Pentecost in Acts: Acts 27 All Things For Good!

Paul sails to Rome, but along the way his ship ends up in a terrible storm and the lives of those aboard are in peril. Those aboard the ship “gave up all hope of being saved.”But God continues to speak to Paul about the situation. Paul told those aboard the ship with him:

“For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’” Acts 27:23-24 ESV

What God spoke to Paul eventually came to pass. The ship was dashed to pieces on rocks, but everyone on the ship survived.

This story may seem like a horrible detour, unfair to a man that desired to live his life only for Jesus. But, God had a purpose in it!

We go through things we do not understand, hardships… As we have yielded our lives to the Holy Spirit and trust God, we will see that God does work all things out for our good and for His glory.

May we trust Him more!

Pentecost in Acts: Acts 20:22-38 Nothing Else

Paul speaks the elders at the church of Ephesus that he dearly loves. He tells them that he knows the Holy Spirit is compelling him to go to Jerusalem, and he knows that hardship awaits him. Even so, Paul has set in his heart to obey and to go. His only desire was to obey God and to do exactly what God had called him to do. Paul says this:

“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24 ESV

Life is not easy, and living for God with a heart that is wholly His is not normal to the world around us. Because those around us who do not know God do not value Him or His ways. But Paul had an encounter with Jesus Himself, and Paul had experienced the fullness of the Holy Spirit in his life. He was forever changed and wanted to know God alone. He only wanted to please God no matter what.

Have you come to that point in your life? Have you had an experience with Jesus and found that He alone satisfies? Have you entered into fellowship with the Holy Spirit? Can you hear Him speak to you, and do you know He hears you when you pray? This is what you were created for! Nothing else matters!

My prayer is the same as Paul’s. May I testify if the grace of God in my life! God has been so very good to me! I want you to experience that same goodness! But that goodness is only experienced when you surrender your life to Him. That is when the Holy Spirit fills you to overflowing and you experience the same Jesus Paul encountered on the road to Damascus and the same Holy Spirit the disciples were filled with in the upper room at Pentecost.

May our hearts be His alone! Come Holy Spirit!

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!

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 16:16-33: Never Separated Again!

Separation is hard. It can often be unbearable. Jesus is trying to prepare His disciples for the coming separation they will experience from Him. He tells them of the sorrow they will feel when He dies and then how all that sorrow will be erased when they see Him again when He resurrects from the grave.

“When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” John 16:21-22 ESV

For those of us who are women, we know how painful it is to go through childbirth. But all is forgotten when we hold the precious newborn. It was painful for the disciples to go though seeing Jesus beaten and crucified. But all that was only a memory after encountering the glory of the risen Lord!!!

This gives me hope in another area of my life as well. There is great sadness in losing someone you love in death. BUT all that will be erased when we are once again united in Heaven! Never to be separated again.

The joy of a mother holding a new born baby, the joy of seeing The Risen Savior, the joy of being reunited with the ones we have been separated from by death… that is what Jesus wants us to experience. That is why He has overcome the world!

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”” John 16:33 ESV

Reflections on John 14:15-31: Knowing the Holy Spirit

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17 ESV

Never underestimate the value of having relationship with the Holy Spirit. He is our Helper, the Spirit of Truth, our Teacher, and so much more. He is with us forever.

““These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:25-26 ESV

Jesus says we will know the Holy Spirit. To know is to “take, receive or hold” or “to not be a stranger with or to be familiar with.” Knowing the Holy Spirit is be intimate with Him. The Holy Spirit desires to be relational with us or to put it simply in relationship with us. We can talk to Him in prayer, and He loves to speak to us. We can ask Him for help to understand God’s truth. He longs to teach us God’s ways if we only listen to His still small voice. He continually draws us in closer and closer to Jesus and the Father.

Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you every time you open the scripture (the Bible) and begin to read. He will! Ask the Holy Spirit to give you power to live as God designed for you to live. He will! Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you to overflowing with Himself. He will!

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!