change…what makes the difference?

Acts 2:14-21

But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words.  For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.  But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,

That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;

Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

Your young men shall see visions,

Your old men shall dream dreams.

And on My menservants and on My maidservants

I will pour out My Spirit in those days;

And they shall prophesy.

 I will show wonders in heaven above

And signs in the earth beneath:

Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.

The sun shall be turned into darkness,

And the moon into blood,

Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.

And it shall come to pass

That whoever calls on the name of the LORD

Shall be saved.’

 Peter, standing…raised his voice…said to the crowd…  A changed man, he now finds the boldness and power to use his voice instead of his sword, he now declares to all who can hear that he is allied with Jesus rather than denying the Lord in a courtyard, in the dark.  This contrast brought by change due to the power of the Holy Spirit given to us following Christ’s sacrifice for us is played out over and over again among those God calls to be his own.  Among those who respond to the call and receive the gift of love and life Jesus provided for us a new man/woman rises. 

Peter begins his affirmation with a passage from Scripture.  The power of the Word of God brings knowledge and understanding.  With knowledge and understanding comes life, life new, life changed.  A testimony in itself of the power of the Holy Spirit to make a difference in our lives.  With this pouring out of His Spirit we can expect much.  The list is impressive.  Look around and see the arm of God in our daily life… listen to what you hear around you, look at the signs in nature and men…these are the last days and God is still God.  Whoever calls on the name of the Lord is still being saved from the old ways and their consequences.  Salvation reunites us with the God who created us.  Answer His call, respond, and watch the change that occurs within us.  

 Caterpillar to Butterfly

 Change

Boldness instead of cowering

Flight or crawl

Change

Voice instead of sword

Color or monotone

Change

Persuasion rather than violence

Growth or destruction

Change

No fear…

           -gracie

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power of One…

Acts 2:1-13

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?”

 Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.”

 They were together in one place; no longer scattered each one to his own home.  Jesus was gone, this time not due to death.  The effect was not the same for now there was a knowledge and understanding that although gone from them physically he was still present spiritually. They were acting on their faith and being faithfully obedient to his instructions to go to Jerusalem and wait.  He then honored them with the Holy Spirit’s presence.  This presence was great enough to speak to all present in Jerusalem, glorifying God.  And now the seeds planted by one, Jesus, are growing and bearing fruit.  Each of us is one, who can spread the spiritual seeds of faith in God to those around us and watch it grow through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Seek…

Acts 1:12-26

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James.  These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication,  with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty), and said, “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus;  for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.”

(Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out.  And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.)

“For it is written in the Book of Psalms:

‘Let his dwelling place be desolate,

And let no one live in it’;

and,

‘Let another take his office.’

“Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”

And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

 They continued in prayer…they obey the instructions of Jesus and return to Jerusalem to wait… Peter follows the direction of Jesus and begins to take the reins of leadership.  In this passage we see faith acted out, we see obedience without question, we are given an example to follow when we face times of decision-making.  First the acts of obedience and being in a place or mind-set of prayer.  Second, a clear identification of the need and /or problem to be solved.  Next a look at scripture to find direction.  Then a plan is developed and presented to the Lord in prayer, asking for His guidance in the outcome or final decision.  Finally, the lots were cast and the final decision reached.  It is wise to note the order, for God is a God of order, that is evident all around us in nature, in his creation.  No action was taken until the scripture was consulted, until prayer was given.  Jesus told them to ask anything in my Name and the Father will answer.  We too can take our decisions first to the Lord for his direction, seek the scriptures and then pray over the options before taking any action, before making any final decision.  Seek first the kingdom of heaven, and its righteousness, then all these things will be added…  Seek from the Hebrew means :   ask, desire, pray, request, make (petition).  When we have needs, first go to the word of God then bring it to him in prayer.  He will be faithful to answer.

share…

Acts 1:1-11

The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me;  for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me  in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

 “Be my witness…”  Merriam-Webster states a witness is:  “one who has personal knowledge of something”  The apostles, disciples, followers had personal knowledge of…as do we.  Share what is given to you. Share what you find, share the knowledge, the experiences, the understanding.  Share in word and deed.  Share with the joy for living that has been given and received.  Share with the boldness that the Holy Spirit gives.  Share with all who cross your path.  As we do this, the sharing is multiplied many times over and many hear the message, see the message of God’s reuniting with his creation.   Each one, multiplied to many give glory, assign honor and respect, to the God of creation moving and breathing in His power, the power of the Holy Spirit and blanketing his creation with his love.

Expressions of love…

John 21:15-25

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”

 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”

And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.”This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”

Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”

Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?” This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.

And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.

 Expressions of love; do you love me, yes I do, feed my sheep, follow me.  Jesus was denied three times.  Three times Peter said he was not a follower of Jesus.  Now three times Jesus asks, not ‘are you my follower?’ but ‘do you love me?’.  Three times Peter affirms his love.  Each time he affirms that Jesus knows this and he acknowledges hurt by the third question.  Three times Jesus gives a responsibility finally stating, ‘follow me.’  It is not enough to acknowledge him, to express a love for him, Jesus requires a responsibility and gives a command; “Follow me.”  We express our love for him; do we also accept the responsibility he gives and do we follow?  Follow  implies we need to know where he leads, what he wants.  When we play ‘Follow the leader’ as children, we mimic the leader.  We go where he or she goes and do exactly as they do.  Follow me indicates we will know Him, mimic Him that is, do as he does, and go where he goes.  Feed my sheep…Jesus said he was the Good Shepherd.  As we follow Him, we do the task of the shepherd, care for the sheep, feed the sheep and lambs.  Take them to pasture, to still waters, give them rest, all  to be found in Christ. Pray for them, feed them from the Word of God, lead them to the Bread of Life.  Share what we receive from the Lord and those He knows will recognize His voice and come.

A servant’s heart…

John 21: 1-14

After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”

They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?”

They answered Him, “No.”

And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.

 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea.  But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish.  Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.”

Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken. Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?”—knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.

This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.

 “I am going fishing.”   A return to the old, familiar way.  We get tired of waiting for what we don’t know and we return to the old ways.  Then Jesus appears…  after a  night of nothing…  and he directs them to plenty.  The point is taken, without him we can do nothing.  With him, following his direction, we receive blessing.  “No one dared ask ‘who are you'” implies it was not obviously apparent who he was but for the miracle of the catch; they knew it was the Lord.  And once again he serves them…

Do we possess the servant’s heart or do we seek a ‘fix-it’ God?  When do we turn to the Lord, seek him?  When we are in distress, or have a need, or for someone else’s need?  Do we seek His will to know what He desires or to seek only a personal knowledge?  The servant with a servant’s heart, desires what the Lord desires.  They move as one.  We wish to know the will of God for more than how we should live…it is to know how we should serve.  What is his desire?  The question highlights a subtle difference between what is your will and what is your desire?  Let us move as one with Him.  What is His desire?

Believe…have life…

John 20:24-31

Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.  The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”

So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!”  Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book;  but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

 Have life…”Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  Seeing with your eyes, seeing with your mind, seeing with your understanding, seeing with your inner self in totality, believing without seeing.  Believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and in that belief we have life in his name.  It isn’t because we ‘see’ that we have life; it is because we believe.  And the journey to allow faith in something not seen with our own eyes begins.  The same faith that brought healing to those who did see him can be ours.  Belief and faith, hand in hand, bring us back to a personal relationship with a living God.  And we continue through this life to and through eternity walking with Him.  Those who saw Jesus, had fellowship with Him were blessed and we who have not had the privilege of that experience have the Word of God and have fellowship with Him also.  Peace to you…do not be unbelieving, but believing.  Believe what he says, who he is…not just believe in…believe him when he says : “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”  Say with Thomas, “My Lord and my God!”