Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Empowered by the Spirit


     In thinking about the Easter once again and the power of the Resurrection, it is my prayer that we ALL be more empowered by the Holy Spirit to do what God has called us to do as individuals and within in each local church fellowship.  That took me to Acts 2:37-42, one of my favorite passages of scripture which says; “42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”

     If we allow ourselves to be empowered by the Holy Spirit in 2016, I believe we can have the following six characteristics personally and corporately in our churches.

We have a Sanctified Hunger in our lives - v42 – “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship…”  These early Christians were devoting themselves to the things of God. There was a hunger in them that fed on Spiritual things. Things pertaining to the Kingdom of God held the biggest priority in their lives. What about us? What’s ruling our lives? Where do we spend most of our time and resources? What is really important to us?

We have a Powerful Presence – v43Then fear came upon every soul...” They were focused with a sense of awe as miracles, etc. were happening all around them. Actually if we just stay in awe of Jesus, these things will naturally flow out of our lives. It’s one thing to be in awe of the things God does for us, but quite another to be in awe of Him!

We have Intimate Fellowship – v44 – “Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common.”  The fellowship of this early Church was extraordinary. They didn’t just worship together they cared about each other, they spent time together, they shared, they prayed, ate together. There fellowship was much more than just a “Sunday thing.” These are the signs of healthy faithful group of believers.

We Have Real Worship – v46“Day by day continuing with one mind in the Temple”. These folks loved to worship. They loved to spend time in the presence of God through worship. They were hungry for the fellowship of the word, and worship. Today church has become one responsibility among many. When our lives are filled with the Spirit – worship is not work it’s what we live for.

We have an Impacting Testimony – v47 – The testimony of this church was making an impact on their community.  If your church doors closed, would the community miss it? How about your personal life? Is it making an impact for the Lord? The people in your workplace, in your neighborhood, at the gym… Do they know that you are a Christian? Do they know that you are about the Father’s business?

We Have True Growth – v47b“And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.” That is the true focus of the Christian life. We have come to believe that Church is about us – We’re supposed to about winning the lost, bringing people to understand that they can have a relationship with Jesus Christ. That is true church growth, when we see many souls coming for salvation.

    If we’re allowing the Holy Spirit to empower us our lives we will demonstrate

more fruit of the Spirit. We will be more and more conformed to the image of Christ. Our prayer life and study of God's Word will become more meaningful. We will experience greater power in witnessing. We will be prepared for spiritual conflict against the world; against the flesh; and against Satan & his evil spirits.  And, we will experience Holy Spirit power to resist temptation and sin.

     In closing… Just think; if every born-again believer in our city would become more Kingdom focused and Holy Spirit empowered;  things would forever change in all of our communities, churches, schools, etc. I am ready for the challenge, how about you? Brothers and sisters, let’s go for it!


Thursday, March 10, 2016


With all that happened just before the crucifixion of Jesus and afterwards, the disciples and other followers experienced a wide range of emotions. As we look at these feelings they had let’s see how we can apply some principles to our life today. Our main test is  Luke 24:1-4 but we’ll be going throughout the whole chapter. It reads, “1 Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2 But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. 3 Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. 5 Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 "He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee...”
Confusion: Luke 24:1-4
     In the original Greek language the word perplexed means “to be left wanting, to be
embarrassed, to be in doubt, not to know which way to turn.” Imagine the thoughts they must have had swarming around in their minds. Could this really be?  What if it isn’t, where is his body? Thankfully, Jesus isn’t bothered by our questions. He doesn’t condemn us for having questions. He would rather us ask the questions than to ignore him.
Fear / Sadness: Luke 24:17 & Luke 24:5 –
     What were they afraid of? I think they wondered if they had been duped by Jesus. Was he really who he said he was? Did he fool us? They fear for their lives wondering if they would be arrested, even killed also because of their association with Jesus. Think about it,
Peter denied Jesus  You might say, “Well I would never deny the Lord. But have you ever had an opportunity to speak up for him and didn’t because you were afraid of being embarrassed?
Joy: Luke 24:30-32
     Think about this – right in the middle of their sadness Jesus was right there and they didn’t even know it… until He opened their eyes. Once we recognized that Jesus is revealing Himself to us and we acknowledge him, great joy comes into our lives. I don’t know about you, but before Jesus was in my life I had no joy, no hope... just negative thoughts and feeling down all the time. As believers joy should be a mark of our lives. That’s not to say we never have tough times but that we don’t have to allow the tough times to steal our joy.
Doubt: Luke 24:9-11 & 35-38
     Ever have someone tell you something and you’re like “yeah right…” And then later you found it to be so? I can only imagine the doubts that must have flooded their minds when things happened as they did. After hearing testimonies they wondered; “Is it true that he’s risen?” Just like us, they didn’t remember the promises he had given. How many times do we go through a trial and we forget about earlier trials that God brought us through? Doubt… we all experience it at times. 
Adoration: 47"and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48"And you are witnesses of these things. 49 "Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high." 50And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them.51 Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven.52 And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.” Luke 24:47,48 51-53 (Emphasis added)
     This is the heart of the Easter Story – WORSHIP – We’re to worship Jesus as King of Kings  & Lord of Lords…. He is risen indeed! According to verses 47 & 48, once we have received Jesus into our lives it gives a sense of mission. We’re now to be his witnesses telling other of the hope found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. And in our mission we’re to preach verse 47 – “repentance and remission of sins.”  You see my friend, one cannot experience the joy and worship of the Lord until they first have repented of their sin and surrendered their life to Jesus Christ. Does that mean life is problem free after salvation? Not at all! But, we now have the Lord to walk with us through those difficult times.
     I would like to close with a quote from a pastor (Tom Lovorn) that was used in a recent sermon I read. “ With hope, you can claim the Holy Spirit's guidance and power. And, with mission, you will have a reason for being where you are. You'll be purpose-driven to win your world for Jesus. Your whole image - the way you dress, talk, and walk; your attitude and outlook; your reaction to people and things – everything about you will be different. When people ask you, "What happened to you?" You can answer, "Easter happened, that's what!"
     Until next time, let’s rejoice that we have a risen Savior!