THE FATHER’S BLESSING

Acts 1:4,5 ¶ And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now”.

Not every one admits it or is even in touch with it themselves but everyone wants their father’s blessing. I have some fond memories of my dad from my childhood. My father was old school, never told you he was proud of you or loved you and but he had very high expectations that he placed on all of his children. He taught me how to hit a baseball when I could barely walk. Actually he made the mistake of tossing a golf ball to me when I was about two. I had a little bat and hit a line drive into his Adam’s apple; that was the last batting practice we had with a golf ball. I remember him making it to a baseball game I played in when I was in high school, I was so proud when my dad told me I had played a great game.

The Bible is full of stories about the Father’s blessing. Abraham blessed Isaac, Isaac blessed Jacob, and Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph; Ephraim and Manasseh. Today’s verse describes the fulfillment of the Heavenly Fathers’ blessing. Of course Jesus had lived in His Father’s blessing from eternity as the Son of God. Something was changing now. Jesus had become a man and was about to receive the Father’s blessing as a man for all mankind. The Father had made His Son an eternal promise; if He would become a man and redeem fallen man with His blood, He would secure the blessing of the Father for all who believe in Him.

What exactly is the promise of the Father? Paul tells us in Gal. 3:13,14 ¶ Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith”. Do you see it now? The blessing of the Father is the Holy Spirit; He comes to live in us, immerse us in Himself, and cause us to experience all the benefits of being His Son. He is the Father’s promise and the blessing of the Father. Today, the favor and blessing of the Father is available for all who believe in His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

THE MESSAGE OF THE KINGDOM

He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. ACTS 1:3

You ever think about what Jesus said to Pilate when he asked the Lord if He was a king?

He said, “My kingdom is not of this world”. He didn’t deny He was a king, He knew Pilate could never comprehend His answer. It was as if He said, “I am a king, just not that kind of king”. You see in Pilate’s mind a king was about palaces, armies, prestige, wealth, and political power. Jesus was speaking of the unseen kingdom, the kingdom of God. His kingdom was about men’s hearts and souls. He even told Nicodemus that you can’t see His kingdom unless you are born again. When someone is truly born again, they are transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s only Son. Here are some thoughts from Andrew Murray on the kingdom of God.
“The teaching of Jesus during the forty days after the resurrection dealt primarily with the kingdom of God. It is remarkable that Luke, in the last verses of Acts, sums up the teaching of Paul at Rome in the same words: “He explained and declared to them the kingdom of God” (Acts 28:23) and “He preached the kingdom of God” (Acts 28:31). Christ had entrusted to His disciples the announcement of the coming of the kingdom—a kingdom of righteousness and peace and joy. The rule of God in heaven came down in the power of the Spirit, and the disciples were full of the one thought—to preach the coming of the Spirit into the hearts of men. The good news was that the kingdom of God was ruling and dwelling within men, even as in heaven. In the last command our Lord gave to His disciples (see Acts 1:4–8), we will find the great truths of the gospel:”
The kingdom of God was the message of Jesus and the early church. They all knew about earthly kings and kingdoms, in Christ they had found something far greater. In Him there was a greater purpose, a greater power, and a sustaining joy. Just as Jesus testified the good confession before Pilate and tasted death because of the joy set before Him, we can live in this world even though we are not of this world. We are citizens of another kingdom, and because we have tasted the glory of it, this kingdom on earth has lost its attraction to us; it just doesn’t do it for us anymore.

THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER

Acts 1:4,5 ¶ And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, ‘you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now’.

This is one of my favorite promises in the Bible. Actually, it is surrounded with great mystery. Jesus is giving us a glimpse into an arrangement between the Father and the Son that took place in what could be called eternity past. Before there was a universe, before there was even a thing known as time, the Father made a promise to His only Son. It went something like this, “If you become one of this race called humanity and redeem them from their fallen state, I will give you a remnant of that race to become fellow heirs with you. They will be given this same relationship with Me that You have enjoyed from eternity”. Today, we call this promise the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. It is the purchased prize of the Son of God at Calvary. That is the Father’s promise. This is the relationship that we enjoy today, the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Here are some comments from Jonathan Edwards on this very promise.
“Christ was made a curse for us that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. The Holy Ghost is the sum of all the spiritual blessings which God hath promised. Therefore, ’tis called the Spirit of Promise. This is the great promise of the Father; review me, and behold I send the promise of the Father upon you. This promised thing Christ received; it was given into his hand as soon as he had finished the work of our redemption, to bestow on all that he had redeemed: Acts 2:33 Therefore, being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, [he] hath shed {forth this, which ye now see and hear}.”
Today more than ever we need the fulfillment of this promise in our lives. The world is dark and unpredictable, the Holy Spirit becomes our strength and hiding place in this crooked and perverse generation. We don’t have to live our lives tormented by temptation and fear, the power of the Holy Spirit is available to us to help us live godly lives in this ungodly world.

RECEIVING POWER

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

This is one of the greatest of all Bible promises. It seems all most unthinkable, Jesus is promising His followers the same power for ministry that was on Him. He had told them that they would do greater things than He had done in His lifetime, they had no idea how anything like that would be remotely possible. This was the game changer. The disciples were being suddenly launched into a ministry that seemed impossible. It would have been impossible if they did not receive the promised power of the Holy Spirit. The thing that is even more amazing is this, that promise is still in effect. It wasn’t just for the early church and the apostles. This promise is for us. It was given to men, women, the young and the old, it was even given to all of the ethnic groups of the world. This power is available for you. Here are some thoughts from Albert Barnes on this promise.
“But ye shall receive power, etc. Literally, as it is translated in the margin, “ye shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you.” This was said to them to console them. Though they could not know the times which God reserved in his own appointment, yet they should receive the promised Guide and Comforter. The word power here refers to all the help or aid which the Holy Spirit would grant; the power of speaking with new tongues; of preaching the gospel with great effect; of enduring great trials, etc. See Mark 16:17, 18. The apostles had impatiently asked him if he was then about to restore the kingdom to Israel. Jesus by this answer rebuked their impatience; taught them to repress their ill-timed ardor; and assured them again of the coming of the Holy Ghost.”
The church today needs this power. Somehow we often settle for far less than New Testament Christianity. This generation needs to see the power of God for itself. Its time for all of us to shake off our preconceived ideas about what church should look like. It’s time to wait again for power to fall upon us from on high. This will take us out of the realm of human effort and orchestration to the arena of the power of the Holy Spirit.

PROTESTANT AND PENTECOSTAL #3

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

 

I am a Pentecostal, Protestant Christian. When Jesus left His disciples to return to heaven, He told them to wait for the “Promise of the Father” [Acts 1:4]. This is a promise the Father made to Jesus in eternity. The Father and the Son entered an eternal covenant. If Christ would become a man and sacrifice his life for fallen man all those who believed upon Him would receive the Promise, the awesome baptism in the Holy Spirit. The baptism in the Spirit is the purchasd possession obtained by Christ on the cross.

Secondly I want to honor the heavenly ministry of Jesus. John prophesied that Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Spirit and fire (Mark 1:8,9). When Jesus ascended into heaven His heavenly ministry as our heavenly High Priest began. This heavenly ministry is the ministry of immersion into the person of the Holy Spirit. We see the first occurrence of this on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). Today His heavenly ministry continues. The modern church, many times, does not recognize or honor Jesus and His heavenly ministry. Many times we want to rewrite the emphasis of the church and the Christian life. To honor the heavenly ministry of Jesus we must be baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Thirdly, we need supernatural power. Our world is becoming more dangerous everyday. It is becoming harder and harder for Christians to live a godly life in this dark, wicked world. We need the power of God, the tangible power that comes upon us when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit. To live holy in this perverse world we need His power.

We also need this power for effective ministry. Jesus told us this in Acts 1:8. He said we would receive power (dunamis-supernatural power) when the Holy Spirit comes upon us. We are dealing with addictions, illnesses, and all kinds of bondages when ministering to this generation. Christian empowerment slogans are not good enough, we must have power.

Finally, I am a Pentecostal because of the blessing given to me by the supernatural language of prayer. Speaking in tongues is the doorway to the world of the supernatural.

Paul said we are edified, built up spiritually (1 Corinthians 14:2,4) when we pray in tongues. He said the Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses when we pray in the Spirit (Romans 8:26). He taught about our intercessory anointing that sometimes comes when we pray in tongues (Romans 8:27). He also taught about the prophetic nature of praying in the Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:15).

The prayer language is not an after thought, or an unimportant extra. The prayer language is foundational to the supernatural Christian life.

We live in perilous times (II Timothy 3:1). We need to return to the faith of our fathers. We have drifted toward a seeker sensitive, Christian light faith for far to long. We must return to our Protestant and our Pentecostal roots. The future of our families our cities and our nation are on the line. Join with me on my spiritual safari, we are sojourning to the city, the city that has a foundation whose builder and maker is God.

 

LEANING ON THE LORD’S SIDE

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

If you study the history of denominationalism, you will find yourself in the middle of the study of revival. The reformation opened the door in the 1500’s for a series of denominational spinoffs that were the results of times of spiritual renewal. In a perfect world you would think that revival would birth unity; that’s seldom the case. Normally a church that is birthed in renewal will cool off after several generations. It seems like every century or so there are new revivals resulting in new denominations. The Pentecostal movement that began in the early twentieth century is now at that critical time. Many of the spirit filled churches have given way to the pressures of society and have succumbed to the modern relevant church movement. Here are some interesting words from Stanley Horton, one of our Pentecostal Fathers.

“The recognition that we are not self-sufficient, but totally dependent on Christ and the Holy Spirit to do anything that pleases God, and the willingness to give Him all the praise, is the secret of the success of the Pentecostal Movement today. More than that, the Pentecostals stand firm at the point that marks off Bible-believers from so-called liberals. The line of demarcation is not the acceptance simply of the Virgin Birth, the Cross, or the Resurrection. It is rather the supernatural itself. Those who oppose the simple gospel of Christ, who try to strip the Bible of its miracles, and who cut up the New Testament and make Jesus an empty figure—a pale, mistaken teacher—all build their theories on an anti-supernaturalistic bias.

Most of these anti-supernaturalists argue that they must remove the supernatural from the Bible in order to make the gospel acceptable and applicable to modern man.”

This really defines what has happened over and over again. From the Presbyterians to the Methodists, and then the Baptists to the Pentecostals; the cooling off of one movement precipitates the need for another move of God. The good news is that the Lord is patient and persistent, He never gives up. He is determined to have a witness of His supernatural power in the world today. The only question, which side are you leaning on?

YOU SHALL RECEIVE POWER

Acts 1:8 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.”

Christianity is intended to be a supernatural. It is not just a philosophy, a creed, a belief system, or a moral code; even though those things are somehow connected to our Christian faith. Somehow, Christianity, at its primitive state, is about the power of God. The early church demonstrated it’s faith with power. The power was seen in supernatural preaching, healing the sick and casting out demons. The power was evident in their prayers and in their testimony of Christ-like behavior. The power that was evident in the midst of the church brought a fear of God even in the secular community. It was the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit in the midst of the church that made the Christian gatherings so unique. Too often today our modern churches want to disassociate themselves with the power of God. That is tragic. It is the power of God that saves us, delivers us, and heals us. It is the very power of God that our souls are longing for. Here are some thoughts from Albert Barnes about the power of God.

“Literally, as it is translated in the margin, “ye shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you.” This was said to them to console them. Though they could not know the times which God reserved in his own appointment, yet they should receive the promised Guide and Comforter. The word power here refers to all the help or aid which the Holy Spirit would grant; the power of speaking with new tongues; of preaching the gospel with great effect; of enduring great trials, etc. See Mark 16:17, 18. The apostles had impatiently asked him if he was then about to restore the kingdom to Israel. Jesus by this answer rebuked their impatience; taught them to repress their ill-timed ardour; and assured them again of the coming of the Holy Ghost.”

The Holy Spirit alone is the game hanger. I have a feeling there is about to be another shift in the climate in the Christian Church. There is no other option. The desperate state of our world demands the power of the Spirit. The Lord will respond proportionally in the fullness of time. Get ready; the greatest move of the Spirit in history will suddenly appear in His church.

GENERATOR

“Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promise, in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

Acts 1:4–5

Shortly after Katrina decimated New Orleans, Parris and I found ourselves living in a trailer in the driveway of our flooded home. We were the first people back on our street and the only ones there for many weeks. Our only neighbors were the occasional visits from the patrolling National Guard. We were running our lives with a gas operated generator. You don’t really notice the importance of electric power until you don’t have it. That generator became precious and essential for everything we did. That is the way it is with the power of God. Without it we can do nothing. With God’s power, all things are possible. I like to think of the power of God as our generator, the source of life for all we do. Here are some thoughts by Andrew Murray about the importance of this spiritual generator.

“The Lord’s command to preach the gospel to all people not only applied to the disciples, but also to all followers of Christ. The very last command Jesus gave to His disciples, namely not to preach until they had received the power from on high, also applies to us.
The church appears to have lost sight of this great secret (this was written in the 1800’s). We seem to have forgotten that it is only by living in the power of the Holy Spirit that we can preach the gospel. This might be the reason why so much preaching and so much working bear so little fruit. The church lacks the much-availing prayer that brings down the power from on high.
The secret of Pentecost is that the disciples continued with one accord in prayer and supplication until they were filled with the Holy Spirit. They then proved what the mighty power of God could do through them.”

Prayer connects us to the dunamis power of the Holy Spirit. In light of this truth think about the condition our world is in today. For example, just today I read in the news about ebola outbreaks, beheadings, execution of Christians in the Middle East, inappropriate behavior of teachers with their students, and multiple failings by our government officials. You get the picture, our world is sick and dying. Nothing less than the power of God can effect the troubled lives of the people in our world. The good news is that unlimited power is available for His church; all we did to do is look to the Lord in prayer.

POWER FOR THE TASK

Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you—Acts 1:8

This is a powerful promise given to us by The Lord Jesus just before His ascension into heaven. The word He used that is translated power is dunamis. There are two distinct shades of meaning in this powerful word. First, very nature of this word implies supernatural power. This is more than just human or physical power, this is the very power of God that flows from the person of the Holy Spirit. The second implication in dunamis is enabling. The Lord promised to give us divine enabling for the tasks we are called to. The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is therefore a supernatural enabling to fulfill the purposes and calling of God. He gives us the divine ability and power to perform His will. Here are some powerful insights by A. B. Simpson on this verse.

“There is power for us if we have the Holy Spirit. God wants us to speak to men so that they will feel it, so that they will never forget it. God means every Christian to be effective, to make a difference in the actual records and results of Christian work. God put each of us here to be a power. There is not one of us but is an essential wheel of the machinery and can accomplish all that God calls us to. There is not a thing that God expects of a person but that God will give him or her the power to do. There is not a command God gives to His children for which He does not provide the enablement for obedience. When Christ Jesus lived and died and sent down the Holy Spirit, He sent resources for all our needs, and there is no place for failure in the Christian life if we will take God’s resources. Jesus, the ascended One, and the Holy Spirit, the indwelling energy, life and efficiency of God are sufficient for all possible emergencies. Do you believe this? if you believe it, let Him into your heart, without reserve, and allow Him to control you and work through you today by His power.”

Augustine had a powerful saying that this verse brings to mind. “Lord, command what you will, but give what you command”. Augustine’s understood the futility of trying to fulfill the will of God with our human talents or will power. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to live a Christian life and lifestyle without supernatural power. Thank The Lord for the power of Pentecost today, we continue to receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon us. He not only gives us direction for His purpose in our lives, He clothes us with power and ability to accomplish His purpose through the power of the Spirit.

ENOUGH TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Acts 1:5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

“Have you been baptized with the Holy Spirit since you believed?” These are the words of the apostle Paul to the small original group of Christians in Ephesus. Their answer pretty much told the story, “We have not so much as heard that there is a Holy Spirit”. If today’s Christians were honest, the majority would have to agree with those Ephesians believers. Most act as if there is no Holy Spirit. If He was totally removed from the services, church would be basically the same.
At the same time, any individual or church who actually experiences the power of God is somehow considered weird or excessive. It is actually the immersion, or baptism, into the Spirit that begins the big changes in our lives. It is His presence within us that initiates the holy lifestyle described in the word of God. Here is how the Fire Bible describes the effect of the Spirit on our life and lifestyle.

“The baptism in the Holy Spirit is a baptism (i.e., an immersion) into the Spirit who is holy (cf. “Spirit of holiness,” Ro 1:4). God’s holiness refers to his purity, perfection, spiritual completeness and separation from evil. This means that if we have truly submitted to God and his Spirit is at work in us in all his fullness, our lives will become saturated with his character traits. As a result, we will be more like Christ and be an example of his holiness.
In light of these Biblical truths, those who have been baptized in the Holy Spirit will have a strong desire to please Christ in everything they do. That is because the baptism in the Spirit complements (i.e., completes, fills up) the saving and spiritually purifying work of the Holy Spirit in Christians’ lives. Those who claim to have experienced the fullness (i.e., the baptism) of the Spirit, yet live in a way that is contrary to the character of God’s Holy Spirit, are revealing the fact that they do not have this experience. Even if people do show spiritual abilities, miracles, spectacular signs or preaching with eloquence, yet lack true faith, love and purity, they are not working by the Holy Spirit but by an unholy spirit that is not from God.”

We need the power of the Spirit just to survive in our crumbling society. As the culture of our world drifts farther and farther from the moorings of God’s word, we can stayed anchored in His love because of the power of the Spirit working in us.