Thursday, August 21, 2008


Hear and Believe - Trust and Obey

"And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us." 1John 3:23-24 (NKJV)

And this is his commandment -- singular: for faith and love are not separate commandments, but are indissolubly united. We cannot truly love one another without faith in Christ, nor can we truly believe in Him without love."
—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

1. "But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel."

a) God did speak by the prophets. Peter here at Pentecost quotes what God spoke through Joel about what would happen at the right time. This is the Day, Peter was saying. Perhaps 2-million Jews were gathered in Jerusalem for Pentecost.

The prophecy is in Joel 2:28-32.

in the last days -- meaning, the days of the Messiah (Isaiah 2:2; Micah 4:1-2); the final dispensation of God's kingdom on earth.

pour out of My Spirit -- in contrast with the mere drops of all preceding time. upon all flesh -- hitherto confined to the seed of Abraham.

sons . . . daughters . . . young men . . . old men . . . servants . . . handmaidens -- without distinction of sex, age, or rank.

see visions . . . dream dreams -- ways in which the Holy Spirit operated in the Book of Acts.

b) Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved."

Salvation was the result of God's Great Act in Jesus Christ to Save the World. Salvation has been brought down!

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." John 3:16-17 (NKJV)

HEAR. "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know-- Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it." Acts 2:22-24 (NKJV).

BELIEVE. "This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear." Acts 2:32-33 (NKJV)

"Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." Acts 2:36 (NKJV)

REPENT. "Godly sorrow worketh repentance." 2 Cor. 7:9-10. Repent = turn to God, reform. Both their repentance and their confession of faith is implied in what they did in response to Peter's challenge to them in v 36.

CONFESS JESUS. "Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" Acts 2:37 (NKJV)

BE BAPTIZED INTO CHRIST for the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

"Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call." Acts 2:38-39 (NKJV)

"But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord," Acts 3:18-19 (NKJV)

"But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." Titus 3:4-7 (NKJV)


Cornelius - the Gentile Pentecost

We listen closely to what the Bible says.

"And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God." Acts 10:30-31

" And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning." Acts 11:15

1. The Simple Gospel.

The one practically certain thing about the early Church is that all the Churches, by whomever founded or taught, largely agreed upon the Fact. And they seem to have echoed Paul about the explanation as much as he agreed with them about the Fact (Death, Burial, Resurrection of the Christ). Romans 5:8; 1 Cor. 15:1-4.

a) Peter preached Christ (the Fact) to Cornelius.

"How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;" Acts 10:38-40

b) Paul said: "Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me." Acts 26:17-18

Paul added: "Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:"

2. The Holy Spirit proved that God had accepted Cornelius.

a) "Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved. And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?" Acts 11:14-17

b) "And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost." Acts 10:45

On the Day of Pentecost those present "heard them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God" Acts 2:11. In the same way here Cornelius and the others spoke with tongues and magnified God. But these are Gentiles who would not have the same knowledge of the Old Testament songs and words.

c) "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13 (NKJV)

"Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee;" Zech. 9:12

d) "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen." 2 Cor. 13:14

"The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you." Petersen on 2 Cor. 13:14

"Whoever has 'the fellowship of the Holy Ghost,' has also 'the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,' and 'the love of God'; and vice versa. For the three are inseparable, as the three Persons of the Trinity. [CHRYSOSTOM]—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

Saturday, August 9, 2008


LORD, Send Us A Burning Bush

"And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed." Exodus 3:2

"And of the angels He says: 'Who makes His angels spirits And His ministers a flame of fire.'" Heb 1:7; Psalm 104:4

Wanted - A Burning Bush
The angel of God appeared to Moses
in flames of fire blazing out of a bush.
The bush was blazing away but it didn't burn up.
"What's going on here? I can't believe this!
Amazing! Why doesn't the bush burn up?"
God saw that Moses had stopped to look.
God called to him from out of the bush,
"Moses! Moses!" "Yes? I'm right here!"
"Hold it! This is sacred sand.
I want your shoes off and I want your head straight.
I AM God! I AM the God of your fathers!
Abraham saw Me, Isaac saw Me, Jacob saw Me,
I AM The Awesome God."
Moses hid his face, afraid to look at God.
"I've taken a good, long look at the affliction
of My people in Egypt. I've heard their cries for
deliverance from their slave masters;
I know all about their pain."
"I have a plan," God was saying, "a plan
to set My people free, and Moses - YOU
just volunteered to do the job."
God, speak to me, show me the way.
Lead me in Your paths of righteousness.
Give me a relationship with You, O God.
Blessed be Your Holy Name.
[Exodus 3:2-7]

"There is in every common bush the light of God, and only those who see it draw off their shoes. It is the old story again. God is near, God is in this place, and we knew it not." Boyd Carpenter

1. Moses - two great streams of power.

a) Egypt. "Out of Egypt have I called my son." Matt. 2:15; Hosea 11:1.

b) Hebrew. "Then said his sister to Pharaoh's daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee?" Exodus 2:7

Oh LORD, You are the Great Power!

Matthew 22:31-33 "But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine."

2. God shakes His Church by sending Power. Acts 4:23-31

"And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness." Acts 4:31 "With great power" Acts 4:33.

"The Spirit rested upon the entire community, first, in the very way they had asked, so that they "spake the word with boldness" (Ac 4:29, 31); next, in melting down all selfishness, and absorbing even the feeling of individuality in an intense and glowing realization of Christian unity. The community of goods was but an outward expression of this, and natural in such circumstances."—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

3. What does the future hold???

Often we are led through unfamiliar waters, where the course of life is uncertain. Be not discouraged. Faith plans anyway and reaches forward to the goal. Our Father continues to work in our world. "But Jesus answered them, "My Father has been working until now, and I have been working." John 5:17

a) Paul said: I trust in the Lord [Phil. 2:23-24].

"Therefore I hope to send him [Timothy] at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me. But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly." Phil 2:23-24

He had confidence even when the path of life was not clear at the moment. We "reason after a godly manner" even if our thinking is not precisely correct. Paul placed his plans in the Lord's hands. He wanted God's will to be done - whatever that might be. He joyfully trusted in the love His Father had for him. And so should we.


All of the Dead Shall Rise!

1. A politically correct church.

Sixty yeas ago while in college I had thoughts of going to China as a missionary. But the door was closed against foreign influences. Mau Zedong was in many ways extreme, yet he did some things that were good. He forced the population to learn to read & write. This was so they could read his propaganda, but it enabled them to read other things also. And Mau sent out "barefoot doctors" (we call them PAs) to bring medical care to the countryside.

In 1951, a Chinese man initiated the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, in order to remove foreign influences from the Chinese churches and to assure the government that the churches would be patriotic to the newly-established People's Republic of China. The movement allowed the government to infiltrate, subvert, and control much of organized Christianity. Mau opposed all religions, but Christianity is very tough and resilient. "The gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Jesus Himself is God The Son, Redeemer, Liberator, High Priest, Sacrifice, Alive Forever, Coming Again.

This year's Beijing Olympics will be very different for many Christian ministries. The Chinese government has placed a ban on foreign missionaries and will only allow Chinese chaplains approved by the government into the Olympic Village. Despite these restrictions, many Christian ministries, athletes and coaches, are preparing to share the gospel in more subtle ways at the Games. Published reports indicate the Chinese government- approved church plans to distribute 20,000 Bibles in English and Chinese to Olympic athletes and visitors. More than half a million people are expected to attend the Games— including 10,500 athletes representing over 200 nations.

Pray God to open a Door by these things. "Then He said to them, 'The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.'" Luke 10:2 (NKJV)

2. Essential truth.

Two doctrines the Chinese Government (political church) seem to object to are: 1) the Second Coming of Christ; 2) the Resurrection of the dead. But these are two essential doctrines of Christianity.

a) Christ is LORD and will Come Again with great power and glory.

"But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, 'I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!' Jesus said to him, 'It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.'" Matt 26:63-64 (NKJV)

b) We are to receive new life.

Paul wrote: "Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed--in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." 1 Cor 15:51-52 (NKJV)

Jesus said: "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth--those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation." John 5:28-29 (NKJV)

"For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words." 1 Thess 4:16-18 (NKJV)

c) The Apostles continually preached about Christ's death and resurrection.

"Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, 'This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.'" Acts 17:2-3 (NKJV)
"Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him....." Rev 1:7 (NKJV)

d) Christ Jesus is the Second Adam.

"For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again." 2 Cor 5:14-15 (NKJV)

We recognize that One Man died for all men. Which means Christ’s death was for all. Verse 15 explains this. All men take part in his death, (but this does not mean that all will be saved). Compare Romans 5:18-21. "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous."

If you take Christ-on-the-cross seriously, you will see that Jesus died for all, Jew and Gentile. If you imitate (emulate) Christ, you will no longer live for yourself, but you will live for Christ. For this reason, you become a Christian by being baptized into Christ’s death. "buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses," Col 2:12-13 (NKJV)



Pray for the Olympic Games in China. Pray God will open doors with these. Even in communist China, Christians are quietly sharing the message of Christ behind the scenes during the Olympics. China officially forbids evangelism. But there's not a lot the Government can do against the Olympics just now. Only the Lord knows how many Christians are in China. Estimates are at least 85 million, mostly in house churches.

"There are moments in history when a door for MASSIVE CHANGE opens. It is in these moments that key men and women risk everything to BECOME THE HINGE OF HISTORY. That pivotal point determines which way the door will swing." Lou Engle. It is the Lord's work to CHANGE and TRANSFORM people. But He works through individuals. Some trust Him to the point that they will give themselves and everything to accomplish His Purpose.

What The Olympic Games Teach Us.

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Heb 12:1-2 (NKJV)

"To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven--things which angels desire to look into." 1 Peter 1:12 (NKJV)

1. Olympic Games in Paul's Day.

"By representing them as contestants in a racecourse, surrounded by all the faithful ones referred to in the preceding chapter (ch 11); who, as a cloud of witnesses for the truth, are represented as being also anxious spectators of the great contest for the crown of life. The imagery is drawn from the foot races then celebrated in Palestine, Greece, Italy, and other provinces of the Roman empire." Robert Milligan (Restoration pioneer)

In an outburst of joy the author of Hebrews contrasts the gloom and terror of Law, with the light and liberation of God's faithful people and the vision of the New Jerusalem as the climax of our journey of life. The Olympic Games were in some sense a celebration of humanity and victory.

2. Refined and purified.

"Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction." Isaiah 48:10 (NKJV) compare Psalm 78:38-39.

"You're standing there, all confident; then, from nowhere, DUCK! - too late, you're flat on your face. All these dark things that suck you in just prove you are human. God's not gone AWOL. HE won't let them turn up the magnetic force of temptation past your personal capacity. You'll be getting drawn in, and HE will make sure there's a door within arm's reach for you to step out of the pressure and keep your integrity. You've just got to use it!" Lacey on 1 Cor. 10:12-13.

"The most eminent of God's saints were the. most afflicted. God leads them by a way they know not (Isa 42:16). We too must look at each trial by itself, instead of taking it in connection with the whole plan of our salvation, as if a traveler were to complain of the steepness and roughness of one turn in the path, without considering that it led him into green pastures, on the direct road to the city of habitation." —Jamieson- Fausset-Brown Commentary

3. Run to win!

"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown." 1 Cor 9:24-25 (NKJV) [temperate - submits to training and discipline.]

"Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful." Col 3:12-15 (NKJV)

"For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises." Heb 6:10-12 (NKJV)

"Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:" Heb 10:35-36 (NKJV)

Hebrews 10:35-36 (MsgB) "So don't throw it all away now. You were sure of yourselves then. It's still a sure thing! But you need to stick it out, staying with God's plan so you'll be there for the promised completion."