidence and expect Him to do what what He said He would do save us from our sins and enable us to walk in relationship with Him.

It is an easy thing to know “about” Jesus. Many have spoken words whether truth or not about Him. Knowing “about” Jesus does not make us a Christian- one who is in relationship with Jesus, one of God’s children.

We cannot ride along on the coattails of our parents or grandparents relationship with God either. They may have known Jesus when they were living or know Him now and experience Him in their lives. That is their relationship with God. Each person must have their own. To be in relationship with God, you must “know” Jesus. You must be intimately acquainted with Him.

The past month we have explored all the awesome deeds Jesus did as recorded in the book of John. We have seen how He has revealed to us what our Heavenly Father is like. The question now lingers… what holds me back from truly knowing God and experiencing His eternal life?

Jesus has provided all we need to “know” Him and the Father. May we take what He has given and hunger to know Him more and more each day!

Reflections on John 14:1-15: Greater Works Than These…Doing the Stuff!

This section of scripture is the explanation of why I believe it is so important to immerse myself in “knowing” Jesus. I want to know Him with not only a head knowledge but intimately.

We were created to know God or to walk and talk with Him in intimate relationship. Jesus tells us that He is in the Father and the Father is in Him. He says that the Father does His works through Jesus. Knowing Jesus is knowing the Father.

When we read the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), we are reading the accounts of what Jesus did while here on earth over 2000 years ago. All His works were incredible! Jesus healed the sick, cast out demons, forgave those trapped in sin, etc. He displayed the Father’s great love! Jesus is still at work in and through our lives! He did not stop!

We have this precious promise;

““Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” John 14:12-14 ESV

Jesus in us, through the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is the assurance that we continue His work here and now! In fact, He promises us “greater works”.

John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard Churches, read the same accounts we have been reading in the gospels, as a young believer during the time of the Jesus Movement in the 60’s. He asked a pastor after attending church, “So when do we do the stuff?… You know, the stuff in the Bible, like healing the sick and casting out demons. The stuff!”

May we know Him more so we “Do the stuff” that Jesus did and still does in our day and time through the power of the Holy Spirit living in us! All this to bring glory to our Loving Heavenly Father. May we know Him and make Him known!

Thoughts on John 12: My Way or His?

“Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” John 12:42-43 ESV

The Pharisees had it out for Jesus. He was a threat to their power and their long list of rules they enforced. They looked continually for a way to arrest Him so they could put Him to death.

After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead the Pharisees wanted to kill him too. The crowds were increasingly turning to Jesus, worshipping Him and believing in Him. This increased the resolve of the Pharisees that Jesus must die.

Not only the crowds believed, the authorities began to believe as well. However, these authorities that believed did not openly confess that they believed. They were afraid of the Pharisees and they “loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” Simply put, they loved their ways above God’s.

I have lived my life at times as the authorities of Jesus time did. I have seen Him do miraculous things in the lives of those around me and could not help but believe that Jesus did them. Yet, I wanted my way above His. So I held back on confessing what I knew to be true. As I’ve often said, “I like to be liked.” Sometimes openly confessing the truth of Jesus and obeying Him fully makes those around us uncomfortable, even angry. So the easier path is to love our own ways above the ways of Jesus and not say the truth. Jesus tells us in verses 25-26:

“Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.”

May we love Jesus wholeheartedly and serve Him first not cower in fear as the authorities did! Jesus’ way above our own! That is the only way to live life to the fullest!

Reflections on John 11: The Resurrection and the Life

John 11 is the account of the death and resurrection of Lazarus. I love this story. It truly displays the heart of Jesus. Especially when we know great disappointment in our lives.

Mary and Martha were Jesus friends. They sent word to Jesus telling Him, “…Lord, he whom you love is ill.”” John 11:3 ESV They knew Jesus was the answer to the problem they were up against.

When Jesus received word of Lazarus’ condition He told those He was with, “…This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” John 11:4 ESV Jesus promised that Lazarus would not die, but His life would be used to glorify God. Later we see Lazarus did in fact die, but it was to give Jesus the opportunity to display His miracle of resurrection power! So Lazarus did in deed live!

When Jesus saw the heartache before He performed His miracle at Lazarus’ tomb, He felt compassion for Mary and Martha, who He loved. He wept.

That is where I come in. There have been situations in my own life that I prayed and asked God for a miracle. Only to see the situations seemingly end in “death.” I have felt the heartbreak of disappointment. As I read this chapter I am assured that Jesus did indeed hear me, and He has seen my heartbreak. Jesus has felt as I did and He has wept. But in the end I can believe that His plan always ends in “life and life more abundantly.” John 10:10. He is the God of resurrection. Even though we die, we live when we believe in Him. The seemingly dead and over situations are simply “asleep,” when entrusted to Jesus. His plan will always end in life for me. Jesus asks me the same question He asked Mary as I am asked to trust Him with my greatest disappointment, “Do you believe this?”

Do you believe He will do what is best and work all things out for your good? Even if you have a season of waiting to see His resurrection power in your life?

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”” John 11:25-26 ESV