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Sermons

‘Honest to God’ Acts 5

Rev. Con September 12, 2016 Sermons No comments

11th September 2016 Psalm 30 Acts 5 pt 1
I am sure that we have all heard the phrase ‘honesty is the best policy’. Over the years I have seen a little lie turn into a mountain of trouble I am sure that many of us have also witnessed this sort of thing.
How easy is it to maintain honesty and integrity? The dishonesty of many leaves us as cynics and causes us to no to trust. Over the years we have seen many in positions of honour and responsibility get undone by their dishonesty and greed.
There is also an atmosphere in the world that says it’s OK to lie steel and cheat as long as you don’t get caught. Many years ago, a Federal politician whom I was acquainted with was caught doing the wrong thing, he lost is portfolio, rightly so- his complain over the media was that someone in his party dobbed him in! There was no remorse or contrition, or an apology.
It is interesting that history is often rewritten to suit the truth of those who are in power. There are two principles in life that I firmly believe.
1. The truth will always come out in one form or another.
2. The Person who truly seeks reformation should never be afraid of the truth.
Years ago when I was young and an inexperienced pastor, I found myself in a very difficult situation. [I am sure that I may have told some of you this story before] Leonie and I were appointed to a joint parish in the Far North Coast; this was a Methodist Presbyterian venture. The year was 1977 and the congregation that we were appointed to was in turmoil. I was naive and young, I was only 24, I was idealistic and inexperienced and I was bound to make mistakes. I lacked maturity and the wisdom that comes with age and experience. Bible College and education does not equip us with wisdom and maturity these things we have to learn the hard way.
God had blessed the ministry and the congregations under our care were growing, people had come to faith and lives and families had been changed, it was exciting times.
To cut a long story short, I found myself in the situation where the supervising minister who lived in Lismore had spoken to me about a complaint from the other denomination, something that I had done; this caused great difficulty between the two denominations.
“If this is true, said he, I will have to ask you to resign.” I was told. Being young and idealistic, I did not know what to do. So I went to the guy who was in charge of the other denomination. He asked me what I wanted, I said; “the truth, and if the whole truth condemns me so be it,” I knew that I was inexperienced and I also knew that I was not perfect, mistakes do happen. I will never forget the look on his face as he said: “I cannot do that”. I was devastated. I went back to my boss’s home in Lismore; it was a short drive from this guy’s place. When I arrived I was called into the office. Obviously I expected the worse, “Con you went and saw so an so, I just got off the phone with him, I do not know what you did or said, I would like to apologies for what I said to you, all is well.”
The truth
Today’s Bible readings are about TRUTH. God’s Mercy is bigger than any mistake that you’ve made.
• The truth of God’s love and forgiveness.
• The truth about sin and its consequences.
In our Psalm reading, the psalmist shares his heart and some great truths about God and His Love and restoration.
6 When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.” 7 LORD, when you favoured me, you made my royal mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed. 8 To you, LORD, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy:
The psalmist moves from a position of self-sufficiency to that of total reliance on God.
In Acts 5 the early church is experiencing growth, there are signs and wonders being performed, the apostles are able to speak with boldness.

There is a beautiful attitude of love for one another, even to the point of becoming self-sufficient. They held all things in common, they helped each other.
The church was an Island in a hostile world, a safe haven for the faithful.
Many had left the security of the Temple and Temple religion, to follow the Messiah.
They were exciting and frightening times!
Barnabas had taken the proceeds of the sale of his property and gave it to the apostles to use for ministry and others had followed suit.
Acts 5 tells of the story of one couple who sold a piece of land, and held back a portion.
This passage is not about giving, nor should it be used to speak about giving, there is a far great theme here.
You have lied to God.
3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”
Six helpful thoughts:
1. A challenge to be honest to God
2. Sin is God directed
3. When the dust settles down and the crisis is over, God will restore- For His Love Endures Forever.
4. Sin cannot keep us away from God.
5. The end result of this situation was that the church continued to grow.
6. Nothing is hid from God.

Acts 4:13-30 They met and they prayed

Rev. Con August 22, 2016 Sermons No comments

 

Rev Con Despinidic 24th August 2016′ ‘And they prayed’.

 

Last week:-  Psalm 127:1  “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stand guard in vain.”

The apostles sort to make the ‘main the main thing the main thing’.

Two things in particular caused a lot of trouble for the early Church.

  1. To say that the Lord Jesus is the WAY the TRUTH and the LIFE and to believe it with all one’s heart and conviction will profoundly affect every area of your life. To take Peter’s words to heart and act on them would be a radical thing. At the end of Peter’s sermon he makes this point very clear.

John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”   Acts 4:12

There was no compromise in Peter’s words.    It was belief in the Lord Jesus as the Messiah that set Peter and John on the road that they were travelling.

For Peter it was new and real. For us in the 21st Century it is the old Time Religion. I suppose the question must be asked.                                                                                                                                                Is the OLD TIME RELIGION relevant for the 21st Century?

There is an old song that goes something like this.

Refrain ’Tis the old time religion,[or Give me that old time religion] ’Tis the old time religion, ’Tis the old time religion, And it’s good enough for me.                                                  It was good for our mothers. It was good for our mothers. It was good for our mothers. And it’s good enough for me.

THE PERSON AND CHARACTER OF THE LORD JESUS IS THE VERY HEART OF THE GOSPEL.

Their authority was challenged, they knew too well by what name and by what authority Peter stood before them!

In this passage we are dealing with God’s Love, God’s Compassion and God’s Grace.  Peter was quick to respondNO THIS IS ABOUT THE LORD JESUS WHOM YOU REJECTED!

  • The gospel is preached as a result of God’s love, His compassion and forgiveness to all mankind!
  • Peter’s punch line was simple and clear and it was no appreciated! 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

The early Church did four things well .

  1. They devoted themselves to the Apostle’s teaching.
  2. Fellowship
  3. Breaking of bread.
  4. Prayer

Some may argue that there was no body of teaching and this was to be formulated as time went on,  there is a flaw in  this thinking- what was it that the Lord Jesus taught them during the three years He spent with them and for the 40 period after His resurrection. Remember at the end of Luke the Lord opened up the Scripture and explained them to the two on the road to Emmaus.

  • There was a body of teaching that the early church focused on. This teaching was consistent with the fulfilment of the OT prophecies and with the words of the Lord Jesus.
  • Fellowship was something that they did well, it went beyond the times on the Temple on the Sabbath and the firsts day of the week. The only way to really get to know people is to spend time with them- the life and depth of a congregation is seen not only in its teaching and teacher, it is seen in the depth of the love and fellowship that is obvious within that fellowship.
  • Breaking of bread, This was more than the Passover meal that the modern church has developed into communion- It was a family meal a time of fellowship, where the Lord Jesus was central- The bread and the wine symbolised the blood and body of Christ-
  • Prayer was a vital aspect of the fellowship of the Church; In today’s reading we come across another great passage of Scripture where prayer is vital.

Was it an act of desperation? There is nothing like a need that takes us to the Lord in Prayer.

Earlier I said that there was a body of teaching- this is seen in the Lord Jesus explanation of the OT Scriptures it is also seen in the Lord Jesus’s life and teaching- HE IS AN EXAMPLE FOR US TO FOLLOW- to imitate.

The Lord Jesus gave priority to prayer in His life.

Here is one way of explaining what prayer is; “Prayer is the expression of the human heart in conversation with God.”

Prayer is not easy; the disciplined prayer life requires effort.

Prayer is asking. In Matthew 7:7 the Lord uses the words, Ask,seek and knock. There is a progression of thought here. To ask may not be enough the individual needs to seek, then once the object is found one needs to knock. Our sincerity and tenacity is often put to the test.

Prayer is offering our desires to God.  In Romans 10:1 the apostle’s inner desire is expressed in his prayer.

Prayer is the means that God has provided for us to unburden to Him our desires. The Psalmist in Psalm 21:2 speaks of God giving him his ‘heart’s desire’.

Prayer is the surrendering of our minds. “Not My will be done prayed the Lord Jesus.

Prayer is being with God, not a word needs to be said. We can be still and just be in the Lords presence.

Prayer is conversation with God. Good conversation is two way.  It involves listening as well as talking. Active listening s important.

Prayer is not just asking.

Prayer is the way to peace. I Peter 5:7 “casting all your care upon Him”      John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, it is my own peace that I give you, I do not give it as the world does,”

Let us always be mindful:

  • God is present in prayer.
  • God wants us to pray.
  • We are not alone.
  • The Holy Spirit is present to assist us.
  • Let us enter into the presence of God with a holy boldness.                                                                     (contemplation s of a Country Pastor- Con Despinidic)

In Acts 4 we see the church come before the Lord in prayer, a prayer of thanksgiving an earnest and sincere prayer. May our prayer be one of thanksgiving and praise. May our prayers be sincere and earnest- may our prayers be an act of faith and trust in God the Father.

No other name Rev Con Despinidic 14th August 2016

Rev. Con August 15, 2016 Sermons No comments

Rev Con Despinidic 14th August 2016

Acts 4:1-12

Last week I left you with the question:                                                                                                                                               Has God got your attention?–                                                                                           God had got the attention of the crowd in Jerusalem; He got the lame man’s attention.

What I love about this passage is that Peter made the main thing the main thing- he took the emphasis of himself, of the healed man and directed the light on the Lord Jesus!

  • We are all in particular stage in our life as individuals.
  • We are a particular stage in our life as a church.

THE IMPORTANT THING IS TO MAKE THE MAIN THING THE MAIN THING AND FOCUSS OUR DIRECTION AND EFFORTS ON THE LORD JESUS, IN ALL THAT WE DO.

As we continue our journey in the book of Acts we will see that the church was about to go on a rollercoaster ride;

  • It was important that the foundations of what was about to take place were right.

Psalm 127:1  “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stand guard in vain.”

  • It is important to make the main the main thing the main thing! This is what the apostles sort to do.

Like the Lord Jesus, the Apostles were at loggerheads with conventional religion.

The religious institution had lost sight of the main thing. Instead of focusing on God and His commands, instead of being a wonderful light to the nations they became self-absorbed, self-centred they grabbed the privilege of being a special people, and took pride in themselves.

Life was tough- the nation had experienced great oppression; they lived life on a knife’s edge. They knew what it was like to be conquered and defeated all they had left had been their pride and their faith but this too corrupted.

  • ONE THING THAT THEY DID NOT UNDERSTAND WAS THAT WHAT MAY APPEAR AS DEFEAT MAY ACTUALLY BE A VICTORY IN GOD’S ETERNAL PLAN.

AS CHRISTIANS Our victory is in the Lord Jesus.

What may appear to be a great set back may only be a stepping stone; Josephs affirmation of faith is helpful here:

Genesis 50:20 (ESV)

20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

After having spent a night in prison Peter is again on his soap box, the message is simple,  “It is not me, it is not John, it is not this man- IT is the Lord Jesus!”

What do we know about these people?

There were rules and regulations that governed every area of their lives.

Here is a simple overview.

  • The ancient Jewish court system was called the Sanhedrin. The Great Sanhedrin was the supreme religious body in the land of Israel during the time of the Temple
  • It was made up of the leaders of Israel, Sadducees and Pharisees.
  • It was the final authority on Jewish law and any scholar who went against its decisions was put to death as a rebellious elder.
  • The Sanhedrin judged accused lawbreakers, it could not initiate arrests.  It required a minimum of two witnesses to convict a suspect. There were no attorneys. Instead, the accusing witness stated the offence in the presence of the accused and the accused could call witnesses on his own behalf. The court questioned the accused, the accusers and the defence witnesses.                                                                                                                               [By Shira Schoenberg, org]

The Lord Jesus was in constant conflict with the Sadducee s and Pharisees.

Peter and John are now brought before the Sanhedrin, they had the power of life and death, but this did not faze them.       

  • The SANHEDRIN was made up of Sadducee’s and Pharisees

The Sadducees:  http://www.gotquestions.org/Sadducees-Pharisees.

  • Aristocrats and the wealthy.
  • Held powerful positions, including that of chief priests and high priest, and they held the majority of the 70 seats of the Sanhedrin.
  • They worked hard to keep the peace by agreeing with the decisions of Rome. Survival was the game.
  • They were more concerned with politics than religion.
  • They were extremely self-sufficient to the point of denying God’s involvement in everyday life.
  • They did not believe in the resurrection of the dead.
  • They did not believe in the afterlife, holding that the soul perished at death.
  • They did not believe in the existence of a spiritual world, i.e., angels and demons.

The Pharisees

  • Were mostly middle-class businessmen
  • Were popular with the masses.
  • They accepted the written Word as inspired by God. (The Old Testament) They also gave equal authority to oral tradition. These traditions added to God’s Word. The Pharisees sought to strictly obey these traditions along with the Old Testament.
  • They believed that God controlled all things, yet decisions made by individuals also contributed to the course of a person’s life.
  • They believed in the resurrection of the dead.
  • They believed in an afterlife, with appropriate reward and punishment on an individual basis.
  • They believed in the existence of angels and demons.

Much of our theology is influenced by both of these groups.

NOW Let us have a look at this passage:

Acts 4:1,2 The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.

Why would this cause difficulty.

  1. They preached about the Lord Jesus, and His resurrection. It was the religious leaders that had Him crucified.
  2. The Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection! And Now Peter and John are proclaiming the resurrection of the dead. This Jesus, the Lord Jesus rose again from the dead!

 

If the Sanhedrin acknowledged that the Lord Jesus was the Messiah, they would be out of a job! It would turn their world upside down.

To say that the Lord Jesus is the WAY the TRUTH and the LIFE and to believe it with all one’s heart and conviction will profoundly affect every area of your life.

To take Peter’s words to heart and act on them would be a radical thing:

At the end of Peter’s sermon he makes this point very clear. 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

There is no compromise in Peter’s words.

It was belief in the Lord Jesus as the Messiah that set Peter and John on the road that they were travelling.

If nothing else the Apostles were not backward in being forward- they were always prepared to give an account of their faith. Both Paul and Peter instruct the church to do the same:-

1 Peter 3:15   “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

2 Timothy 4:2  Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.”

In this passage we are dealing with God’s Love, God’s Compassion and God’s Grace.

 The gospel is not preached because we want to improve our bottom dollar, it is not preached to big note ourselves or to hold up a way of life that we like.

  • It is not a catch cry that will win people to our cause.
  • The gospel is preached to proclaim the Day of the Lord!
  • It is preached as a result of God’s love, His compassion and forgiveness to all mankind!

Conclusion:

Peter’s punch line is simple and clear.

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

 

Has God Got Your Attention?

Rev. Con August 9, 2016 Sermons No comments

Rev Con Despinidic 7th August 2016

7th August 2016 Isaiah 53 Acts 3
Has God Got Your attention?
We continue our journey through the book of Acts: As we read through this wonderful book, we find that the early Christians were Excited, Enthused and Encouraged.
God’s presence in our lives should:

  • Excite and provoke us to service.
  • Enthuse and spur us to action.
  • Encourage and motivate us to thanksgiving.

Does God do today what He did through the Apostles 2000 years ago?

Personally I believe that He does. There are miracles happening every day of our lives. Not just the ones that we attribute to the wonders of science. For me a miracle is something that works outside the natural.
I often find myself praying that God would do something wonderful in a person’s life, asking for a miracle, a special healing, the turning of the tide in an individual’s life; something that would not normally happen if things were left to their own devices.
There are times when this is obvious and there are times when it is obvious this this does not happen.
As we read though Acts, in particular ponder on the events of this passage before us, it is obvious the disciples were:

  1. Excited,
  2. Enthused
  3. Encouraged.
  4. We also can see that they were energised by the Holy Spirit, there was a boldness and for some a fearlessness in the expression of their faith.
  5. There was also sense of urgency as if they were the only ones who had the message of salvation.
  6. A message that all should hear: a message that demands a response from those who heard it.

When I read through these verses the words of an old hymn come to mind, for this is what Peter wanted the crowd to understand.
“To God be the Glory great things He hath done”:- 12 When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?
Don’t look at us, or the man says Peter, this is God’s doing.
This was a miracle something out of place, it was not normal. This healing drew a crowd, many wondered how this could be, or whether it was the man they knew.
I am sure that most people knew who Peter and John were. This miracle took place on the east side of the temple, it was there where the Lord had ministered, it was also there where the early church would pray and worship.
In Peter’s first sermon he challenged the concept that the believers were drunk- he also took his hearers back to the Old Testament as a proof of what had happened.

  • In this sermon he wanted the crowd to understand that what had happened could only be attributed to God. It was not the power of Peter and John.
  •  He also makes it very clear that whatever faith this man had it came from the Lord Jesus. . 16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.

THREE things are evident:
1. The lame man had to acknowledge the Lord Jesus,
2. He also had to exercise personal faith in the Lord Jesus,
3. It is the Lord Jesus who takes that small seed of faith and turns it into something beautiful and something good. “It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.” (VS 16)

I love that for it doesn’t completely depend on me; it was, it is the Lord Jesus’s name and the faith that come through Him.

  • I am forgiven; I am saved, yes even healed, not because of the preacher, or my will power or faith, but because of the Lord Jesus.
  • It is when we rely on these things, the externals, our circumstances, others and the trappings are around us that we can be so easily led astray and distracted.
    Peter points out that the Old Testament is fulfilled.
  • He reminds his hearers that they rejected the Lord Jesus and sort His crucifixion!
  • Words are important things, manes and titles also have power; Peter uses a number of titles, names, to get his message across- to us they may be cause for misunderstanding, for his audience they knew too well of Whom he was speaking: God’s Son, Jesus, The Holy one, the Just One, the author of life.
  • The cross was their answer, the ultimate rejection of God’s plan-
    THE EMPTY TOMB WAS GOD’S REMEDY and RESPONSE TO THEIR REBELLION.
  • This healing was proof that the Lord Jesus was alive. In such a public place, in such a dramatic way! God got their attention.
    Has God got your attention?

Peter’s message would make more sense to the crowd of the day than it would too many today.
Different crowd different approach. In Acts 2, Peter addressed people who knew the Scriptures, it was the same here.
He went from the known to the unknown.

Among the important things that stand out in this passage is that BEFORE A SINNER CAN EXPERIENCE CONVERSION THERE MUST BE CONVICTION.

I believe that we live in a day where many deny sin and people become lovers of self. Paul speaks of this time

2 Timothy 3 “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”
Unless the patient is convinced that he is sick, he will never accept the diagnosis or take the treatment. I remember when our son was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis it was a shock to the system and there was a time of denial, anger, fear and frustration, a time of loss. I remember speaking to my parents, they couldn’t get their head around it- I tried to explain that both parents had to be carriers- their reaction was that it could never have come from our side of the family.
What I love about this passage is that Peter made the main thing the main thing: he took the emphasis of himself, off the healed man and focused the light directly on the Lord Jesus!

  • We are a particular stage in our life as individuals.
  • We are a particular stage in our life as a church

THE IMPORTANT THING IS TO MAKE THE MAIN THING THE MAIN THING

AND FOCUS OUR DIRECTION AND EFFORTS ON THE LORD JESUS, IN ALL THAT WE DO.

What I have I give unto you!

Rev. Con August 6, 2016 Sermons No comments

Rev Con Despinidic 31st July 2016

31st July 2016 Readings: Psalm 1 Acts 3:1-16, 25,26 and Acts 4:1-4 John 14:7-14

These past few weeks I have spent some time in contemplation; there have been times when I went back to the past, particularly the past ministry.
My thoughts go back to the second sermon that I preached; this message is in line with where we are at in our journey through the book of Acts. As we look at Acts chapter three a question comes to mind:-
* What does the name of the Lord Jesus mean to me?
* What does it mean to you?
* Do we really call upon His name at all times or do we think of Him one or two times a day? Or when we experience some sort of crisis?

Let’s have a look at the scene here in Acts chapter 3.
We see a crippled man; he was this way from birth. He is sitting outside the temple, at the gate called beautiful.
What type of man do you think that he is? (Maybe we should look at our attitudes as we see people asking for help, begging in the street?)
It is obvious that he was desperate, and maybe he believed in God, a devout Jew. Maybe he was a pragmatic person, he had no choice but to accept the way that he was. His lot in life was to beg, to beg for survival- he wasn’t a drug addict, or an alcoholic, he was a genuine person in need, I am sure that his friends and family did the best they could.
Why beg in front of the Temple? It is possible that he relied on the generosity of people of faith.
Imagine for a moment that you are in his skin: imagine what may have gone through his mind. Imagine how he may have perceived the apostles comments.

1. Peter and John, there is something different about them, something mysterious maybe?
2. Alms for the poor sirs?
3. Why are they staring at me? Are they going to give me something?
What is it that he is saying? “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
What do you think I am doing? “Silver or gold I do not have, what use is that to me? I need to survive, I need silver and I need Gold! but what I do have I give you. What is it that you do have? Will it feed me will it keep me safe? Will it satisfy?
4. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” WHAT? In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth?

I am sure that everything was happening quickly- Have you ever been in a situation where it seemed that time slowed down?
I rolled a car once, it happened in seconds, but to this day I can remember everything that took place, it was as if it took ages, in slow motion as it were.
I can remember what I was thinking, I was aware of the interior of the cabin of the vehicle I was driving, I can still see the shinning red light in the dash, on the left hand side. I can recall my amazement, it was the first time ever that I saw that light- I can remember the words that I said to myself- and it all appeared to be in slow motion- BUT IT WASN’T. I reckon that what took place at the gate beautiful with this lame man was similar, there was enough time in his heart and mind to ask all sorts of questions: questions that only he could hear. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth: I can imagine this guy reasoning to himself- Jesus Christ of Nazareth? I have heard of Him, I have seen the commotion that He caused, I have heard about the many that were healed, the lives that were changed. If only He touched me like he touched others? Who hasn’t heard off this guy who was crucified and the story that went around about His resurrection? And you are saying: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth walk! WOW! Walk you got to be kidding, If I can’t sell it or eat it, it is of no use to me- yet you say this name, in His name Walk!
I can’t! Do you know to whom you are talking? This is my lot in life to beg- I’ve tried everything and you now tell me to walk?
Can you imagine for a moment that you are that guy, WOW, this is a lot to take in for him- he knew nothing else, he cannot think of any other life than the one he has: and now someone comes to him with a proposition that will change his life forever!
5. It was by faith in the name of the Lord Jesus that this guy attempted to walk- It was by faith in the name of the Lord Jesus that Peter reached out his hand and grabbed him and assisted him in his endeavour to walk! It was by faith in the name of the Lord Jesus that this man walked.
For me there are a number of things operative here.
1. The faithfulness and enthusiasm of the disciples.
2. The openness of the lame man, at least to hear what was being said.
3. The man’s response, an effort to stand up and walk- this is a response of faith against all odds, all conditioning and past history- You know it is hard to change a lifetime of habits.
4. The faith of the disciples to reach out and help- the scriptures tell us that 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. They took him by the right hand. They didn’t leave him to his own devices- he needed help and they offered him the right hand of fellowship.
5. T’was to the place of worship they took him, worship and praise was the order of the day.
6. What a tremendous scene- this guy is praising God, he is able to walk, jump and praise- what a commotion and what a great opportunity to again share the Good news of the Gospel!

Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

17th July 2016 Rev Con Despinidic ” whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Rev. Con July 18, 2016 Sermons No comments

17th July 2016 Psalm 96 Romans 10

Today I would like to share with you one thing that has rattle around in the attic of my mind for some time; it has been the subject of many conversations over the years, and will never cease to encourage, challenge and amaze me. In fact probably the one of the motivating factors for what a preacher does.
My prayer today is that you too would be encouraged as we study together the idea of sharing the Gospel.
The truths of Romans 10 give us a unique insight into the mind of the Apostle Paul and the very things that drove him.
He was a man of one message following the long line prophets of the OT and the forefather of modern mission.
Before we look at some of the Apostle’s teaching in Romans 10 the question comes to mind: Are these things relevant for us today? What do they have to do with the gospel and faith today?
The second observation on the onset: is that as Paul teaches he does not do things on his own authority, he doesn’t pick out random ideas and present them, in this short paragraph of 21 or so sentences, Paul quotes from the Old Testament at least 12 times. That is more than half of this paragraph is made up of OT quotes, better still the practical working out of the Old Testament teaching from the perspective of one of the masters of the Christian faith.
Thirdly chapter 10 is one of 16 fact filled chapters in a wonderful theological masterpiece. I do not want to take this chapter out of context.

Today I want to examine just a couple of thoughts from this passage.

The first being: Sincerity is not enough.
The scriptures teach us that no one can work their way to heaven, and it is possible that an individual, a group of people, a movement and a nation can get it wrong- even with the best of intentions.
It is not till the truth is pointed out that one can respond, either for or against. A life time ago there was an altercation in a church that I was at- I was very reluctant to defend myself as I have experienced that this is often taken the wrong way- If we stand for God then surely at the end of the day He will vindicate His people. In that congregation we had a group of deacons and one pastoral elder who acted as assistant pastor or pastor when I was not available. He was a la y person, and an accomplished tradesman. He took it upon himself to defend me. Eventually he found out the truth and confronted a certain person; they were since in their attack (maybe) after a long conversation they admitted that they were perpetrating a falsehood; at that point the elder thought that all would be sorted, unfortunately he learnt a valuable lesson about human nature. “I know the truth, but I am still going to continue the lie” was their reply.

The Bible says that we reap what we sow and God will not be mocked or fooled!

It is when we hear the truth in clarity that we must respond and change our ways- this was Paul’s dilemma with the nation of Israel, we wanted them so much to see the truth of the Lord Jesus and respond.
The good news is that many did. There is a verse on the Book of Acts that I find really encouraging and I am sure that Paul was also encouraged as he read Luke’s words;
Acts 6:7

“And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.” Note the phrase “a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith”

There is a process of consideration, reasoning in our hearts and minds, a time when we ask that question: To believe, to trust or not to believed.
Isaiah 1:18 English Standard Version

18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.
God does not want robots, He calls us to consider, to reason to use our intellect as well as our emotions.

For Paul the concept of being saved was paramount- He was a Jew, he loved his people and rightly so. He also knew that they had got it wrong; all the best intentions under the sun were not good enough. Hear what he writes:-
Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3 Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
• His heart’s desire is that His people may be saved.
• He acknowledges that they were zealous for God.
• This zeal was based on their own works and knowledge.
• Salvation is the product of God’s righteousness not ours.
• All that they were taught throughout the centuries was pointing to the Lord Jesus- the Christ!
Five basic truths, you know what? They were relevant then and they are now!

Now we come to verses 5-11 and perhaps this is where the rubber hits the road:
5 Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.” Lev. 18:5 6 But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” Deut. 30:12 (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” Deut. 30:13 (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, Deut. 30:14 that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” Isaiah 28:16
• There is a strong argument here for faith- faith in the one who proclaims the Word of God
• Faith for the one who hears the word of God
• The fringe benefit of faith
There is a righteousness that is by faith, so I suppose that Faith is something that we must put under the microscope. There are many passages of Scripture that talk about faith and the results of faith- But at the end of the day- faith is something that must be embraced by the individual- my faith will not save my children, the faith of a congregation will not save a community or a world- now my faith your faith might make life easier for our children, our community and the world- but will never save them. Our faith might be the like a light shining in the darkness, the opening of the door to the truth- The Lord Jesus said to His disciples:

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:16

The Heroes of faith are presented by name- individuals who believed individuals who acted, individuals who responded to God’s call, it was their choice, they believed. As it was said about Abraham so it for the child of God;
Genesis 15:6 “Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”
Paul makes the argument that the Gospel is in front of them and all they need to do is hear and heed it. Accept it by faith, trust it, accept the truth of God’s word, make it yours and then speak it out! 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” This comes with a promise that God will never disappoint, God will never put you to shame!
Psalm 25:3 No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause.
1 Peter 2:6 For it stands in Scripture:

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

AND THEY WORSHIPPED the essence of Worship Rev Con Despinidic 3rd July 2016

Rev. Con July 5, 2016 Sermons No comments

Isaiah 6 Romans 12:1-8
While the followers of the Lord Jesus waited for the coming of the Holy Spirt they were engaged in three vital activities, these are essential for us today:
They Prayed
They Fellowshipped
They Worshipped

So far we have looked at Prayer and fellowship,
Today I would like to take a deeper look at Worship.
What is worship? This has caused a lot of discussion over the years.
Worship can be so divisive- is there a fine line between entertainment and worship, form and structure, historical and cultural context? Personal likes and dislike and so on?
The Early church spent time in prayer, fellowship and worship. I am sure that we see these things as a priority.
The difficulty is in ‘the how we do these things’.
Prayer and fellowship that is coerced, forced and manipulative is not prayer or fellowship.
How do we understand what it is to worship?
Throughout the Scriptures there are two predominant themes; A focus on God and a focus on our fellow man.
When I consider worship it has two important elements, I look up to God and this sends me on a journey into the world.
I cannot love God if there is hate in my heart. “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”
1 John 4:20
This understanding of true worship is something that is found in the Word of God and is evident in the Ten Commandments.
Exodus 20
And God spoke all these words: 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labour and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

The first 4 are God directed.
And the next 6 are man directed.
12 “Honour your father and your mother,
13 “You shall not murder.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.”

In other words: My attitude towards God and my attitude towards my fellow man are important.
My attitude towards God will influence my attitude towards my fellow human beings:
Hear what the Lord Jesus says about this:-
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
Notice the words that the Lord Jesus uses: Heart, soul, all your mind and all your strength. This is all encompassing- all that there is of me in a sense!
The Lord Jesus challenges us to focus on God the Father and secondly on others.
We can go one step further- see what the Lord Jesus says about Himself.
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me-John 14:6
I believe that Christian worship is a focus on God the Father through the Way the Truth and the Life the Lord Jesus.
To concentrate and focus on God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit is a true act of worship.
When the word worship is used there are a lot of subjective attitudes- in other words how we feel about certain things and so on.
One person may believe that worship should take one form and another, another form.
Worship is a gigantic topic- and it would be so easy to get bogged down in culture and the cultural symbols of worship that we lose sight of true worship.
The Lord Jesus speaking to the Samaritan women said;
“The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24
What is it to Worship God in Spirit and in truth?
The answer is a simple one, yet it can also be so complex for what is often seen as worship may be the product of cultural attitudes or conditioning. Not to say that this is wrong for worship has a lot to do with the heart. So whatever form it may take if the heart is right then that is true worship.
I suppose when it comes to worship we should move away from the idea of FORM; that is how we do it to SUBSTANCE; the essence of worship that is the core of worship.
I believe that a lot has to do with the heart’s desire. Only God can see what is in the heart of man.
I found some of John Piper’s thoughts on worship really helpful.

The inner essence of worship is to know God truly and then respond from the heart to that knowledge by valuing God, treasuring God, prizing God, enjoying God, being satisfied with God above all earthly things. And then that deep, restful, joyful satisfaction in God overflows in demonstrable acts of praise from the lips and demonstrable acts of love in serving others for the sake of Christ.John Piper.

Now this leads me to our NT reading this morning. I have left this to last as I am challenged with these words, it is at that point of challenge that I would like to leave you.
For the apostle speaks of; ”true and proper worship”.
All else I believe may be personal preference or cultural influence.
Romans 12:1-8
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Dare I say it true worship is to be a living sacrifice, alive living in this world, honouring and serving God with all our heart soul and mind.

Fellowship a challenge and a Blessing Rev Con Despinidic 26th June 2016

Rev. Con June 29, 2016 Publications, Sermons No comments

In Acts chapter 1 the Lord Jesus charged His followers with the task of waiting in Jerusalem. They were to wait in expectation of the wonderful promise of the Holy Spirit.
We have seen that the faithful did three vital things while they waited.
• They prayed
• They fellowshipped
• They worshipped.
These three activities are crucial for the life of the Church- this is what we should be doing in our Christian walk. Yes these three life transforming activities are important-
Last week we spent a little more time on prayer than the others.
Prayer helps us to focus on God the Father.
Prayer assists to center our thoughts on God’s will.
Prayer enables us to draw close to the Lord Jesus.
Today I would like to revisit the idea of FELLOWSHIP.

FELLOWSHIP is a corporate thing, it is also an act of encouragement- getting to know one another, helping out, listening talking, building relationships, this is important. Years ago I was blessed by Selwyn Hughes’ comments on the nature of God, particularly where relationships were concerned.
God is relational, so too the faith- we are not called into isolation, just the opposite. Now that doesn’t mean that there aren’t times when we want our space or me time, these are important times and it pays to be a bit selfish when it comes to our well-being. This is different from being isolated or recluse (loner, hermit)
The Lord Jesus challenges us to focus: Firstly on Him and secondly on others.
True fellowship is a reflection of this, John 13:34-3534 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

In the same way as God is a unity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we are called into fellowship, what binds us together is the Love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We should go from being me centered to God centered and other centered.
Broughton Knox Principal of Moore Theological College from 1959 to 1985 speaks of the unity of God as an example for us as His people:
“The Father loves the Son and gives Him everything. The Son always does what please the Father.
The Spirit takes the things of the Son and shows them to us. We learn from the Trinity that relationship is the essence of reality and therefore the essence of our existence. We also learn that the way this relationship should be expressed is by concern for others. Within the Trinity itself there is a concern by the persons of the Trinity for one another.”
[The Everlasting God- Evangelical press.] You can’t beat what the Lord Jesus says to His followers: 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”John 13:34-35

I believe that true fellowship is the expression of God’s love through us towards each other.

It is when I stop thinking about me and think about God and what God would have me think about you that the fellowship gene kicks in.
The Apostle Paul puts it in these terms:-
Philippians 2:3,4 “ Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mind set as Christ Jesus:”
It was early days on the life of the Church and it was important that the right foundations are set.
There are many passages of Scripture that deal with fellowship and mutual love, the most powerful are the words of our Lord Jesus in His prayer for his church: John 17:23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
Our New Testament reading this morning reiterates the importance of fellowship and mutual love, these go hand in hand.
Romans 15
1 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please our neighbours for their good, to build them up.
5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

What a powerful way to put it. Congregations are made up of a wonderful mix of people- in the early church they came from diverse backgrounds, and there was much that divided them- a clash of cultures and ideologies, the rich and the poor-the socially acceptable and the rejected- prejudices that had festered for generations. Imagine Jew and gentile breaking bread together- this was unheard of!
Paul’s words in Romans 15 are like a ringing bell calling us to church.

The first two verses set the scene- 1We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.
What we think of ourselves is important; do we believe that we are strong or weak, rooted in the things of the faith or struggling with faith and understanding? So for the one who is strong in the faith- they are to make allowance for the weak and for the weak, they too are to be accepting of others. Instead of being a burden a help and an encouragement.
Never the less strong or weak we are to seek to: please our neighbours for their good, to build them up. This does not tell us to indulge or enable each other in the excesses of life or their failures and weaknesses- It does challenge us to focus on others, particularly within the fellowship of FAITH.
5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let’s not loses sight of the divine power and will to work through the lives of His people- the scriptures are an encouragement here- the source of strength, the ability to do and be doesn’t come from within, it comes for GOD 5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement;
God always enable,
God always strengthen,
God always supplies all that we need.

7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Rev Con Despinidic 19th June 2016 They found themselves in Prayer, Fellowship and Worship

Rev. Con June 25, 2016 Tags: , Sermons No comments

Last Week: we left the faithful looking into heaven:

There they were, looking up into the heavens, just when they thought it was all over, what more could one expect?  10 They were looking intently up into the sky as He was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.

There is more to the message. This Lord Jesus as He was taken will one day return in glory. Here was another dimension to the Good News of the Kingdom.

The gospel is simple;

  • John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
  • We are challenged to repent and believe.
  • We are challenged to walk in a manner worthy of the calling of God.
  • We are challenge to wait for His return.

The Angles left a message that they would never forget:-                                              

They waited with a purpose and a sense of expectation and they didn’t waste time:-

  1. They Prayed
  2. They Fellowshipped
  3. They Worshipped and
  4. They used their intellect to work out what God was doing, as
  5. They waited patiently for the coming of the Holy Spirit.

With a renewed understanding of the OT scripture and what it was to see prophecy fulfilled. The jigsaw puzzle was slowly coming together.

Luke wants us to understand that there were more than the 11 Apostles, here we have a group of people who have found a new purpose in life and they have a hope that cannot be squashed.

Isn’t it great that Luke mentions them by name, they are not statistics and they are ordinary human beings with an extra ordinary call from God!

Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

The 11 are mentioned also the women this was significant for Luke and the early church. This is also the last time that Mary the mother of the Lord is mentioned; we also have a mention of the Lords earthly brothers along with their mother Mary.

And as they waited They Prayed, they fellowshipped and they worshipped.

The more I think about it the more I believe that these activities were vital for their survival and their well-being.        I would go one step further as to say that they are necessary for our well-being as Christians today.

Verse 14 says“They all joined together constantly in prayer”.

We must never underestimate the importance of prayer in the Christian walk-

  • When we pray we focus on God,
  • When we pray we learn to cast our cares upon Him, to use the words of the apostle Peter; Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7

It is also important to understand that prayer that is not ‘ME’ centred can have a far greater impact.

To cast our anxiety on Him means that we let go of it, too often we cast it aside only to carry it around like a ball and chain.

I believe that the only way that we can effectively cast our anxiety on Him is to seek a Godly miracle- the power of God working in the believer is crucial and of paramount importance.

I cannot!  I am unable- this may be true- BUT HE CAN AND HE IS ABLE!

Some see prayer as a magic potion that gets God working-it is anything but that!                                                                 Prayer is communication with God, it is also listening to God, is it a conversation, it is a vital aspect of worship. Cooperate prayer can be a powerful thing.

Notice the word ‘constantly’ in vs 14 (Acts 1:14) this is a powerful activity, not haphazard, but determined, constant. The scriptures talk about praying without stopping:  Paul puts it this way:- 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.   1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

  • Prayer helps us to focus on God the Father.
  • Prayer assists to centre our thoughts on God’s will.
  • Prayer enables us to draw close to the Lord Jesus.

I know that this can be an unconscious thing- here in the word of God is it specific it is intentional-Like having a meal each day or grazing to satisfy of physical needs, prayer can, does and will satisfy our spiritual need.

Note that there is a difference to what some would call meditation, prayer that is man centred, internalised and inner centred.  And that which is God centred, this God cantered prayer focuses on what God the Father, Son and Spirit does in our lives.

Prayer, Fellowship and Worship are important: Some may ask the question- can’t I do this on my own- prayer and worship; yes, but fellowship here speaks of fellowship with other believers. The interpersonal relationships that God calls us to have with one another are important. It is like being in a family or a marriage, if those in that relationship do not spend time together, communicate and love, pray, cry struggle together  they are poorer for it.

FELLOWSHIP is a corporate thing, it is also an act of encouragement- getting to know one another, helping out, listening talking, building relationships, this  is important.(comment re Selwyn Hughes God Is relational) God is relational, so too the faith- we are not called into isolation, just the opposite.

This is a constant theme in the Scriptures; the writer of Hebrews encourages the faithful with these words: TLB Let us not neglect our church meetings, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.

These thee activities are crucial for the life of the Church- this is what we should be doing in our Christian walk.

 

The focus being on God the Father and His ultimate perfect will for our lives.

So the body of believers while they waited found themselves in Prayer, fellowship and worship.

12th June 2016 Acts 1:1-11 The best is yet to come!

Rev. Con June 17, 2016 Sermons No comments

12th June Ecclesiastes 11 Acts 1:1-11
Today we are going to begin a journey as we work though the book of Acts.
The first 5 chapters give us insight into the early church, what was happening and what church life was like.
• Luke writes with great clarity-
This book begins with an acknowledgement- it is addressed to a friend or patron of Luke. It is interesting to note that the name Theophilus in the Greek means “dear to God”. Some believe that this man didn’t exist, and this name represents all people, particularly those of the household of faith.
The words, “most excellent” may be a reference to Theophilus’s rank in life, It probable that through the reading of the Gospel of Luke, this prominent individual came to faith. So Luke sets out to further enlighten him and to encourage him.
Another thought is that the title is a used to protect a prominent Roman citizen who was converted to the faith.
Regardless to whom it is written Luke wants his readers to understand that the HOLY SPIRIT is central in God the Fathers plans for His church.
About 6 weeks have passed since the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. The best was yet to come; on the 7th week the church was to receive that great promise, the promise of the Advocate, the comforter, the HOLY SPIRIT!

This wasn’t to be a small affair, something that would not be kept secret; God had meant it to impact Jerusalem and eventually the whole known world.

  • One of the many things I find encouraging in the Word of God is that timing is everything. God knows the times and the seasons, and contrary to popular belief He does have a plan- and there is such a thing as finding oneself in the centre of God’s will. The early church was to learn the truth of this.

Acts Chapter one gives us great insight into the minds of the first believers.
The body of faithful were charged with the responsibility of waiting that they may receive that promise.
We should take special note of vs 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
This is no throwaway line John the Baptist introduced the Messiah, and what he did was also symbolic of what the Lord Jesus would do literally.
Water baptism, represented cleansing, it was an outward act. It represented the desire to say to God that you were sorry, and you wanted to change, for many religion became a task master, a job, a set of rules and regulations that could be easily abused. John spoke to his people pointing to a better way. The way of the cross: the way of the Holy Spirit

“I baptise you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

Matthew 3:11
I am sure that the followers of the Lord remember John’s words as the Lord Himself confirms the truth of John’s prophecy.
I am also certain that they didn’t fully understand what was about to happen. I say this not to condemn them, or criticise, the truth of the matter is that for many of us things are revealed in stages, it is important to realise that to see one step ahead is all that we need. It is not sin or a lack of faith to admit that we just don’t know what tomorrow will bring. It is not sin to acknowledge our fear and anxiety of the future.

Waiting patiently doesn’t mean that you don’t ask questions
His is an honest look at how the disciples felt and what they were thinking- even at that stage of their lives they did not fully understand where this faith was to take them- they were fixated on the nation of Israel and the kingdom of God being a political rule; a kingdom of power on earth.
It is obvious that Luke wanted his readers to see their frailty and humanness, they had got it wrong- this did not bring condemnation- only a loving rebuke, a simple word of explanation- “hey guys trust me there is more to what is happening than what you see” may have been the Lord Jesus’s words.
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.

“The kingdom of God which they were commissioned to proclaim was the good news of God’s Grace in Christ” F.F.Bruce.

In verse 8 Luke repeats what he has already said at the end of Chapter 24 of his gospel. See how this wonderfully dovetails together.

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.” 9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

I can imagine how they felt, “are we dreaming, is this real?” could have been their thoughts.
We should also understand that there is now a shift in emphasis, a change of attitude on the part of the disciples; “instead of political power which had formerly been the object of their ambitions, a power far greater and nobler would be theirs. When the Holy Spirit came upon them, they would be clothed with heavenly power”-(F.F.Bruce)

  • Their work would now be to herald the kingdom of God, to witness to the life death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus to pronounce the coming of the kingdom of God, a kingdom that begins in God’s heart and revolutionises the minds and hearts of mankind.
  • This too is the call of the Church, not just for the 1st Century, it is God’s call to us Today. and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
  • Let me finish with a well-known passage from Matthew 28
    16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said,

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

What I love about this verse, what I am most encouraged about this verse are the wonderful words f the Lord Jesus:

“I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”