Tag Archives: Languages

God’s People, part 230: 3,000

Read Acts 2:14-47

“Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike.”  (Joel 2:28-29, NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

Peters-first-sermonPart 230: 3,000. We now move from the Gospel accounts of Jesus and his disciples, to Luke’s account on the life of the church following Jesus’ ascension. This account is actually volume 2 in a 2 volume work that Luke wrote. The first is, of course, the Gospel According to Luke. The second is entitled, The Acts of the Apostles. This second volume follows the apostles, the early church, and the missionary trips of the Apostle Paul. It starts in Jerusalem and ends outside the walls of Rome.

As we move through Acts, we will be looking at some of the characters that the Apostles interact with and we will see that the Holy Spirit did remarkable things for the promotion and spreading of God’s Kingdom through the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Miraculously, this budding movement would go from illegal “cult”, banned and hunted by Roman authorities, to the official religion of the Roman Empire. All of this, happened without Christians lifting a sword against Rome.

In today’s reading, we enter into Luke’s account just after the Holy Spirit came to to them on the day of Pentecost in the upper room. Right after that, the disciples were ecstatic and filled with the power of God through the Holy Spirit. They were compelled to bring their enthusiasm and their Christian witness out into the streets. There was just one problem to that: Pentecost was a big ordeal in Judaism and many people from all over the world would be there.

Why? Because it was one of three pilgrimage holidays in Ancient Judaism and, thus, disapora (Jews living outside of Israel) Jews would travel to Jerusalem to observe Pentecost, a holiday marked the date that God gave Moses the Torah, or Jewish Laws. It is a date that is marked 50 days after Passover, when God freed the Israelites from enslavement in Egypt. With that fact established, how would these diaspora Jews, who spoke the languages of the countries from which they came from, ever be able to understand what Peter and the disciples were saying?

To the amazement of the disciples, the people were miraculously understanding what the disciples were saying in their own languages at the very same time that they were speaking. How incredible is that?!?! Some of the people mocked the disciples, claiming that they were drunk; however, Peter reminded them that it was merely 9 a.m. and that they were most certainly not drunk, but filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Peter then proceded to preach his first recorded sermon. In that he proceeded to tell them the Gospel message, first as it appeared in the Old Testament. He tied in the the Messianic prophecy of Joel and then he turned to King David, whom he also referred to as a prophet! He convincingly conveyed how King David saw the day in which God would raise up one of David’s own and place him on the throne. He saw that the death of this Messiah would not end in the tomb, but in this Messianic King being exalted at God’s right-hand, the place of honor.

Finally, he convicted them with the truth about “Jesus the Nazarene”. He was God’s chosen Messiah; however, even though the Jewish political and religious leaders had Jesus put to death, with the help of “lawless Gentiles” (aka the Romans), Jesus was raised from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sent the Holy Spirit to the disciples so that they might bring the Good News about Jesus Christ to all the people of Israel!

Upon ending his sermon, the people were so moved that they ended up getting baptized. ALL 3,000 OF THEM! That is right, Peter convicted the hearts of 3,000 people and they turned their lives over to Jesus Christ! Can you imagine that scene and how amazing it must have been. Can you imagine how moving, how transformative and, honestly, how frightening this all must have been?

Here’s the challenge for each of us. We are called to carry on the work of the disciples. We, too, are also filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. That is a gift that the Bible tells us is bestowed on all believers. We have been given gifts of the Spirit as a result of that and should be using those gifts to bring more people into an intimate and transformative relationship with Christ. In what ways can you up your game in evangelism? How has God gifted you? In what ways, utilizing those gifts, do you see yourself passionately sharing your faith with others and guiding them into a relationship with Jesus Christ? I pray you will reflect on these questions and accept the challenge for the glory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

“The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet.’” – King David in Psalms 110:1

Lord, continue to guide me toward being an even more faithful and effective witness to your good news! Amen.

15 Ailments of the Church #4: Planning Too Much

Read Genesis 11:1-9

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT)

tower_of_babel.170113154Well, Happy New Year! It’s 2015 and we’re half-way through the second decade of the 21st century! Isn’t that just mind-boggling? Well, whether we are blown away about that or not, time keeps on moving and so must we. As such, I find this to be an excellent time to take a look at the 4th of 15 ailments that Pope Francis I has addressed with his curia, in order for us to reflect on how the universal church falls into “dis-ease” over these problems.

Ailment #4: Planning too much. How many of you are planners? You know who you are. How many of you spend your days trying to make sure that everything is in order and that all gets done? How many of you plan what time you wake up, what time you eat breakfast, what time you do your daily chores, what time you run your weekly errands, what time you eat dinner, and what time you go to bed? Planning is such an important part of our daily routine and, if the truth be told, without planning life would simply be too chaotic. So, why is planning an ailment of the church?

Simply put, planning is NOT an ailment of the church? In fact, it is not one the 15 Ailments of the Curia that Pope Francis I addresses either; rather, PLANNING TOO MUCH (aka over-planning) is the ailment we are addressing here. There is no sin in having a routine to follow. Structure never killed anyone; however, having an overly cumbersome and top-heavy structure has killed a good many people. Like the Tower of Babel, such a top-heavy and over-reaching structure is bound to come tumbling down.

The church is notorious for over-planning. We’re just pulling out of Advent…a season where there isn’t enough spaces on the calendar for all the planning that gets done. What’s more, we’re quickly approaching Lent…yet another time of crazy planning. But it’s not just the church calendar that gets planned for. Have you ever been to a church administrative council meeting? We get so caught up over our finances (or lack thereof), over capital projects, over parking issues, and over a host of other things. Who will cover for this person when that person is out? What have we got planned if only 2 show up to youth group? What happens if 400 show up to youth group? And on, and on, ad infinitum et nauseum.

Now take that down from the church level to our own personal lives? We plan so much that we barely have time (or so we think) for anything else in our lives? Between work, school, church, family, etc., we are literally all booked up. The question for us, on all of these levels, is this: “What room are you leaving for the Holy Spirit in your life and in the life of the church?” Do we have such of a lack of trust in the Holy Spirit that we feel we must have everything figured and planned out? Are we a people of faith or impeccable planning?

Today’s challenge is for us to stop planning too much and leave some wiggle room for the spontaneity of the Holy Spirit in your life and in the life of the church. It is true that the door will open wide for things to not work out as planned, but that is exactly the point. Things don’t always need to be planned, nor do things always need to work according to our plan. Let’s face it, God is the one with the plan and God is inviting us to join in on the plan, but we have to be willing to trust, follow and obey…and we can’t do those things if we constantly see ourselves at the helm. So, step back and allow God to do some of the steering. It’s okay to have a plan, so long as you know whose plan you are ultimately following.

“Earthly wisdom is doing what comes naturally. Godly wisdom is doing what the Holy Spirit compels us to do.” – Charles Stanley

PRAYER by St. Augustine of Hippo
O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beams. Amen.