The Day of Pentecost (Festival of Weeks)

Repentance is not a single event but rather a point of crisis along with a continuing relationship choice. Repentance is part of a Christian’s regular spiritual life and routine. When you repent of something, regardless of what it may be, you turn away from it and choose another, better path.

Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. 5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?
11 b, we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

Our lives in Christ are important to God, which is why He sent His Son to take the punishment for our sins and die on the cross so that we might be able to receive forgiveness through Jesus. The only requirement on our part..that we have to do is to repent and ask for the forgiveness that has been provided. Now, some might say that they don’t feel compelled to repent of anything in their life so why should they? In that instance, either you are not ready or it isn’t the time yet for your spirit to be called. Which doesn’t mean that you are not wanted by God, He is just waiting until the time, His time, is right. He alone knows when that may be, although you can still pray and ask Him into your life. You will not be refused.

God never will turn away a sinner who asks from their heart and truly repents of things that they know that they have done. It is not a one-time event in your life, just as changing the oil filter on your car isn’t a onetime maintenance item either. We are all sinners and we do it on a daily basis. Nobody is exempt from this fact, even Jesus was tempted but He didn’t sin. What can we do about those temptations? Are we able to control them and ourselves? In many instances, no we are not able to do this with our own strength. But God provided us with the same Spirit that was given to Peter and the disciples that day, which will enable us to resist temptation.

Many people think that He didn’t sin because He was God in the flesh, but it was because He yielded His will to God each and every day..every minute. This is what we are supposed to do, but many think that once they have given their life to Christ, they don’t have to do anything else. If you don’t do anything else, your life won’t really change at all from what it was before you accepted Christ.

Then you will be counted among the hypocrites because you didn’t allow the Holy Spirit which you received to really change your life. This is why there are so many who are not in church, they know the Truth, they may have accepted Christ but they have not followed through with Bible study, daily prayer asking for strength to get through the day, etc. The spiritual fire that some have and many do not and the reasons for the difference is found in that, follow through. The gospel could be preached simply by saying “Believe in Jesus who was sent to die for your sins and ask Him to come into your heart and cleanse you from your unrighteousness”. One sentence, but without prayer and study of scripture allowing you to get to know God, what will change in your life?

William Blake wrote a poem about Pentecost and a few lines from that poem read:

Unless the eye catch fire, God will not be seen.
Unless the ear catch fire, God will not be heard.
Unless the tongue catch fire, God will not be named.
Unless the Heart catch fire, God will not be loved.
Unless the mind catch fire, God will not be known.

We are to be on fire for our Lord because He came down to us. We are to be on fire for God because a part of Him resides within each person who has accepted Jesus as Savior. If we are not on fire for God, why not? Do you not realize that the Creator of the universe came to earth specifically for each person here? Not only here in this church building, but all people are the ones that He came for, whether they know Him or not at this moment or even whether they care that He loves them, he still came.

I have seen a book called “gods at war” and it is written by a pastor who teaches a study based on it. The problem is that there are no gods at war, there is only one God, all these others are inventions of men. These man-made gods cannot fight with the One True God. They have no power because they are man’s imaginings of the “god” that he wishes to be the true god.

Even many people who are in church do this. You may hear people say that “My god would never condemn someone to hell”; in fact, it is not God that condemns people to that place but we ourselves.

Getting back to the day of Pentecost, those who heard the sermon in their own language wondered what they must do when confronted with the truth of Jesus. Peter answered them and said that they must repent of their ways and be baptized. We can do no less than this.

Are you content in your life? Are you satisfied that you are in a right relationship with our Father in heaven? Many people are and the truth of it will condemn them. They are like the Pharisees, they see no need to repent because their religion and their practice of it feels just fine. As time and our lives will show that one day every person will bow before the King of Kings and we will all be shown the truth of our life. What kind of truth will your life show you?

 

The Bible, God’s Word

I watched the entire series on the History Channel this past month and I was impressed. They didn’t make fun of it or anything in it and it got some people interested in the Word of God, so it accomplished what it was supposed to.

Many people don’t think that the Word is viable today because of its age but no one questions college professors when they assign the Iliad and it is an ancient story too. There are fewer actual copies of it than there are of the Bible, yet there are many people who still don’t think that the Bible is true. The reason behind this is easy to find and it starts in the first book of the Bible, Genesis.

Satan tempted Adam and Eve and got them to rebel against a command that God had given them, ever since then there have been questions about the veracity of the words contained in it. Yet, the prophecies in the Old Testament have nearly all came true. The ones concerning Jesus were fulfilled when He came and through His teaching, and crucifixion and resurrection they were verified. Whether people choose to believe is totally under their own control.

For many people, I think it is their ability to choose that is the stumbling block in their ability to follow Jesus. We like having the freedom to choose but it is used against us because our nature chooses not to follow Christ until we have come to a point where we know that we can’t control our lives on our own anymore. Some people choose to use drugs or alcohol to numb their perception of life, but this is only a temporary, chemical induced feeling and it doesn’t last.

The Bible shows us that people tend to choose their own ways over the ways of God and following Him. All through the Old Testament, Israel would choose to follow God until things started going good, then they would turn to whatever the people surrounding them were worshiping. At which point, God would send someone like the Babylonians or Assyria to take them as slaves until they decided that they needed God again.

In our technological lives today, we don’t see the need for God and His Word until there is a real turning point in our life brought on by something in our life like a death in the family or cancer that comes suddenly to our attention. When these things happen, we realize that we need someone who can do something about this and for many people that someone is God. Doctors can’t cure everything and many times the treatment for cancer is worse than the disease since it poisons not only the cancer cells but the rest of the body as well.

Can we trust God’s Word? Absolutely! Because it has been proven by archaeology and history and by prophecy that has come true. The New Testament shows the beginnings of the church after Christ went back to the Father and yet He said that He would return one day. With few exceptions, most of the prophecies concerning the beginning of the “end times” have already come to pass. Israel being a country again and the language of the Jewish nation being spoken again after over one thousand years of being “lost” are but two of the prophecies that have been fulfilled in the past one hundred years.

The Bible is a great book of literature but it is also a collection of stories written at the prompting of God’s Holy Spirit. The reason that I say this is because of the way it is arranged and how many authors are involved in it. The Bible spans more than three thousand years, has sixty-six books written by over forty authors from all walks of life and yet they all point to Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection at one point or another in each book, and toward His second coming from the point of the prophetic books of which most were written at least four hundred or more years before He was born!

Read it, study it but don’t discount it. The Bible is and has been the most important book in the history of mankind and until Jesus comes to set up His kingdom on this earth it will remain so.

Religion may not be good for you!

In Paul’s day and in our own time, people keep traditions alive and you hear “that’s the way it has always been done”, as proof of their Christian lives and their beliefs as well as the “proof” of their conversion. We see people in church as well as on the street that we know as “church people”, meaning that they are in church every time that there is something going on there. It could also mean that they volunteer in church to drive the bus or to help in the nursery or any number of duties. These people feel sanctified and saved because of their deeds or their work for the church and they may be, but what about the Person that they are serving? Are they working for Jesus or themselves?

In Paul’s day there were many who were “religious”, all of the priests, the Pharisees and Sadducees were religious and yet Jesus condemned them. They were convinced that they were right and everyone else was wrong and they would not listen to any “new” teaching. They were stuck in the past with all of their laws and rules and they had hardened their hearts against anything new.

Do you know people like that? I do, but what can you or I do about it? We can’t change them because they don’t listen or won’t listen just as those in Jesus’ time wouldn’t. So what can we do? Love them, and pray for them daily.

In reference to the title of today’s sermon, there will be many people in hell who are or were religious while they were here and they were that way their whole life. They were convinced that their way was right and that they were doing things right, so what happened? They weren’t shown the error of their ways? Maybe or maybe they just didn’t listen or really hear sermons which they attended. When your ears are closed to Christ and His way of living, your heart is too. So how do you get people like that to listen? By prayer and fasting. Even Jesus said that some problems can only be solved by prayer and fasting.

I am not speaking of fasting for forty days or even two weeks, but if there is someone that you love who hasn’t given their lives and their hearts to Jesus then pray for them and fast for one day! Drink water and juice during that time and pray.

Their life will be impacted and yours will too! God listens closely to those who combine fasting with prayer. The answer may not come immediately after the fast is over, but you can be sure that your prayer was heard!

When Paul wrote most of his letters to the different churches, he was usually in prison at the time. What does that say about his ministry? It says that it was effective for one thing because he was getting someone’s attention! He was striving for the prize, but what was that prize? The prize that Paul was striving for was to be more like Jesus and if it meant that he was stoned or imprisoned for the teaching that he was doing then so be it! The prize that Paul was seeking was also to be considered worthy of being a “good and faithful servant” to his Lord, which is something that we should also be striving for.

To live for Christ and with Him in your daily life is a conscious decision that has to be made daily. It doesn’t automatically happen when you accept Him as your savior. Many people think that once you have accepted Him into your heart, you have done your part. That is not where your part in your new life ends but where it begins! You have to decide every day to take Christ with you everywhere you go! And if you wouldn’t take Jesus there in person, then you shouldn’t be there either!

That is a radical concept for many people to accept even Christians who have been in church most of their lives. You can get up and have a bad day and from that point you may un-invite Christ or decide not to ask Him to be with you that day. Of course He will still be there but you may not know it because you choose not to recognize Him. We are supposed to know and come to know Him daily because of Who He is and what He did for us and yet we sometimes choose not to allow Him to be a presence in our daily life.

Why would you decide such a thing? The Creator of everything wants a relationship with you and everyone else in the world, doesn’t that sound cool?! We are enamored with all sorts of celebrities and sports figures and would enjoy spending time with them so why not be just as excited when the Creator wants to be in your life and share it with you? The disciples had that relationship for about three years and yet they didn’t fully comprehend it until He ascended to the Father. We have the Bible, God’s Word, to tell us all that we need to know about Him and about the Father and we have the Holy Spirit to guide us daily in our walk with Him, what more could you ask for?

Our world and the one who influences people everyday tries to tell us that the things of this world, right now are more important than anything we could have with Jesus in our lives. Money, power, and possessions are all temporary because when our life is over those things won’t mean anything. Some of them may have sentimental value to our family but other than that, nothing in this world makes the trip past death’s door only your soul and spirit do that.

The way that many people see being a Christian is that we live with lots of rules and regulations about what we can and cannot do. That is not the way this works! Following Christ and keeping our eyes on Him, spiritually and physically is the requirement that we should live with every day. It is not hard to follow Christ, once you get the hang of it. The hard part is the tug of war between your old self and the new one that now lives in your heart.

Until your faith in Christ can keep your new self in place and kick the old one out, you will be in turmoil because you can’t serve them both. It is a decision that you have to make every day. Get up with Christ on your mind, not what am I going to do today? But Who am I going to be with today? Am I going to go back to doing the things that I did before I met Jesus? Or am I going to read the Bible a few minutes and pray for strength and guidance from Him to carry me through the day?

We are living this life to get ready for the next but you have to make sure that you are going to have a life, a real life, after this one. Many people think that there is no life after this one and the Bible says just the opposite from beginning to end. Give yourself a chance to experience that life because the alternative is eternal separation from loved ones who are in heaven and from the love of God too. The only chance that you have to make this decision is during this life, now. Once this life ends, there are no “second chances”. Ask Jesus into your life, follow Him every day, learn about Him and the love that He has for you during the time that you have now.

The universe shows us every day the power and majesty of God so we are without excuse when someone asks if there is a God. Isn’t it wonderful that the Creator of everything wants to know you and have a relationship with you? Don’t you want to know Him too? All you have to do is ask Him into your life and your heart and you will have that relationship.

Can we ignore the world?

It says in the Bible that we are not to be part of the world, and yet we are supposed to take Christ‘s message to all of the world. Kind of contradictory isn’t it? Not really, but we can’t let the world and the things in the world affect our life and our witness to those who may not know Christ. How can we do this?

We can’t do it on our own strength or with our own power because Satan and his demonic forces are far more powerful than we are without Jesus in our life and our heart. Without Jesus, it is impossible for us to do good outside the influence of evil. Regardless of how good we think that we are or can be, we cannot withstand the influence of the principalities and powers that Satan has at his disposal.

The reason behind your failure to withstand him is that he hates you with an undying hatred! The reason for this is that he knew that God intended to put humanity above angels in the hierarchy of Heaven one day. That is the one reason beyond pride that Satan had for his rebellion. Everything else pales in comparison and he intends to do everything that he can to corrupt as much of God’s creation as possible.

So, in a word, no we cannot ignore the world! It would be very dangerous to do so because he is the ruler of this world and ignoring the world would be just what Satan wants, in a sense. He doesn’t want to be ignored, but if enough people regard him as a myth or a fairy tale then they won’t know to defend themselves from his attacks or even know that they need to.

Many Christians don’t even know that they need to take care of the thoughts that they have and give them to Jesus. To walk with Jesus on an hourly basis is the only way to defend yourself and if you choose not to be that close with Him then Satan can get into your life, even if you go to church. Mainly because he is there too! He and his demons are in every congregation in the world. They never miss a Sunday or a Sabbath, yet many don’t have any idea that they are there.

When you give your heart to Jesus, He comes in and cleans out anything that has been there before and makes you into a new creation! Your heart becomes the temple for the Spirit to live and work in and through you and for you. When this happens, your life can have so much more meaning not only for you but for God too.

Making Jesus the Lord of your life makes you one of His disciples and they were able to do many glorious, miraculous things as long as their trust and their faith stayed focused on Him. Can we do the same? Yes, we can if we truly believe in Him and repent of our old ways and truly change. Don’t go back to the same places that you went to before, make new friends and tell your old friends that you are a new person!

Take them to church with you and introduce them to your Savior so that they will come to know Him. God loves them, they just have to realize it and accept His love and grace and they will become part of His family too!

What about atheism?

Is is possible to believe in nothing or no one but yourself? It seems that it is in the culture that we live in today.

The number of books on the rejection of religion and God has exploded in the past few years. Is this something which could have been foreseen? Yes and it was foretold but there are many who have refused to teach or preach on this subject.

Your life and mine would never have happened if God did not exist. Chance and accidental combinations of chemicals can produce nothing. If that were possible, Europe and all of the countries and towns that were bombed during WWII would have never had to rebuild. The pieces would have flown apart and rearranged themselves and all would have been as it was.

Chaos does not create order, it destroys it by rearranging order into disorder. It seems that it would take an awful lot of faith in accidental order causing what we see in the universe. Is it possible that all of the whole cosmos came from an explosion with no intelligence directing it? According to scientists in our day and time, it is possible because natural forces would take all the matter from that explosion and arrange it where it needed to be. But..what about you, the fish in the ocean, the bacteria that live in total darkness at the scalding vents in the ocean, the redwood trees? These did not come about by accident and they did not evolve over millions or billions of years. The Creator, God, created those and many more. He is the “director” of the universe.

He is the one who put you together in your mother’s womb to be the person that He knows that you can be. Not what society says or dictates but what God knows you can do and be in His kingdom! Since the world that we live in is part of His kingdom and everything in it belongs to Him, why not accept it? A belief in the existence of something does not dictate whether it exists or not. If it exists then your belief in it or not has no effect on its existence. We can’t change the way the universe is or the order of things just by our thoughts and feelings.

If that were the way that things worked, then we could choose not to believe in the tax code and just not pay our taxes and everything would be fine, right? No, because as rational people we have to go along with the laws in the country that we live in and belief in those laws has nothing to do with the consequences or whether we think they may be right or not.

The world that we live in was created by God and the laws of the universe were too. Regardless of your belief or unbelief in the existence of God, He is there and always has been. His love for each of us has been there from the beginning as well and your belief or not doesn’t change that. God did not trouble Himself when He created you or this universe because it was no trouble for Him at all! He spoke and the universe and most everything in it came into being. The only created being that He took time with was man and He didn’t have to do that, but He did. God used His hands and formed mankind out of the clay of the earth and blew into his nostrils the breath of Life. We hold a special place in creation because of that.

Belief or not doesn’t change it and never will. God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to take the sins and the punishment for them on Himself so that we could find grace in Him and put on His righteousness. He died and then rose again so that we will be able to have eternal life through Him, if we will just ask Him into our lives. Being saved by God’s grace through Jesus is our choice, just as believing in God or Jesus is a choice. The choice that you make will determine your place in eternity. Which choice will you make?

Do you know much about God?

First, I want to ask this question: How much do you know about God?

Do you know where to find this answer? The answer that most people give and the one that everyone thinks is the right answer is “in the Bible”. That is true, God reveals a lot about Himself in His Word.

Do you read it? I don’t mean a passage or two in church, I mean daily, with purpose. Asking Him questions about it while you read so that He can show you the meaning and the message that is meant for you in it.

Your salvation is linked to God’s Word because it was the Word made flesh that came to us as Jesus and died on the cross to save us. But, there are many people that just attend church and never look for more out of the scripture than what they get from the preacher. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to us from Genesis to the Revelation of Jesus Christ. It shows us His character and as much as we can handle on how He thinks about things.

God wants a relationship with you like the one that you have with your wife or husband. Let me tell you a story:

I read this testimony of an elderly missionary who was returning from the foreign field to the United States to live out the days he had left with his married daughter in the Midwest. Upon arriving on the California coast he boarded a bus to begin his trip across the country. The first night the bus stopped in Las Vegas. He had been out of the United States for more than thirty years. He had never been to Las Vegas. He checked into a hotel and took a walk down the strip. Although it was close to midnight, it looked like midday, because of all the lights. As he walked down the strip he heard the loud music, saw the amazing hotels, and even went to a car show where he saw the world’s finest automobiles. He saw the games being played in the casinos and heard the money coming out of the slot machines. He saw the marquees announcing the amazing entertainers. He saw the drink specials announced and the amazing food advertised in the restaurants. Eventually he went back to his room in the high-rise hotel where he was staying. He entered the room but didn’t turn on the light. He walked across the room and opened the curtains. In the quietness of his room he got on his knees in front of the window, looked down at the Vegas strip, then into the more impressive lights of the heavens, and prayed this prayer, “God, I thank you that tonight I haven’t seen anything I want more than I want you.”

Idleman, Kyle (2011-05-24). Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus

There is no greater testament of faith and love toward your Savior than that, and that is what He desires of you. Is it possible for us to have that kind of relationship with our Heavenly Father? Emphatically, YES! He created the entire universe for His glory and to tell His story to us even if we can’t read. God loves every person on earth and until they realize that, they are missing out on the relationship of their life.

Many people think that following Jesus is going to cut into their “fun stuff” but that depends on what their fun consists of.

Have you ever considered what Jesus meant when He said, in Luke 9:23, to “deny yourself and take up your cross daily and follow me?”

In denying yourself, you have to consider the relationship that Jesus’ disciples considered themselves having with Him. Which was that of a bondservant, one who serves out of love to his Master and not because he has to.

Regarding taking up your cross, Jesus is speaking of your burden or the sacrifice that you make in being a Christian.  To us, that means putting Him first and foremost in our daily life. We cannot do this in our own strength but through the power of the Holy Spirit we can and we must! The outside world, outside of the Church, only sees Jesus through us and our actions and when those actions don’t line up with what is considered Christian behavior the church gets a bad reputation. That is when you hear things like, “that is where all the hypocrites go, and I am not going there”.

It doesn’t take but one instance of someone seeing you or someone in the church or even in your family and the word will spread to the point of no one coming but the faithful few. In the times that we are living in, we can’t afford for the body of Christ to be divided or the world to see it that way. Satan loves it when there are divisions and strife in the Church because as long as we are dealing with problems, no matter how trifling they may be, we aren’t effective witnesses for Christ.

We can be better because we are new creatures in Christ and we must show that to the world. If you haven’t made that decision to follow Jesus please do so today. He is only a prayer away. Ask Him to come in because once He does and you start living a surrendered life daily, nothing will ever be the same.