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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Rainbow (photo by Ester)
Ester took this photo last Monday evening from our church entrance.

"Happy Birthday Church!"

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"At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren, a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together" (Acts 1:15).  When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place" (Acts 2:1). "For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself" (Acts 2:39).

What is the most famous event you've ever attended? Brooksyne and I have been to a lot of places and done a lot of things but we don't believe any of these events will hold great historical significance to future generations. Today let us consider an event that took place 2,000 years ago that was celebrated this last Sunday all over the world, The Day of Pentecost, which is wholly significant to the birth of the Christian church.

On Sunday morning I taught a Sunday School class and, in the course of teaching, we considered those who might have been among the 120 persons in the Upper Room. Since Pentecost is regarded as the birth of the Church we might consider these followers to be the pre-church. At Longwood Manor Sunday afternoon several "Happy Birthday" balloons were attached to the dining table centerpieces and I teasingly asked residents, "Are these for the church!"

Following the Ascension they gathered in the Upper Room. The Bible tells us who some of them were; "Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. 
At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together)" (Acts 1:13-15). Apart from being together praying their only order of business was selecting a replacement for Judas.

The named individuals account for a small percentage of the one hundred and twenty so we are left to wonder who else was there. Was Lazarus there along with his sisters Mary and Martha? Was Zaccheus with them? What about Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimethea? Of course we are not told but it seems to me to be a reasonable conjecture that some of the same people that Jesus healed and delivered and interacted with during His ministry would be among them.

The initial one hundred and twenty expanded rapidly that day following the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Empowered by the Spirit Peter preached the Gospel and this glorious promise: "For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself" (Acts 2:39).

That day some 3,000 souls were added to the church, I suppose those we would call the original charter members. Interestingly soon thereafter many were also added to the church who were not present in Jerusalem. Following the powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit many signs accompanied such as miraculous healings and evil spirits were driven out of those who were possessed. Right in the midst of this exciting birth of the church persecution soon followed with the intent of silencing the gospel message of salvation.

In Acts 1 Jesus appeared to the apostles and gave them instructions about waiting in Jerusalem for the gift God had for them.  He instructs them in 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." The strategy of how to reach those all around the globe was not disclosed by Jesus, only that God wanted the gospel message to be spread "to the ends of the earth." Interestingly, right after Stephen was stoned, God used the persecution that Christians experienced to scatter them to other regions such as Phillip who left Jerusalem and headed north to Samaria where he witnessed to the Ethiopian eunuch and baptized him in water.

Where is God sending you today? Who do you know that has not heard or responded to the gospel message of salvation? As we pray and obey God makes a way for us to share His salvation message to those who need to hear it. 

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we are deeply moved within our spirit, as we consider the day of Pentecost when You presented Your gift from heaven, the blessed Holy Spirit, to the 120 in the upper room which marked the beginning of the early church. But even more personally You make the Holy Spirit available to all, in every generation, who come to You in faith, who surrender their hearts to You and forsake the ways of the world. The tongues of fire came upon those who gathered in the upper roon filling them with the Holy Spirit and they began to speak in tongues as Your Holy Spirit enabled them. May we also be yielded, open, and ready to receive the fullness of Your Holy Spirit so that we walk in the power of Your Spirit, boldly proclaiming the salvation message, "Jesus saves." Wherever You send us to share this message we're confident that You will prepare the way just as you did to the Ethiopian eunuch who was reading from Isaiah but needed a believer to explain more fully. You sent Philip at just the right moment and the eunuch was gloriously saved. We too can go forth in the same power with the same kind of opportunities as we prayerfully look for opportunities and obey the leading of Your Holy Spirit. In the name of Christ Jesus we pray. Amen.

Sunset 5/26/15 (Photo by Ester)

We just don't take our lovely sunsets for granted! Last night Ester snapped this photo of the sun framed between two distant trees.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Jesus Saves"  Video  Travis Cottrell

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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