Thursday, March 29, 2012

MORE THAN PREMONITION



“I had a feeling that this was going to happen… when the phone rang I knew it was over.”

Are you one of those people who have premonitions before something happens? 


Premonition can be described as that uneasy ‘gut feeling’ that a person feels before something terrible happens. They sense or feel dread prior to an event happening.

The Scriptures have many examples of people who felt more than premonitions. They heard God speak to them with messages of warning with the heartfelt language of the Almighty. These truth-tellers were called prophets.

Part of the Old Testament collection is divided into major and minor prophets, people that God specifically used to communicate with Israel, Judah and the surrounding nations.

They brought the words of a fiery, passionate God who was jealous for His people. Prophets were not moderate or politically correct. They often illustrated God’s message in shocking ways.

Others were showmen who made a living from entertaining religiously minded folks. These were false prophets who told people what they wanted to hear. The real prophets paid dearly for opening their mouths.

Kings and commoners feared them, sought their help and often ended up persecuting them.

Monday, March 26, 2012

THE REVIVAL HAS NOT DIMINISHED




The Pentecostal and charismatic revivals did not happen in isolation but as a continuation of all that God’s Spirit had been doing through the Church from ancient times. The gifts of the Spirit have erupted in various stages of church history.



With the revival outpouring on the heel of the Holiness revivals, Christ followers believed they were seeing the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy (Joel 2:28,29) when God would pour out His Spirit on all flesh.

When revival broke out in Los Angeles in 1906, no-one then would have comprehended that its effect would still be circling the globe and growing in 2012. They were certain that the Lord was going to return very soon and that there was an urgency to be witnesses of Jesus to all nations before the Lord’s return. The Pentecostal and subsequent charismatic revivals have refused to stay within denominational, cultural or economic boundaries. This new tribe of compassion entrepreneurs saw the need to go where God would send.

For most early Pentecostals, speaking in tongues was associated with spiritual power and with an anointing to serve rather than spiritual perfection. Although diversity characterized their beliefs and theology (Pentecostals ranged from Wesleyan-holiness, to Reformed, and Unitarian), Pentecostals were centered on soul-winning and perceived politics and national events to be dangerous diversions. But early Pentecostals were also both prohibitionists and pacifists (many chose Conscientious Objector status during WWI), and the early Pentecostal churches often stood in opposition to the prevailing contemporary attitudes toward wealth, recreation, and dress.
The interracial aspects of the movement in Los Angeles were a striking exception to the racism and segregation of the times. The phenomenon of blacks and whites worshipping together under a black pastor seemed incredible to many observers. The ethos of the meeting was captured by Frank Bartleman, a white Azusa participant, when he said of Azusa Street, "The color line was washed away in the blood." Indeed, people from all the ethnic minorities of Los Angeles, a city that Bartleman called "the American Jerusalem," were represented at Azusa Street.[i]

Today it estimated that there are close to 600 million people who identify themselves as being Pentecostal and/or charismatic. [ii] “It is the second largest sub-group of global Christianity.[iii]

The same Holy Spirit that raised Christ from the dead has come to dwell in you. It is entirely within God’s paradigm of normalcy for us to be filled with God’s Spirit. It is the plan of Jesus to fill you with the 3rd person of the Godhead.

We do not need to psyche ourselves into anything. We need to simply learn to wait in God’s Presence as the early believers did. They prayed, they worshipped and they waited until God moved.

Not surprisingly, the Presence of God is charged with His character and power. Have you been empowered by the Holy Spirit?



Friday, March 23, 2012

THE PURPOSE OF THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT


As Jesus tells them that they are going to be baptized in the Spirit, the first followers immediately thought it had something to do with God restoring the nation of Israel to its rightful place as leaders in the ancient world. Their national dream was to rise as God’s Superpower in the world.

It’s interesting how quickly we assume that God has our agenda in his heart. From their history and experience, the early followers believed that a better position for their people and better government would bring peace on earth.

Jesus had something else in mind. The gift of the Holy Spirit would be an act of empowerment. The believers would not the beneficiaries as much as they would be the ambassadors. This gift would energize them for something bigger than their own identity and religious ideals.


Acts 1:8 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.

To be Jesus’ witness means to give compelling testimony to the truth. The Holy Spirit would empower believers to present convincing evidence of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. The witness would extend beyond cultural and language barriers. When the promise of the Father came in the upper room (Acts 2), the miracle of tongues happened.

All the centuries of cultural dissonance and confusion that began at the Tower of Babel, was suddenly being reversed as people spoke in someone else’s language.

As miraculous as it is to speak a language you never learned and to be understood; it is just as remarkable to think that God’s Spirit would allow us to communicate as a witness of Jesus to people that we have nothing in common with.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A SECOND BAPTISM



Acts 1:5  For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.


The first baptism of a believer is through the medium of water and involves a human baptizer. John’s baptism in water was a common experience of the earliest disciples. After Christ ascended, the early church baptized followers in symbolic reference to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

Jesus was about to leave the earth and wanted to ensure that his followers were immersed in God’s Spirit. The Holy Spirit would be the earthly representative of the Godhead alive within each disciple.

This second baptism did not use water. The immersion would be into God’s Spirit. While human hands would be involved in prayer to receive the Holy Spirit, Jesus would be the baptizer. Acts 2 and a handful of other accounts tell of the early church members being baptized in the Holy Spirit. Not only did people become disciples in an act of conversion, they experienced a second event where they were baptized in the Holy Spirit.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

STAY WHERE YOU ARE



Acts 1:4 “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about…


There is something valuable about learning to stay where you are and wait. God will do things that you might miss if you leave. Moving would come later for many of the tribe of Jesus. But before being sent or being forced to move, they had to learn how to settle in and wait.



Jesus had spoken of the Father giving them a gift. In the same teaching about the Lord’s Prayer he indicated that God wanted to impart the Holy Spirit to them.


Luke 11:
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”


If we are to receive gifts, we need to ask and we need to wait patiently for their giving.



Wednesday, March 14, 2012

THE WORLDWIDE PHENOMENA OF THE HOLY SPIRIT



Speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy, miracles, healing, words of wisdom, words of knowledge, discerning of spirits, laying prostrate in the presence of God… real or fake? If they are real signs of God’s Kingdom, what place do they have in our lives today?


The Pentecostal/charismatic experience did not suddenly come upon the world but is found in the ancient church and scattered throughout the Old Testament.

You cannot read the Acts of the Apostles or the Pauline epistles without encountering a charismatic movement of God’s Spirit empowering and operating through the believers.

While some will contend that those events are only intended to happen for that apostolic age, many others believe that the Spirit is still active in the life of the Church today with signs and wonders.

Think about Luke, an ancient historian and physician who was raised with a Jewish history of God performing supernatural deeds. Luke was an educated man who observed much of the supernatural history through the lives of Jesus and his followers. He could not be discounted as being illiterate or careless about detail.


Acts 1:
1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 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. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
 6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 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.”


When pastors change churches there is a human tendency to compare that new one to the old one. If the first had a great history and brought life to the congregation, the one following will have a tougher time getting the acceptance afforded to the first.

Can you imagine how people felt when Pastor Jesus was leaving? Fortunately, he was replaced by the Holy Spirit and not by one man. No one has surpassed the greatness of Jesus’ leadership, but there are generations of followers who have learned from his ways. In his concluding remarks as their pastor, Jesus gave specific instruction to the first followers.



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