Pour Out Your Spirit

Acts 2:4
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…”

The Holy Spirit is the driving force behind all the ministry that will take place in the book of Acts. Jesus had commanded His disciples to go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel message, but before they went, they were to wait for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Their personal lives, their ministries, and their world, would forever be changed because the Holy Spirit came upon them.

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit, on His church and the individual Christian, is a work of God. Jesus promised He would baptize them with the Holy Spirit. However, that does not mean the disciples played no part in the event. I think it is important that we understand their involvement, as the promise of God was being fulfilled in them.

First off, they were obedient to the Word. Jesus commanded them to wait in Jerusalem, and wait they did. Next, we find them in prayer. Jesus had promised that the Holy Spirit would be given to those who ask; but He also explained that we should ask persistently. Jesus told a story of a man who knocked on his neighbor’s door in the middle of the night seeking bread. He continues to knock until the man gave him what he was seeking. The man finally gave in because of the persistence of the petitioner (Luke 11:5-8). Jesus is not teaching us to bug our neighbors to get what we want. Instead, His point was to teach the need for persistent prayer for the Holy Spirit. Finally, they were in one accord. Rather than bickering about petty things, or focusing upon their differences, they were all together with a heart and mind fixed on their need for more of Jesus. It was in this setting, that the Holy Spirit was poured out upon His church. The lives of these men and women were forever transformed.

There is no special formula behind receiving the Spirit and gifts of God. I am not suggesting that we must travel to Jerusalem, fill a room with 120 people, and wait ten days if we want to receive the Spirit of God.  I am saying,  we are active participants in the work of God. If we desire a greater work of God in our lives, we must obey Him and seek Him.

Let’s take some time this morning to ask God to fill us again with His Spirit. Certainly, the world is in desperate need of men and women who have been transformed by the power of God.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Deuteronomy 27- Choose
Deuteronomy 28- Head Or Tail

All He Began To Do

Acts 1:1
The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, . . .”

The book of Acts is a sequel to the Gospel account, written by Luke. He declares, in this opening verse, the purpose for writing the Gospel account and the book of Acts. He states that the Gospel records what Jesus began to do; and the book of Acts, what He continues to do. Since Jesus is alive from the dead, the story of the Bible is a continuing one. John closed his Gospel account declaring that all the books in the world could not hold all that Jesus did for humanity. As amazing as it may seem, Jesus is not finished. The resurrection is not the end of the story. It is the transition point where the work of Jesus transfers from being accomplished outwardly through His life on earth, to the inward working of His Spirit in the life of all who believe.

Another thing that strikes me about Luke’s statement, is that he personally had so much to say. He is looking back to what Jesus has done, and looking forward to what Jesus will do. I think that is a great way to live. It would be wise for each of us to chronicle the things Jesus has done for us. Perhaps taking the time to make a list of all the things that have been accomplished as a result of your positive response to the Gospel message. In Ephesians, Chapter 1, Paul records that Jesus chose us, predestined us, adopted us, accepted us, redeemed us, forgave us, is coming back for us, and has filled us with His Spirit to guarantee that we belong to Him. Paul also recognized that “He who had begun a good work in Him would complete it” (Philippians 1:6).

Take some time to reflect on all that Jesus has done for you, and look forward with expectation to the things He still desires to accomplish. It may be that He will turn another fisherman into the world’s greatest fisher of men.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Deuteronomy 25- Forty Lashes
Deuteronomy 26- A Great Nation

Follow Me

John 21:19
“Follow Me.”

Much has happened since Peter first met Jesus. In a few short years, it seems as though a lifetime has transpired. Peter, the fisherman, has become Peter, the apostle. The young man who used to spend his days on the Sea of Galilee pursuing fish, is now a man who has spent over three years fishing for men. I imagine, at one time, his stories were all about his biggest catch, or perhaps times of weathering one of the storms for which the Sea of Galilee was famous.  Now his stories would include tales of praying for the sick, casting out demons, and raising the dead. Certainly, life had changed for the young fisherman from Galilee. Along with change, came true spiritual development. The Peter who first met Jesus, was not the same Peter we see standing here. Sure, he still had his setbacks, but life with Jesus had changed him. Later, we read that even unbelievers recognized that spending time with Jesus changes men.

“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

That being said, I am struck by the commission Jesus gives to Peter. He simply says, “Follow Me.” those are the same words, the same call, the same commission Peter heard when he began his journey with Jesus. All the growth, all the ministry, all the experience, would never change the basic call of God on Peter. He was never called to change the world, but to simply and continually follow Jesus.

Things are the same for me and you. When we first heard the Gospel, we heard Jesus say, “Follow Me.” No matter how long ago that may have been, no matter how closely you have walked with Him, or how far you have fallen; regardless of what mission trips, Bible studies or worship teams, you have been involved in, the commission remains the same. Jesus wants you to follow Him.

I have always loved that first call on the life of Peter, when Jesus said, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). It greatly encourages me to know, when I follow Jesus, He will make the changes in me so that I become the man He intends for me to be.

Let’s recommit ourselves today, to be followers of Jesus. Let’s determine we will go the way He is going, and be involved in the things He wants for our lives. As we do, He will make us into who He wants us to be.

“Follow Me.”

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Deuteronomy 23- Sharing Is Caring
Deuteronomy 24- Happy Marriage

Jesus The Gardener

John 20:15 
“She, supposing Him to be the gardener, .
 . .”

Mary saw Jesus, but the circumstance she was in, and the experiences she was facing, caused her to conclude that He was a gardener. It was not until she heard His Word, that she clearly understood who He really was.

It interests me how many different, even opposing views, people develop regarding Jesus. These views have two things in common. First, they are usually forged as a result of personal experience, and second, they are always formed without the illumination of Scripture. Some consider Jesus to be a good person who was misunderstood; others, a mythical figure; while till others, use portions of Scripture to develop a hybrid Jesus, who bears little resemblance to the Jesus of the Bible.

This is not only true of the unbeliever or the seeker, it is also true of the Christian. How often do we allow the circumstances of life to shape our view of Christ? When we are facing hardship, we think of Him as unloving, distant or even weak. While blessings cause us to think of Him as loving and kind. It is not our circumstances, but His Word, that defines Him. When we will listen to His Word, we will see who He truly is, and how He wants to work in our circumstances.

Never limit Jesus to what you understand of Him; He is so much greater than that. Let His Word define Him as you worship Him.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Deuteronomy 21- The Curse
Deuteronomy 22- Torn Apart

Silent Success

John 19:9
“But Jesus gave him no answer.”

Jesus is facing the battle of His life. We could even say it was the battle for His life. All the political power of Israel was manipulating the power of Rome, to execute the Son of God. Yet Jesus remained silent. We know He wields the power to overcome these attacks. We read that He calmed the storms, healed the sick, cast out demons, and even raised the dead. Yet now, when it seemed to matter the most, He refused to lift a finger or say a word.

Why? What possible benefit could be gained by not using His divine power to overcome this political onslaught? The answer is two-fold. First, it was the plan of God for Christ to go to the cross as a substitute for me and you. He, the innocent, would take the place of us, the guilty, in order to pave the way to heaven. I think there is a second reason. In facing the battle of His life, Jesus is teaching His followers how to fight. Battles for the kingdom of God will not be won with carnal measures. A few years later, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul wrote,

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds . . .” 2 Corinthians 10:4

Jesus knew that His followers would soon, and forever, face the threats of world governments opposed to the kingdom of God. In His silent submission to the will and ways of God, Jesus not only set an example of how to fight, He also showed us what winning really looked like. When that dark Friday came to an end, the tally sheet would seem to declare “World Governments: one, the Kingdom of God: defeated.” But what really happened? In the silent, submission of Jesus, the kingdom of Hell was conquered and the way to heaven paved.

It is not wrong for Christians to use their voices when politics oppose righteousness. It is wrong for us to use the world’s methods, while neglecting the ways of God. In the human mind, going to battle against the forces of unrighteousness with silent, steadfast prayer, is like fighting an armored tank with a slingshot. Let’s keep in mind that the cross looked like a massive defeat, yet turned out to be Heaven’s greatest victory.

In the battles you are facing today, follow the example of Jesus. Surrender to the will and ways of God, then go to your knees and seek God to bring about victory. The same God of great exploits in history, wants to work in and through us today.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Deuteronomy 19- City Of Refuge
Deuteronomy 20- Join The Fight

His Cup

John 18:11 
“Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?”

In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus spent hours in prayer. The portion of the prayer recorded for us had to do with a cup. The event is recorded in Mark 14:35-36,
“He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said,  ‘ Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.’” 

Earlier that evening Jesus had taken a cup and distributed it to His disciples, explaining that it was the Blood of the new covenant.

“Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying,  ‘Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.’” Matthew 26:27-28

It is clear, the cup that Jesus referred to was the cross, and the impending judgment He would face as He bore the sins of humanity. That cup, that judgment, was so great that it caused Him to sweat blood as He faced the reality of it in the garden. The judgment would include all the weight, penalty, and guilt of sin; as well as being forsaken by the Father, as He became sin for us.

Because Jesus tasted that cup bearing our sin, Paul declares,

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

Righteousness is the standard for entrance into Heaven. The level of righteousness required is God’s perfection. What a wonderful truth, that He bore our sin so that we might be made righteous.

For any who reject the provision made possible because Jesus drank the cup of Calvary, Revelation declares,

“. . . he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation…” Revelation 14:10

Jesus tasted the cup of wrath so we would never have to. If you have not believed and received Christ, why not do that right now. Pray, “Jesus, thank you for taking my sin and providing me with Your righteousness. I receive You as my Savior and Lord”

If you have questions contact us at http://www.ccvb.net

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Deuteronomy 17- Lessons For Leaders
Deuteronomy 18- Avoiding A Shipwreck

He Is Praying For You

John 17:9
I pray for them.”

Perhaps the best title for John 17 is, “The Lord’s Prayer.” As the hour of His betrayal, arrest, and crucifixion approaches, Jesus takes time to pray for His disciples. His prayer, while encompassing many things, seems to focus upon three thoughts.

First, Jesus prays for His followers that they may be one. Division within the body of Christ has been one of the most confusing things for the unbelieving world. If Christians all believe in the same God, are washed in the same blood, and filled with the same Spirit, then why is there so much division in the church? Some division is good. Worship styles are different. It is good to have lots of variety within the church in order to provide an atmosphere where people are able to connect with God. Also, cultures are different, and to some degree, the church should be relevant to the culture, in order to win souls to Christ. That being said, much of the division in the church is wrong and harmful. The church fights with itself over petty differences and misunderstandings. It is as if we believed that our church is the only real church. Thank God, Jesus is praying for us.

Second, Jesus prays for His followers, that we might be kept from evil. Christianity would be so much easier if the moment we made a decision to follow Christ, we were translated from this life into eternity. It would be easy to know who the true believers were, because they would be gone. It would be easy to give up the temptations of life, because we would be in Heaven. It would, however, make evangelism very difficult, because there would be no one left to share Christ. Jesus prays for us, that we would withstand the temptations of life. It encourages me to know that He faced what we face, and He overcame through the power of the Word of God, and the Spirit of God in His daily life.

Finally, His prayer is like a commission. In it, He makes mention of the fact that He is sending us into the world. We, His church, are His solution for reaching the lost. Later, He makes it clear that we are fully equipped when He states,

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:18-19

We are sent into the world with the authority of Jesus, the blessing of the Father, and the empowering of the Spirit. As you go forth today, keep in mind, Jesus is praying for you, that you might be kept as you go.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Deuteronomy 15- Freedom
Deuteronomy 16- Retreats