Intimacy Expands Our Influence

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Let’s say you are thinking about buying a particular book. Are you more likely to buy that book because the author says it’s good, because a book reviewer says it’s good, or because a close friend says it’s good? I think all of us give more weight to the suggestions from our friends, especially because they have nothing to gain from making that suggestion.  

In the same way, when someone close to us says, “I know from personal experience that following Jesus is the best decision that I have ever made. Making Jesus my Lord and Savior has completely changed everything for me,” it’s easier for us to make that same decision for ourselves. 

The deeper the level of our intimacy with someone usually means we have more influence with them. 

The Holy Spirit is as much a Person as Jesus. As much as Jesus dominates the pages of the Gospels, the Holy Spirit dominates the pages of The Book of Acts. 

Jesus told us all about the Holy Spirit when He was discussing His ascension. He wasn’t going to leave us as orphans, but told us of the intimate connection the Spirit would make for us. For instance, Jesus said, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you for ever—the Spirit of Truth” (John 14:16-17). 

Notice that Jesus considers the Holy Spirit an irreplaceable and coequal part of the Godhead—I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor (see also Matthew 3:16-17; Luke 10:21; Matthew 28:19).  

The word Jesus uses for Counselor is parakletos. This means One who comes alongside to help us. I like all the words the Amplified Bible uses: “Comforter—Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby.” Indeed, Luke records numerous instances where the Holy Spirit is alongside Christians to strengthen and encourage them (for instance: Acts 4:8, 6:10, 9:31).

Notice as well that Jesus tells us that as a part of the Trinity the Holy Spirit is eternal: “to be with you for ever.” Because the Holy Spirit is fully God, He knows the end from before the beginning. His perspective is infinite, so He can guide us in ways that only One who can see everything could guide us. For example, He leads us to places we might not have chosen on our own (Luke 4:1; Acts 8:29), or stops us from going somewhere at the wrong time (Acts 16:7), or talking with people we might have overlooked (Acts 10:19, 11:12). 

Jesus also calls the Him the Spirit of Truth. He reveals things that we could not have perceived with our natural minds (see Acts 5:1-9). 

And Jesus calls the Holy Spirit a great Teacher, “The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26). So we see the Holy Spirit helping us apply Scripture to our prayers (Acts 4:25-26) and to incredibly complex and delicate situations (Acts 11:15-18, 15:1-21). 

The Holy Spirit is not a force to fear but a Person to know ever more intimately. 

When our lives are transformed and expanding because of an intimate, ongoing, vibrate relationship with the Holy Spirit, we are witness (Acts 1:8). You cannot exhaust all that the Spirit has for you, so keep abiding and growing in that intimate relationship. Let it be said of you as it was said of Peter and John: “We can tell you have been with Jesus!” (Acts 4:13). 

I’ve said this before, but I’m going to keep on saying it—Don’t stop at salvation, but press on to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. Then allow Him to transform the way you think, love, and live! 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series called We Are: Pentecostal, you can find them all by clicking here. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Jesus In The Seven Feasts

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Douglas Carmel from Rock Of Israel ministries shared an amazing overview of the seven Jewish feasts that are listed in the Book of Leviticus, and how Jesus is the fulfillment of all of these feasts. Doug was born into a Jewish family and became a Christian in his late teens, so he has firsthand knowledge of both the traditional celebrations and the Christian understanding of these feasts. 

One of the things I appreciated was Doug’s explanation that the feasts were merely a shadow of the reality—Jesus is the Reality! 

Please check out the message he shared at Calvary Assembly of God. I encourage you to visit his website to get more information on all of the ministries Rock Of Israel. 

Passover—celebrated on the 14th day of the first month 

  • Leviticus 23:4-5
  • Matthew 26:17-29; Mark 14:12-26; Luke 22:7-20
  • Jesus was crucified on the same day that the Passover lamb was being sacrificed 

Unleavened Bread—celebrated on the 15th day of the first month

  • Leviticus 23:6
  • 1 Corinthians 5:6-9

Firstfruits—celebrated on the 16th day of the first month (or the day after the Sabbath) 

  • Leviticus 23:9-14 
  • 1 Corinthians 15:12-26 

Seven Weeks—celebrated 50 days after Firstfruits 

  • Leviticus 23:15-21 
  • Also known as Pentecost 
  • Acts 2:1-41

Doug called our attention to the calendar on which these feasts appeared. Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and Seven Weeks all happen in the spring. All four of these feasts have already been fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. 

There are no feasts in the summer months, as these are the months of field work (Leviticus 23:22). This is where we are now, which is why Jesus told us, “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field” (Matthew 9:38). This is the time for us to tell others about Jesus the Messiah! 

The final three feasts appear in the autumn—Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles. These are feasts that are still to be fulfilled at Christ’s Second Advent. 

Trumpets—celebrated on the 1st day of the seventh month

  • Leviticus 23:23-25 
  • This is also known as Rosh Hashanah when the shofar is blown 
  • 1 Corinthians 15:51-53; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18

Atonement—celebrated on the 10th day of the seventh month

  • Leviticus 23:26-32 
  • This is also known as Yom Kippur—the one day of the year the high priest goes into the Holy of Holies 
  • Romans 11:25-32; Matthew 23:39 

Tabernacles—celebrated on the 15th through the 21st days of the seventh month

Jesus said of Himself, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8). Jesus is THE Reality and THE Fulfillment of all of these celebrations! 

(Check out all of the Scripture verses I listed above by clicking here.) 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Unity Enhances Our Witness

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Last week we mentioned that one of the things the Holy Spirit did after the Day of Pentecost was to unite individual Christians into the Church. In a world divided by religious and political factions, the unity of the Christians set them apart. Is our culture any different? Of course not! So the unity that the Holy Spirit brings is just as vital today. 

In Psalm 133, David longs for this unity among believers. This psalm is in the collection of “Songs of Ascent.” That means that pilgrims to Jerusalem sang these songs as they literally went up the hill to Jerusalem. Psalm 133 opens with David singing, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters live together in unity” (v. 1). 

Maybe David thought back to the time when people were joining him to give him support as king—David went out to meet them and said to them, “If you have come peaceably to me to help me, my heart shall be knit to you” (1 Chronicles 12:17 AMP). In the next two verses of Psalm 133, David explains how this unity from being knit together is seen as a blessing. 

Last week, we talked about the blessing of peace the priests pronounced on the people. That word for “peace” is shalom which could be defined as “nothing missing.” But couldn’t we also say that shalom is “no one missing”? Yes, because each and every part of the Body of Christ is vital and indispensable! 

We see this same unity when the followers of Jesus were baptized in the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. Acts 2:1 says these Christians were “all together” (or some translations say “one accord”). This is one word in Greek (homothumadon) which describes the beauty of unity. One Greek dictionary defines this word,  “The image is almost musical; a number of notes are sounded which, while different, harmonize in pitch and tone. As the instruments of a great concert under the direction of a concert master, so the Holy Spirit blends together the lives of members of Christ’s church.”

This picture of a majestic musical is further amplified in the next verses of Acts 2 where people from all over the world heard these Christians praising God in their own native tongues. Luke goes on to use homothumadon again and again throughout Acts to show what a powerful testimony their unity was to the watching world.  

Paul emphasized the need for unity in the Church when he wrote—

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:1-6) 

How does the Holy Spirit help us handle our differences and keep this unity? We first need the Spirit’s help to distinguish whether it’s a biblical, unbiblical, or non-biblical issue. 

  • Biblical issues must send us back to the Bible to find the truth (2 Timothy 3:16-17). 
  • Unbiblical issues—where a brother or sister is living in a way contrary to Scripture—call on us to speak the truth in love and correct in love only after allowing the Holy Spirit to examine our own lives (Ephesians 4:15; Matthew 7:1-5; James 5:19-20). Notice that we are to do this with fellow brothers and sisters, not with those outside the Church.  
  • Non-biblical issues are the trickiest. These are issues over which we should immediately stop fighting as we defer to the weakest brother or sister (Romans 12:10, 14:19-21).  

(I wrote much more about biblical, unbiblical, and non-biblical issues here, and how to correctly apply the principle of confrontation here.)

The Church needs this unity today. We need to be in “one accord.” In a world divided by religious and political factions, our unity enhances our witness.

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series We Are: Pentecostal, you can check them all out by clicking here. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

We Are: Pentecostal

Pentecost for over 1500 years was a celebration in Jerusalem that brought in Jews from all over the world. But on the Day of Pentecost which came just ten days after Jesus ascended back into heaven, the meaning of Pentecost was forever changed! 

Followers of Jesus—now empowered by an infilling of the Holy Spirit—began to take the good news of Jesus all over the world. These Spirit-filled Christians preached the Gospel and won converts to Christ even among hostile crowds, performed miracles and wonders, stood up to pagan priests and persecuting governmental leaders, and established a whole new way of living as Christ-followers. 

We, too, can be Pentecostal followers of Jesus Christ today. We can experience an anointing and an empowering in our lives that turns ordinary Christianity into extraordinary Christianity! 

Please join me this Sunday at Calvary Assembly of God as we rejoin this series. You can check out what I taught in this series in 2019 by clicking here, the messages from 2020 are here, the messages from 2021 are here, and the messages from 2022 are here.

Check out the messages in the 2023 series:

Links & Quotes

I have a series of nearly 70 posts on the topic of godly leadership. Here is the latest installment about going all in. Be sure to check out all of my videos on my YouTube channel.

T.M. Moore writes persuasively to Christians to encourage them to build for the future. He wrote, “For most Christians today, the Kingdom which Daniel saw, Jesus proclaimed and brought near, and the Spirit inaugurated on that first Christian Pentecost—that Kingdom is little more than a theological idea, or a distant hope. It is not a daily reality to be sought, seized, shared, and strengthened in every nook and cranny of our Personal Mission Fields. Christians today are trapped in their past or mired in their present, and they have little or no sense of what it means to build for the future so that righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit increase wherever they live, move, and have their being.”

Whether you know it as the Mesha Inscription, the Mesha Stele, or the Moabite Stone, this 1868 discovery is another piece of archeological evidence lending proof to the historicity of the Bible.

And another piece of research from both paleontologists and entomologists points to the Flood described in the Bible as historically viable. Researchers discovered fossilized giant ants in Canada where evolutionists claim they shouldn’t be. The Institute for Creation Research commented, “There is no need to postulate ants trekking across the Arctic to explain the distribution. Nor is there a need to inject short ‘hyperthermal’ episodes to allow passage from one continent to another. The global Flood explains what we observe the best. The warmer pre-Flood conditions and likely higher oxygen levels explain the large size of the ants. And their fossil distribution is best explained by their transport off the highest pre-Flood hills as the waters were receding.”

“If we were to look at Jesus’s death merely as a result of a betrayer’s deceit and the Sanhedrin’s envy and Pilate’s spinelessness and the soldiers’ nails and spear, it might seem very involuntary. And the benefit of salvation that comes to us who believe might be viewed as God’s way of making a virtue out of a necessity. But once you read Luke 9:51, all such thoughts vanish. Jesus was not accidentally entangled in a web of injustice. The saving benefits of His death for sinners were not an afterthought. God planned it all out of infinite love to sinners like us, and He appointed a time.” —John Piper, Love To The Uttermost reading plan on YouVersion

Year-End Review (2022 Edition)

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible.

The apostle Peter said he wrote two letters to the church “as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking” (2 Peter 3:1). And Paul reminded his young friend Timothy to “keep reminding [your congregation] of these things” (2 Timothy 2:14). 

In the spirit of those great apostles, I have made it a practice to take time at the end of each year to look back on all that we have learned in the previous year, and then to look forward to where God may be leading Calvary Assembly of God in this upcoming year.

Clicking on each series title will take you to a list of all of the sermons in that series. 

Awesome—Jesus told us that we could pray in His name and expect amazing things (see John 14:13-14, 15:16, 16:23-24). This does not mean that simply adding the phrase “in Jesus’ name, Amen” to the end of a prayer unlocks a secret code. Rather, it means that the more we understand just how awesome our Savior is, and that He is the Key to God’s storeroom, the more we will being to align our prayers with the will of God. Jesus desires for His Father’s glory to be seen on earth through the answers to our prayers. The writer of Hebrews opens his letter by reminding us that Jesus is “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word” (Hebrews 1:3).

Is That In The Bible? (part 1 and part 2)—A meme that makes me chuckle every time I see it is a “quote” attributed to Abraham Lincoln in which he says, “The problem with quotes found on the internet is that they are often not true.” (Not to spoil the joke for you, but unless Lincoln knew how to time travel to the future, I don’t think he knew about the modern internet! 😂). I love this meme because it captures something that so many people fall into: a quick acceptance of a statement without verifying its source or thinking through the implications of the statement’s truthfulness. I think you may be surprised to discover just how many phrases we call biblical aren’t, and how many phrases there are that we never realized are actually in the Bible.

Christmas Unwrapped At Easter—Remember as a kid when you would unwrap a gift and discover it wasn’t something you really wanted, but then your parents explained that it was something you needed? The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem was a little like that—it wasn’t exactly what people were hoping for, but it was exactly what they needed. The real meaning of that Christmas gift wasn’t realized until after Jesus was crucified and resurrected back to life.

We Are: Pentecostal—Pentecost for over 1500 years was a celebration in Jerusalem that brought in Jews from all over the world. But on the Day of Pentecost that came just ten days after Jesus ascended back into heaven, the meaning of Pentecost was forever changed! Followers of Jesus—now empowered by an infilling of the Holy Spirit—began to take the good news of Jesus all over the world. These Spirit-filled Christians preached the Gospel and won converts to Christ even among hostile crowds, performed miracles and wonders, stood up to pagan priests and persecuting governmental leaders, and established a whole new way of living as Christ-followers. We, too, can be Pentecostal followers of Jesus Christ today. 

Selah—The word Selah appears nearly 70 times in the Bible, almost exclusively in the Psalms. Although it is primarily a musical term, it applies beautifully to our summer series. It means a pause. Throughout the Psalms, Selah appears at the end of a verse, at the end of the psalm, or sometimes even mid-sentence. But each one of them is perfectly placed by the Spirit-inspired authors to get us to take a breath and deeply contemplate what we just read or sang. 

Craving—Doesn’t it seem like far too many Christians think of their relationship with Jesus as bland? After all, we’ve been told that any cravings we have should be quickly downplayed so that they don’t carry “good Christians” away. But what we discover in the Bible is that God made us to be craving creatures—He wants us to long deeply and find ultimate satisfaction for those longings. In short, God created us to long after the things that only He can fulfill. As we dive into this new series, I think you will find it quite eye-opening and heart-lifting. 

The Great Attitude Of Gratitude—There’s something about gratitude that distinguishes people. Think about it: would you rather hang around with grumblers or grateful people? The gratitude of Paul and Silas certainly made them stand out from the crowd when they were in Philippi. Wrongly accused, beaten, and thrown in prison, but instead of bellyaching, they were praising God. Later on, when Paul wrote his letter to the Christians in Philippi, the theme of gratefulness permeates his letter. The distinguishing mark is actually in the title: The GReat ATTITUDE spells out GRATITUDE!

Bethlehem Is Proof—The prophet Micah foretells that the Messiah will arrive in dark times. Enemies will surround Israel, and Israel’s ruler will receive a nasty punch to the jaw. Demonic strongholds, witchcraft, and idolatry will appear to be gaining the upper hand. And then Micah turns his attention to a small village just south of Jerusalem—a village so small that it is often overlooked—a village from which no one would expect Israel’s Deliverer. And yet, Micah writes, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for Me One who will be Ruler over Israel, Whose origins are from of old, from ancient times” (Micah 5:2). Jesus the Deliverer was born in the little town of Bethlehem, and His birth there 700 years after Micah foretold it is our proof that God always gets the last word, the decisive word, and the best word!

We will be returning to a couple of these series in 2023, and we’ll be launching some brand-new ones as well. If you don’t have a home church in the northern Kent County area, I would love to have you join us! 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Links & Quotes

This is the most-viewed reel I have ever shared on Instagram! The Bible isn’t a bunch of “once upon time” stories but they are actual events at actual moments in history. Check out how Jesus verifies the historicity of the Bible.

“All obedient believers are near akin to Jesus Christ. They wear His name, bear His image, have His nature, are of His family. He loves them, converses freely with them as His relations. He bids them welcome to His table, takes care of them, provides for them, sees that they want nothing that is fit for them: when He died He left them rich legacies, now He is in heaven He keeps up a correspondence with them, and will have them all with Him at last, and will in nothing fail to ‘do the kinsman’s part’ (Ruth 3:13), nor will ever be ashamed of His poor relations, but will confess them before men, before the angels, and before His Father.” —Matthew Henry

Once again science—in this case, archeology and paleomagnetism—verify the historicity of the biblical accounts. Check out how paleomagnetism can sift through layers to determine when battles took place. It is quite fascinating!

As regular readers know, I have a great admiration for the poetry of George Herbert. This article by Dr. Betsy Howard explores how Herbert’s poetry helped shape reformational doctrinal beliefs. You may also want to check out poems and biographical information about Herbert here.

I have a familial connection to Pentecostal pioneer Stanley Frodsham. This article explores Frodsham’s role in the earliest doctrinal statement of the Assemblies of God.

Even skeptics of the claims of the Bible cannot help including biblical themes in their books, movies, plays, and TV shows. I discussed that in this apologetic video— 

Some interesting and fun facts about the Bible from the folks at OverviewBible.

Epiphany

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

After the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on that Day of Pentecost immediately following Christ’s ascension, Christians were speaking in languages that they had not learned. As they did so, they were “declaring the wonders of God” in all the languages of the world. Some people mocked, saying they were merely babbling drunks, but everyone in Jerusalem was “amazed and perplexed” at this remarkable event, which prompted Peter to preach a powerful sermon (Acts 2:8-21). 

Peter began his sermon by quoting words “spoken by the prophet Joel” (Joel 2:28-32). It’s unlikely that Peter had a copy of Joel with him, so this quotation was delivered from memory and Peter’s sermon was given spontaneously as the Holy Spirit empowered him. In looking at the passages in both Joel and Acts, I see three notable differences.

  1. Joel begins by saying, “And afterward I will pour out My Spirit,” but Peter begins with the words, “In the last days…I will pour out My Spirit.” I’ll address this point further in just a moment. 
  2. Peter inserts “and they will prophesy” at the end of verse 18, a phrase that Joel didn’t say at the end of Joel 2:29. I think this is the Holy Spirit emphasizing that what the crowd heard was indeed prophecy, not mindless babbling. 
  3. Joel concludes with “before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord,” but Peter says, “before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.” The word Joel uses for “dreadful,” meaning an awesome day worthy of reverence, was a day of sorrow for those about to be judged guilty, and a day of supreme rejoicing for those about to be judged innocent in God’s sight. The word Peter uses for “glorious” is the only time this Greek word is used in the New Testament. The word is epiphanes: where we get our English word “epiphany”—a light has dawned and the truth is finally realized! 

Let’s go back to the difference between “afterward” in Joel and “in the last days” in Acts. In a sense, the “afterward” for Peter was what everyone was experiencing right then—after the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, and after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that Jesus had promised (John 16:7; Acts 1:4-5). 

Let’s also consider the “afterward” in Joel’s day. What came before was a disaster of locusts consuming the land, which prompted Joel to call for the solemn response of prayer and fasting. This heartfelt response from godly people trigged God’s outpouring of His Spirit—the afterward—that led to a blessing “before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord” (Joel 2:1-3, 10-13). 

Both Joel and Peter conclude that it is God’s desire that “everyone…be saved”! The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was to help people have an epiphany of both their sin and the salvation that Jesus purchased on His Cross.

The word “disaster” comes from the Latin word disastros. The root word astros pertains to the heavenly lights (star, sun, moon), and the prefix “dis-” is a pejorative (something that has a belittling effect). So disaster really means no guiding lights, or hopeless darkness. 

Jesus was prophesied to step into this hopeless darkness and bring light and hope—“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2). Zechariah prophesied that Jesus was the fulfillment of this: “Because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace” (Luke 1:78-79).  

Jesus is THE Epiphany, THE Ultimate Light, but He also tells us, “You are the light of the world (John 8:12; Matthew 5:14).  

In a world of hopeless darkness, Christians are to be Christ’s Light-bearers. 

We cannot do this on our own. 

The Holy Spirit’s empowerment ignites and then aligns our light-bearing to a disaster-prone world. 

When Joel saw disaster coming, he called for a fast. This fast led to the outpouring of God’s empowerment on godly people, so they could take the Light to those lost in deep darkness. I think the same response is needed from Christians today. 

When it appears this world is plunging deeper into darkness—when we hear of disasters (remember that disastros means people are without Light)—we need to pray and fast so that the Holy Spirit can be reignited in us, so that we can then be realigned to best shine the light of Jesus brightly. 

Our lives can and should be the epiphany of Christ’s love for the world to see! Let’s all pray: “Holy Spirit, make us Your epiphany to a dark world!” 

If you’d like to check out the other messages in our series We Are: Pentecostal, please click here. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

We Are: Pentecostal

Pentecost for over 1500 years was a celebration in Jerusalem that brought in Jews from all over the world. But on the Day of Pentecost which came just ten days after Jesus ascended back into heaven, the meaning of Pentecost was forever changed! 

Followers of Jesus—now empowered by an infilling of the Holy Spirit—began to take the good news of Jesus all over the world. These Spirit-filled Christians preached the Gospel and won converts to Christ even among hostile crowds, performed miracles and wonders, stood up to pagan priests and persecuting governmental leaders, and established a whole new way of living as Christ-followers. 

We, too, can be Pentecostal followers of Jesus Christ today. We can experience an anointing and an empowering in our lives that turns ordinary Christianity into extraordinary Christianity! 

Please join me this Sunday at Calvary Assembly of God as we rejoin this series. You can check out what I taught in this series in 2019 by clicking here, the messages from 2020 are here, and the messages from 2021 are here.

Check out the messages in the 2022 series:

Year-End Review (2021 Edition)

I have the privilege of pastoring Calvary Assembly of God. One of the things I am honored to do is share a message from God’s Word with our church each week. And nor just teaching, but reminding folks of whatwe have learned too. The apostles Peter and Paul both saw the value in this as well.

So here are all of the sermon series that I shared in 2021. Clicking on each series title will take you to a list of all of the sermons in that series. 

Foundation Stones—Any architect will tell you: You can’t build a great building on a weak foundation. This is just as true in the spiritual realm, which is why John Calvin warned, “Those who are strong only in fervor and sharpness, but are not fortified with solid doctrine, weary themselves in their vigorous efforts, make a great noise…[and] make no headway because they build without foundation.” We have had on the Calvary website since Day 1 a link to “What we believe,” but more than just having them listed there, it is important to discuss them.

Be A First Responder—There is a line in an old hymn that convicts me every time I sing it: “Oh, what peace we often forfeit; Oh, what needless pain we bear all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.” Why are we so slow to drop to our knees in prayer when trouble strikes? It seems we fool ourselves into thinking the problem is small enough to handle on our own, or we think God isn’t concerned with something that may seem trivial, or we’ve been-here-done-this before and know the way to go. But this isn’t what our Heavenly Father desires; instead, He wants us to come to Him before we try anything else. Instead of making prayer our last resort, why don’t we strive to make it our first response!

Confessions Of A Dying Man—In our justice system, rarely will a judge allow hearsay testimony to be introduced in court. But there is one notable exception: a dying declaration. A dying declaration is the statement of a mortally injured person who is aware he or she is about to die. This statement is admissible testimony in court on the theory that a dying person has no reason not to tell the truth. Jesus was nailed to a Cross. Mortally injured, unable to escape, He had no reason to lie. In His dying moments, struggling to get enough air in His lungs to be able to speak, Jesus choked out seven statements that still have a profound impact on us today.

We Are: Pentecostal—Pentecost for over 1500 years was a celebration in Jerusalem that brought in Jews from all over the world. But on the Day of Pentecost that came just ten days after Jesus ascended back into heaven, the meaning of Pentecost was forever changed! Followers of Jesus—now empowered by an infilling of the Holy Spirit—began to take the good news of Jesus all over the world. These Spirit-filled Christians preached the Gospel and won converts to Christ even among hostile crowds, performed miracles and wonders, stood up to pagan priests and persecuting governmental leaders, and established a whole new way of living as Christ-followers. We, too, can be Pentecostal followers of Jesus Christ today. 

Selah—The word Selah appears nearly 70 times in the Bible, almost exclusively in the Psalms. Although it is primarily a musical term, it applies beautifully to our summer series. It means a pause. Throughout the Psalms, Selah appears at the end of a verse, at the end of the psalm, or sometimes even mid-sentence. But each one of them is perfectly placed by the Spirit-inspired authors to get us to take a breath and deeply contemplate what we just read or sang. 

Major Lessons From Minor Prophets—Sometimes the naming of things gives us an inaccurate picture of the thing being named. For instance, many people think the “old” in Old Testament means outdated or perhaps updated by the “new” in the New Testament. When in fact, both Testaments are needed to give us the full picture of God’s love and glory. A similar thing happens with the headings “major prophets” and “minor prophets.” It makes it sound like the major prophets have something major to say to us, while we could take or leave the minor messages of the minor prophets. In reality, they were given these headings simply because of the volume of writing—the five major prophets consist of 182 chapters, whereas the 12 minor prophets only have 67 chapters. The volume of their writing may be minor, but their content carries major messages of meteoric power! 

X-ing Out Anxiety—Two brothers—one a doctor and one a pastor—addressed the prevalence of anxiety in our culture. They wrote, “A recent survey of primary care physicians in the United States revealed that at least one-third of office visits were prompted by some form of anxiety.” Anxiety can negatively impact our relationships, our ability to think creatively, our physical health, and even our relationship with God. Thankfully, one of the titles given to Jesus is The Prince of Peace. Join us for this freeing series called X-ing Out Anxiety, where we will be learning what God’s Word says about getting free from the anxiety that is robbing us of life, and replacing that anxiety with His peace.

People Will Talk—Sometimes celebrities and other people in the public spotlight will hire a publicist to help promote their cause, build their brand, or present them in the best possible light. If you wanted to stretch the terms, you could say that some of the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament disciples could have been viewed as the “publicists” for Jesus. At least, that’s what critics might point to. But despite the best efforts and high salaries of publicists—both ancient and modern—they cannot control the “word on the street.” What people are actually saying about the one in the spotlight is usually the best evidence of who that person truly is. As we celebrate this Advent season, we are going to look at what the people on the street were saying about Jesus at the time of His birth. Before He ever performed a miracle or presented a parable—before any of His “publicists” could try to make Him look good—people were already talking. And what they said about Him is truly enlightening.

We will be returning to a couple of these series in 2022, and we’ll be launching some brand new ones as well. In either case, if you don’t have a home church in the northern Kent County area, I would love to have you join us! 

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