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

Questions for Acts 2

  1. An exciting moment has taken place; the Holy Spirit has come on the Day of Pentecost. Verse 6 says “everyone heard them speak in his own language.” Verse 13 implies that some people thought they were drunk. Have you ever felt Gods Spirit move you to do something so amazing the world thought you were a bit intoxicated?
  2. In Peter’s first sermon, he quotes the prophet Joel 2:28-32. Remember there should always be a scriptural basis for what is happening in our lives by the Holy Spirit. What things do you see here?
  3. Peter also points out that the Crucifixion of Jesus was not an accident. His death was the plan of God. Read Psalm 16:8-11
  4. According to verse 33, where is Jesus now?
  5. The conviction of God moved on the people; what is Peter’s instruction?
  6. The instruction from God brought the most amazing gift from being obedient. How many were saved from this outpouring of the Holy Spirit?
  7. They continued “steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Which of these areas is the Lord speaking to you about?

 

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

Questions for Acts 1

  1. How many days was Jesus seen after His resurrection?
  2. In verse 4, the disciples were commanded by Jesus not to depart from Jerusalem, but to “wait for the Promise of the Father”. What promise were they waiting for?
  3. After receiving ________ from the Holy Spirit, what were they instructed to do?
  4. Verse 11 states this same Jesus will return in like manner. How often have you heard other ways that Christ will return?
  5. The disciples, the women, Mary the mother of Jesus and His brothers were “all in one accord in prayer & supplication”. What does it mean to you to “be in one accord”?
  6. Peter explains the fall of Judas and quotes Psalm 69:25. The disciples come to an agreement to replace Judas with Matthias. How did they come to the conclusion to pick Matthias?

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

Questions for John 21

  1. The disciples had all received the Holy Spirit in the last chapter, and were born again. Yet in verses 1-3 we see them going back to the old way of life. How many of them are in this story? Who led the charge back to the old life?
  2. At the end of verse 3, what was the result of going back to the old life?
  3. After the miraculous catch of fish, who realizes who is on shore? How does Peter respond when he finds out it is Jesus?
  4. What does Peter do with his coat? I’m so glad Jesus chose this guy.
  5. Presumably, the disciples were fishing to provide for their own needs. However, read Luke 5:4-10.   What did Jesus say at the end of Luke 5:10? Now look at verses 9-13 of John 21. What did Jesus already have waiting for them on the shore?
  6. In verses 15-17, we see Jesus restoring Peter to ministry by giving him three opportunities to affirm his love for Jesus, even as he had denied that love three times earlier. What does Jesus tell Peter to do?
  7. History tells us that Peter died by crucifixion. When he began to be crucified he requested that it would be upside down, as he did not feel that he was worthy to die the same way as his Lord. Verses 18 and 19 record Jesus prophesying Peter’s eventual crucifixion. Would you say that Peter proved that He did love Jesus?
  8. Peter does not like this prophecy, and essentially asks, “What about John? What’s going to happen to him?” How does Jesus respond to this question in verse 22? Is it a good thing to compare ourselves to others? Instead of that, what should we be busy doing?
  9. Throughout the gospel of John, John does not identify himself by name. However, read verses 20-24 and note how his identity is revealed.
  10. Consider verse 25. The gospels are not an exhaustive record of all that Jesus did. That would be impossible to record. However, taken as a whole, they are a very complete picture of our Lord.

 

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

Questions for John 20

  1. In verses 1-9 a body is missing from the tomb, but no risen Savior, yet. What three individuals examine the tomb?
  2. Read verse 9. Although Jesus had taught them that He would die and rise again in the fulfillment of the Scriptures, they didn’t understand. Does not understanding something mean that it is not true? Have you ever had 20/20 hindsight (spiritually speaking) on a circumstance that was difficult to understand while you were going through it?
  3. Read verses 10-11. Where do the disciples go? Where does Mary go? Why do you think she did?
  4. As Jesus begins to talk with Mary, she doesn’t recognize Him. What reasons could there be for that? Read Luke 24:15-16 for a possibility.
  5. Why were the disciples hidden in a locked room? What changed when Jesus arrived? (Verse 19-20)
  6. Read verse 22. Compare this with John 14:16-18. Did Jesus make good on this promise?
  7. How did Thomas respond to the news that Jesus had risen? (Verse 24-25)
  8. How did Jesus respond to Thomas’ doubt? (Verse 26-29)
  9. In verse 29 Jesus talks about how blessed those are who have not seen and yet believe. Who falls in to that category?
  10. According to verse 30-31, why was the Gospel of John written? Do you think this would be a useful book for a person to read who did not yet know Jesus?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

Questions for John 19

  1. Verse 1 is a very short “matter of fact” statement. But the reality is that Roman scourging was a long, brutal, grisly affair. The amazing thing is that the scourging Jesus took was not part of the payment for our sin (He paid for that by His death on the cross). In Isaiah 53:5 we read that His stripes (the bloody wounds of scourging), are for our healing and peace. What areas of your life do you need Jesus to bring healing to? Ask Him to do so, and thank Him that He so bravely took that beating for us.
  2. Scourging was intended to elicit a confession, and the scourging would stop when the confession came. Yet Jesus had no sin or wrongdoing to confess, and so took the full scourging. Pilate had already interrogated Jesus in chapter 18 and found no fault with Him. What is his conclusion after the scourging (verses 4 and 6)?
  3. Jesus wears a crown of thorns that the Roman soldiers cruelly put on Him. Read Genesis 3:17-18. Where did thorns come from? Now read Gal 3:13.
  4. How did Pilate feel when he found out that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God? (verse 8, 12)
  5. How does Jesus respond to Pilate when he tells Him that he has power to crucify Jesus?
  6. Read the end of verse 5 and the end of verse 14. What is Pilate telling the crowd to do? Now read Isaiah 45:22 and Hebrews 12:2. What are we to do to be saved and to continue as Christians?
  7. The author of this Gospel is the apostle John. He often refers to himself in the third person, and does so in verse 26. Read verses 25-27. What is Jesus commissioning John to do in these verses?
  8. Read verses 28-30. Did Jesus see His earthly mission through to completion?
  9. Read verses 21-24, 31-36. If Jesus were just a man, and not God, could He have arranged for these things to happen?
  10. Who are they people who take responsibility for Jesus burial?
  11. Read Isaiah 53:1-12. Take time to love and thank Jesus for all that He did for us on that day.

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

Questions for John 18

  1. Judas comes to betray Jesus in the garden. Who does he bring with him? What do they have with them?
  2. Read verses 4-9. Although the soldiers come with military force to arrest Him, what phrases in these verses show that Jesus was the one who was really in command of the situation?
  3. Peter does not understand that Jesus is in charge of this situation. How does He respond to them coming after Jesus? What does Jesus say to him to correct him?
  4. Who did the soldiers lead Jesus to? Who was he related to?
  5. Who else manages to get in to witness this unlawful interrogation of Jesus?
  6. Read verses 17-18, and 25-27. How is Peter’s witness for Jesus in this chapter? Did Jesus already know that Peter was going to be this way (John 13:38)?
  7. The Jews would not enter into the Praetorium because they felt it was an unclean Gentile place that would defile them, preventing them from being able to eat the Passover. While they were worried about the ceremonial, symbolic Passover, the Living Passover Lamb that the ceremony represented was right in front of them!   Read Exodus 11-12 to learn more about the Passover.
  8. Because they were a Roman province, the Jews had to abide by Roman law, and no longer had the authority to execute capital punishment. The Jewish method of execution was by stoning; the Roman method, by crucifixion. Read Matt 20:17-19, and compare it with John 18:29-32. Even though it was the Jews who were trying to kill Him throughout the gospels, Jesus knew all along how He would die.
  9. In verses 36-37 Jesus claims to be a king of a kingdom. Although there are many aspects to the kingdom He rules, what are the things that this passage teaches us about His kingdom?
  10. What is Pilate’s conclusion upon interrogating and examining Jesus? (verse 38) Compare this with Hebrews 4:15 and 1Peter 1:18-19.

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

Questions for John 17

  1. Chapter 17 is one long prayer by Jesus to the Father. In verse 1, Jesus says to His Father that “the hour has come”. Looking ahead to the next few chapters, what is He speaking about?
  2. According to verse 3, what is the definition of eternal life?
  3. Read verses 5-8. These verses talk about Jesus’ relationship with the twelve. In these verses, what did He do for them? What did they do in response?
  4. In verse 9, Jesus does not pray for the world in general, but for specific people. Who are you praying for, specifically?
  5. In verse 11 and 21-23, Jesus prays for an oneness among His followers. How does He describe this oneness in these verses? Also read Phil 2:1-11.
  6. In verses 13-18, Jesus describes some of the elements of our relationship with this current world system. How does He describe this relationship in these verses?
  7. In addition to the twelve, who else is He praying for? (verse 20)                                                             Is this verse relevant to you and me?
  8. In verse 24, what two things does Jesus pray for?
  9. Highlight all of the uses of the words related to “glory” in this chapter. Make a list of what each use is teaching us. Especially note verse 22.
  10. According to verse 26, Jesus is praying that the Father loves us as much as ______________?

Old Testament:
Deuteronomy 15- Freedom
Deuteronomy 16- Retreats