E100: 071 | From One Place to One Spirit

The sky tonight 28feb
"Today in Acts chapter 2 verses 1 to 47 we focus on the account of the birth of the church as found in Acts 2. The history of the church begins with the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. On that day ordinary men and women were filled with the Holy Spirit. As a result they began to be transformed by the power of the Spirit and began to be built into a community. A community that bears witness to the reality that the Lord Jesus Christ has conquered death and offers salvation to all who believe in him." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)

Read Acts 2:1-46 | (ESV)

When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.


Cut to the quick, those who were there listening asked Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers! Brothers! So now what do we do?"

Peter said, "Change your life. Turn to God and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is targeted to you and your children, but also to all who are far away—whomever, in fact, our Master God invites."

He went on in this vein for a long time, urging them over and over, "Get out while you can; get out of this sick and stupid culture!"

That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.

Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person's need was met.

They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved. (Acts 2:1, 2:37-47, Paraphrase by Eugene H. Peterson in "The Message")
I was encouraged by this In Touch devotional from August 17, 2006, by Charles Stanley titled The Holy Spirit’s Presence.
During the time of Moses, God established a festival to celebrate the grain harvest. The first day of the feast became known as the Day of Pentecost (Leviticus 23:15-21). After Jesus ascended to heaven, God revealed a new spiritual meaning for Pentecost. On that day the promised Holy Spirit arrived, and the church of Jesus Christ was born!

While the disciples and others had been Jesus’ followers before this, there had been no “body of Christ” to which they could belong. On Pentecost all that changed. God’s Spirit baptized believers into the Lord Jesus, making them one with Him (1 Corinthians 12:13-14). Now they had a brand-new relationship with the Lord: from that point on, the Holy Spirit lived Christ’s life through them, and they abided in Jesus through His Spirit.

What a difference the Spirit’s indwelling presence made in their lives. No longer were they fearful men who ran away; nor were they people looking out for their own interests. Now they were transformed into a cohesive group who “were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common” (Acts 2:42, 44).

Our own personal “day of Pentecost” occurs at salvation, when we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and baptized into the worldwide body of Christ. The Spirit’s presence is permanently given to everyone who believes, for He is the guarantee of our salvation. What difference is the Spirit of God making in your life?"
At the start of this reading in Acts the followers of Jesus were meeting in One Place by the end they were together in One Spirit. This was

E100: 070 | One by One

Dawn Ascension
"In today’s reading, in Acts chapter 1 verses 1 to 11 we learn that after the resurrection, Jesus gave his followers many proofs that he was alive. Jesus’ teaching continued to focus on the Kingdom of God. His followers would be able to continue the ministry and teaching of Jesus after they had received the Holy Spirit and his power. Jesus gave his followers a blueprint for ministry. They were to minister where they were, to their nearby neighbours, and to the entire world. After saying these things Jesus ascended into heaven." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)

Read Acts 1:1-11 | (ESV)

After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.

... So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"

He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
Once again I find it helpful to rewind my knowledge of the Bible, back to where these disciples were when they asked the question. Once you know what happens it is hard to 'unknow' it, but I find the exercise useful in understanding the Word better.

As Jews they had grown up with the scripture (only that part we would call the Old Testament). They had heard much about a coming Messiah. They learned that the Messiah would be a king like King David had been. This Messiah would retake the throne of Israel and defeat their political enemies, reestablishing the Kingdom of Israel in their world forever.

Remember, Jesus started his public teaching proclaiming "The kingdom of God is near. Turn away from your sins and believe the good news!" He also described the Kingdom with many parables. Before Jesus was killed and just after he had predicted his death he had said to some of these same disciples "Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power." Before Jesus is killed we see the disciples have come to the belief that Jesus was the Messiah and even that he is the Son of God. However they still did not understand that the restoration of Israel as a ruling Kingdom was not the immediate plan.

They were devastated when Jesus was killed. They lost a close friend and their leader. The Messiah was dead. Their dream of a restored political kingdom was over!

But then

E100: 069 | I Have Not Seen and Yet Have Believed

Thomas Jefferson was the 3rd President of the United States
"Today, in John chapter 20 verse 1 to chapter 21 verse 25 we learn that Mary Magdalene, John and Peter were the first to discover that Jesus had conquered death by rising from the dead. Shortly afterwards, the Lord appeared to Mary Magdalene and announced that he was to ascend to the Father. Jesus continued to prove his resurrection by performing many signs and wonders. Because Jesus rose from the dead, death is not an end but promotion to a resurrected eternal life." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)

Read John 20:1-21:25 | (ESV)

Now Thomas (also known as Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!"Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."

Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"
Jesus' encounter with Thomas has always interested me. I could relate to him as a skeptic, as someone who likes to understand things for myself. I like examination and evidence. I like physical evidence over circumstantial evidence, and photographs over drawings or paintings. I like to investigate, prove and disproved things to myself. Ultimately I have had to face the fact

E100: 068 | The Bridge

"In today’s reading in John chapter 19 verse to 42 we read of the crucifixion of Jesus. Pilate continued to appeal to the Jews to have him released but the crowd, prompted by the Chief Priests and officers, refused to release him. Pilate handed Jesus over to the Chief Priests to be crucified. Jesus was crucified between two common criminals. Just prior to his death Jesus released his Spirit to his Father. After he had been crucified Jesus was buried." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)

Read John 19:1-42 | (ESV)

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)
This account of the mock trial, torture, crucifixion, and death of Jesus is very difficult to read. Sometimes it is

E100: 067 | Your Just Like Pilate

Antonio Ciseri's depiction of Pontius Pilate presenting a scourged Christ to the people Ecce homo! (Behold the man!).
"In our reading today in John Chapter 18 verses 1 to 40 we read of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas and the subsequent trials before Annas, Caiaphas and Pilate. In the garden, Jesus did not seek to hide his true identity but openly confessed that he was the one that they sought. Before Annas and Pilate Jesus affirmed that he spoke and bore witness to the truth. When Pilate was unable to find anything that Jesus could be held for, he appealed to the gathered crowd. In phrasing his appeal, Pilate referred to Jesus as the King of the Jews. But the crowd refused to release Jesus hence rejecting him as their king." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)

Read John 18:1-40 | (ESV)

"What is truth?" retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, "I find no basis for a charge against him. But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release 'the king of the Jews'?"

They shouted back, "No, not him! Give us Barabbas!"
I am always 'caught' at this face to face encounter between Jesus and Pilate. There is something about Pilate's questions. In particular "What is Truth?"

In Matthew's account Pilate offers this question to the Jews.
What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?" Pilate asked (Matthew 27:22a)
I would argue that Pilate was faced with the biggest decision in history. What is he going to do with Jesus?

Who is this Pontius Pilate anyway? He was the Roman governor of Judea. His primary role was military, but he also was in charge of imperial tax collection and had some judicial functions. Civil administration was handled by local governments and in the Hebrew providence that was the Sanhedrin. The High Priest was the president of the Sanhedrin. Pilate had the authority to execute criminals but the High Priest did not. It is interesting to note that until 1961 there was no strong evidence Pilate existed outside of the account in the Gospels of the New Testament. In 1961 a stone block was discovered among ruins in Caesarea with his name and Roman title carved in the stone.

Watching this interaction between Pilate and Jesus, and Pilate and the High Priest is just fascinating. So much is going on. Pilate just doesn't want to be dealing with this situation and yet he is forced to by the High Priest and the crowd. He clearly acknowledges that Jesus is completely innocent. He appears to have given up on truth already and ultimately just decides to avoid the hassle altogether and give the people what they want.

We are all just like Pilate. We all have

E100: 066 | What is reality for us today?

Upside down 1
"This week our focus in Luke Chapter 22 verses 1 to 46 turns to the events that occurred during the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. On the night of his betrayal Jesus participated in the traditional observation of Passover and gave the celebration a deeper significance. On that night the Lord revealed that he himself was the Passover Lamb. Ever since that night, believers all over the world have continued to observe the Lord’s supper in memory of Jesus’ sacrifice and in anticipation of his return." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)

Read Luke 22:1-46 | (ESV)

When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God."

... A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.
Wow! A lot is going on at this passover dinner of sincere friends and co-workers (except for one). We also know from John's account of this dinner that Jesus personally washed the feat of everyone there.
So he got up from the meal and took off his outer clothes. He wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a large bowl. Then he began to wash his disciples' feet. He dried them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13:4-5)
Jesus has been telling them about the Kingdom of God for some time now. He taught them about who was blessed in the Kingdom and the unique high values of the Kingdom. He described God's Kingdom using parables. He challenged them to care like God rather than the world. But they didn't seem to get it completely. Even here at this intimate dinner with Jesus they miss his point about God's Kingdom. They were ready to help the Messiah overthrow the Roman Kingdom and establish his new Kingdom here on earth. They were ready with swords to make it happen. But Jesus was looking at an eternal Kingdom. The kingdom that existed before creation. They Kingdom that will have no end. The REAL Kingdom. They were caught in the "make-believe world" or the "Twilight Zone". They were missing the reality of God's Kingdom. The reality of God's Garden before Evil.

What is reality for us today? I love the way

E100: 065 | God is Not in Our Box

Boxed up...
"Our final reading this week in John chapter 11 verse 1 to 57 focuses on the Lord’s power over death itself. Initially upon hearing that Lazarus is ill, Jesus seemingly did nothing. It was only upon hearing that Lazarus was dead that Jesus announced he would raise him. At the tomb, Jesus gives thanks to his father and called forth Lazarus. Lazarus who had been dead for four days stepped out of his tomb. From this incident we learn that Jesus truly is the resurrection and the life and that he will raise to life all those who believe in him." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)

Read John 11:1-57 | (ESV)

When he heard this, Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, "Let us go back to Judea."

...So then he told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him."

...When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."
Martha and Mary didn't understand why Jesus didn't come as soon as he heard about Lazarus serious sickness. In fact Jesus deliberately delayed a couple days before he left for Bethany. They believed Jesus could heal their brother. But Jesus didn't come right away and by the time he got there Lazarus was dead and buried now for 4 days. They did not understand. Why the delay? Why God? Why?

How many times have I prayed for something and God does nothing or so it appears? Many times my view is more

E100: 064 | Please Leave

"In today’s passage, in Mark chapter 5 verse 1 – 20 we learn that Jesus has authority and power over the kingdom of darkness. Jesus sets a man who had an unclean spirit free. Prior to his deliverance the man was uncontrollable and nobody could subdue him because of his great strength. After his deliverance the man sat calmly and in his right mind. Jesus has the authority and power to set all those who are bound by evil free. Those Jesus sets free he transforms completely." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)

Read Mark 5:1-20 | (ESV)

When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.
This is a difficult passage to relate to for me. I have never experienced anyone who I could say was possessed by an evil spirit. Perhaps I have come across someone who was but didn't know it, I don't know. It is not hard for me to zero in on a few in history that I could believe were possessed ... like Hitler, perhaps Stalin. I have heard

E100: 063 | A Process and A Moment

blind beggar on bridge - border town, Cambodia
"In our reading today, in John Chapter 9 verses 1 to 41 Jesus demonstrates he has the power to heal. Jesus heals a man who had been born blind. Jesus put mud on the man’s eyes and instructed him to go wash in the pool of Siloam. When the man obeyed Jesus, his eyes were opened. When he was later questioned by the Pharisees he affirmed that Jesus had been sent by God. It was only later that the man came to believe that Jesus was the Son of Man." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)

Read John 9:1-41 | (ESV)

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. 2 “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” (John 9:1, NLT)

"... But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!" (John 9:25)
There is much one can come away with from this passage. Reading it this time I noticed a process and a moment. A process of going from not knowing much about Jesus to acknowledging that he was a prophet. A process that continued to a moment in time of belief. A belief that the man Jesus is the Son of God. That moment of belief leads to worship. I can relate, in my life, to this process and the moment.

As you read and think about this account in the Gospel of John take notice of the process of understanding or re-understanding and the moment of belief.

Put yourself in his place a blind beggar on the side of a road when some guys come up to you discussing

E100: 062 | What are My Eyes Fixed On? Fear?

"In today’s miracle in Matthew chapter 14 verses 22 to 36 Jesus demonstrates power over nature. After he had fed the five thousand he withdrew to be alone with his father. Jesus desired to spend time in prayer and in order to so he commanded his disciples to cross to the other side of the lake. As they obeyed, a storm arose and his disciples began to be battered by the waves. Jesus quietly approached them walking on the sea. When Jesus entered the boat the waves abated. In the light of his power over nature, the amazed disciples worshiped Jesus as the Son of God." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)

Read Matthew 14:22-36 | (ESV)

I have fears. I worry about things. Most people do. Some of us perhaps conceal our fear better, but if we are human it's there. It may be of extreme weather or natural disasters. It may be a fear of sickness or disease. We may worry about our families safety or our children when they are way at school. We may be afraid of car accidents or flying on airplanes. Some can't be in tight closed in spaces with out being overcome with fear. Some are afraid of water and drowning. Fear can overwhelm us.

Many fears seem to be connected with those things we feel like we can't control. Sometimes just a little control eases our fear even if it doesn't really change the fact that we don't have control over what will happen. The bottom line is we really don't have control over what will happen.
"Come," he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" (Matthew 14:29-31)

... Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God." (Matthew 14:33)
What an incredible event this was. The wind and waves are preventing the disciples from getting anywhere. Fear comes over them when they see a man walking out on the lake. It turns out to be Jesus. He is in complete control of nature walking across the lake like it was the desert.

Seeing Jesus defy

E100: 061 | The Most Important Question of Your Life?

"This week our readings in Luke Chapter 9 verses 1 to 36 will focus on various miracles that Jesus performed. Each of these miracles reveals to us something about who Jesus is. In today’s miracle, Jesus demonstrates the power to miraculously provide for peoples’ needs. In this incident Jesus feeds over five thousand with just five loaves and two fishes. Jesus is more than able to meet all our needs even though we might lack the ability to do so ourselves." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)

Read Luke 9:1-36 | (ESV)

Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, "Who do the crowds say I am?"

They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life."

"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
Peter answered, "God's Messiah."
"What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us." (A.W. Tozer)

Is Jesus a the Son of God, a prophet, a savior, a manipulative story, or perhaps just a concept? In this

E100: 060 | One Sinner

"Our readings today in Luke chapter 15 verses 1 to 32, focus on three parables that Jesus gave concerning the lost. In the first parable a shepherd leaves the rest of his flock in order to find one lost sheep. The second is about a widow who diligently searches her house to recover one lost coin. The third is the parable of the prodigal son in which the Father greatly rejoices when his son returns. From these parables we learn that our heavenly father’s priority is to seek and find those who are lost in order that they might be restored." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)

Read Luke 15:1-32 | (ESV)

"I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent." (Luke 15:7)
Watch this modern

E100: 059 | I Want to Care Like God

"Today’s passage in Luke chapter 10 verses 25 to 37 focuses on the story of the Good Samaritan. In this story the needs of a man who had been robbed and beaten were ignored by representatives of the religious authorities. However, by way of contrast, the Good Samaritan not only attended to the strangers immediate needs but made provision for the man’s longer recovery. From this account we learn that ministry is not about religious duty but about taking time to extend genuine love and mercy to those who in need even though it might be costly." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)

Read Luke 10:25-37 | (ESV)

He answered, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
Once again we see Jesus pointing in this parable to living out the commandments of God rather than just learning about them and pointing them out to others.

In this encounter with an expert in the Law of Moses Jesus tries to shift his focus off the law as an end in itself and onto living it. This lawyer knew the law and understood it, he even correctly focused in on the heart of God's law to his people. The right answer came from his lips. But when face to face with this challenging command he wanted to squeeze it down into something he could practice. He wanted to narrow the definition of neighbor to those he could love as much as himself.

So he asks Jesus "Who is my neighbor?" He knew he could not live it if the definition was beyond those he naturally liked. It is important to point out

E100: 058 | God's Kingdom is Beyond Words

"In today’s reading in Matthew chapter 13 verses 1 to 58, Jesus tells several parables that reveal the nature of the Kingdom of Heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven is of priceless value, has a small beginning but becomes a place of rest and shelter to all who are open to receiving it." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)

Read Matthew 13:1-58 | (ESV)

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables ... (Matthew 13:1)

The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?" (Matthew 13:10)
Jesus quoting Isaiah:
"You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving." (Matthew 13:14)
Then one parable after another:
Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like... (Matthew 13:24)
What is the Kingdom of Heaven? I would note that in other places in Matthew's written account of Jesus on earth he refers to the Kingdom of God rather than the Kingdom of Heaven. In both Mark and Luke's accounts we see it called the Kingdom of God. It is my understanding that these mean the same thing.

I have to admit I have always been a little bothered by the fact that Jesus never specifically defined the Kingdom of God. He never said the Kingdom of God is... He said it is "like" something else. He used parables to define the Kingdom of God.

From the things Jesus says about the Kingdom we know

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