The Promised Power Of Pentecost

When the Israelites were delivered from Egypt on the night of Passover, fifty days later they arrived at Mount Sinai where God delivered the Ten Commandments to them. This became the birth of the Jewish nation. For millennia following this, not only did the Jewish people observe Passover but they also celebrated “The Feast of Weeks” (also known as Pentecost) fifty days following Passover.

But on the first Pentecost after Christ ascended to Heaven, something amazing happened which was a game-changer for the new Christians. An event which became the birth of the Christian nation.

On that Pentecost Sunday, the Holy Spirit was poured out on Christ’s followers in a way never before seen in history. Although this had never been seen before, it was the fulfillment of something God had promised thousands of years before.

  1. Promised

This blessing of the Holy Spirit had been hinted at when God first called Abraham, as He promised that from Abraham would come a blessing for all peoples on earth (Genesis 12:3). Jesus said that this blessing would be realized with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and then Peter tied the Day of Pentecost experience to the fulfillment of those promises (Acts 2:38-39).

  1. Commanded

Jesus had this empowerment of the Holy Spirit and He wanted all of His followers to have it too, so His directive to His follower is not a suggestion. Twice when Jesus tells His followers to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit, the verbs He uses are commands (see Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:4).

  1. Normal Experience

For the first Christians, the baptism in the Holy Spirit was a normal experience for them following salvation. This baptism gave them power to…

  1. Initial Evidence

The baptism in the Holy Spirit is accompanied by an initial physical evidence of speaking in a language you’ve never studied. This is to be an unmistakable proof—primarily to you—of the Spirit’s outpouring. But the ongoing development of Christlike character is the continual evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

So what’s the controversy? Why do people spend so much time arguing this baptism isn’t for us, or for now? If we start down that path, what else are we going to say is outdated or exclusive for some?

Doesn’t seem much more logical to simply accept what God promised all His people?!

So here’s the question I would ask you—Have you been baptized in the Holy Spirit? If not, why not?

Proof Of Impossibilities

“Your religious life is every day to be a proof that God works impossibilities; your religious life is to be a series of impossibilities made possible and actual by God’s almighty power. That is what the Christian needs. He has an Almighty God that he worships, and he must learn to understand that he does not need a little of God’s power, but he needs—with reverence be it said—the whole of God’s omnipotence to keep him right, and to live like a Christian.” —Andrew Murray, in Absolute Surrender (emphasis mine)

10 Quotes From “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About God”

This book from Eric Metaxas is a great way to stimulate a conversation about spiritual questions, or a wonderful resource for you to read together with a friend who is on a spiritual journey of discovery. Check out my review of this book by clicking here, and then enjoy a few of the quotes I especially appreciated.

“We aren’t responsible for having answers to every question about God or the Bible posed to us, but we are responsible for how we answer, even if we don’t have a full answer.”

“Our culture is so obsessed with the physical and the material that we have lost the ability to think logically about anything outside that realm.”

“The bottom line is that those who follow God have to have genuine love and compassion for others, and if we recognize how profoundly messed up we ourselves are, we will have compassion for other people. So if people don’t have serious humility about their own state of affairs, they should probably keep their mouth shut. God doesn’t want His followers to add to the pain of the people He loves. He wants His children to treat others as people He desperately loves.”

“The idea of a moral structure that cuts God out of the picture is very attractive to humans because that puts us in control. But God wants us to understand that without a relationship with Him, moral behavior isn’t worth anything. Mere moral rectitude doesn’t fool God.”

“Religion in the negative sense of simply being a bunch of rules and rituals is pretty much the same as superstition. Without a relationship with God at its core, all religion devolves to superstition.”

“One of the most harmful things in human history is when people have confused fear-based superstition with faith in God.”

“Either Jesus was God and died on the Cross and then rose bodily from the dead, thereby destroying sin and death and making it possible for us to be with Him in paradise forever, or having faith in him is bogus. Period. Without the central events of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, you simply don’t have Christianity. You can call it Christianity, but it’s not. All religions are not alike, so ultimately you have to choose.” 

“That’s always the case with sin. It never presents itself as sin. It’s always presented as a doorway to a higher consciousness, as a path to enlightenment meant, as the path to divinity—to becoming a god, or like God.”

“To try to earn God’s love is to miss the point entirely. He loves us already. We can’t be more loved by Him. So to try is like adding numbers to infinity. You can’t get higher than infinity, and His love for us is infinite.”

“Faith does not necessarily make us perfect, but perhaps it does have a way of making us more aware of our feelings.”

Praying With The Authority Of The Creator

pray-boldlyJesus had a way of praying that sounds unusual to our ears because He didn’t pray “normal” prayers. His prayers were bold statements! But Jesus also taught us to pray just like He did.

Most prayers that Christians pray sound like they come from the same formula. We may start with something like, “Heavenly Father” or “Dear God.” Then we probably spend some time praising God for His greatness before we make our requests of Him. Often our requests include something like “If this is Your will, I ask You to please heal/help/answer/etc.” And then almost always the prayer concludes, “In Jesus’ name, Amen!”

When Jesus prayed, His prayers sounded more like commands than requests. He would say things like, “Be clean” or “Rise up and walk” or “Blind eyes, be opened.” He usually didn’t ask His Father if it was His will to heal/help/answer/etc. And He never concluded a prayer by saying, “In My name, Amen!”

In Luke 6 there is a story about a man with a withered hand. Jesus healed him by speaking to the man, not to God. He said, “Stretch out your hand,” and when the man did so, his hand was completely restored. Jesus spoke with the authority of the Creator. 

I believe this was possible because Jesus had an unbroken conversation with His Father and the Holy Spirit. Certainly He had set times of prayer (see Mark 1:35, Mark 6:45-46, and Luke 6:12-13 as examples), but Jesus also told us that He only did what His Father told Him to do (John 5:19), and He only said what His Father told Him to say (John 12:49).

I know sometimes people want to say, “Yeah, but this is Jesus we’re talking about! C’mon, He’s the Son of God, so of course He could do these things.” But remember that the miracle of Christ’s Incarnation is that He chose NOT to do these things out of His Deity while He was on Earth, but restricted Himself only to His humanity. That’s why the Bible says that everything we face, Jesus also faced in the flesh (Hebrews 2:14-18).

But perhaps another example from someone who had no Deity in his nature might help. Consider Joshua—this man spent more time in God’s presence, listening to His voice, than even Moses (Exodus 33:11). So when the time came, Joshua could pray an incredibly bold prayer: He actually spoke to the sun and the moon and told them to stand still in the sky, AND THEY OBEYED HIM!

Just like Jesus spoke to the man with the withered hand in the authority of the Creator, Joshua spoke to the sun and the moon in the same authoritative voice. How could these men do that? Because they were familiar with God’s voice, and when He told them to speak out boldly, they simply obeyed.

Jesus said we could pray the same way—Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in Me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it (John 14:12-14, emphasis added).

How can we learn to pray this boldly? We need to spend more and more time in dialogue with God. We need to become increasingly aware of the His abiding presence with us. Then we, too, can pray in the Creator’s authority.

Praying this way glorifies God!

Get together with a friend this week and work through these application questions:

  1. Am I spending time in planned prayer and Bible reading?
  2. How can I make myself more aware of God’s perpetual presence?
  3. What’s holding me back from praying more boldly?

Favorite 2016 Posts

The Dawning Of Indestructible Joy (book review)

the-dawning-of-indestructible-joySometimes I am concerned that even those who know the story of the Incarnation of Jesus miss out on the stunningly powerful miracle that took place in Bethlehem. Instead of being awed by the majesty of Christ’s First Advent, we merely give lip service to His birth. John Piper’s book The Dawning Of Indestructible Joy will give you a fresh perspective of the miracle of Christ’s birth and all that it means.

The Dawning Of Indestructible Joy is written in 25 chapters, building an exciting countdown from December 1 until Christmas morning. Each day John Piper will awaken your heart and mind again to the unimaginable gifts that Jesus Christ made available to us through His incarnation. Gifts such as freedom from sin, intimacy with God, eternal life, and soul-lifting joy.

Each chapter is short enough to serve as an ideal family reading time, perhaps each evening around the dinner table in December. The Scripture passage for each day is short enough, too, for everyone to memorize so that they are prepared to share with anyone else the joy that comes with the miracle of the Advent.

Make this book a part of your family Christmas tradition.

10 Quotes From “Shaken”

shakenTim Tebow explores what happens when your nice, neat world is shaken by the unexpected. It’s a phenomenally encouraging book! Check out my book review by clicking here. Then enjoy these quotes from Shaken.

“Sure, God loves the world, but He also loves each one of us individually. With billions of people on the planet, I know it can be hard to comprehend His love for us personally. God is infinite and focuses all of His love on you and me. He can’t spread Himself too thin. He cannot exhaust Himself. He cannot overextend Himself. And so every single person on the planet is the object of His love.”

“God can do a lot with what we think is a little. He can take something that can be described as ‘insignificant’ or ‘not enough’ or ‘small’ or ‘meaningless’ and use it to perform a miracle.”

“There will always be people in your life who will underestimate your potential, saying that you’ll never reach your dream or make that goal, or try to hold you back in some way. … Here’s the good news. What God knows about us is more important than what others think.”

“Being normal is safe. And easy. It doesn’t require much work or effort or change on our part. But it always leads to mediocrity. When we strive to be just like everyone else, we never have a chance to be special. When you start to embrace and even celebrate how special and different God made you, you can begin to do extraordinary things. You can begin to see yourself through His eyes. You can begin to live in the uniqueness with which you were created. You can be motivated and inspired to go against the grain. What does that mean? When everyone around you is picking on someone, stand up for that person. When everyone around you is using foul language, say kind things. When you see injustice and everyone else turns a blind eye, try to make it right.”

“Don’t get beat down by the stares, whispers, or obnoxious opinions of others who points out how different you are, look, or act. They don’t know God’s plan for your life. They don’t know how God can use what they may view as a weakness. If you focus on how much you hate those scars or those burns, you might missed the opportunity to encourage or inspire someone else who is going through a similar journey. … When you begin to accept how God purposely created you, you can begin to appreciate your uniqueness and allow Him to use those gifts.”

“While self-confidence is important and we should believe we can achieve great things, there must be a balance. We must be proud of our accomplishments without letting them define us.”

“When is the last time you did something different? Something beyond your comfort zone? Something that wasn’t familiar but could do a world of good in the life of another? When you stay put in your comfort zone, you don’t grow. You don’t stretch. You’re not challenged. You stay the same.”

“The stand you take may not be the biggest deal to the entire world, but it can be a big deal for one person. … A stand doesn’t always mean doing something radical. Sometimes God will use something you’ve always done in a way that’s bigger than you can imagine. Sometimes He’ll use something He puts on your heart, or maybe He’ll use your convictions, your search for the truth, your desire to do the right thing for a greater purpose.”

“We don’t have to feel led into full-time ministry before we can help the homeless or share a message of hope to someone who may need it. The only qualification necessary is willingness. I know not everyone has the opportunity to visit hospitals or prisons or make wishes come true. But there is always something you can do, even when you’re in a busy season in life. Give someone a hug. Send a text with an inspiring quote. Mail someone a heartfelt card. Donate blood. Tell someone how much you appreciate him or her. If we open our eyes, each day presents us with opportunities to do something kind or nice for someone else.”

“Don’t limit what God can do based on how you limit yourself. Be you, and let God be God.”

%d bloggers like this: