WE NEED THE MIRACULOUS!

ACTS 4:29-31: “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” NKJV
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OBSERVATION: What will empower our presentation of the Gospel so that we can reach a hurting and dying world? In the midst of this great pandemic, what do we need as the church to truly make a difference?

We need the miraculous!

Why don’t we see more of the miraculous at work in the life of the American church? Could it be that we have so much that we can depend on – other than God? As church doors have been shut for the first time in my lifetime, we have begun to use and depend on the tremendous technology that is available to us. We have done this out of necessity. We have done this so that we can continue the ministry of our churches through live streaming over the internet. However, will live-streaming be the answer to the church’s continued effectiveness in our day?

I rejoice that the Gospel is going forward in so many new and creative ways. Churches that never have used technology to proclaim the Gospel are doing so now. The internet is filled with the proclamation of Jesus Christ. Yet, what will be our next focus? Will it be on the message of the Gospel as we go to the unchurched and unreached people in our community, or will it be on the new methods we use as we do this?

We need the miraculous!

We can get so focused on methodology, that we forget what is truly important. Our focus can easily shift to the quality of our livestream and the equipment we use to produce it, rather than to the message which we are to proclaim. The disciples had zero technology, yet they turned their world upside down. They had a simple message – Jesus Christ, crucified, buried, and risen from the dead. They put their faith fully in the Lord, this message, and the power of the Holy Spirit working through them.

  • “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”

Jerusalem’s focus was turned to the message of the Gospel by one act of God’s power, the miraculous healing of a lame man. This miracle opened the hearts of people to hear and receive the Gospel. Through this one miracle, and the preaching of Peter, another 2000 or more embraced Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. Talk about a revival! Even the High Priest could not deny what had been done. Their only recourse was to tell the disciples to stop preaching and proclaiming Jesus’ name.

We need the miraculous!

What did the disciples do? They doubled down. Peter and the disciples knew that they needed the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit working with them and through them in their proclamation of the Gospel. And, as they gathered together in full dependence upon the power of God to fulfill their mission – God’s power met them!

  • “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit in their lives gave them a new boldness to proclaim the Gospel in the face of great opposition. They were not bold because they had the best presentation. They were bold because the Lord was working through them, confirming His Word with signs following. Their focus was on personal empowerment – not personal polish!

We need the miraculous!

We need the power of the Holy Spirit and the miraculous touch of God working in and through our lives. We need this now more than ever before. We cannot get sidelined and begin to focus on our broadband width, the quality of our streaming camera, or the size of our online audience. Our ministry cannot stay contained to the screen of a phone or a TV. We will once again be touching lives in a personal way. The question is – will we be moving in the power of the Holy Spirit, or relying on new methodologies?

If anyone loves new technology it is me! Yet, I realize more than anything else…

I need the miraculous!

Lord, this morning I pray for the healing power of Jesus to fall upon our churches. I pray that signs and wonders will be done in the name of Jesus Christ. I pray that through the touch of the miraculous, the Gospel of Jesus Christ will go forth in power, and that a great revival will sweep our land. Father, pour out Your Spirit once again in a mighty way. Grant us boldness and power as we proclaim the Gospel in the name of Jesus!

In Jesus Name!

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WHY IS THANKSGIVING A SACRIFICE?

THE SACRIFICE OF THANKSGIVING

PSALMS 116:7: “I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, And will call upon the name of the LORD.” NKJV
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OBSERVATION: Why is thanksgiving called a sacrifice? What place does thanksgiving have in my devotional life? When I look at my prayer life, how much of it is given to thanksgiving?

I have been watching the Presidential Briefings each day during this corona-virus crisis. Each day has been filled with detailed information about our fight against this invisible enemy. Then, I have heard the media’s response to these briefings. One of the things they complain about is the President’s positive outlook. They mistake this for a person who is not engaged. I think it shows a person who is thankful for the hard work and expertise of all those who surround him.

We have a choice when we go through difficult times. We can focus on the negative, or we can lift our eyes and look up toward heaven and focus on the eternal. It is easy to default to simply praying for our needs. It is a sacrifice, in the midst of suffering or great trial, to remember to give thanks to the One who is our source of life and strength. The Apostle Paul put it this way.

  • “Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.” ‭‭II Corinthians‬ ‭1:9-11‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Paul was confident in the faithfulness of God. He gave thanks for his struggles because he knew they drew him closer to God. Many times the Lord is trying to strip us of all the things we are clinging to other than Him. It is when we are free from these things that we can truly offer the sacrifice of praise!

A sacrifice in the Old Testament cost something. It was to be taken from the best of your livestock, crops, or resources. It was not to be taken from that which was to be discarded. A sacrifice represented your devotion and worship to the living God. Therefore, it was to be taken from the very best that you could give.

Our thanksgiving should be the same. To give thanks in the midst of the trial costs something. It is not automatic. It must come from a heart that is focused on God and not on the circumstances. It looks beyond the immediate. It looks to the past and remembers the wonderful times of God’s provision and deliverance. And, it looks to the future knowing that this too shall pass!

Paul leaned this through the things that he suffered. This is why he could boldly say,

  • “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I Thessalonians‬ ‭5:16-18 NKJV‬‬

In everything give thanks! In this present trial – this will require a sacrifice. This will require us to look at the times that God has delivered us – and give thanks. This will require us to position our hearts in faith knowing that, in this present trial, He is delivering us. And, this will require us to proclaim in faith, that no matter what we face, He will continue to deliver us! This is the reason we can give thanks!

Lord, this morning I choose to offer You the sacrifice of thanksgiving! I thank You that my life is in Your hands. You are guiding my daily steps and providing for my daily needs. This time of sheltering-in-place has reminded me that my greatest reward is found in You. Thank you for the times You have delivered me, for Your present help in delivering me, and for Your promise to deliver me, until the final day when I stand in Your presence.

In Jesus Name!

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DON’T MISS…JESUS!

JOHN 2:4-14: “But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?” They answered Him, “No.” And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some. ” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish. Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.” Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken. Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?”—knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish. This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.” NKJV‬‬

OBSERVATION: How many times do we miss Jesus speaking into our lives? I believe the Lord wants to speak to us each and every day. The book of Psalms is replete with reminders that the entire creation is daily proclaiming His majesty and glory. Yet, why is it that we miss God’s voice so often?

I believe the third appearance of Jesus to His disciples, in the closing chapter of the Gospel of John, gives us some practical insight. We so often are waiting for a dramatic encounter with God, like Moses at the burning bush, that we miss the simple and subtle ways God comes to speak to us.

  • “But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.”

Jesus met His disciples on familiar territory. He appeared to them on the shoreline. This was also the place He had encountered Peter, James, and John. It was here that He had called them to become fishers of men. Yet, even on this familiar territory, the disciples did not know it was Jesus. Perhaps it was because of the visibility. Or, could it have been that they were not expecting Jesus to appear to them in such a normal and mundane setting?

  • “Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?” They answered Him, “No.”

I find this fascinating. When Jesus appears to His disciples, it is not about principles of the kingdom. He asks them about the most common of human needs – “Children, have you any food?”. It is hard for us to believe that God is interested in the smallest needs of our life. Yet, He is! And, it is in the simple and normal that He so often comes to speak into our lives!

  • “They answered Him, “No.” And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some. ” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”

The disciples no doubt had drifted, not only in their boat, but also in their understanding of Jesus’ calling for their lives. When everything is in flux, when the doors seemed closed, when we are faced with the delays of life, what do we do? We do what the disciples did. We wander back to the familiar. We lay down our calling and once again start thinking about what we used to do. Many times as a pastor, when I was discouraged, I would search out the job listings, wondering if I would be better off doing something else.

Jesus understands our discouragement. He reaches out to His disciples with the same command that He gave them on the day He called them (read Luke 5:1-11). As they lowered their nets, and as they gathered a great catch of fish, John proclaimed to Peter – “It is the Lord!” In this simple and practical command, the disciples were not only reminded about the power of God, but also Jesus’ call for them to become “fishers of men.”

  • “Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish. Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.” Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken. Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?”—knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish. This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.”

In this section of the closing chapter of John’s Gospel we see some dramatic things. Yet, the dramatic comes from the disciples, not from Jesus. Peter, when he heard it was the Lord, did what Peter so often did. He jumped into the water and swam ahead to the boat to Jesus! This was pretty dramatic, as the boat was not far from the shore.

Then, they hauled in a great number of fish, 153 to be exact. This was an unusual and dramatic catch. Yet, even with this large catch their nets were not broken (this also happened when they were called by Jesus). Yet, when they arrived up on shore, what did they encounter? Was it the Lord waiting to teach them and impart word of wisdom to them? No, it was Jesus, standing over a fire of coals, and He greeted them with these words –

  • “…Bring some of the fish which you have just caught…Come and eat breakfast.”

I don’t know about you, but I think I would have been a little bit disappointed with this encounter. Here is the risen Lord, coming to meet the disciples for the third time, and all He has to say is – “Come and eat breakfast!”. Yet, in these words we find such hope and comfort. Jesus comes to us in the everyday events of our life and desires to have fellowship with us. He delights in being with us and speaking to us. Yet, we need to be aware of His presence and always open to the still small voice of the Spirit.

What followed this practical and very human encounter was something with much deeper import and purpose. It was the restoration of Peter. Peter, no doubt, was struggling with denying Jesus three times before His crucifixion. So, Jesus, comes to restore Him three times with His affirmation of love and calling. Yet, Jesus first came to Peter to break bread and have breakfast.

The Lord usually comes to us in very normal and practical ways. It is when we are open to these that He also comes to do a deeper work in our lives.

Lord, please help me hear your voice in the simplest of things in my life. May I see Your hand, Your faithfulness, and Your love in even the smallest detail of life. And, may I always know that it is Your delight to speak to me each and every day. Give me ears to hear I pray.

I don’t want to miss You, Jesus!

In Jesus Name!

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WHAT JESUS IS – NOT DOING…

PSALMS 111:7-10: “The works of His hands are verity and justice; All His precepts are sure. They stand fast forever and ever, And are done in truth and uprightness. He has sent redemption to His people; He has commanded His covenant forever: Holy and awesome is His name. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.” NKJV
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OBSERVATION: What is God doing? This is a question many are asking in the midst of this 2020 corona-virus pandemic. If all things have been placed under Jesus’ feet, then why does this pandemic seem so out of control?

It is easy for one to wrestle with these questions. Yet, to do so is to misunderstand the Scriptures and the revelation that God has given us regarding His purposes and His plan for this world. There is an inward struggle in the heart of man and even in the heart of a Christ follower. It can be seen in the question the disciples asked right before Jesus ascended into heaven.

  • “Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” ‭‭Acts‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

The Jews of Jesus’ day missed the true Messiah because they were looking for a physical kingdom. The disciples, before the baptism of the Holy Spirit, were still focused on a physical kingdom. And, like them, we too can get confused and misled if we are looking for a physical kingdom. Jesus is seated on the right hand of God the Father. Yet, His immediate mission is not to bring perfection to this world. It is to bring redemption to those called to be saints!

  • “The works of His hands are verity and justice; All His precepts are sure. They stand fast forever and ever, And are done in truth and uprightness. He has sent redemption to His people; He has commanded His covenant forever: Holy and awesome is His name.” Psalms 111: 7-9

Pilate did not understand Jesus’ words when He said – “My kingdom is not of this world.” The Jews cried Hosanna when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. They were hoping that He would overthrow Rome and set up a physical kingdom. Yet, just a few days later many of these same people cried – “Crucify Him,” as they perceived that this was not His intent.

People are looking for Jesus to ride in on a white horse and redeem this broken world. Yet, this is not what Jesus is doing. Jesus is preparing His bride, the church, to be received and united with Him. Jesus is saving souls and redeeming hearts. He is building His heavenly kingdom. This was His answer to the disciples when they were focused on an earthly kingdom.

  • “And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts‬ ‭1:7-8‬ ‭NKJV‬

Jesus’ focus is on the redemption of mankind from sin. He is not going to ride in to redeem this broken world. As one reads the book of Revelation it becomes clear. The final end of this broken world is destruction. Jesus will bring a temporary peace during the Millennial Kingdom, but there will be a final rebellion, and the present earth as we know it will pass away (read Revelation 19-20).‬

Even through all of this, Jesus’ focus is on the redemption of mankind and His restoration of His covenant with Israel. Finally, His plan of redemption will be completed. Sin, Satan, and death will be defeated. This present earth will pass away. And, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will usher in the new heavens and the new earth! It will be a glorious day!!

  • “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” Revelation‬ ‭21:1-5‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

We too often forget this. Our focus becomes temporal instead of eternal. We forget,

  • “The works of His hands are verity and justice; All His precepts are sure. They stand fast forever and ever, And are done in truth and uprightness.” Psalms 11:7-8

Jesus did not come to save governments, to save countries, or to save the stock market. Jesus came to save souls. Our calling is to proclaim the Gospel, so men and women may come into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, and can participate in His coming eternal Kingdom. This is the course that history is moving towards. It should not take us by surprise. It should bring us to a renewed focus of our mission and call.

  • “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.” Psalm 111:10

Lord, help me to walk in your fear, reverence, and awe in these challenging days. Give me understanding in the truth of Your word. As we see all these things taking place, give us grace to lift our heads and look up – for your redemption is drawing near.

Even so, Come Lord Jesus!

In Jesus Name!

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THE OPEN DOOR OF EASTER…

JOHN 16:22-24: “Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you. “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” NKJV
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OBSERVATION: What do you think about when you think of Easter morning? Do you have a vision of the angels standing before the tomb proclaiming – “He is not here, His is risen as He said.” Or, do you picture yourself as one of the disciples who ran into the tomb to find his grave-clothes, lying empty upon the rock where he was laid?

Easter morning is the greatest celebration in the Christian faith. It is the foundation of our faith. Christianity is not a religion or a philosophy that is based upon the teachings of a mere man. Jesus claimed to be God in human flesh. He foretold of His death for the sins of mankind. And, He promised that He would rise again from the dead. Easter morning is the vindication of all these promises. It is God’s proclamation in history to all!

For many, Easter morning reminds them of the promise of eternal life. When Jesus spoke to Martha, as He came to raise Lazarus from the dead, He said,

  • “…I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John‬ ‭11:25-26‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

The hope of the resurrection, the hope of eternal life, is the promise of the empty tomb. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭NKJV‬‬).

Yet, Easter is so much more!

THE EMPTY TOMB IS ALSO AN – OPEN DOOR!

Before Jesus’ death and resurrection, we were all separated from God through our sin. Man always had to go through an intermediary to speak to God. In the Old Testament this was the prophet, and then the priest. One could not approach God without a sacrifice. The only one who could approach God on our behalf was the priest. And, the only one who could enter the Holy of Holies was the High Priest, once a year, on the Day of Atonement.

The doorway to God the Father was closed. When Jesus walked the earth, He was manifesting the Father to His disciples. When Jesus began telling them about His return to the Father, their hearts were filled with sorrow. For the first time in their life they were encountering the presence of the Father. Now this would end. The thought of Jesus not being present with them left them without hope.

Yet, hope is often dependent upon our perspective. The disciples were focused on Jesus’ words speaking about His departure from them. Jesus was focused on the blessing that would come from His return to the Father.

  • “Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you. “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” John 16:22-24

THE EMPTY TOMB – IS AN OPEN DOOR!

Jesus assured His disciples, and He assures us, that eternal life is not the only reason for the cross and the empty tomb. Jesus’ death and resurrection, His ascension into heaven, was to open the door for man to once again be united in fellowship with the Father. Man would no longer have to go through an intermediary. There would be no more sacrifices. The veil of the Temple was rent in two. The doorway to the Holy of Holies was opened to all who embrace Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.

Jesus made an amazing statement. He said – “And in that day your will ask Me nothing.” What did He mean? Jesus’ purpose, His life, and His ministry was to reveal the Father. It was to restore our relationship with the Father. It was to bring us back to the place that Adam forfeited in the garden – when man and God spoke in the cool of the day. Now, in Jesus Name, through His final sacrifice and victorious resurrection, we can come to the Father. What a joy! What a privilege! Jesus says,

  • “In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.” John‬ ‭16:26-27‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Through the open door of the empty tomb we can boldly approach God’s throne in the name of Jesus. Jesus does not want us to ask Him to ask the Father on our behalf. Jesus wants us to come directly to the Father in His Name! Why? Because the Father Himself loves us and is waiting for us to come to Him. This is why He sent His only begotten Son. The Father desires to have intimate fellowship with all His sons and daughters in Christ!

THE EMPTY TOMB…IS AN OPEN DOOR!

It is an open door to answered prayer! Is is an open door to joy! It is an open door to peace! It is an open door to grace! It is an open door to find mercy and help in our time of need! The empty tomb is not simply a promise of eternal life to come. It is the promise of an abundant life today and every day of our life.

Lord, on this Easter Morning, I thank you for the Open Door of the Empty Tomb! Jesus, thank you for your sacrifice and victorious resurrection. Father, this morning, in Jesus Name, I come to You. I come to give You praise. I come to enter into Your presence. I come to be filled with Your joy! I come to ask You to fulfill Your will in my life, and in the life of those that I love! I come to You in Jesus Name!

  • “Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”

In Jesus Name!
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THE INVISIBLE VICTOR…

JOHN 14:27: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” NKJV
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OBSERVATION: Is there an invisible reality? During this corona-virus pandemic we have been made aware of the invisible reality and an invisible enemy. A virus is something that you cannot see, yet it attacks at will. As a result, fear has gripped the hearts of men and women around the world. Is there an invisible reality and an invisible victor that can overcome this invisible enemy?

As we watch this pandemic play out, it is plain to see that everything that we are doing to stop it are things that we can see. Social distancing, hand washing, face masks, the search for a vaccine, the addition of emergency hospitals – these are all visible things. Yet, the invisible enemy of fear still paralyzes and plagues the hearts of men and women. It is in this stark reality that the words of Jesus come as life and hope.

  • “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

I don’t know anyone who would not want to receive peace at this troubled and uncertain time! Yet, Jesus makes it very clear, this peace does not come from the world. The world struggles to find answers, yet it cannot provide peace for the human soul. Only the peace that Jesus gives can calm the troubled heart and conquer our fear.

So what is this peace? It is not a something. It is a Someone!

  • “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” ‭‭John‬ ‭14:15-18‬ ‭NKJV‬

Jesus walked in the full presence and power of the Holy Spirit in His life. When He was baptized in the Jordan the Spirit descended upon Him in the form of a dove. In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit only came upon key leaders and prophets. He did not abide within them, but came upon them at given times to do God’s work. In the same way the Holy Spirit was with the disciples as He dwelt in Jesus and Jesus moved among them.

Note Jesus’ distinction – “…for He dwells with you and will be in you, I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” Jesus had been preparing the disciples for His death, resurrection, and return to the Father. He knew that they would be saddened by His physical loss. So He began to teach them about the yet to come, indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, which they would receive. The Holy Spirit would no longer dwell among them.

The Holy Spirit would come to live within them!

It is through the Holy Spirit that Jesus now abides with us. And, it is the presence of the Holy Spirit within us that is our peace. The world can only give outward solutions to the problems of life. The Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us, to bring the presence of the living God into the heart of each and every believer. When a person receives Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit come to dwell within their heart.

Yet – there is more!

Before Jesus ascended into heaven, and as He spoke to His disciples, there were two things that happened.

First, He commissioned them to proclaim the Gospel to all nations.

  • “So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John‬ ‭20:21-22‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Second, He told them not to get started on this mission until they have received power from on high!

  • “And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now…But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts‬ ‭1:4-5, 8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

When Jesus met with His disciples and breathed upon them, the Holy Spirit came to indwell their hearts through faith, as He indwells the heart of everyone who believes. Yet, before they were to begin their ministry, Jesus told them to wait for the power from on high – the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It was on the Day of Pentecost, that the disciples went from the indwelling Spirit, to the empowering Spirit of God working in their lives.

What does this have to do with peace? Everything! Why could Jesus sleep in the boat as the waves raged on? It was because He was living and abiding in the fullness of the Spirit’s power. Why could Jesus endure death on the cross? It was because He was living and abiding in the fullness of the Spirit’s power. How can we face such uncertain times and walk in the peace of God? It is only as we live and abide in the fullness of the Spirit’s power!

If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit dwells within your heart. Yet, have you been baptized with the Holy Spirit? Have you received His power from on high? Throughout the book of Acts we encounter believers who were not walking in the fullness and the power of the Holy Spirit. Yet, when they knew of this provision, and when the disciples laid hands of them, they were baptized with the power of the Holy Spirit!

In Ephesus Paul encountered a group of believers who had been baptized with the baptism of John. They had never heard about the Holy Spirit. This does not mean the Spirit was not abiding in their heart through faith. It simply meant that they were not walking in the fullness of the Spirit’s power – because they had never known or asked for it. Note what happened when Paul ministered to them.

  • “Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.” Acts‬ ‭19:4-6‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Jesus felt this baptism of power was so essential to our lives that He told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. If they needed this to begin their ministry, and to walk in confidence and peace, don’t we? If you have never asked Jesus to baptize you in the Holy Spirit, ask Him today. This was not a one time promise for the original apostles. This was God’s promise and provision for all who will believe!

  • “Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Acts‬ ‭2:38-39‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

When the disciples received this provision they began to walk in a new awareness and understanding of God’s presence. They received a new prayer language. They began to move in the power of gifts of the Holy Spirit. And, they faced persecution and trials with confidence and peace! In these days of a great invisible enemy – we need a great invisible victor!

The Holy Spirit is our invisible, but tangible Victor!

Father, I pray that you would draw hearts to believe in Jesus, to be saved from the power of sin and death, and to receive the indwelling promise of the Holy Spirit. Lord, I also pray that each believer would come to You to be clothed with power from on high! Father, if they ask for You to baptize them in the Holy Spirit, You will honor the cry of their heart!‬

  • “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” Luke‬ ‭11:13‬ ‭NKJV‬

Father, and for all who have been baptized with power from on high, may You fill us anew each day with the overflowing power of the Holy Spirit! May we walk in His power and presence. May we pray and worship You with the spirit and with the understanding also. May we move in the power and ministry of all the gifts that You so graciously give. And, may we be kept in Your perfect peace as You abide in us!

  • “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.” Isaiah‬ ‭26:3‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

In Jesus Name!‬

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THE WILLINGNESS TO SERVE OTHERS…

JOHN 13:12-17: “So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” NKJV
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OBSERVATION: What character quality defines a great leader? Is it intelligence, courage, or resolve? Is it the ability to motivate and inspire people? Is it organizing and deploying a team of people to accomplish a set task? All of these are important qualities in a great leader. However, they are not the most important quality.

As we enter this Holy Week, where we commemorate the final week of Jesus’ earthly life and ministry before His death on the cross, there is one important event that does not get enough consideration. We all know about the last supper and the celebration of the Passover meal with Jesus and His disciples. Yet, only in the book of John do we find the account of Jesus washing the disciples feet.

It is in this one humble act that we find the definitive character quality that defines a great disciple and a great leader. It is the willingness to humbly serve others. Most examples of leadership that we see in the world focus on the bold personality and actions of the leader. Yet, in the Kingdom of God, such personality traits and actions run counter to the call of a true leader. A true leader is one who is both meek and willing to serve.

Meekness and the willingness to serve others does not flow from a lack of self worth and weakness. Rather, it flows from the security of a life that is anchored in its relationship to God and confident in His calling. Listen to the preamble of this account of Jesus washing the disciples feet.

  • Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.” ‭‭John‬ ‭13:3-5‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Jesus was not weak. He knew that the Father had given all things into His hands. He knew who He was and whose He was. It was from this confidence, strength, and assurance, that Jesus was able to humble himself and serve. Jesus Himself told the disciples many times – “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28).

Jesus served out of strength!

In this Holy Week we are called to reflect on the life and death of Jesus Christ. We look forward to the celebration of His resurrection and the hope of our resurrection in Christ! As we take time to reflect upon all that happened on this important week, let’s not forget that before the last supper – Jesus washed His disciples feet! He did this to give us an example of how we are to lead. He did this to remind us of the greatest character quality of a leader and a disciple of Jesus Christ!

  • “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.

Finally, we need to be reminded of this truth. We must not only be willing to humble ourselves in order to serve others, we must also allow others to serve us. It is possible to take pride in our willingness to serve. We take Jesus’ words to heart and begin to think that we are pretty good servers – until we are in the position of being served. It is then that we are faced with a great truth.

Humility is a two way street.

I pastored in a tradition that included foot washing as one of the ordinances that was to be observed by the church. When I began in this tradition it was new to me. Attending my first national convention I looked forward to the foot washing ceremony. I was excited to take the towel and wash basin, kneel before my brother, and wash his feet. In a sense it made me feel like I was truly identifying with Jesus on that historic Maundy Thursday.

Then something happened. As the roles were reversed, I felt a resistance rise up within me. As my brother took his position to wash my feet, suddenly, I was like Peter as he said to Jesus – “…Lord, are You washing my feet?” (John‬ ‭13:6‬ ‭NKJV‬‬). At that moment I was confronted with my pride. I was taking pride in washing someone else’s feet (serving), but I was struggling with humbling myself to let someone else wash my feet (being served). It was a true revelation to my heart.

Pride has no place in the heart of a believer or in the life of a leader. Paul knew this all too well. If anyone had the background and pedigree to rest on his pride, it was Paul. Yet, Paul learned humility through the things he suffered. And, Paul learned how to both give and receive from a humble heart.

As we reflect upon this Holy Week, in the midst of the 2020 Corona-virus pandemic, let us take these lessons to heart. We are serving others as we shelter-in-place. We are serving others as we reach out with phone calls, texts, and words of encouragement. We are serving others as we take only what we need at the grocery store to allow supply to be available to all. We are serving others as we are considerate with our family members in continued tight quarters. And, we are serving others when we graciously receive the love that they also give to us.

Jesus served His disciples to give us all an example. Jesus willingly laid down His life on the cross to show us the greatest expression of sacrifice, service, and love. And, Jesus rose from the dead so that we could live in power of His life and love. It is only in the resurrection power of the living Christ that we find the power to humble ourselves and serve others.

Lord, grant me the grace to serve others, and to graciously be served.

In Jesus Name!

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