The Ministry of the Spirit

  Job 9-10; Acts 13-14   “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabus and Saul for the work to which I have called them…’ The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit…The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabus, and expelled them from their region.” Acts 13:2, 4, 49, 50 The gospel spread throughout what is now Turkey as people listened to and obeyed the call of the Spirit to go and work with him.   Working with the Spirit includes sharing the words God gives, praying in his power to confirm his word, and enduring opposition and persecution. The enemy used “God-fearing women of high standing” in society to limit Paul’s and Barnabus’ ministry. We must guard our hearts against slander, judgmental attitudes, and fear, in order to avoid becoming instruments of the enemy who

The Prayer of Faith

Job 6-8; Acts 12   “So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him…‘Peter is at the door!’ ‘You’re out of your mind,’ they told her…” Acts 12:5, 14, 15 Why is it that we can pray earnestly for God to intervene in situations; yet when God answers that prayer, we fail to believe that it was his intervention that changed the situation? We pray for God’s healing, for employment, for reconciliation, for direction, and so many other things, but when we pray do we pray with faith believing? Without faith it is impossible to please God. We must engage our hearts and our wills in full surrender to God before faith will change how we pray. The prayers of faith appear to the unconverted mind as the delusions of someone “out of their mind”. That is precisely the point. Faith in God and in his promises is not rooted in the mind, but in the heart. We can believe God for the transformation of communities and peoples, and pray audacious prayers, because we know God’s

Even to Gentiles

  Job 5; Psalms 108; Acts 10-11   “The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God…So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life…The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” Acts 10:45, 46; 11:18, 26 The early Church was comprised only of Jews until the breakthrough revelation that God gave Peter, telling him to share the gospel in Cornelius’ house. The believing Jews who had traveled to Cornelius’ house with Peter were amazed that God had poured out his Spirit even upon Gentiles. In our day, where Gentile followers of Jesus are the vast majority of the Church worldwide, these exclamations of astonishment sound strange. Perhaps we have even developed a sense of entitlement concerning the gospel, rather than gratitude for God’s grace to us through Christ. It’s interesting to note that the clear evidence to the

God’s Purposes through Suffering

Job 3-4; Acts 8-9   “On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria…Saul began to destroy the church…Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went…‘Saul, Saul why do you persecute me?...I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting…’” Acts 8:1, 3, 4; 9:4, 5 The Holy Spirit-birthed celebration of the birth of the Church in Jerusalem shifted with the great persecution. Believers in Jesus were forced to flee for their lives; but with them, they brought the gospel of Jesus Christ. God uses persecution to scatter his people and advance his mission purposes to make disciples of all nations. There are few experiences that bring us deeper into identifying with Christ’s sufferings than persecution. As Christ’s Body, the Church is Christ’s representative on earth. When we suffer, Jesus feels the pain. Our persecution is Christ’s persecution. The suffering Church today is bearing witness

God’s Mission, Our Response

  Job 1-2; Acts 6-7   “I have indeed seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groaning and have come down to set them free. Now come. I will send you back to Egypt…You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!” Acts 7:34, 51 Stephen’s story of Israel’s history was a reminder that God’s eyes were on his people to save and deliver them repeatedly through the generations. Israel’s capacity to experience freedom was directly tied to their cooperation with God’s saving actions. The coming of Jesus was in a long line of God’s saving, redemptive activity.   Would Israel stiffen their necks, harden their hearts, and again resist God’s invitation for salvation by the power of the Holy Spirit? Stephen died for this pointed sermon. Are we willing to call our people to repentance for their stubborn, hardened hearts, even as we remind them of God’s saving activity and mercy to us through our histo

Tithing and the Glory of God

Malachi 3-4; Psalms 148; Acts 5   “…‘Return to me, and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty. But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’ ‘Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me…‘In tithes and offerings…Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing…Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,’ says the Lord Almighty.” Malachi 3:7-10, 12 Now a man named Ananias…sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself…‘you have lied to the Holy Spirit…’” Acts 5:1-3 Repentance, or returning to God, is practical and involves our time, our resources, and our priorities. The storehouse was the room in the temple used to store the tithes so that the priests could eat. The worship fires and incense were kept lit so the gatekeepers were supplied with food. Wh

Our Bodies as Temples of Worship

  Nehemiah 13; Malachi 1, 2; Acts 4   “Before this, Eliashib the priest had been put in charge of the storerooms of the house of our God. He was closely associated with Tobiah, and he had provided him with a large storeroom formerly used to store the grain offerings and incense and temple articles, and also the tithes…” Nehemiah 13:4, 5 “…Judah has desecrated the sanctuary the Lord loves, by marrying the daughter of a foreign god…guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.” Malachi 2:11, 15 Our lives – our bodies - are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We can bring defilement to the worship of God in our lives, or neglect to worship by giving place to the enemy through yielding to temptations related to greed, idolatry, lust, and other temple-defiling sins. Pornography is “marrying the daughter of a foreign god” and disqualifies us from true worship until we are cleansed. We must guard ourselves and apply Christ’s victory on the cross over sin. We mu