Showing posts with label Holy Spirit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Holy Spirit. Show all posts

Tuesday

Who Does The Miracles? - 31 Days in Acts




The Book of Acts has the full title of the Acts of the Apostles but sometime I feel that can be a misleading title and may draw our attention to the Apostles so that we may give them the credit for the miraculous acts we read of in this Book.

The book itself shows us that the Holy Spirit was the instigator of everything and the Apostles were the people through whom the Holy Spirit worked.


After reading the first section of Acts chapter 5 in yesterday's post where we see the work of the Holy Spirit in uncovering sin today we cover a section which focuses us back to how Christian life should be.


 Acts 5 v 12-16

Reminds us of previous references of one accord, one heart or one soul together as in

Acts 1: 14;    Acts 2:1;    Acts 4:32-36



12 And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. 13 Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly. 14 And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15 so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. 16 Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.



Solomon's Porch was a certain part of the Temple. 
Although we know that in the Temple there were different parts for the women and the men when we read of the people being saved here there is no difference between men and women.

Believers added in multitudes also reminds us of other places with similar mentions such as
Acts 4 v 32

and now adding miracles of healings and from yesterday we can remember

Who did the healing? 
The healings were not done by the Apostles who were men.
The healings were done by God.
The Apostles were used of God by the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit was obviously evident in the Apostles and Peter was used in Healings.
It was not Peter who did the healing here but God the Holy Spirit.


It is good to be reminded of the Work of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 5 v 17-21

This is a passage that is not preached about as often as those similar passages in Acts 16 with Paul and Silas and Acts 12 with Peter.

17 Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation, 18 and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison. 19 But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 “Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.”
21 And when they heard that, they entered the temple early in the morning and taught. But the high priest and those with him came and called the council together, with all the elders of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.

Who arrested them? 
High Priest & Sadducees

Why?   Indignation!
Such a strange reason to arrest someone.


Who brought them out? 
An Angel

What were they to do?   
Stand in the Temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.

What are the words of this life?
Words of the resurrection of Jesus because these are words of life in Jesus.

Another instance where we can remember a similar incident when Peter & John went to pray in the Temple is in Acts ch 3 which resulted in the healing of the lame man and speaking to all the people about the resurrection of Jesus which leads to salvation of souls.



It is good to be reminded of the importance of the Work of the Holy Spirit and the important work Of the Apostles but we must also be constantly reminded of the important work believers are expected to do to spread the Gospel.

Yes it is important for us to preach the Gospel which includes the powerful message of the resurrection of Jesus and the salvation offered to all.


It is good to be reminded of our role as believers.



I'm trying to read and write about the Book of Acts for 31 Days so please come back and join me for some notes & some thoughts each day. 

As the month goes on each Day's Link will be added in 










Monday

Because of a Lie. - 31 Days in Acts



Day 9 of our 31 Days in Acts brings us to ch. 5 v. 1-11

Another very well-known passage about the Apostles.

I think most people would say it is well-known about Ananias & Sapphira but here I would like to look at the role of the Apostles and the work of the Holy Spirit through them.

In the end of ch. 4 in verse 36 you can read about a man who sold some land and gave the money to the Apostles for the use of the believers

36 And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, 37 having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

and in the start of ch. 5 we have another story about people selling something and giving the money to the Apostles.
But here in contrast to the end of ch 4 we have a completely different outcome.

A husband and wife bring money to the Apostles.  We are not told that this couple were ordered to sell anything and give all of their money to the Apostles, we are simply told that they did sell a possession as did others which is obvious from the end of ch. 4.

At first Ananias & Sapphira may appear to have done the same thing as Joses until we see the story in detail.

Ananias comes to the Apostles and gives them some of the money v. 1-2

Peter does not ask him him why he has not brought all of the money.
Instead he asks him why he has lied to God v. 3-4

The important part being that he lied.

Here we see the Gift of Knowledge in Peter through the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is God and cannot look on sin.   Habakkuk 1 v 13

The death of Ananias is the consequence of his sin.
Not a decision made and carried out by the Apostles but by God. v5-6

Then we have the words of his wife proving they had decided to lie and because she had been in on this agreement to lie to the Apostles she too suffered the same consequences.  v 7-10



3 Things to Note:

  • The couple lie to the Apostles 
  • The Holy Spirit brings the truth through Peter
  • God punishes the couple


First there is a lie but God always knows the truth because God is truth John 17 v 3
"This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."

Then there are the words brought by the Holy Spirit but spoken out by Peter & these are the truth because God's word is truth John 17 v 17
"Your word is truth." 

Then there are the consequences of the sin of untruth.




The role of Apostle was very important here not to accept the money and deal with that 
but to know the truth through God's Holy Spirit 
and be a spokesperson for God.



Sin, Truth & Consequences



I'm trying to read and write about the Book of Acts for 31 Days so please come back and join me for some notes & some thoughts each day. 

As the month goes on each Day's Link will be added in 










Tuesday

All Together Now? - 31 Days in Acts


This is Day 3 of our 31 Days in Acts Series for this month and if you would like to read the previous posts please click here first and then come back again.


Years ago as a teenager I had to take a group of young girls at a camp for morning and evening devotions.

This was the first time I had ever had to look at passages of scripture and make decisions as to what I should help to focus someone else's mind on.

The thing I have always remembered out of those weekly devotions was one from Acts ch. 2 which I based around


All together, all in one accord.



But the all in one accord didn't start there at the start of chapter 2, it was already mentioned in v 14 of chapter 1.

Not only did this refer to the 12 disciples being in one accord which would be a great feat in itself but it also included the brothers of Jesus and His mother Mary and other women.
Right so women and men all in one accord?
This is not something we see all the time!

What were they in agreement over?
We read that it was agreement in prayer and supplication, so yes maybe we have seen groups of people able to come together to prayer in total agreement about certain things but would their agreement then continue into other aspects?
In Acts ch.1 v.15-26 we already see that the number of people together were now 120 which is 10 times the number of the disciples. 

Could this size of group stay in agreement?
Yes they were definitely in agreement in following the scriptures because they took instruction and acted upon Psalm 109 v 8 to choose someone to take the place of Judas.




Looking at the first 4 verses of Acts ch. 2 we see some more things to do with them all being in agreement.

verse 1     all with one accord in one place
verse 2     sound of a rushing mighty wind filled the whole house
verse 3     sight of a tongue of fire resting on each person
verse 4     all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in other languages


After reading these last two sections I do have two things that I am pondering:

If they had voted for a replacement for Judas would some disagreement have entered the group?
If they had not been all in one accord would the Holy Spirit have filled them all?





So far it's all been about agreement or in one accord and involving all the group but there was another group of people affected by this situation but things were not the same for them.

Acts ch.2 verses 5 - 15 show us the Crowd's Response to what had happened that day.

Here there were two sides
  1. Some were amazed and marvelled at how they could hear about the wonderful works of God.
  2. The others mocked and blamed it on drunkenness.

The first side ended up wanting to know more, the second dismissed it.
No agreement here!

But Peter now had the attention of many people.

And he used that to proclaim Jesus.


Verses 14 - 39 show the wise use of time and attention and a clear presentation of the Gospel in a way that the crowd were focused now on Jesus and not on the mystery of what was going on around them.
Peter called them to repentance, water baptism and to receive the Holy Spirit - he left nothing out!


The Promise of God was not just for the 120 who had been waiting but for all that were there.



But that wasn't the end of it.

See you tomorrow for the continuation.



I'm trying to read and write about the Book of Acts for 31 Days so please come back and join me for some notes & some thoughts each day. 

As the month goes on each Day's Link will be added in 









Monday

Who is your Attention on? - 31 Days in Acts



Yesterday we said Thank You to Luke.

If you missed it please take a little time to click over to DAY 1 to see how our introduction to this great book of the Bible led us to be thankful and to consider how we tackle things for God.


Today is Day 2 and you will probably be hoping I get through more than 3 verses this time.  Me too!






I'm focusing in on a message in the next part of Acts chapter 1, the little message that the 2 angels gave to the followers of Jesus who were with Him up to His last moments on earth.

But before I go on to that there are also words of Jesus in this section that are very encouraging and important.

So Let's pick out some verses along the way from Acts ch.1 v.4-11


From verse 7 we know that it is not for any of us to know times that God has decided upon, so I was struck by how important and special it must have been for those with Him to hear Jesus Himself say

 "not so many days from now" in verse 5.

Jesus was saying soon, very soon, something was going to happen.

What was Jesus talking about in verse 5?

The Promise of the Father which is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

How exciting and maybe even a bit terrifying for the believers because they could not imagine what it would entail but if Jesus said it they would trust it because they trusted Him.








Verses 9 & 10  are all about the attention of the followers and what it was centred upon.

Firstly their attention was all on Jesus as He spoke to them so this means they clearly heard Him promise that very soon (a matter of days) they would have the presence of the Third Person of the Trinity with them.

Then their attention was all on Him as He ascended.

In fact all of their attention had been on Jesus during that time. They probably didn't want to give their attention to anything else just after that; who would want to miss out on anything that might happen then?






They may have missed things before during the three years with Jesus because they couldn't keep their attention continually upon Him for all of that time.  But this was now surely a different situation with the resurrected Lord.

The two angels who suddenly appeared in verse 10 reassure them that Jesus will come back again - reiterating what Jesus Himself had already told them but they weren't all like Luke (taking a note of everything Jesus said and did from Day 1) so they could well have forgotten He said it or had not been paying proper attention that day and didn't even hear it.






The Special Little Message these two angels gave them covered 4 things:

  1. Jesus went to Heaven.
  2. Jesus will return from Heaven.
  3. Jesus will come back in the same way as He went.
  4. He will be the same Jesus  -  He will be unmistakable. 

All of this vital information in one verse.

I had to give all of my attention to this special little message because that is what was expected of me as well as the disciples. 


Are you giving your full attention to the Special little message?

It is expected of all of us because we need to know the truth of what God has planned for Christ's return and for the comfort, teaching and miracles of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives until He does return.






I'm trying to read and write about the Book of Acts for 31 Days so please come back and join me for some notes & some thoughts each day. 

As the month goes on each Day's Link will be added in 











Wednesday

A Fountain Display - A Dose of Encouragement


20 years ago our family went to a Fountain and Fireworks display one night in Pennsylvania and just oohed and aahed in amazement as the water gushed up in time to the music and the fireworks and special lights sent colours through the spray.







Everyone gazed fixedly at the fountains and fireworks and none of us wanted to take our eyes off them for a minute because of the beauty we beheld.


I have always been attracted to fountains and have previously written in this blog about some Unusual Fountains and also about my favourite one in Belgium, the Tervuren Fountain  but I have never forgotten that lovely night and the beauty of God's creation of water with man's creation of music.



Have you ever seen lots of little fountains in your church?  

No I'm not mad and seeing water spouting all over our church; but one Sunday during some quiet worship time I did have a picture in my mind of tall narrow fountains scattered around our congregation.  

They were in the place of various people and I felt God was telling me that there were people in our church who were like His fountains. 



So what is a fountain?  

Well it contains water, it moves water around and it spurts water up in the air. 

Fountains are always a centre of attraction and are considered to be beautiful features.

They give a sense of excitement as the water wells up and the feeling of continual renewing as the water is caught up time and time again.









Can we be like fountains? 

As Christians we have been washed clean by the blood of Jesus and have received His righteousness.

We have the Holy Spirit in our lives stirring us up to share God's love . 

We are the showcase of the beauty and grace of God's love to the world.

God wants us to be excited by our Salvation so that we cannot help but testify of this to others.

We can be renewed by the Spirit daily. 



Are you like a fountain?


Yes - We can be like fountains.  


The difference between us and the fountain display we watched all those years ago 
is that through us people should be led to 
ooh and aah 
not at us
but
at the true fountain of life
our Saviour Jesus Christ
and
at the beauty of the Gospel 



We should lead others to ooh and aah at the true beauty

Titus 3: 3-7

For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, 
serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, 
and hating one another.   
But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.





The Day Autumn Arrived - A Dose of Encouragement


I know I wrote a post previously about


but it seems that in September each year (the start of Autumn I suppose) we really do notice all the spiders coming out of their hiding places.





So we get quite used to the fact that they are there for a while.



However just this morning I really was reminded of the spiders in a very different way.


Just look at those webs.






I know they were obviously not made overnight but I hadn't noticed them the previous few days.

Today however there had been a bad fog overnight which lasted until quite late in the morning and as it cleared this was my view in the patio.


The webs stretched all around the gate and the fencing (even some over the bushes)





and they were linked to the patio table and chairs as well.





They made a beautiful pattern between each fence post and also between the patio table & chairs.




I stood in amazement wondering how I had not noticed these webs before, so many of them, and then I realized that they would normally have been difficult to see from inside the house (and I had been inside for a week ill with flu).


Today however was different.

They were so noticeable because the icy fog had left a kind of glistening effect on them.

But

A short while later they were no longer noticeable from the kitchen window.


They had needed this special effect to make them stand out clearly and attract my attention.


We also need a special effect to make us stand out as followers of Christ.


We need a special effect to make us stand out


God has given us His Holy Spirit to produce good fruit in our lives and catch the attention of others, not to be directed to us, 
but to Jesus.


In today's world more than ever we need to allow the Holy Spirit to work through us and draw the attention of the rest of the world to our loving Saviour because that is the job of the Holy spirit and our job too.







So let's think of the arrival of this autumn frost as a sign to remember that God will use His Holy Spirit to make our lives beautiful and attractive to others so that they will say they hadn't noticed that before and want to find out more  -  about Jesus.




The Geese At The Lake? - A Dose of Encouragement



Fred & I enjoy going for some leisurely walks - well his leisurely walk is more like a quick walk for me because he has long legs and as I have mentioned previously "I am Petite".


Walking along one day (around a not so well known lake) I could see some large birds in the distance.

I asked Fred "Are those swans or geese?"

I was a town girl, he was a country boy!

Fred said they were swans.

I said "Are you sure they aren't geese?" and we both laughed.






Now something you need to know about Fred is:

Swans he likes - we often stop to watch them on our walks and take some pictures.

Ducks he likes - we have a lovely memory of Ducks from our life in Belgium


BUT


Geese he does not like!


You see Fred has long since told me and our kids the story of the day he was attacked by the geese on his family's farm and apparently according to Fred geese can be very aggressive and when you are a small boy they can be very frightening if they turn on you en mass and chase you, snapping at you noisily.  He has never liked geese since then.

Now Fred is quite mild-mannered but when it comes to mentioning those geese on the farm you could almost say he becomes stern.  He is also very cautious any time he is around geese because he knows he cannot trust them.


GEESE



SWANS


It's easy to see the difference between Geese and swans in these pictures above, the shape of the heads, beaks and necks but not so easy to see this when they are on the edge of the other side of a lake.

Often it is hard for us to tell the difference between things from a distance.

We need to be closer to objects to tell more clearly what they are like.

We need to be more familiar with certains things to tell them apart.

We need to remember the differences between geese and swans to recognise them.


When it comes to people we need to get to know them well rather than just being acquaintances to know what they truly feel or think or believe.

We need to be in their company in different situations to know by reactions and more casual words just how their minds work and what they really feel about things.

Another thing is we need to listen and hear properly what they say, not just presuming how they will finish the sentence they have just started.


From experience we will learn to know who to trust and who not to trust and from that we can make good decisions about who to spend our time with and who to not allow ourselves to have to be in the presence of too often.


I also relate this to people who are well known preachers.


Just because they are

well known 
or have a large church 
or sound entertaining 
or are talked about by many other people we know;

they may not be actually saying 
what we would expect them to say,

they may not actually be leading or pointing
 to Jesus,

they may not actually be preaching 
the truth of the Word of God
 but instead
 be preaching their own ideas. 


We need to get familiar with the differences between the men and women who are out there truly promoting Jesus 
and the ones who are really out there promoting themselves.



We need to get familiar with the differences between those promoting Jesus and those promoting themselves


Just because there may be crowds of others who live and breathe by everything that a well known preaching might say, does not mean we have to do the same.





What we have to do is 

make sure we keep ourselves grounded in the true Word of God,

keep our eyes fixed on Jesus,

and ask the Holy Spirit to be that still small voice within us that cautions us away from the falsehoods and towards the truth.
  

The Bible tells us we need to be alert to those who do not speak truly in the Name of Jesus.



We need to be alert to those who do not speak truly in the Name of Jesus

The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit will guide us to know the truth.




The Bible is the Word of God so let's get familiar with Jesus through the Bible so that we can know the differences between true men of God and those who are only of themselves.



Which Way Will You Go? - A Dose of Encouragement


Today I want to tell you about another picture God once gave me.

Imagine a wide, very wide set of stairs.  

On the left-hand side a narrow section has a set of footprints going up the stairs. 
The rest of the staircase is full of lots of footprints coming down the stairs side by side. 







Can you picture it?  


It definitely appears to be easier to come down those stairs than to go up, because of the wider space and because there is the feeling of lots of others coming down with you.  
You’ll probably get caught in with the crowd and almost helped down in the crush.  

Will there be any help from others to go up though?

Those going up will be few and far between and going slowly because they will have to go against the flow of the crowds descending.  

One thing is certain;


 you have to make the decision to either go up or down on the stairs.

         
This is how many Christians feel at certain times in their walk in life. 
They have decided to go on this upward journey and they know that they are going against the main stream of people in this world.

Going down would be easier.
So many others in the world ready to encourage and help along the way.
We wouldn't have to consciously keep our mind and body alert, it would be a simple carefree journey down.

The footsteps leading up the stairs are like Christ’s steps, as we follow them we will be following His example and not following the crowd’s steps. 

                    “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example,
                   that you should follow in His steps.” 1 Peter 2 v 21.    (RSV)

You may think it will be a lonely journey going up with no person by your side. 
Sometimes it feels like there just isn't room for anyone else to go in that direction beside you.  

Yet there is someone who wants to go up with you. 

The Holy Spirit wants to guide you and help you along.
  
The Holy Spirit’s power will help you up those stairs even when the natural reaction would be to give in and not endure the loneliness you feel.


So we each have to make the decision for ourselves.


  


Which way will we go on the stairs?  



Once we do our part in starting the upward climb, God does the leading each step of the way.

“A man's mind plans his way but the Lord directs his steps.”    
                                                          Proverbs 16 v 9.    (RSV) 
                                                         

Then we should be aiming at all times in the future to be able to tell the Lord that we have not left His way up the steps for the wider descent. 

Also we must be an encouragement to others to continue in the right path.
           
         
       So let’s get going in the right direction and persevere on the journey.



                                               





Sunday

Why We Worship 23





I am taking time each week to ask myself "Why we worship"


This is Pentecost Sunday

                so there is no doubt as to what we should consider today.




  

This is probably one of the hardest things for us to comprehend.


We are so used to everybody having a physical being 

but God is not a physical being 

He is a Spirit.



We can't see a spirit, we can't reach out and touch a spirit, 

we cannot fully understand what a spirit is.






But something we do know is God's Word and in the Bible it clearly states that we must

                                             
Worship God in Spirit and in Truth.


We must worship Him in line with these two attributes that belong to Him.










From this we can know that we have a spirit too because if we were only a physical being God could not require this of us.  


              
What a great privilege we have to be like God and be 

invited to worship Him.







Did you worship God today?











Wednesday

What a difference a Sneeze Makes - A Dose of Encouragement


                  
               I love a good sneeze, don’t you?  

I quite enjoy two or three sneezes at a time but when you have to sit beside someone who sneezes not just once, or twice or three times in a row but ten or twelve times it can put you off sneezes for life. 







When I was a teenager I was at a computer course with a range of students from other schools (yes those were the days before all schools had IT on the curriculum).  How well I remember the first afternoon on that course when the guy sitting beside me started to sneeze and sneeze and sneeze.  Everyone turned round at different times to see who was sneezing and at one stage the teacher stopped talking to stare in our direction.








Later in the church I attended for many years there was this guy who once he started to sneeze seemed like he wasn't going to stop and everyone would start saying 




      

but would then get fed up after 3 or 4 times.


Everywhere I went this guy would be sneezing and people would always think he was coming down with a cold or flu or something worse and often he would get such bad looks from people.







Well, I suppose I'll have to admit that I was in lots of the same places as this guy because this was the guy that I fell in love with all those years ago (even with the sneezing power and volume).  


This is the guy I have been married to for almost 37 years and he still has a powerful sneeze and yes will still sneeze lots of times in a row.


I can recognise Fred's sneeze anywhere.  


And this sneeze has helped me out on several occasions.


Many times when we lived in America and would be in those really, really large superstores Fred would wander off to look at some of the things that interested him more than regular shopping did.
Then when I would be finished shopping and I was getting tired and just wanted to get through the checkout and go home I would not have a clue where he was. 


That's when his sneeze was a beautiful sound to my ear.


He would sneeze and I would hone in on his location, waiting of course until he was finished sneezing before I would actually join him because I'd rather avoid the stares and in some cases pitying looks of the people nearby.



Now you are probably thinking 


               "that's ok he's her husband, she's with Him all the time so of course she'll know the sound of him" 


and yes that is my point


I know my husband really well and the rest of my family really well.

You will know your family really well too!


BUT


Can we recognise the Holy Spirit's prompting anywhere?   anytime?

Do we know the Holy Spirit well enough to know how He works through each of us personally?



I know my husband well enough because I have known him for many years and because I spend a lot of time with him.


So when he sneezes 


I know from experience that he hasn't got those
 allergies that people will be absolutely certain he must have because he sneezed a lot in their presence.







I know the difference between the way he has always been or whether he is taking the flu.





I don't have to think twice or pose the question to myself "is that Fred or not?" when I hear his sneeze.


That is exactly how we should be about the Holy Spirit.

Even just recently I have found myself sitting thinking yet again
" is this the Holy Spirit talking to me or not?"

After all this time I should be more honed in to the way He talks to me, to the way He impresses things on my mind, to the sudden bits of information He gives me.
Yet still many times I will hesitate to step out and do what He wants me to do.

We shouldn't have to take time to ponder and try to work out if the Holy Spirit is speaking to us or encouraging us to so something because we should recognize His way of working in us.

How?

Well just what we do with our husbands and families.

Love them. 
Spend time with them. 
Be prepared to listen to them and not do all the talking ourselves.







No one can know your family better than you through all the years so in the same way no one is going to be able to tell you when the Holy Spirit is prompting you, only you can.


And if we can manage in OUR family where we ALL like to talk and butt in and add our piece to the conversation, then you can too.