Thursday, May 31, 2012


TEXT:  ACTS 10:34-48
34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)
37 That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;
38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:
40 Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;
41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.
42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.
43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

KEY TEXT: Acts 10:45 “…On the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost…”

It is difficult to describe the dramatic change—the total revolution—that occurred in Peter’s world from Joppa to Caesarea.  In Joppa his diet was changed.  All of his life Peter carefully avoided those meats that were forbidden to the Jews in the Torah. While praying God showed him a vision of “unclean meats” and declared, “What God has cleansed, do not call common!”  (Acts 10:15). Three times the vision was repeated.  Peter would never eat the same.

Peter was still lost in reverie when the servants of Cornelius, a Roman Centurion, knocked at the door.  They asked Peter to return with them to Caesarea.  Gentiles were asking.  All of his life Peter carefully avoided associating with Gentiles.  They were unclean.  Heaven spoke again.  Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them. (Acts 10:20).

When Peter arrived in Caesarea he went directly to the home of the Centurion.  Cornelius warmly greeted the Apostle and introduced him to his invited family and friends: “we [are] all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.   (Acts 10:33)

Peter began, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. (Acts 10:35)  If his diet was changed in Joppa, his bias was changed in Caesarea.  For an orthodox Jew this was not simply evolutionary, this was revolutionary. 

Peter preached Christ! 

Christ “Lord of all,” (Acts 10:36),
Christ “anointed with the Holy Ghost and power” (Acts 10:38),
Christ “healing all that were oppressed of the devil,” (Acts 10:38),
Christ “hanged on a tree,” (Acts 10:39),
Christ “raised up the third day,” (Acts 10:40),
Christ “the judge of the quick and the dead,” (Acts 10:41),
Christ the “fulfillment” of prophecy (Acts 10:43), and
Christ the Savior of “whosoever believeth in Him!” (Acts 10:43).

While Christ was exalted by the Apostle, the Holy Ghost fell upon all of them who heard the word. (Acts 10:44). It was the same Spirit that baptized the Jewish believers at Jerusalem. 

Peter and the the Jewish believers with them were amazed as the Gentile believers spoke in tongues and magnified God. (Acts 10:46) Confirmed in the faith, Peter baptized them in the name of the Lord.

To the skeptical—dare we say critical--Jewish Christians at Jerusalem, Peter explained his vision and the conversion of the Gentiles.  I love his summation: “What was I, that I could withstand God?” (Acts 11:17) 

At Pentecost in Jerusalem his heart was changed.  At Joppa his diet was changed.  At Caesarea his bias was changed.  And somewhere between Caesarea and Jerusalem His perspective changed. The work of God would not be done Peter’s way. This was God’s work.  And God’s work is done God’s way by God’s Spirit.

PRAYER: Our Father in Heaven, We come into your presence, encouraged by the sense of Thy Spirit, blessed by the knowledge of your love expressed for us in Christ, and comforted by the great faithfulness of our infinite God.  We pray that thy Spirit would direct our paths.  Shatter those man-made or self-made preconceptions that hinder the free working of thy Spirit.  We give to Thee our bodies, our souls, our substance, our fame, our friends, our liberty, and our lives.  May we be wholly and holy Thine.  In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen. “Our Father, &c.”

Saturday, May 26, 2012



Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.
And there was great joy in that city.
But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:
10 To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.
11 And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.
12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
13 Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.
14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.
24 Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.
25 And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.

KEY TEXT: Acts 8:8 “…There was great joy in that city…”

Soon after Pentecost, the Christians at Jerusalem scattered throughout Judea and into Samaria to escape persecution.  Everywhere they went they preached the word. It was happening just as the Lord Jesus said it would happen, “ye shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.”  (Acts 1:8).

When the Philip arrived in Samaria to preach Christ the people were thrilled. So much so that the Scripture records, “There was great joy in that city.”   No wonder.  The Samaritans were scorned by the Jews in Judea and Galilee.  The Samaritans were a mixed race—both Jewish and Gentile blood flowed in their veins. History records that the Jews in Galilee would walk an extra 20 miles just to avoid walking through Samaria on their way to Jerusalem. But the Gospel of the Lord Jesus shattered those old prejudices.
Just as the Jewish Pentecost was confirmed by supernatural signs, the Samaritan Pentecost was accompanied by miracles and signs.  Once again powerful Christ-centered messages were preached.  Once again the people were convicted, convinced, and converted. Dr. Luke, who wrote the book of Acts, records that both men and women were baptized. In the Kingdom of Christ the testimony of men and women would be received and honored.  Another old prejudice was demolished by the Gospel.

Why were the Apostles called from Jerusalem to lay hands on the Samaritan believers?  Had they not received the Holy Ghost when they were converted?  We are sure that if they were born of the Spirit, adopted into the Kingdom of Christ, they certainly had His Spirit within them.  “If any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.”  (Romans 8:9)  Both John Wesley and Adam Clarke contend that it was by the laying on of hands that the Samaritans were endowed with the gifts of the Spirit.  Wesley wondered if “sanctifying graces” may also have been imparted.

What is certain is that this Spiritual endowment was not for sale!  When Simon, a recent convert to Christ, offered to pay the disciples for the ability to transmit this gift, Peter looked him in the eye and sentenced him: Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. (Acts 8:20-22). 

Reading Peter’s rebuke of Simon makes us wonder how the disciple would react to the crass commercialization of contemporary Christianity.  Actually we have no doubt.  His sentence would again be, “thy heart is not right in the sight of God.”  May God purify our heart of all that is “not right in the sight of God.”  We pray that we will be numbered among “the pure in heart,” that “see God.” (Matthew 5:8).

PRAYER: Our Father in Heaven, How thankful we are that the Gospel of Christ is not bound by the prejudices of men.  We thrill to know that your love is still reaching and your power is still transforming people on every continent and in every nation.  May we follow in the footsteps of the first Christians who were scattered abroad preaching Christ.  May Thy Kindom come, Thy will be done!  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen. “Our Father, &c.”



TEXT:  ACTS 2:1-16
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,
10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,
11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?
13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.
14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.
16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;

KEY TEXT: Acts 2:16 “…This is that…”


Fifty days after the first Passover, God called Moses to the top of Mount Sinai.  There He wrote His Law on tablets of stone.  “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.  Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image… Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain…”  That was the first Pentecost (literally “fiftieth day.”)  For centuries the Jews remembered Pentecost as the day God gave them His law.

Fifty days after our Lord’s last Passover (remember Jesus died on the eve of the Jewish Passover), the disciples were together praying in Jerusalem when they were filled with the Holy Spirit.  It happened suddenly and in a moment. They heard a sound like a rushing mighty wind, flames appeared over their heads, and the disciples began to preach and teach in at least 15 different languages. 

Peter stood to preach to the thousands of Jews that came running from all across Jerusalem to see what was happening.  Many had come from around the world to celebrate the Jewish Pentecost—the giving of the Law. When some accused the disciples of being drunk, Peter declared, “These are not drunk, it is only 9 o’clock in the morning.”  Turning the congregation’s attention to the Scriptures, Peter explained, “This is that which was spoken of by the Prophet.” 

The prophesies of Pentecost, faithfully recorded in the Old Testament were specific.  Joel saw the day when “your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,” “upon my servants and my handmaidens will I pour out of my Spirit,” and “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Joel 2:28-32). 

The Lord showed Ezekiel that the day would come that His people would have a new heart and a new spirit.  25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. 28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.”  (Ezekiel 36:25-28)

But it is the prophecy of Jeremiah that captures our spirit.  Writing centuries before the Christian Pentecost, he forsees a time when God would write His law in the hearts of His people. “33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jeremiah 31:33-34)

We thrill at the sights and sounds of the first Christian Pentecost, but it is the profound and radical spiritual dimension of Pentecost that is most amazing.  On the first Pentecost the law of God was written by God on tablets of stone.  On the first Christian Pentecost, the law of God was written by the Spirit of God on the hearts of God’s people. 

The writer to the Hebrews affirms that the New Covenant—delivered and sealed by the Holy Spirit-- was in fact a fulfillment Jeremiah’s prophecy!  (Hebrews 8:10,11). 

How wonderful.  How marvelous.  The Law of God is now written in our hearts so that we serve Him in holiness and righteousness, not out of servile fear, but with hearts that are filled with love for God and the knowledge of His “good, acceptable, and perfect” will. 

That man is truly free who knows the will of God, desires to do the will of God, and without resistance or hesitance freely and willingly obeys the will of God. They who are born of the Spirit, who are filled with the Spirit, and who walk in the Spirit are truly free!  We serve God because we love Him.  “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost who is given unto us.” (Romans 5:5)

If your heart craves the love and joy and peace of the Spirit-filled:
“Pentecost can be repeated, for the Lord is just the same,
Yesterday, today, forever, Glory to His precious name!
Saint’s of God can be victorious, over sin and death and hell,
Have a full salvation, and the blessed story tell!”

PRAYER: Our Father in Heaven, We read in thy Word, “Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, today, and forever!”  The fact that your holy character never changes, your holy love never subsides, and your Holy Spirit never fails, brings great comfort and courage to our hearts today.  We pray that the Spirit of Pentecost would fall fresh upon us.  We pray that the Spirit that raised up Jesus from the dead would warm our cold hearts and revive our feeble souls. May that Spirit so fill us with the sense of God’s blessing that there would remain none of sin’s cursing.  Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on us!  In Jesus name, Amen. “Our Father, &c.”