Pentecost in Acts: Acts 3:11-26 Connection Restored

After Peter declared to the paralyzed man to get up and walk in the name of Jesus, the people around saw him jumping, running and walking and praising God. The people who saw this were utterly astounded. Peter once again preaches to the crowd that gathered. He explained how the Jesus they had handed over to be killed had risen from the grave and there is power in the name of Jesus, the risen Lord.

“And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.” Acts 3:16 ESV

And concluded that repentance, turning from their wickedness to God so that Jesus may restore all things.

“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.” Acts 3:19-21 ESV

Jesus came so that what was lost, our relationship with God and our original design—us as God’s image bearer—could be restored. This comes through the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, uniting us with Him. Our connection to God that was lost through sin is reconnected by the Holy Spirit’s filling of us. This connection gives us power and boldness to declare Jesus name over impossible and to see God work miracles in the lives around us!

May we repent, turning from our wickedness to God, and be filled with His Holy Spirit, connected to Him, so we too may bring glory to God in the words we speak and the deeds we do!

Pentecost in Acts 1:12-26: A Witness With Us

After Jesus ascended into Heaven the disciples did what Jesus had told them to do. They went back to Jerusalem and waited there in the upper room where they had been staying. As they waited there they “joined together constantly in prayer.” It was during this time Peter told those gathering that they needed to choose a replacement for Judas. Two men were nominated and once again they prayed asking God for guidance. Matthias was chosen.

Matthias was chosen to “become a witness with us of his resurrection.” (Verse 22) Matthias was not one of the original twelve disciples, but he had been with Jesus. He walked along the way with Him just as the original twelve did. He watched Jesus be baptized. He saw the miracles. He listened to Jesus teach. He witnessed Jesus’s ascension to heaven as well. He was committed along with the other disciples to wait in that upper room for the promised power from on high when the Holy Spirit would come upon them. (Verse 8). God chose Him to take over the apostolic ministry, to be one of the sent ones.

What an example the disciples gave to us! They waited on the Holy Spirit! They obeyed! They lived constantly in prayer! They new their role was to be a witness giving evidence of the proof of what Jesus had done once filled with the Holy Spirit! We are to live that way as well! As we spend time with Jesus in prayer and yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit’s guidance waiting on Him to move within us, may our lives be a witness, a testimony- a visible representation of the invisible God to all of those around us!

Reflections on John 16:1-15: Our Helper Declares

We settle for far less than what the Father has given to us. We live like paupers when we are children of the King! We are offered intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father through the presence of the Holy Spirit inside of us, but do we truly experience that relationship?

Jesus once again tells us about our Helper, the Holy Spirit. He says something that would seem so odd to a group of disciples that had walked with Jesus, talked to Him face to face, touched Him in warm embraces, been His friends. However, Jesus tells them and He also tells us:

“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” John 16:7 ESV

It is to our advantage that Jesus is not physically walking the earth, but instead the Holy Spirit is here inside of us! Jesus goes on to tell us more about what the Holy Spirit does for us.

“All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” John 16:15 ESV

Everything the Father has is Jesus’s, and the Holy Spirit will take what is Jesus’s and declare it to us. What Jesus received from the Father is made known to us by the Holy Spirit. In other words, we can KNOW and EXPERIENCE God!

Our time in prayer is an invitation to sit with God in conversation, not a formulated script or a few words we repeat at certain times of the day. Our time in prayer can be never ending as we walk and talk with our Heavenly Father experiencing the presence of the Holy Spirit ALL DAY LONG! We have an ever present Helper living in us who desires for us to know an Intimate relationship with our God not a surface one. Our God is awesome!

Reflections on John 15:1-17: Apart From Me You Can Do Nothing

“…apart from me you can do nothing”—Jesus

Do I really live like I believe what He said?

In this section of scripture (John 15:1-17), Jesus compared us to a branch that hangs down off a vine. That vine provides the very life flow of nutrients to the branch. The branch’s responsibility is to receive what is given to it and to bear fruit by staying connected to the vine. The branch has to stay connected, “remain in the vine.”

I have lived as a rebellious vine more than once. I was convinced that I could do things my own way, live without seeking to absorb the Vine’s nutrients- His living water, His Word (The Bible). I have thought I was ok disconnected and on my own. Living for me…

The truth is NO BRANCH prospers when it is disconnected from the VINE! You and I are the Branches. Jesus is the Vine! May we examine ourselves today. Are we trying to live our lives without being fully connected to Jesus? Do we come to Him in prayer and search for Him in His Word knowing it is THE VERY LIFE OF GOD that flows into us if we only open ourselves to it’s flow? Jesus spoke words that are soooo true, do we hear them? “…apart from Me you can do nothing!”

If life seems to be far from His peace, His joy, and His love, check your connection. He longs for us to be closely connected to Him for our good and His glory!

Reflections on John 10: Follow His Voice!

At the height of the struggle I had with anxiety, verses 4-5 spoke to me.

“To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.””
‭‭John‬ ‭10‬:‭3‬-‭5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Anxiety, among many other voices, cry out for our attention, but Jesus assures us that as His sheep we know HIS voice! If we really stop and listen, we can hear that voice. All the other voices shouting at us for His attention are only thieves and strangers. We as His sheep follow His voice alone.

Do not be distracted by all the shouting of lies in your ears! The truth is, when you are in Jesus, you know His voice. If you listen, you will hear it. Follow that voice! It leads to the one who tenderly cares for all our needs, our Good Shepherd.

Reflections on John 7: No One Ever Spoke Like Him!

When faced with Jesus people have so many reactions. This chapter illustrates them so well. Jesus’ half brothers found it hard to believe that Jesus was more than a man. They wanted Him to prove Himself. The religious leaders, who thought they had God all figured out, thought Jesus was a threat to the power they exercised over themselves and others. Others thought He was crazy, demon possessed. Some were curious. Others were offended. Some didn’t know what to do with Him. We are much like that today. People hear of Jesus and struggle to put Him in a convenient Box within their minds that could explain Him away. So they are conflicted as the people of Jesus time.

Verse 46 gives us the response of a temple guard that I think sums up the point where a person begins to see Jesus for who He is and accept Him as who He longs to be in our lives, Lord God.

When asked why the guard did not arrest Jesus. The guard said, “No one ever spoke the way this man does.”

When Jesus speaks to us, His voice is different than all the others around. When we truly hear Him, He is like no other. His word in our heart changes us. It causes us to see He isn’t all the things we thought He might be. He is God and He is Love and He is Lord. May we hear Him speak and recognize that no one speaks like Jesus does. His word is power and it changes our hearts!

Choose Your Song

My husband and I were as people in Missouri say,¨dirt poor¨when we first got married. Our honeymoon consisted of going back to the apartment I lived at in Columbia and staying there for 2 nights while my roommates found other places to stay. Then it was off to our new lives in another town and a new job for me. This year marked our 30th Anniversary. When we started talking about what we should do, I told my husband, ¨Let’s go big!¨ So we contemplated what it would take for us to swing a trip to Hawaii. Finally it was in our plans.

One of the whales at play

That´s where this week begins. For the past six days my husband and I have been living our Hawaiian dreams: walks during the sunrise and sunset on the beach, driving around seeing all the sights, a luau… It has been fun! Yesterday was an excursion on a catamaran around the island watching dolphins, turtles, and even a manta ray swim up next to the boat. But the star of the show was the humpback whales. Every year they migrate from Alaska to Hawaii for their mating season. We have been blessed to be here for the prime time of their activity. They were jumping, splashing their tail fins, and even breaching! It was breathtaking! Our Captain stopped the boat for awhile to allow for time snorkeling. Which was awesome! Just before we embarqued on our return back to the pier the Captain set up a waterproof microphone on an extra long cord and for a brief moment we were able to hear something amazing, the singing of the whales. What more could a Missouri girl ask for in a tour!

What struck me the most about the whales’ song was how it goes on and on yet it is often unheard. We can miss it!

This morning I woke up thinking about the ¨songs¨ we listen to and the most important ¨songs¨we miss. Zephaniah‬ ‭3‬:‭17‬ ‭says, “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” I have spent much of my life not really hearing the sweet song of Lord as He has sung it over me. Instead I have let the sounds of wind and waves drown it out with noise of fear and anxiety. Or I have missed the Lord’s song as the angry and bitter noises of loud commotion the enemy has echoed near me over and over. I have often missed the Lord’s song. I have chosen to focus on all the noise around me when He has called me away to sit with Him and hear Him sing.

When I woke up this morning I kept seeing the words, ¨choose your song.¨ They ran through my mind over and over and over. Then I remembered the whales’ song. We had to choose to listen to the whales singing yesterday as we sat anchored on the ocean. I have to choose as well. Our minds have been rightly called ¨a battlefield.¨ They are where we listen to the spiritual voices and they are where we decide. For years I have taken the lazy approach to my thought life, thinking I had no control over where my mind took me, or what ¨song¨ I listened to. The fruit of that kind of living was miserable. We must ¨Choose our song.¨ We must choose to listen to the song the Heavenly Father as He sings over us. His song is a song of love, joy, peace, and mercy. He sings it over us all the time! He is patiently waiting for us to listen and to respond to His singing. He longs for us to focus on His song and to reject all the noise the enemy tries to distract us with.

Lately, Ive been tempted to listen to all the distorted noises of the enemy. It’s so easy to find yourself tuning into His lies. It takes no effort to hear him… But my loving Heavenly Father reminded me by a moment miles away from my home, that He wants me to ¨listen intently¨to Him. Keep my focus on His voice. If I don’t I will miss His singing. Just like I could have totally missed the singing of the whales, had I not took the opportunity to stop and hear.

Our God is such a good, good God. May we listen to Him sing His song of love over us each and every hour of each and every day!

Christmas in Luke (Day 11)

Today’s reading is Luke 11.
Jesus loved to pray. It was his regular practice to go to a secluded place and spend time with His Heavenly Father. The ones closest to Jesus had seen Him take time to do this often.

Could you imagine being there when Jesus spoke to His Heavenly Father? Hearing Him talk to God, not in a formal religious formula, but in a close and intimate conversation? Watching Jesus and His time of communion with God the Father was enough to spark curiosity within one of the disciples, probably more than just curiosity, a hunger. “Lord, teach us to pray…” (verse 1). Jesus then gave His disciples the model prayer, what we often call, “The Lord’s Prayer” or some call, “The Our Father.” This prayer was meant to be an outline of prayer for His disciples to follow: worship, prayer for needs, repentance and forgiveness, prayers for guidance, etc.

Today what is highlighted to me in our reading is the section of verses following it. Jesus told another parable- a short story with a spiritual point or application. This story tells of the interaction of a man in need and his friend who was reluctant to help. This “friend” did not want to be bothered with the needs of his friend who came to him at midnight needing three loaves of bread to feed his surprise visitor. But the friend with the need persists. He keeps knocking and asking until the man in bed gets up and gives the man in need the bread he needed. Jesus goes on to talk about a son asking his dad for a fish to eat. Would the dad give him a snake to eat? Or instead of an egg, a scorpion? (Verses 11-12). Then Jesus says something profound, ““If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”” (Verse 13)

How often the disciples had watched the religious leaders of their time approach God with rigidness! God was spoken to with formula prayers and He was viewed as unapproachable, perhaps even, aggravated, as the man in the parable was , that the people had come. But Jesus told His disciples, His Father was not that way! He longed to give “good gifts.” And the most precious gift of all the gift of the Holy Spirit living within them! All that was required of them was to come and to ask!

Our God is the same today, yesterday, and forever! He isn’t a God hidden from us, only accessible through formula prayers and religious rituals. He isn’t irritated when we come to Him with our needs. He so desires us to come! He desires to give us the gift of the Holy Spirit living within us. He eagerly waits for us to do just what Jesus modeled in this chapter, spend time with Him in prayer. He longs for us to come to Him and to ask!

God displayed the lengths He would go to be a part of our lives so we would “come.”The Christmas story displays this all so well. God broke the silence when He sent an Angel to Mary to tell her she would conceive and give birth, by the Holy Spirit, God’s Son, God with us!

Once again God longs to break the silence in our lives! He longs to give us another gift just as He did at the first Christmas, the Holy Spirit- God living within us! May we come to Him and ask!

Christmas in Luke (Day 6)

Today’s reading is Luke chapter 6.
Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus- His coming to us, is described this way in John’s gospel: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
The scene is set in today’s chapter. A large crowd had come: to hear, to be healed, to be set free from evil spirits. Power came out from Jesus as people tried to be able to just touch Him. Then He speaks. “The Word”, Jesus, who had come from God speaks words of hope to the crowd of poor, hungry, sorrowful, and hated. Jesus, the Word, spoke blessings, spiritual happiness and the favor of God, “Blessed.” His words confirmed what the angels spoke to the shepherds at His birth, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and in earth peace to those on whom his favor (delight, kindness) rests.” Jesus described His Father as “kind to the ungrateful and wicked”(vrs35), “merciful”(vrs36), and “giving” (vrs37). All the crowd needed to do was to truly HEAR the Word, Jesus, speak, take Him into their heart, and live a life constantly listening to Him and obeying. They would then live a life unshakable when life’s storms came to them (vrs48).
Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is still declaring blessings and favor over us. All we must do is truly listen to the Word, Jesus, as He speaks, and Obey! We will find, just as the crowds did so many years ago that as we listen and reach out for Him hoping to touch Him we will experience His power in our lives through the Holy Spirit.
Healing from our dis ease, freedom from the oppression of the evil one, are there as we “come” for He has come to us! First as a baby, then as a sacrifice on the cross, now as a risen Savior!

“I Will Rise”

Every once in a while, a memory of hard, traumatic, unexplainable events of the past will raise its ugly head inside of me. It tends to rock me to the core. Sometimes taking a while to get my mind off of it.

Today I was reading in Luke 24:1-12. It is the account of Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary Mother of James going to the tomb of Jesus to put burial spices on His body. They find He isn’t there. Suddenly, Angels appear and one says “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” This phrase resounds in my heart today. The women had seen some of the most traumatic events of a brutal death of a loved one. They surely were processing what had happened trying to make sense. But they were instructed that there wasn’t anything there for them in the dead things of the past. Jesus was living! He wasn’t in the past He has risen!

Whatever we have walked through that was hard, painful, and death to us is not where Jesus is. He has risen!! He is not in the dead things of the past. He is alive now and forever more!

The song “I Will Rise” by Bethel has been on my play list this week. This morning has been a morning that I have it on repeat. It speaks of what I read in Luke.

“Beyond the burial, there's a resurrection
Your will be done in me
Oh-oh, Let my roots go deep
And I will rise, I will rise
He holds the time that I will rise”

Jesus calls us out of our graves of the past to stand in the present with Him! “I will Rise! God through my life be lifted high!” We have no time to be looking intently into the graves of our lives! Jesus is not there! The living life of Christ cannot be found in the graves of failure and pain! He is risen and we are seated with Him in the heavenly places of His victorious Kingdom! I will rise! Let Jesus rise in me!