21. This amazing power…

Welcome back Pebble pals. We are still celebrating Pentecost, the Feast of the first fruits of the harvest fifty days after Easter. It is a time to be aware of the amazing power given those who wait on the promise of the Holy Spirit.

Spiritual ghosts are dangerous. Paul warns us in the book of Timothy against a form of godliness. See-through, wishy-washy church activities with no substance, no power, no truth. We are to avoid such people – a strong warning indeed!

Powerless Christians give Christianity a bad reputation. They fight against the wrong people and make loveless judgments to condemn and exclude. A mere glance at church history is enough to make my head hang in shame of what was done in the name of my Father. Church leaders, so justified in their own man-made doctrine, with no consideration of the revelational knowledge of the Presence of a loving heavenly Father, that they tortured and murdered, thinking they act according to the will of God.

2 Timothy 3:5:

They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it [their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession]. Avoid [all] such people [turn away from them].

The church with no Jesus could never be the answer that the world around us so desperately seeks. Church ghosts wander around in a neutral zone of comfort-worship discussing overwhelming evil, crime and irresponsible living that reduces our world into a garbage heap of pollution and death, as the news of the day, without the sure knowledge of ultimate victory and the power in true Christianity to face the day head-on.

Church ghosts have no answer for the one-dimensional, superficial challenge from the post modern community, who constantly questions the God of love allowing blood on the streets and black flag extremism with murder on their lips. It amuses me that by asking this very question, the unbeliever puts God in control as if He, without invitation, should intervene and solve the mess. The core principle, from the very beginning of God’s involvement with mankind, is choice. Without choice there can be no love. Love is always a choice; otherwise it is not true love. Therefore it is only in the powerful rendering of our own testimony that this question can be answered.

Revelation 12:11:

They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony;

Our own testimony, our pebbles of perpetuity, is the story of our ultimate triumph in God. We are still living in a broken world and it may feel that God does not intervene on your behalf in a way that you perceive as beneficial, but our ultimate victory is guaranteed in Jude 24 – a verse that has been quoted numerous times as an important pillar of faith.

By the Holy Spirit we are challenged to see beyond the superficial reality revealed to our senses. We are invited to look into the unseen, into the invisible Kingdom of God, which is a greater reality, though not visible to the fleshly eye, and, by His power to overcome the obstacles.

When we combine our soul (mind, will and emotion) with our body we become flesh and are reduced to superficial thinking. When the Holy Spirit quickens our spirit the combination of soul and spirit is spiritual thinking.

Looking at the world today and the challenges of the future may cause a jungle of thoughts with a windmill-effect – round and round with no solution. Let us apply the soothing salve of ancient words.

Ezekiel 36:26,27:

 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you…

And I will put my Spirit in you…

God’s word stands firm and true through all the ages, just as He promised Ezekiel a two-fold process, He re-affirmed on the day of Pentecost.

Jesus breathed on His disciples to receive the Holy Spirit.

John 20:22:

And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

Why then did they have to wait in Jerusalem to be filled with power?

According to Ezekiel we are given a new spirit and thereafter the Spirit of God Himself. The Holy Spirit builds the house for God to live in. The process of rebirth is all the work of the Holy Spirit, a new spirit in us, our spirit-man rebirthed. Thereafter – God Himself lives in us.

That is the true meaning of Pentecost. More than 25 centuries after Ezekiel God is saying: And I will put my Spirit in you…

This infilling, full baptism takes place by invitation only. The Holy Spirit is a true gentleman. He will not come uninvited. The promise is for all – let it be clear. Acts 2:39:

The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

A friendly reminder who those are whom the Lord will call.

2 Peter 3:9:

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

The process of rebirth is repentance and water baptism – a blessed identification with Christ in His death and resurrection according to Romans 6:1-4. Ask God to fill you with His Spirit. We need the power to overcome our obstacles and to be prayer warriors in an age where true Christianity is tested.

Rejoice in this ancient Feast that celebrated the beginning of the harvest. On the day of Pentecost after Jesus’ ascension, the first fruits of the church were celebrated. We are the labourers that are harvesting in God’s field. We need the power; we need the indwelling of God Himself.

John the Baptist acknowledged Jesus as the One baptizing with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Nothing is possible without Jesus. He is the source of everything. Only through His blood we are cleansed and prepared for the indwelling of God Himself.

On the day of Pentecost the people heard the disciples speak with many tongues. God destroyed evil ambition and pride with the confusion in language at the Tower of Babel and united His church with language on the day of Pentecost. The different tongues of the Holy Spirit, the interpretation thereof, gifts of miracles, healing, discerning of spirits, our words of prophecy, faith, wisdom and knowledge are given to us where ever and for whatever the need may be.

1 Corinthians 12:13:

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.

Be aware of the amazing power to our disposal for our lives and those around us. We are never a victim of our circumstances. We have the power of God in us and we are in prayer-control of our lives within a broken world.

Till next time – be greatly blessed.

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20. New and newer – a complete makeover.

In the northern hemisphere spring is in the air. It seems like a fresh green mist covers the trees and bulging bulbs promise beauty and colour in expectation of the warmer days to come. Renewal is clear in the seasonal change. The season blooms in assurance of the promise of Genesis 8:22:

While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.

I live in Canada and we have the privilege to live close to a natural forest. Late summer last year, in September, we had an unexpected snowstorm. Within a few hours everything was white and the trees heavy with quite a few inches of snow. Some branches bent and some broke. One branch, high up in a tree behind the house, snapped but stayed attached to the tree. The leaves turned brown but did not fall off. A whole long Canadian winter later, the brown leaves are still hanging on that snapped branch.

IMG_2142It is only a living branch that rids itself of its dead leaves and prepare for the renewal of spring. The brown leaves on the branch are proof of its lifelessness, although it might look as if it still belongs to the tree.

Could we be part of the church of Christ, clothed in dead works that contrasts sharply with the powerful renewal of life in the promises of the Word? It is only with a full understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit that we will be renewed and our minds transformed.

We are remembering the exciting days of expectation after the resurrection. So often Jesus prepared His disciples for the dark days of His death, but they could never fully understand the true meaning of His words until they saw Him face to face. It is still true today. A powerful encounter with the risen Christ rids us of our dead works and fruitless mindset. The words of the Word are living in us to give us a complete makeover.

But, the moment of departure came. The words spoken in those last hours are super important. Jesus knew that He would never see them in the same circumstances again and the leave-taking would have been so shattering, was it not for His amazing farewell gift.

Listen closely to His words in Luke 24.

While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.

44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

Quite a few outstanding moments mark this short description of a remarkable occasion – probably the most memorable of that little group’s entire lives.

Jesus addresses their fear. He knows His glorified appearance is a supernatural and daunting experience. He emphasizes His words of before the crucifixion and brings them under the authority of the Scriptures. In His own words: This is what is written… You are witnesses of these things.

He does a miracle in their minds. He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. He performs the miracle because it is necessary for an intervention of Jesus Himself to understand the Word of God. He would not have done it if it were not necessary. Jesus only performs miracles in great need. A miracle is never unnecessary. To be a witness of these things they needed a touch of glory, an anointment, and special insight. He unlocks the power of Himself in them to understand, to interpret and to speak.

But it not all. Is this not enough, you might ask? If Jesus says it is not finished, who are we to disagree. His words:

…but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.

These are the very last recorded words of Jesus. Sit up and pay attention. His Father promised Him the Holy Spirit so that He could dwell in His friends. God in them would empower them for the task that lay ahead to host His presence among the people. Why?

Jesus is not a paperdol-dress that we use as a front cover. We cannot cover our nakedness and shame, blindness and poverty with one-dimensional religious activities. He is the Source of all truth and goodness and only His presence can rid us of dead works. Legalism and prejudice will expose our shame and guilt like last season’s dead leaves, even if it appears attached to church. You are just like a snapped branch and have to be repropogated into the true Vine.

Romans 8:25-27:

But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. 26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Henry Matthew Concise Commentary:

The Holy Spirit is the spring of all desires toward God, which are often more than words can utter. The Spirit who searches the hearts, can perceive the mind and will of the spirit, the renewed mind, and advocates his cause. The Spirit makes intercession to God, and the enemy prevails not

This explanation of the work of the Holy Spirit is the key to understanding transformation and a new mindset to welcome the full blessing of Pentecost. The disciples were frightened of Jesus in His glorified body and Peter was humiliated and full of shame. After Pentecost that same Peter preached 3000 people into the Kingdom convincing them to think anew, without circumcision, without Jewish ethnical requirements, without the blood of animals.

Peter’s words in Acts 2:37,38 and 41:

37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

I have never attended a service where 3000 people were baptized. What a powerful ministry moment!

In the next chapter of Acts Peter speaks godly power-words to the lame man. Acts 3:1-10:

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”

Pebble pal, you belong to an Almighty God for Whom nothing is impossible. Sing the song of Moses in Exodus 15:11:

Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, awesome in splendor, doing wonders?

Where are you at this moment? Are you comfortable in the knowledge of a miracle-working Father or hesitant and full of doubt, overwhelmed with need?

Pay close attention to Acts 2:39:

The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

It is you! Rejoice! The power that enabled Peter that day and all the days after, is available through the Holy Spirit to you and can change your life. Grab hold of this promise, free yourself of your prejudice and doctrines of man and incline your ear to the Word of God to truly hear. Ask for the full blessing with all the gifts of the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12. It is for everybody. Jesus promises that we will do greater works. [John 14:12]

I am certain everybody will agree that we need the full blessing of a wonderworking God in this day and age.

Be greatly blessed.