Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thurs. Devo - To Everything There is a Season

Read Acts 20
God does things in his seasons. There were 3 times a year that all Jewish men were to come to Jerusalem to worship God: the feast of Passover, the feast of Pentecost, and the feast of Tabernacles. Paul came back for Passover and left for Greece during the days of Unleavened Bread. Passover, Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits all happen in the same season. He preaches in the towns of Greece during Unleavened Bread. Unleavened Bread is symbolic of cleansing our bodies of sin. I'm certain that that was the topic of many of Paul's sermons during this time. Jesus fulfilled this feast when he died a sinless lamb - the bread of life. Next comes First fruits which is when the people bring the first fruits of their crops to the Lord. Jesus fulfilled this feast when he raised from the grave and became the first fruit to be presented to God. He brought many with him. So I find it interesting that during this time the man falls from the 3rd story and dies only to be brought back to life when Paul embraces him and speaks life into him. This was the "first fruit" of Paul: the first to rise from death.
Paul continues to travel and encourage the churches. He is trying to visit them all before Pentecost, the next feast that requires him to be in Jerusalem. This next feast was fulfilled when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. It represents the birth of the Church. No wonder Paul preaches to them about feeding the church. He warns them of the enemy who hates the Church and what he will try to do to destroy it. He is saying his good-bye to them because he knows his time with them is over. It is like Jesus's prayer in John 17. He commends them to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to buld them up and give them an inheritance among all which are sanctified. The last thing he tells them is to remember the words of Jesus when he said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
Lord, may we not love our life but pour it out as an offering to you.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wed. Devo -Holy What?

Read Acts 19
Paul is passing through Ephesus and meets disciples and asks them if they have received the Holy Spirit since they believed. They didn't even know that there was a Holy Spirit. I thought that was odd till I did a word search on the word Holy Spirit in the Old Testament and it is only mentioned 3 times. The words Holy Ghost are not mentioned at all so how would they know there was a Holy Spirit. This chapter talks about 3 different baptisms: the baptism of repentence (John's baptism), the baptism into salvation (the baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus), then the baptism in the Holy Spirit which came with the laying on of hands by Paul, tongues and prophecy.
Paul was loyal to the "great commission". He always went to the Jew first (the synagoge) then to the Gentile. He ended up at Tyrannus' school where he stayed and taught for 2 years. Only this school was not a typical Bible school. He touched people's handkerchiefs and aprons and the owners were healed of diseases and evil spirits left them.
The seven sons of Sceva were chief of the priests. They wanted some of this attention Paul was getting so they tried to cast our demons in the name of Paul's Jesus. The demons knew the authority Jesus had over them and they knew that same authority that Paul had, but these 7 men had no authority to tell them where to go. So when they tried to cast out the demons, the demons turned and attacked them and cast them out of the house. This was great P.R. for the name of Jesus.
Ephesus was the most important city in the Roman province of Asia. A road 11 miles wide and lined with columns ran down through the city to the harbour where they exported goods and imported people. They believe the population was a third of a million. A single theater seated 25,000.
It was also the center of emperor cult, and had three official temples. Amazingly Paul had friends among the leaders of this cult of which many were Jews. The spread of Christianity threatened the magic cults which flourished here. (Where sin abounds, grace abounds more.) One craftsman got so upset because his prophets had suffered because of Paul that he caused a great uproar and all ran into the theater to do something about it. Once again, God spared Paul and sent Alexander to calm the crowd. Interesting...."Alexander" means "man-defender". I'm going to ask for God to send that angel when I need a defender!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tuesday's Devo -I Am Not Afraid

Read Acts 18
Paul spends much of his time in Corinth. Corinth was a very prosperous trade center. In the past they had built a temple to Aphrodite, the goddess of love and had been a notoriously immoral city. It was razed to the ground centuries later by Rome. It was rebuilt by Caesar and eventually became the capital of the province of Achaea and ruled by a proconcul. Gallio was the proconsul at the time Paul was there. The Jews kept trying to get Paul arrested by the proconsul but Gallio refused to get involved.
The Jews in Rome had been kicked out so many like Pricilla and Aquila had fled to Corinth. So there was unrest everywhere. Nero eventually had Gallio killed. Paul had a reason to be concerned for his life because when fear drives people, they do bizarre things. In the midst of this atmosphere of fear and distrust God speaks to Paul in a vision and says, "Don't be afraid, but speak and don't hold back. I am with you and no man will hurt you for I have many people in this city." What an encouragement! I think that is what God would say to us today in the midst of tolerance-only-to-the-evil, fear, distrust, unrest, war, and unemployment. He would come to all of his people and say, "Don't be afraid to be bold for me, I will not let you be harmed for I have many of my people in this city. Paul believed and stayed for 1 and 1/2 years teaching the Word to them. When Paul was arrested, he didn't even have to defend himself. God used an unrighteous leader to defend him and another man, Sosthenes, took his beating.
A while later, Paul left and went back through the places he had started churches to strengthen them and make sure they were keeping the faith.
Lord, raise up "Pauls" for this generation that will not be afraid or ashamed to preach the gospel.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Monday's Devo - Truth Brings Persecution

Read Acts 17
The word is a two-edged sword. When weilded it divides. That is what the truth did that Paul and Silas preached. It divided. Like Jesus teaching it brought out the worse in people. They either accepted it or completely opposed it. There didn't seem to be much middle ground. Truth brings persecution. We saw that in our nation this past week when the contestant for Miss America said she believed marriage was between a man and a woman. She caught all kind of flack even from so-called Christians. The church hasn't received much persecution because we still dance around sin. But I see a day coming when we will be forced to make statements that define sin and put us in a position for persecution. Paul was not afraid of confrontation or persecution. He seemed to attrack both everywhere he went.
When he was in Athens he argued with the Epicureans and the Stoic philosophers. The Epicureans believed the universe was the result of atomic reaction and motion. (Sounds like some of our "scientists" today.) The Stoics worshipped Reason and believed happiness came from accepting things as they are. How do you preach Jesus and resurrection to a group like this? Paul found a loop hole. They had a tomb that was inscribed, "Tomb to the Unknown God". I guess that was to cover the bases just in case there was a higher being than nature and reason. Paul used this to tell them he knew this Unknown God and in fact, He was the only God, creator of the universe and everything in it. And this powerful god wanted to live and move and exist in them. He called them to repent, turn from their sins, and turn to God. He told them that there is a judgement day coming in which everyone will judged by Jesus who God raised from the dead. Paul was doing well until he got to the part about Jesus being raised from the dead. What do reasonists and atheists do with that? Some laughed but some wanted to know more and some became believers. One of those believers was a member of the court held on Mars Hill. I have found that all who are looking for the truth find it eventually. May we take risks like Paul did and not be afraid of persecution.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday's Devo - Is the Devil Bugging You? Demand Payback!

We have termites in our kitchen wall. I noticed them about a week ago. I saw this tiny black spot on my wall and when I looked closer I realized it was a small hole. I showed it to Dave and he immediately recognized it as termites. We called the exterminators the next day and a week later they came. I guess Tulsa is being inundated and we were down on the list. Anyway, by the time they came there were about 16 holes and dead termites kept appearing on the floor. Sometimes they would fly. It got so bad that one night we sat in front of the holes with the vacuum cleaner and waited till one crawled past the opening in the hole and we would suck it up. This is a very desperate feeling watching while pests eat away at your new house. When we realized this was a losing battle we stuck putty in the holes and went to bed. Dave and I could hardly sleep that night knowing that preditors were awake eating away our walls. I monitored the wall all day the next day and finally that afternoon I saw a few that had eaten around the putty and were coming through. I took off the putty and sure enough there they were. I don't know why I thought they might have left. A friend came over to pick up her daughters prom dress I had altered and I showed our new adventure. She asked me if I sprayed the putty with bug spray. I hadn't even thought of spraying the bugs. So I went out and got our bug spray and sprayed it into the hole. Walla! I haven't seen another one since and we have a whole week till they are treating our house. I said aaaaaalllllll this to say. Why? Dave prays Ps 91 over our house and family everyday. In it there is a line that says: "no evil or plague shall come near our dwelling." Well, I call termites an evil plague. So I'm asking God, "why?"
This week we went over to a couple's house in our church that was experiencing calamity after calamity. They wanted the demons cast out and their house blessed. We went over and prayed for their house. Persecution is not a plague, it is a promise for those who carry the name of the Lord. Whatever this is I am demanding payback. What the devil has stolen from us in finances and sheetrock he has to pay back 7 fold. I'm going to be looking for it.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Saturday's Devo - Moved by Compassion

"But when Jesus saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having not shepherd." Matt.9:36
Yesterday, I was talking to a friend on the phone. She was fixing to take her daughter down town to feed the homeless. She asked me if I wanted to go and I said, "yes". I had work to do but somehow this seemed like what I should be doing. I love how God interrupts your day to bless you. The problem is most of the time I don't want to stop and shift gears. I'm so glad I let God rearrange my schedule this time.
The way this ministry got started was a couple of years ago a business man named Kelly Swan was having lunch with some of his friends down town where they work. He noticed all the homeless people walking around hungry. He asked his friends why no one had started a ministry to these people. They decided to go buy some sandwiches and bring them back and give them out. This started his ministry. Every Friday he meets at a certain parking lot and shares a mini sermon, he relates with the people and calls them by name and they love and trust him. He treats them with dignity and respect. Then he passes out sack lunches. One man came up to him afterwards and was a heroin addict. He wanted to ask Jesus into his life and change. Kelly prayed with him and got him hooked up with the John 3:26 ministry.
I had never done this outreach but was so touched. Kelly was moved by compassion like Jesus was when he saw the multitude and he stopped and taught them, healed them and fed them. That's what Kelly does. I had been thinking about helping a member of my church move this week-end. When I came home from feeding the homeless, I called her. I figured she would have relatives or other friends helping her and tell me she didn't need me, but she didn't have anyone helping her and would love my help. So here I go moved by compassion because I saw the power of some one else moved by compassion. Move us Lord!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday's Devo - Freedom for All

Read Acts 16
This chapter makes me ask more questions than I have answers for. Paul and Silas leave to minister. They start out and everywhere they try to go God gives them a "no". So they keep going. They finally reach the seaport of Troas. Where do you go when you reach the sea and God keeps telling you "not here". That night Paul has a vision of a man telling him to go across the sea to the island of Macedonia and help them. That man had to be the angel of the Lord. They took a boat and finally arrived in Philippi which is the main city in Macedonia. On the sabbath they went to the river side where the women of the town gathered to pray. They baptised Lydia, a wealthy lady, along with her family. She compelled them to stay at her house. While they were still praying ther was a young girl who was possessed with a demonic spirit of divination. She kept proclaiming that they were the servants of God who came to show them the way of Salvation. What she said was the truth but the spirit from which she was saying it was not truth. It was a familiar spirit just not the real thing. So instead of it bringing life it brought death. When Paul and Silas could take it no longer they spoke to the spirit in her and commanded it to come out of her. It did. Now that she had lost her prophetic gift her masters were irate. They took Paul and Silas into the marketplace and accused them of being troublemakers. They were said to teach against their customs. What kind of crime is that? Jealousy leads to murder so they inspired the crowds to oppose them also. The magistrates had them stripped and severly beaten and thrown into the interior of the prison and had their feet put in stocks.
At midnight Paul and Silas were singing and praying surrounded by the other prisoners. Suddenly there is an earthquake and all the doors were opened and everyone's chains popped off. The jailor went to kill himself so he wouldn't be tortured the next day for letting the prisoners free. Paul stopped him and told him they are all there. (It is amazing to me that none of the prisoners left. I guess after hearing Paul and Silas pray and sing they wanted to stick around and see what other crazy thing they were going to do.) The officer is so impressed he wants to be saved immediately- not only him but his entire family. Then he fed them and put ointment on their stripes.
The next day the magistrates sent word to let them go. The now-saved keeper told Paul, and Paul said, "no way". He was a Roman citizen and what they did was unlawful. They would have to come and get him themselves. Paul was no mamby-pamby Christian. He knew who he was in society and in God.
What a picture. The demons were stirred up when they had to leave that girl so they attacked Paul and Silas. When God came to their rescue he not only set them free but all in the jail and the main guard was saved. Satan never wins unless we stop fighting and give in. When it looks like the devil has bound you, try praying and singing. God will move earth for you and set you free.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thurs. Devo - Circumcise our Hearts

Read Acts 15
Ministry is never problem-free because it requires working with people. Everyone has their pet doctrines that they feel they need to defend. Paul and Barnabas are in Antioch where some men from Judea come preaching you must be circumcised to be a believer. Isn't that something like you must clean the outside of the cup first? Anyway, that didn't fly with Paul and Barnabas so after arguing and getting nowhere they decided to go to Jerusalem and ask the head apostles. All along the way Paul and Barnabas stopped and encouraged the believers. When they arrived in Jerusalem they told the elders how the Gentiles were coming to know Jesus as their Messiah. This gave them great joy as they recognized this was fulfillment of prophesy. Paul and Barnabas told them of their main reason for coming and the apostles agreed that they didn't have to be circumcised but they did need to abstain from eathing food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, and from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from consuming blood.
To me those seem like strange things to set up as rules so I decided to look closer. How do they relate to us now in 2009? They are all sins against the physical body. Both idolotry and immorality defile your spirit. Idolotry and immorality are ageless sins. Our society is wrapt with idols. Toby Mac sings about how they were once "stars" now we call them "idols". How blatant yet we still worship them. We have magazines just to find out how movie stars are living their lives and spending their money. They tell us their excercise routine, what make-up they wear, where they shop for their clothes while their personal lives are in immoral shambles. But we still worship them.
Unholy blood seems to be a common theme in these taboos. The power of the cross is in the blood Jesus shed for us. Blood carries life. Our DNA is found in our blood. There are certain blood types that can't be mixed together or you will die. Blood is very special to God. It is important that we don't consume the wrong blood. The devil is into blood also. Think of all the rage about werewolfs these days. That is unholy blood. We are not to consume ourselves on this blood. Wasn't the argument about circumcism? That has to do with blood and sex. But it has to do with the law not the spirit. It is our heart that needs to be circumcised.
So ultimately they all have to do with life. The life is in the blood and sex is the beginning of life. If the source is bad the fruit will be worse. If the source is God then the fruit will be eternal. Lord, may we be used to produce eternal life.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wed. Devo - How to be Abased and How to Abound

Read Acts 14
Human nature is amazing to watch. One moment you are a hero and the next you are being stoned. Even with signs and wonders following your words the hearts of men are still hardened. That is the journey Paul and Barnabas were on. It was a road of ups and downs, being exalted and being abased. No wonder Paul wrote in Phillipians 4: 11-13 that he knew how to be abased, how to abound, how to be full and how to be hungry; how to have more than enough, and how to suffer need. And in whatever state he was in to be content because he found he could do all things through Christ who gives him strength.
In today's reading they preach in Iconium and the word brought total chaos and division. The word of God is a two-edged sword that divides soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and thoughts and intents of the heart. You've got your soul, joint, and thoughts vs. your spirit, marrow, and intents of the heart. The truth leaves no gray areas. No one rides the fence. Truth mixed with miracles to back it up stirs up every demon in hell. Jealousy leads to murder. That is why everywhere they went their opposition wanted to kill them. The devil is out to KILL, steal, and destroy the works of God.
The people wanted to make Paul and Barnabas gods even though they tried to convince them they were human. There were Jews that had followed them from Iconium and Antioch to discredit them. They convinced the same people who wanted to worship them to stone them instead. By law he was dead, but as the disciples stood around him he rose up. This was a miracle. He not only got up from his stoning and was alive but he traveled to the next town and preached without any "down time". He even dared to go back through the cities where they had tried to have him killed and preached again. His message was that they had to go through tribulation to enter into the kingdom of God. Did someone preach that to you when you got saved? Maybe we would have changed our minds. But, it is the truth. Truth comes with a cost.......your comfort, your reputation, your time, your money, your life. But every time you will rise up on eagle's wings to new life.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tues. Devo - Are You Experiencing Opposition?....Rejoice!

Read Acts 13
Saul and Barnabas were sent to preach to the Gentiles. After much prayer and fasting, they left for Cyprus. Since verse 1 says the church in Antioch had these certain teachers and prophets and "Barnabas" means "prophecy", I would think that he was the prophet and Saul was the teacher. After preaching in Salamis where everything went smoothly, they went to Paphos where things were not so smooth. First there was a certain false prophet named Barjesus. He was friends with the deputy of the coutry, Sergius Paulus who wanted to hear what Saul and Barnabas had to say. Then there was Elymas, the sorcerer who didn't want the deputy to hear the truth so he opposed Paul and Barnabas. Paul turned and rebuke Elymas and cursed him with blindness. (Isn't that exactly what God did to Saul?) When the deputy saw this power he was amazed and became a believer.
Paul and Barnabas left Perga and came to Pisidia and went into the synagogue because it was the sabbath. The priest read from the Torah then asked Paul and Barnabas if they had anything they wanted to say. Paul stood up and preached the whole Jewish history up to that present time. He then preached Jesus, the fulfillment of the law. The Jews heard and left, but the Gentiles asked to hear more next sabbath. When next sabbath came the whole town showed up. The Jews saw the crowds and were filled with jealousy. They argued the truth and reviled Paul and Barnabas. So Paul turned and told them that the opportunity of everlasting life had to be given to them (the Jews) first, but since they didn't want it they were going to offer it to the Gentiles. And this is what they did until the Jews stirred up the wealthy people to get them kicked out of town. Paul and Barnabas left for Iconium shaking the dust off their feet, full of joy and the Holy Spirit.
Give us the heart of Paul and Barnabas that we would be filled with joy and the Holy Spirit when we are being persecuted for righteous sake. It seems to be a given: it you are making progress in the kingdom of God, you are going to be opposed. Recognize the source and don't be defeated.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday's Devo - Refugee Set Free

Read Acts 12
About 8 years ago I had been studying my Bible and I was wondering where the people of the Old Testament went when they died since Jesus hadn't died yet and they couldn't go to heaven. I decided to ask God right before I went to sleep one night and when I woke up that morning the Lord said, "cities of refuge". I thought that was a funny thing for the Lord to say till I remembered my question the night before. I knew this was the answer so I studied about cities of refuge. They were the cities that every tribe had to set apart for the person who was accused of murdering someone and had no witness. He would flee to one of these cities and the judge would hear his case and if he was innocent he would be allowed to stay safely in the city until the death of the high priest. God showed me that before Jesus, the devil accused them all of murder and he was the avenger. When they died they could present their life before a judge (God) and if he thought they were innocent he would place them in one of these cities of refuge under the earth. There they stayed till The High Priest, Jesus, died. When he was buried, Jesus and he went down and preached salvation to these cities. Many believed and were taken with him to heaven. In Matt. 27:53-54 it said that when Jesus died, "the graves of many were opened and the bodies of the saints which slept arose and came out of their graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many." So what does that have to do with today's reading? I think today's reading is another glimpse into what happened when Jesus died.
Once again it is Passover. Herod the king is a type of Satan. He is kills James to be a type of Jesus being killed. Then he puts Peter in prison which is a type of Jesus being buried. It even gives us the hint when it says that these were the days of unleavened bread. Unleavened bread was when Jesus was buried. Prayer was made without ceasing for him. I think that was the prayer of heaven for Jesus and for the church and the prayers of those in these spiritual cities of refuge. Then the angel comes to Peter in prison, wakes him up and the chains fall off of him. This would be like the angel coming to the grave where Jesus was laid and waking him up from death and setting him free from death. He passes the soldiers and goes to Mary's house where many were gathered. Sounds like a city of refuge.
Peter stood at the door and knocked. Finally they opened the door and let him in and were astonished. (Didn't Jesus say that He stands at the door and knocks and if anyone hears his voice, he will come in and eat with them?)
Is this how it was underground. Did Jesus have to knock and knock until finally he got in to these cities of refuge and they were shocked. I says that they did receive him and believe what he said. Then it says that Peter went to another place where there were followers. So Jesus went on to the next city of refuge to tell them. Meanwhile the devil (Herod) is not happy when he cannot find Jesus. He punishes the demons responsible for watching over Jesus' death. Apparently Jesus did not win everyone over and some of the people that had died wanted to follow Satan. They set Satan upon his throne and proclaimed him to be their god. Immediately God kills Satan. Meanwhile in the kingdom of God the good news is spreading and multiplying.
If we could just get this......Satan is defeated. He really was killed at the resurrection. He could not hold Jesus in the grave. He can only deceive us into thinking he has power but we are the ones with the power because of Jesus. Lord, help us to walk in resurrection power!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday's Devo - Evangelists and Prophets - We need them both.

Read Acts 11
Reading this chapter lets me see how far the Jews had come from the laws of God. Peter and John are rebuked by the apostles for eating with uncircumcised men. I looked in the law for any hint of warning against eating with the uncircumcised and all I could find was where the priests were not suppose to share the holy food with the uncircumcised. There were plenty of laws about being kind to strangers, because they were once strangers in Egypt. In Deu. 10:19 it even says to love the stranger. All throughout the Old Testament you read of non-Jews who God singled out to save: Rahab, Ruth, Naman. God's plan from the beginning was to save the world; He just used the Jewish people to display how God deals with His children. But the Jewish people became proud and arrogant and exclusive when it came to God. Cornelius was a good example of a non-Jew who loved God. It reminds me of us in the church. Sometimes we forget that we are saved by grace, not because we earned it. We are no better than the worse sinner.
The good news is that when the apostles heard the whole story they didn't harden their hearts, they softened them and were accepting of the Gentiles. Others that had only preached to the Jews started preaching to the Grecians also. A great number of them came to the Lord. Barnabus was sent to Antioch which is in Syria. He took Saul with him. Here, in this non-Jewish land is where they first used the term "Christians".
God rose up the prophetic voice that had been silent for so long and restored prophets to the church. One particular prophet prophecied that there would be a famine throughout the world and the church mobilized to be ready to help.
David Wilkerson is a modern-day prophet who has a church in New York City. God told him to be ready for something big was going to happen in NYC at the World Trade Center on 9-11. He had his church stay up all night the night before making peanut butter sandwiches and they were at ground zero the morning of 9-11 ready to help. That is the power and the necessity of prophecy. Nothing should take us by surprise because God promised that he would never do anything that he didn't first tell his prophets.
Lord, expand our territories and help us to reach out to people we unconsciously call "uncircucised" and may the church welcome the voice of the prophet.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thurs. Devo. - 6.............9!

Read Acts 10
Cornelius, a Roman officer (I wonder if he has a ever lost an ear) is a devout follower of God who lives in Caesarea. He gives generously and has been fasting and praying when he is caught in a vision. It is the 9th hour and an angel comes to him with instructions: God has heard your prayer. Send men to Joppa and find Simon Peter who will further instruct you. So the next day he sends 3 men to go get Peter and bring him to Caesarea .
Peter is up on his housetop praying at the 6th hour and becomes supernaturally hungry. He is immediately taken into a trance where he sees a huge sheet coming down from heaven with all the unclean animals the law taught them not to eat. God tells him to kill these animals and eat them. Peter refuses out of conscience sake. God's voice says, that what He cleanses Peter may not call unclean. This happened 3 times. Immediately the Holy Spirit tells Peter to go down stairs because 3 men are looking for him. He is to go with them. He knows this is the answer to the dream and the 3 times meant 3 men whom God has cleansed.
Peter obeyed and went with them. Meanwhile Cornelius had gathered a group to hear what Peter had to say. Peter is realizing that God is bringing in a new covenant. Jesus didn't just come for the Jews, he came for the world. And the world is coming to Jesus. Peter preaches Jesus to these god-fearing Romans and they receive him. Then the Holy Spirit falls on them and they speak with tongues. Peter and his Jewish friends are amazed. Then Peter baptizes them in water.
It seems like this 6th hour/9th hour keeps coming up. I think you have to have the 6th hour of intercession to precipitate the 9th hour of pouring out. The number 6 is the number for man. That is what he can do....pray. The number 9 means "harvest". That is what God does.
Lord, help us do #6 to get #9.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wed. Devo - Let's Command Something.

Read Acts 9
Saul is still persecuting the church. Because of this great persecution the good news is spread to the whole earth like Jesus commanded in his parting words. Saul travels 150 miles to Damascus to persecute believers. On the way God arrests him instead. He is surrounded with the light of heaven which blinds him and speaks to him. God lets him know that his vigor is for the wrong side then he tells them to go into the city and await further instructions. God knew how to humble Saul. The leader who was merciless and relentless is now powerless and needy. In verse 8 he stood up and "when his eyes were opened" they had to lead him by the hand. The next verse it says that he was 3 days without sight. So that "eyes were opened" has to be his spiritual eyes since he was still physically blind. In the mean time God had his man, Ananias in Damascus praying. God appeared to Ananias in a vision and told him to go to Straight street to the house of Judas and ask for Saul of Tarsus. Ananius had heard all about Saul and didn't want anything to do with him. After arguing with God about it and losing the argument, he went. He didn't mense any words he just walked in, laid his hand on him and commanded healing for his eyes and for him to receive the Holy Spirit. He got both, then ate something and went about preaching the very Jesus he had fought so much against. He became much more powerful now than before. The Jewish leaders didn't know what to do with him. They finally decided to kill him. God revealed this plan to the disciples and they let Saul down over the wall in a basket and he escaped. Saul went to Jerusalem and went to see the apostles who were afraid to meet with him. Barnabus finally got them to listen and they accepted him into the fold. Saul spoke so boldly the Grecians tried to kill him. He escaped to Caesarea, then to his home town of Tarsus.
So Saul rose from the spiritual death he was in and started preaching the good news and winning many new converts to the Lord. Peter is in Lydda and gets the privaledge of physically raising a man from the bed of affliction. Aeneas had been paralyzed for 8 years and Peter commanded him to rise up and walk. He did! He turned the towns of Lydda and Saron to the Lord through his testamony. Next he gets to actually raise a person from the dead. A devout follower of Jesus, Dorcus had died. They had placed her in a upper chamber and Peter went in and commanded her to arise. This also caused a great number of new converts.
This is where the church is going. Sadly to say, the only thing that seems to get us to rise up is persecution. It causes us to press in and know God better and in our desperation call out to him in bold confidence. God is wanting to release this same type of power on his church. Let's get hungry.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tues. Devo - Spreading Like Wild Fire!

Read Acts 8
Stephen has been stoned and Saul is empowered with righteous indignation to get rid of all Christians. Persecution spread throughout Jerusalem and the Christians scattered to neighboring towns. (God knows how to get the word out.) Saul broke into homes and dragged believers to jail.
Phillip ended up in Samaria and began ministering to the Samarians. Many were brought to salvation through the things Phillip preached and seeing the miracles that he did. One of the converts was Simon who was the town sorcerous. When word got to the apostles in Jerusalem that revival was falling on the Samaritans, they sent Peter and John to witness what was going on. When they got there they prayed for the new converts to receive the Holy Spirit. When they did there must have been an evident sign because Simon was so impressed that he offered them money to be able to do this himself. Peter rebuked him pretty badly and Simon repented. He just didn't understand the things of the spirit yet.
The apostles go back to Jerusalem and Philip has an encounter with an angel. It tells him to go south to Gaza, which was in the desert. He did and it just happened that an Ethiopian eunuch of the queen of Ethiopia had come to Jerusalem to worship. He was on his way back to Ethiopia reading Isaiah aloud in his chariot. God told Philip to go close to his chariot and listen. He heard what he was reading and asked him if he understood it. The Ethiopian said, "how can I with no one to teach me." He asked Peter to join him in the chariot and help him to understand. He was reading Is. 53 about how a man would come to earth one day and die a violent death for our sins. Philip told him how Jesus was this man whose life and death was described in this passage. The Ethiopian not only believed but wanted to be baptized right then. They stopped the chariot and baptized him and as soon as Philip brought him out of the water God translated Philip 40 miles away. He preached his way to Caesarea. The Ethiopian man took the good news to Ethiopia.
God has unique ways to get his good news passed around. This chapter is such an encouragement of how God weaves people in our lives for "God encounters". I wonder what would have happened if Philip wouldn't have listened when God told him to go to the desert. Who is in the desert? God knew. Lord, help us to be that sensitive that when you tell us some bizarre thing.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Monday's Devo - Stephen beget Saul

Read Acts 7
If you want to give someone a synopsis of the Old Testament this chapter is the ticket. Stephen takes us through the scriptures from
Abraham to Jesus showing the religious council how God has dealt with his people and how God's people have dealt with God. He was doing fine till he got to verse 51, then he lets them have it. They resist the Holy Spirit and are no different from the fathers who went before them. He reiterates what Jesus said about the religious leaders, they have the law but do not keep it. They have head knowledge but their hearts are far from God - hardened. They were pretty upset, but Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit looks up and God opens up heaven to him. He sees the glory of God and Jesus sitting next to him. When he tells them what he sees they go balistic and take him out of the city and stone him. They lay their clothes at the feet of young Saul, a Roman officer. Stephen dies calling upon Jesus to receive his spirit and forgiving his slayers.
The devil might have taken Stephen but it cost him dearly because God stole Saul from his camp and Saul carried on Stephen's ministry with even more boldness. Interesting that Saul started his ministry with the same vision Stephen left with.
When it looks like the devil has won...there is always the rest of the story. Jesus always triumps over sin. May we remember what God has done in the past and have faith for the future.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sunday's Devo - He Passed Over

Today we celebrate Easter in our churches. Everywhere pastors will be preaching about the Ressurection and the Cross. God gave me a peek into a closer look of the cross the other day. I thought I blogged about it but when I went to find it I couldn't so today is the perfect day. I was reading in Matt 27:45 about when Jesus was being crucified and darkness fell across the whole land from the 6th to the 9th hour. This searcing led me to Psalms 18 where David is prophetically speaking for Jesus. He is feeling the anquish on the cross. Death is closing in on Jesus and ungodly men are terrorizing him. In his distress he cried out to his father who bent the heavens, clothed himself in darkness and came down to be with his son during his final hours on the cross. He rode on a cherib and hid himself in thick clouds. He had to fight through hail and coals of fire with his arrows. As soon as God's tangible presence left and it was light again, Jesus cried out, "My God, why have your forsaken me." and died. God hadn't really forsaken him, he had just visibly left. Jesus felt everything like we do and after a "close encounter" we feel abandoned. God promised Jesus he would never leave him or forsake him just as he promises us. At the first Passover, the Lord passed over Egypt and received the sacrifice of those who applied the blood on the doorposts. The Lord passed over Jesus and received the sacrifice and the blood on "The Door" and brought life to all who would enter into this door and find safety.
Lord, we can not thank you enough for sending your son to die for us and save us from death. May we be faithful to bring others into the shelter of that door.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Saturday's Devo - Ashes to Beauticians

"And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, give light upon the earth." Gen 1:24-25
I went to get my hair cut this week and was reminded of my beautician when I first moved to Monroe. I was newly-wed and money was pretty tight. I found a lady who lived a mile from my house and her shop was in her home. She was around my age and pretty raw. Her language was very raw. I didn't witness to her with my mouth, but what I didn't say spoke volumes to her. I would pray for her all the time. Little by little I noticed a change in her speach and her attitude. After about a year of going to her she was telling me she was going back to church. Her life turned around and she came back to Jesus. She ended up moving and I had to find a new beautician. I decided to go to Kim, my arobic instructor who was in beauty school. She was such a beautiful girl and I was intimidated by her looks, but she was intimidated by my God. I kept going even though it was uncomfortable for both of us. She was not walking with God and as far as I was concerned: unsaved. When she graduated she opened up shop in a prestigious beauty shop and I had to pay a lot more to have her cut my hair, but she always gave me a discount because I had used her while she was a school. She quit after a few years to spend more time at home with her family and I didn't see her for years. Our city started a Bible Study Fellowship and they were having teas around the city to get people informed and signed up. God kept telling me to call and invite her. I finally couldn't fight God any longer and picked up the phone and called her. I was so nervous but I just told her God would not let me alone till I envited her to a tea. She was blown away but thanked me. I wasn't able to attend the bible study but Kim ended up going to it for years. Everytime I ran into her she would thank me. It revolutionized her life forever.
I have witnessed this same change in my beautician I go to now, many of my employers over the years, and people I work out with. We truly are lights that God lifts up to give light to the earth. The people in Matt. 26:73 knew Peter had been with Jesus because of his speach. It wasn't his accent they were talking about. It was the lack of curse words, the compassion in his voice, something that set him apart as different. We carry Jesus inside us everywhere we go. Let's pour Him out on everyone. I feel redundant in saying this but it's just the gospel truth! Go let your light shine!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday's Devo - You are the Light of the World

Read Acts 6
The church is growing daily and Satan can't stand it so he sends in a little fox: the spirit of division. The Grecians are complaining that their widows are not being treated as well as the Hebrew widows. The 12 disciples recognize the distraction and realize they need help with serving the people. They bring in 7 men with good reputation and full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom to do this. The disciples go back to their job which is praying and teaching the Word. Taking care of widows is not the only thing these 7 men did. Stephen was one of them and he did great miracles and wonders. Stephen was so powerful in his witness that the leaders in the synagogue rose up to resist him. The only thing was, they couldn't argue against the wisdom of God in Stephen. So they hired men to falsely accuse Stephen of blasphemy. These men caused such a ruckus that Stephen was finally brought before the council. They accused him of changing the customs of Moses and all of a sudden Stephen's face shone just like Moses' did.
I believe that as the day's get darker and the distinction of black and white becomes more defined we will actually shine God's glory visibly. God is pouring out his spirit once again and the church is going to grow explosively. When this happens persecution will come because the devil hates revival. He will send division, false accusations and any fiery dart he can throw. We need to remember that our enemy is NOT flesh and blood, but principalities and powers and anything that exalts itself against the knowledge of the truth. God has given us armor to protect us and the Sword of the Word to fight the powers of evil. Our weapons are not carnal, but mighty to the pulling down of strongholds. May your church be blameless and harmless in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom we shine as lights in the world; holding the word of life; that we may rejoice in the day of Christ, that we have not run in vain, neither labored in vain. Phil. 2:15

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Thurs. Devo - Setting the Prisoners Free!

Read Acts 5
This is a long chapter, but an exciting one. It starts out with the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira that lied to the Holy Spirit about how much they sold a piece of land for. It reminds me of the priests of Zadok who offered strange fire to God. They were slain too. (Interesting note, most historians think the Sadducees came from the line of Zadok.)
When God cleanses his temple holiness remains. The people were filled with fear and awe of God. And the fear of God brings the presence of God. The disciples were performing miraculous signs and wonders and word was getting around. The people brought their sick and lined them on the street so that the shadow of Peter would fall on them. People were healed and evil spirits were cast out of them.
Needless to say the religious officials were not happy. Filled with jealousy, they arrested the apostles for maybe.... littering?!? They didn't even have to spend the night in jail because the angel of the Lord came and opened the gates of the jail and told them to go back to the Temple and give the people this message of life.
Meanwhile, back at the council. They went to get the apostles to question them and they were gone - without posting bail. Not only were they gone but the gate was still locked and guards had been there all night. When would this madness end? They got news the apostles were back at the Temple teaching. This had to be a slap in the face to the leaders of the religious community. They were totally losing control of their system and didn't know what to do. They had always managed to keep the people afraid of them and now the tables were turning.
So they go back to the Temple and arrest the apostles again and bring them in for questioning. "Didn't we tell you to stop preaching in Jesus name?" So once again the apostles get to proclaim the truth about who Jesus is to the council. They are furious, especially about the part where they are responsible for killing Jesus. They want to kill the apostles but take the advise of a very wise member named Gamaliel. He councils them to let God decide if the apostles are telling the truth. So they beat the apostles and send them away with a threat to stop preaching. The disciples leave ecstatic that they were able to suffer for the name of Jesus. Instead of quieting them down it boosted them to preach even more.
I can't help but associating the religious council with the council of Satan. I can see the same thing happening in the unseen world of the spirit. They had always been able to intimidate these men, but now these men have power and the devil and his demons are scrambling. They need some new strategy because things have changed. We have this same power available to us. Let's use it to set the prisoners free and arrest the devil.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wed. Devo - Baptize us with Boldness

Read Acts 4
In the first two verses, look at what the religious sector got mad at Peter and John about:
1) they taught the people
2) they preached the resurrection from the dead through Jesus
The priests were the only ones who were suppose to be the teachers.
The captain of the temple was suppose to be sure no one violated the laws of the temple like false teachers. And the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. So everyone was offended. The problem was that the people loved what Peter and John had to say and the council could not deny this man was healed. They had known this blind man too and couldn't do anything for him. Now John and Peter healed him and had gained the heart and ear of the people.
Jealousy is a powerful evil that leads to murder. They took John and Peter and put them in a holding place to keep them silent till they could meet and decide what to do with them. Meanwhile, 5,000 people had heard the truth about Jesus and believed.
Since it was the feast of Pentecost all the high priests were in Jerusalem. The only people that Jesus attacked were the religious people. It is no coincidence that God chose this time to start pouring out his spirit and working wonders. It was an attack on the religious system of the day.
So the next day they bring Peter and John out and start their questioning. I can imagine the intimidation of speaking before all the high priests at once. But since they had been filled with the power of the Holy Spirit they were not intimidated and boldly proclaimed the gospel. Verse 13 says that the council marveled at their boldness and the fact that they were unlearned and ignorant men, but their speech portrayed that they had been with Jesus. And with the proof standing right there with them, they were defenseless. They finally decided to tell Peter and John not to talk about this anymore. (What a joke!) Peter and John thought so too and refused to be silent about the truth. So the council threatened them and let them go. Peter and John went back to their disciples and told them what the chief priests had said. They praised God and prayed for even more boldness to proclaim Jesus. God answered with shaking the place and filling everyone there with the Holy Spirit. Before Jesus died he prayed that his church would be one. They unified in heart and spirit. They brought their earthly possessions and shared with one another till noone lacked.
This is a picture of the revival God wants to bring to the church. He longs to pour out his Holy Spirit on his body so they will go out in boldness and preach Jesus, pray for the sick and give. Let it be.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tues. Devo - "Sweet Hour of Prayer"

Read Acts 3
Peter and John are in the temple praying and it is the 9th hour. I looked up what happened at the 9th hour and that was the hour God answered his own prayer on the cross. Jesus died which completed his mission here on earth. Before the 9th hour it was total darkness. The light shines again and Jesus dies fufilling the will of God.
At the ninth hour Cornelius is praying and has a vision where a man in bright clothes comes to him and gives him instructions. Let's see what "light" is fixing to come on and what prayer is going to be answered.
There is a man who has been lame since birth who daily goes down to the gate of the temple to beg for alms. The name of this gate is "Beautiful" which translates "belonging to the right hour or season (timely)" He was there because today was his time to be healed. He was begging for "alms" which means "a compassionate deed". I'm sure he got anything from money to animals that people were bringing to sacrifice but Peter and John were newly filled with the power of the Holy Spirit so they had something much better to give! Notice they didn't get him "saved" first. They met what he thought was his greatest need. Once that was met and he was still empty, he could receive the best thing they had to offer - Jesus. Also, the miracle aroused the attention of the crowd. Anyone can speak the truth, but when you can valitify the truth with evidence it becomes much more powerful. God chose to heal this man because all the people knew this lame man would be there year after year when they brought their sacrifices. Because he was well-know his testimony would reach far and wide.
So Peter, the same Peter that denied Jesus 3 times before he died is now boldly preaching the light of the gospel to all Jerusalem. That is the power the baptism in the Holy Spirit gives you. Only, he was not the same Peter. He now has power. As you read his sermon you see that he didn't hold back anything. He accuses them of killing Jesus and tells them to repent.
Lord, we are living in the 9th hour of prayer. God is hearing our prayers and answering them with signs and wonders which open the door for us to boldly proclaim Jesus. Don't go without the power of the Holy Spirit. Have faith and pray!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Monday's Devo - Now About Tongues...

Read I Co. 14
So what is this "baptism in the Holy Spirit"? Jesus would not even let his disciples go out without it so why do we never hear about it anymore? I think the devil has stolen this from the general Christian public and made it look weird and only for the fanatics. Emphasis has been placed on gift of speaking in tongues and off the main reason for the gift. The purpose of the baptism in the Holy Spirit was to give the disciples power to be witnesses. Tongues came with it. So what is tongues? The Greek says it is a language not acquired by natural means. Four times in Acts it says that people received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. 1 Co 12:28 says that God set people in the church with different gifts: apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, gifts of healings, helps, governments, and diversities of tongues. He went on to say in 1 Co 13:1 that he spokes with the tongues of men and of angels. So to speak in known languages must be the tongues of men, and speaking in new languages not known on the earth must be tongues of angels. I met a man who had been given 6 different know languages supernaturally. He uses them to witness in those countries. In 1 Co. 14: 5,6 Paul states that he wishes everyone would speak in tongues but in the church it is better to prophesy unless you can interpret your tongue. He explains in verse 12 that if you desire a gift, you need to grow in that gift till you can use it to edify the church. We are a body. My gift should give those around me encouragement and help. The next two verses it says that if you speak in an unknown tongue, pray that you may interpret it because speaking in tongues is your spirit praying not your understanding. So his answer is: do both. Pray in tongues and in your understanding; sing in tongues and in your understanding. Paul thanks God that he speaks in tongues but realizes that in the church it is better to speak with his understanding so that he can teach others. Tongues are a sign to the unbeliever like on the day of Pentecost. Many were saved as the people spoke in tongues. Of course their "unknown tongues" were known by the people. If they hadn't have known the language they would have thought they were crazy. Prophecy, on the other hand, reveals the secrets of one's hearts. The way God set up the church is that one should have a psalm, one have a teaching, one have a tongue, one have the interpretation, and one have the gift of prophecy. The only time tongues is to be used in a corporate setting is when they know there is a person there who can interpret it.
Paul said he spoke in tongues often but you don't see him doing it in the church. So what did Paul do with his heavenly language? He used it privately. Tongues is speaking out your future. Because you don't know the mind of God and what He has in mind you can pray in tongues and know that you are praying the will of the Father. Do we need to speak in tongues now? Do you want to pray the will of the Father? Is the baptism in the Holy Spirit for today? Do you want power to be God's witness? Yes, to both. We need power and God's perfect will like never before. The Holy Spirit is to be our comforter and also our dynamite power! Ask for his baptism today and let him fill you to overflowing!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sunday's Devo - Just Go!

Dave and I like to go pray for people in the hospital. The only night we have to do this is Saturday. That is also our date night. We have always gone out to eat then to a movie if there is anything worth watching. If there is someone in the hospital we skip the movie and go to the hospital instead.
This week one of the ladies I work with told me that one of our clients was in the hospital, pregnant with twins. Both of the twins were in the same sac and she was being monitored constantly. She had already been in there a month and has 3 months to go. She has a son at home and the twins inside her are identical boys. I have only met this lady when I went and measured her windows and then when I went and hung the curtains. I was thinking she was a Christian, but it's been a while since I've seen her so I couldn't remember. I felt led to go get her my favorite book (next to the Bible): Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. I told Dave on our way that I didn't even know if she would recognize me. When we got there 2 of her highschool girl friends had come in town to see her and were there. I introduced myself to all of them in case she forgot who I was. She was very gracious and we had a great visit and she let us hold her hand and pray with her. I gave her the book and one of her girl friends had read it and loved it too. I am so thankful to God that He went before us and prepared the way for us. You never know the outcome of what you do sometimes but God does.
Last night I had a dream where I was giving out blue water to those who were thirsty. The water was different shades of blue everytime I poured it. Sometimes the small things we do seem "watered down" but it is still water to thirsty people. The water in the container was dark blue because the source is pure.
Dave dreamed that every day he and I did this ritual that drew this puma to our bedroom. He would come in and then we would let him and stay a while then we would let him out into the wilderness. That is such a perfect picture of what we do as God's followers. We fellowship with God in our prayer closet then take him out into the world. Jesus said, "Go make disciples of Me." May the things we do and the words we speak give glory to God.

Saturday's Devo - Showered with Gifts

Last week-end I went to a ladies retreat with a church I am not a member of with ladies I don't know. I was just hungry and needed a retreat and this one had my name on it. I ended up taking a lady that got to go at the last minute and needed a ride. We enjoyed great fellowship on the way and since we got lost, we even had more time to fellowship.
That week-end I met wonderful women who loved Jesus and never once felt alone or friendless. God had some special gifts to give me. The first night a lady called me into her room and told me God told her to give me something. What a surprise! It was a red, black, and white sweater with 23 sequined purses on it. They were all different and beautiful. It was a prophetic picture of my life. Purses are hearts and I am wearing many hearts, all different, close to my heart. That was a blessing. But that was not all God had for me.
I had been praying for my children. They are all at different stations in life and all facing various challenges and the speaker prophesied to me that God was moving in my children and setting things in order.
If that wasn't enough I met 3 ladies from New Mexico. I ended up sitting with them a lot and got to know one of them particularly. She ended up being one of those divine appointments that God sets up. We now have an e-mail relationship.
Then I almost forgot; one of the retreat coordinators was giving out prizes. I was hoping that I wouldn't get one because I wanted the ladies in the church to get them since this was their retreat. She asked if anyone could do the splits and my hand went up before I could think. Noone elses' did so she asked me to come to the front. Then she asked me to do them. Without warming up? I did and won a $150 skin scan to check for melanoma. I had wanted to have that done, but didn't know how to go about it. I have already made the appointment. I was so blessed!
When God calls you away, don't be afraid to go. He only has good things prepared for you. "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Eph. 2:10

Friday, April 3, 2009

Friday's Devo - Call the Fire Department...the Church is on Fire!!!

Read Acts 2 again!
It is the day of Pentecost and all the Jews have come to celebrate. One hundred and twenty of Jesus' disciples were in an upper room praying and waiting for the promise Jesus said would come. It came in a sound from heaven, a mighty wind and it filled all of them. There were flames of fire resting on top of their heads. The Holy Spirit filled them and they spoke in tongues. Remember at the first Pentecost on Mt. Sinai there was the sound of the trumpet, the mountain quaked, and there was fire like a furnace on the mountain. God spoke audibly to his people from the mountain. This time God filled the people individually with his power and used their mouth to speak to the people. The fire was on the people instead of a mountain.
Everyone in the city came to see what the noise was all about and they heard these people proclaiming God in their own dialect and language. They were amazed and couldn't figure it out. Some thought they were drunk.
But Peter stood up and was empowered to witness to the crowd about what this was all about. Every Jew knew the prophesies about the last days. Joel had prophesied that in the last days God would pour out his spirit and people would prophesy, see visions, and dream dreams. God would also shew them signs in the heaven and on the earth: blood, fire, and smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come. Then he gave an invitation for all who wanted to be saved and follow Jesus. He took them through the scriptures that pointed to Jesus being the Messiah. The word pricked their hearts and they believed...3,000 of them. (The same number that were killed at the foot of the mountain for disobeying Moses and worshipping the golden calf. The law kills, but the sprit gives life)
This was the birth of the church. They came together daily and fellowshipped, ate, and prayed. They saw God do many wonders and signs. They sold their possessions and distributed the money evenly so that everyone had their needs met. Joy filled their soul as they grew daily in number.
I have been reading a book about the revival at Azuza St in the early 1900's. There was fire on top of the church where they would meet. It was visible to the whole town. Firemen were repeatedly called to put it out. It went up from the church and fire came down from heaven. It was prophesied that another revival bigger than that would happen 100 years from then. That would be around the time we are in right now! May it be Lord. Bring the fire!!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Thurs. Devo - The History of Pentecost

Read Acts 2
To fully understand this chapter you have to understand a little about the feasts of God. There are 7 of them. Three of them happen in the spring: Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits. The next one happens 50 days after First Fruits which is Pentecost and the last three happen in the fall: the Feast of Trumpets, Yom Kippor, and Feast of Tabernacles. God told the Israelites to set apart these dates as holy times to consecrate themselves and offer sacrifices. They were to be rehersals for the time when God would actually fulfill them. They were to go to Jerusalem 3 times a year to celebrate these feasts. God fulfilled Passover when he sent Jesus to the cross. Jesus became the Passover lamb who was without blemish. His blood was poured out for us and if we apply that blood to the door of our hearts then the Death Angel will have no power over us and we will live eternally. On First Fruits the people were to get rid of the leaven in their house and use no yeast. Jesus was buried on this day and had to spend this day under ground preaching salvation to those that had died. He rose on First Fruits as the first fruit to rise from the dead. He brought many other fruit with him. Before he left to go to heaven he told them to wait in Jerusalem for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Passover marked the beginning of barley season where Pentecost marked the end of the barley season. The story of Ruth is the story of Pentecost. She was a Moabite who got grafted into the godly line that Jesus would come from. She is a type of the Gentile church being wed to the Jewish church. This union is what Acts is all about - And together they birth the Church. Pentecost is a picture of God espousing himself to the Church.
The first Pentecost was at Mt. Sinai where God gave Moses the law. He appeared with fire, thunder, trumpets, and shaking on the mountain. He was espousing himself to the Jewish nation. His gift was the law. Every Jewish man has to present a gift when he asks for a woman's hand in marriage. There is also a bride price that he pays. At Sinai he paid for it with his deliverance of his people from bondage. At the 2nd Pentecost the cost was his son.
So that is why all the Jews from all the different countries were in Jerusalem. They were required by law to come to Jerusalem for the feast. Little did they know God would choose this Pentecost to fulfill its purpose. Tomorrow we will talk about what happened. Lord, thank you for this wonderful gift you have given us. Prepare our hearts to receive the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday's Devo - Gift of Power

Read Acts 1
I have been wondering where God was going to lead me to go after 2 Sam. I felt like we should go to the New Testament next ...but where? Today it hit me - Acts!!! It seems like noone likes to teach Acts unless they are Pentecostal, then they love it. I don't know if people are afraid of it or what, but I love it and so does God. I heard someone say the other day that they don't get their doctrine from Acts but from Romans. What do they do with the scripture that says "ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness?" (2 Ti 3:16) Anyway, here we go.
Paul is writting this to Theophilis which means "friend of God". That's us! Jesus has risen and come back to spend 40 days teaching his followers about the kingdom of God. He had instructed them to stay in Jerusalem until they received the promise God was going to send. It was going to be a baptism of the Holy Ghost. This promise was going to give them power to be witnesses all over the world. As soon as he told them this he was taken up in a cloud. As the disciples were watching this phenomenon two angels appeared with them in white. They told them that one day Jesus would come back that same way - in a cloud of glory. John saw that in Revelation.
So they went back to Jerusalem and went into an upper room where they were all staying. There 120 of them prayed and waited for this "promise" Jesus said would come. Peter stands up and starts teaching them about prophecy. He explains that Judas' story was prophecied by David and Jeremiah. Judas had been a part of them and ended up betraying Jesus. He then regretted what he had done and gave back the 30 pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders. He then went and hung himself. With the money, the counsel bought a field to bury strangers in. They called it "the field of blood" because it was payed for with blood. There is a field where all the people who are strangers to God are buried. In the end there will be a feast of Leviathan and they will be eaten by the birds of the air and the wild animals. In the meantime the friends of God will be eating the wedding feast. All this had been prophesied.
The disciples voted in a new disciple: Matthias which means "gift of Jehovah". This was just a precurser to the gift God is fixing to give them. Can't wait till tomorrow!!!
We all need this baptism of the Holy Ghost because we all need the power to witness to the world. If Jesus had to die to send this great gift, why are we so afraid to receive it? Lord, increase our hunger to receive. We need your power to be a witness for you.