rushing mighty wind

A Rushing Mighty Wind

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:3-4a)

After Jesus ascended to heaven, the disciples met to pray and seek God, waiting for the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. God kept His promise, and these words from Acts 2 tell how the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples on Pentecost. This outpouring of the Holy Spirit came with some strange things: a strange sound and a strange sight.

rushing mighty wind

Notice the strange sound: suddenly there came a sound from heaven. The association of the sound of a rushing mighty wind, filling the whole house, with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit probably has connection with the fact that in both the Hebrew and Greek languages, the word for spirit is the same word for breath or wind. Here, the sound from heaven was the sound of the Holy Spirit being poured out on the disciples.

The sound of this fast, mighty wind would make any of these disciples who knew the Hebrew Scriptures think of the presence of the Holy Spirit.

– In Genesis 1:1-2, it is the Spirit of God as the breath/wind of God, blowing over the waters of the newly created earth.
– In Genesis 2:7, it is the Spirit of God as the breath/wind of God, blowing life into newly created man.
– In Ezekiel 37:9-10, it is the Spirit of God as the breath/wind of God, moving over the dry bones of Israel bringing them life and strength.

This single line tells us much about how the Holy Spirit moves.

Suddenly: Sometimes God moves suddenly.
Sound: It was real, though it could not be touched; it was something real that came through their ears.
From heaven: It wasn’t of earth; it was not created, manipulated, or fashioned here.
Mighty: It was full of force, coming with great power.

Notice that this happened nowhere else in Acts when the Spirit was poured out. Several other times the Holy Spirit powerfully filled the people of God (Acts 4:8, 4:31, 13:9, 13:52, 19:6). Those were wonderful and valid works of the Spirit, yet on none of those other occasions did they hear a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind. The strange sound was for that particular day, but not of lasting importance.

Sometimes, God does “one-offs” – a special something for a single occasion. Can you imagine if, on a later occasion the disciples said, “Today we weren’t really filled with the Spirit because we never heard that sound”? Or, if they said, “Next time we must hear the same sound – and hear it even louder!”

That kind of thinking is a trap. Give God the credit to know when a special experience is necessary, and when it is not.

Click here for David’s commentary on Acts 2

all filled with the Holy Spirit

All Filled With the Holy Spirit

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:2-4a)

As the 120 followers of Jesus gathered according to the command of their Savior, something remarkable happened. The “baptism with the Holy Spirit” that Jesus promised in Acts 1:5 came upon them. We read they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.

all filled with the Holy Spirit

It’s important to remember that this was not the first experience the disciples of Jesus had with the Holy Spirit. They were not strangers to the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

– The disciples continually saw the Holy Spirit at work in the ministry of Jesus.
– The disciples experienced something of the power of the Holy Spirit as they stepped out and served God (Luke 10:1-20).
– The disciples heard Jesus promise a new, coming work of the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-18).
– The disciples received the Holy Spirit in a new way after Jesus finished His work on the cross and instituted the New Covenant in His blood (John 20:19-23).

With all of that, there was still more for them to receive and experience in regard to the work of the Holy Spirit – and they received more here in Acts 2.

Acts 2 tells us a lot about the filling of the Holy Spirit.

– The filling of the Holy Spirit is promised to us.
– The filling of the Holy Spirit is worth waiting for.
– The filling of the Holy Spirit comes as He wills, often not according to our expectation.
– The filling of the Holy Spirit can come upon not only individuals, but also upon groups (see also Acts 2:4, 4:31, and 10:44).
– The filling of the Holy Spirit is often given as God deals with our flesh and there is a dying to self.

It’s also important to see what Acts 2 does not tell us about the filling of the Holy Spirit.

– The filling of the Holy Spirit is not given according to formula.
– The filling of the Holy Spirit is not earned by seeking it. It is always God’s freely given gift.

No one can deny that this was a good thing. In the gospels we see a lot of weakness and wavering in these disciples as they followed Jesus. After this filling of the Holy Spirit, they were different people. They were not perfect; but they were different.

This coming and filling of the Holy Spirit was so good, so essential for the work of the community of early Christians, that Jesus actually said that it was better for Him to leave the earth bodily so He could send the Holy Spirit (John 16:7).

This filling of the Holy Spirit is for you (Luke 11:9-13). Ask God for it today.

Click here for David’s commentary on Acts 2

Rolling the Dice

Rolling the Dice

And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:24-26)

From thinking about what the Bible said, the disciples understood that they had to choose someone to take the place of the dead and disgraced Judas. As it says in Psalm 109:8, another should take the office of Judas.

Rolling the Dice

How should they choose the one to become the twelfth apostle? The disciples did the right things. They were in a place of obedience to God. They sought God’s will in the Scriptures. They used some common sense. Added to all that, also they prayed (Acts 1:24). It was easy for them to pray, because they had already been praying (Acts 1:14). They probably remembered times when Jesus prayed before choosing the disciples (Luke 6:12-13).

Then, they did something unusual: they cast their lots. This was essentially rolling dice or drawing straws for the answer. Many have questioned this method – it doesn’t seem spiritual to decide on God’s will by rolling dice.

Still, I think when they cast their lots, they actually relied on God. Though they were not yet filled with the Holy Spirit as they soon would be, they still wanted to choose a method that would make them rely on God. Perhaps they remembered Proverbs 16:33: The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.

Some insist that Matthias was the wrong choice and the use of lots in making the decision was not right. The idea is that God would have eventually chosen Paul if the office had been left vacant. But we must respect the testimony of the Scriptures; God did not want to leave the office vacant. If it were left unfilled, it might be seen as a victory for Satan; it would be as if Jesus chose 12, but one came up short and therefore Satan defeated the desire of Jesus to have 12 apostles.

As for Paul, he clearly considered himself an apostle, but one born out of due time (1 Corinthians 15:8). It doesn’t seem Paul objected to the selection of Matthias.

Casting lots may be an imperfect way to discern God’s will, but it is much better than the methods many Christians use today in making big decisions:

– They rely on their emotions.
– They rely on circumstances.
– They rely on feelings.
– They rely on fleshly desires.

It would be better to roll the dice and trust God for the results!

At the end of it all, Matthias was numbered with the eleven apostles. I believe God guided them into the right decision, and He will also guide us as we obey Him, search the Scriptures, pray, and rely on Him. Do it today!

Click here for David’s commentary on Acts 1

Making Big Decisions

How to Make Big Decisions

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying.… These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. (Acts 1:12-14)

Are you good at making important decisions? In Acts 1, the disciples had a big decision to make. They understood from the Scriptures that it was proper to replace Judas, the disgraced one who betrayed Jesus and then killed himself. But exactly who should replace Judas and fulfill his office? The steps they took in Acts 1:12-14 give us an example to follow before we make important decisions.

Making Big Decisions

First, notice their obedience: Then they returned to Jerusalem. Just before He was carried up to heaven, Jesus told them to return to Jerusalem and wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. That is exactly what they did. Sometimes we hear God speak to us in through His word, but we quickly forget it. Many a good sermon has been lost on the walk from the church to the parking lot! But here the disciples did what Jesus told them to do, even though He was no longer physically present with them. If we want to make the right decisions, it begins with being obedient right now with what we know to be God’s will.

Second, notice their unity: These all continued with one accord. When we saw the disciples in the gospels, it seemed they were always fighting and bickering. What changed? Peter still had his history of denying Jesus, Matthew was still a former tax collector, and Simon was still a zealot. Their differences were still there, but the resurrected Jesus in their hearts was greater than any of their differences. When we seek God about a big decision, a lack of unity with our brothers and sisters in Jesus can really get in the way. Being out of fellowship – either through our absence or through bad relationship – puts us in a bad place for decision making.

Finally, notice their prayer:  These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication. They all prayed, and they continued in prayer and supplication. The idea of the word supplication is a sense of desperation and earnestness in prayer. Prayer showed that they depended on God and the depth of their prayer showed the depth of their dependence. God honors it when we deeply depend on Him; it is another way

There is obviously more than these three parts to making good, godly decisions; but these three things give us an essential foundation: obedience, unity, and prayer. Now is the time to give attention to these three areas, before you might find yourself needing to make a big decision. If you are in a decision time right now, then don’t wait – give attention to obedience, unity, and prayer.

Click here for David’s commentary on Acts 1

this same Jesus

This Same Jesus

Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11)

Some 40 days after His resurrection, Jesus gathered His disciples on the Mount of Olives and told them to be witnesses to Him in all the earth. After finishing that important and final command, Jesus did something remarkable. His physical body was lifted up into heaven, even as His disciples watched. He went up, up, and up even further until He faded into the clouds and could be seen no more.

this same Jesus

Jesus wanted His disciples see His departure from earth to heaven. We read, while they watched, He was taken up. It was important for Jesus to leave His disciples in this manner. In theory, He certainly could have simply vanished to heaven and to the Father’s presence in a secret sort of way. But Jesus wanted His followers to know that He was gone for good, as opposed to the way He appeared and reappeared during the 40 days after His resurrection.

Jesus told His disciples it was better for Him to leave, because then He would send them the Holy Spirit (John 16:7). Now the disciples could know that that promise would be fulfilled. The Holy Spirit was coming because Jesus promised to send the Spirit when He left, and the ascension was a way to demonstrate that Jesus was really gone.

As the disciples stared up into the sky, two men – apparently angels – asked, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? They told the disciples to focus on what Jesus told them to do, not in wondering where and how Jesus went.

The two men referred to Christ as, this same Jesus. This reminds us that the Jesus who ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father is the same Jesus of the Gospels. He is the same Jesus of love, grace, goodness, wisdom, and care. The Jesus in heaven is this same Jesus.

Then also added a wonderful promise: Jesus will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven. This Jesus will return just as He left.

– He left physically and will so come in like manner.
– He left visibly and will so come in like manner.
– He left from the Mount of Olives and will so come in like manner.
– He left in the presence of His disciples and will so come in like manner.
– He left blessing His people (Luke 24:50-51) and will so come in like manner.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Click here for David’s commentary on Acts 1

Promised Power

Promised Power

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

Just before Jesus ascended to heaven, His disciples asked Him about the restoration of Israel – giving the Jewish people the prominence promised by the prophets when the Messiah’s reign was fully realized. Jesus told them it was best they didn’t know that, but He had something even better for them.

Jesus promised, but you shall receive power. If the national kingdom they wanted would be delayed, the power they needed would not. They would soon receive power with the coming of the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised power, but not the power to dominate and subject others; this is the power to spread God’s message of reconciliation in Jesus Christ, bring people to true freedom in Jesus.

Promised Power

The promised power meant that Jesus could promise these once-weak disciples, you shall be witnesses to Me: The natural result of receiving this promised power would be that they would become witnesses of Jesus, all over the earth.

Notice that this really wasn’t a command; it was a simple statement of fact: When the Holy Spirit has come upon you… you shall be witnesses of Me. The words shall be describe what will happen, not what they had to do. In other words, Jesus didn’t recommend that they become witnesses; He said they would be witnesses.

If we want to be witnesses, we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The best training program for evangelism is of little effectiveness without the filling of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus told them where they would be witnesses: in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. As Jesus mentioned each of those places, we may imagine the objections the disciples might think of in regard to each of the places of ministry Jesus described.

Jerusalem: Wasn’t that where Jesus was executed at the word of an angry mob?
Judea: Was not the ministry of Jesus ultimately rejected by those in Judea?
Samaria: Many Jewish people of that day were deeply prejudiced against the Samaritans.
– In the end of the earth, the Gentiles were seen by some Jews of that day as nothing better than fuel for the fires of Hell.

Yet God wanted a witness sent to all of these places, and the Holy Spirit would empower them to do this work. Since I live in what would be an “end of the earth” from Jerusalem, I’m glad what they started continued to the present day!

That command didn’t end with those first disciples. Today, God has a Jerusalem, a Judea, a Samaria, and an end of the earth where He wants His people to be His witness. But remember: we need the power of the Holy Spirit to do it. Ask and receive today.

Click here for David’s commentary on Acts 1

Better Not To Know

Better Not To Know

And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.” (Acts 1:7)

Just before He ascended to heaven, Jesus spoke with His disciples on the Mount of Olives. They asked (Acts 1:6) if it was now the time for Jesus to restore the kingdom to Israel – that is, if it was time to fully establish the Messianic kingdom.

Better Not To Know

Jesus answered the question by telling them It is not for you to know. Jesus warned the disciples against focusing on the details of the timing of God’s kingdom, because those things belong to God the Father alone (which the Father has put in His own authority).

At the same time, Jesus did not say that there was to be no restoration of the kingdom to Israel; He simply said that focusing into the time and date of this restoration was not proper for the disciples. It was as if Jesus said to them, “Don’t think about that right now – I’ve got something more important for you to focus on.”

At the same time, I have to wonder: why didn’t Jesus tell them more about how and when, in general, the Messianic kingdom would be fully established?

The Bible teaches (and we believe) that Jesus is God. Therefore, He knew that history would continue for at least 2,000 years after that time. Why didn’t Jesus tell the disciples?

The disciples hoped that it would be soon that the kingdom was fully restored to Israel, but Jesus knew that it was better that did not then know that a lot of history would pass before it would happen. For several reasons, I think it was wise for Jesus not to give a general outline His plan over the next 2,000 years.

– If Jesus had told them, it is likely that they would have been overly discouraged.
– They may have felt that their present work would be useless.
– It would be easy for them to think less of the aspects of God’s kingdom that were present with them at the moment. Just because the kingdom would not fully be restored to Israel at the present moment, that did not mean that the kingdom of God was absent from the earth.

We could probably think of more reasons, but there is something important for us to learn: when Jesus doesn’t tell us something, He has a good reason for it. It can be hard to accept, but it’s a necessary part of discipleship.

Not every question will be answered and not every mystery solved. It doesn’t mean Jesus loves you any less or is any less good to you. It simply means that Jesus knows that it is better for us not to know some things, or it is better for us to know them later.

When you feel Jesus won’t answer your question, take comfort in knowing that sometimes it’s better not to know!

Click here for David’s commentary on Acts 1

Waiting for a Promise

Waiting for A Promise

And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4-5)

Right before He ascended to heaven, Jesus gave His disciples important instructions. First, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem. At this moment, Jesus had nothing else for the disciples to do other than to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit (here called the Promise of the Father). Jesus knew that they really could do nothing effective for the Kingdom of God until the Spirit came upon them.

Waiting for a Promise

Jesus commanded them to wait.

To wait means the Father’s promise of the Holy Spirit was worth waiting for.
To wait means that had a promise the Holy Spirit would come.
To wait means they must receive the Spirit; they couldn’t create an experience themselves.
To wait means they would be tested by waiting, at least a little.

It is significant that this coming, filling, and empowering of the Holy Spirit was called the Promise of the Father. Even though there is a sense in which this was now also the promise of the Son of God, there is meaning in the phrase, the Promise of the Father.

– It shows that we should wait for it with eager anticipation, because a Promise of the Father who loves us so much can only be good.
– It shows that it is reliable and can be counted on; a loving and powerful Father would never Promise something that He could not fulfill.
– It shows that this Promise belongs to all His children, since it comes from God as our Father.
– It shows that it must be received by faith, as is the pattern with the promises of God throughout the Bible.

Jesus explained more about this Promise when He added, you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit. The idea of being baptized is to be immersed in or covered over in something; even as John baptized people in water, so these disciples would be “immersed” in the Holy Spirit.

When would it happen? As Jesus said this right before He ascended to heaven, He added: Not many days from now. They knew that this Promise of the Father would come, but not immediately. It would be days from now, but it would not be not many days.

Jesus had a purpose in not telling them exactly when it would come. One purpose was so the disciples would learn to wait in expectant faith. Even so, we should resist “creating” a move of the Spirit. Instead, we trust the Promise of the Father and have expectant faith regarding the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our life. The real move of the Holy Spirit is worth it.

Click here for David’s commentary on Acts 1

This Might of Yours

This Might of Yours

Then the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?” (Judges 6:14)

In the days of the Judges, God called an unexpected man named Gideon to deliver Israel. Gideon was a man who didn’t want the job and didn’t think he was worthy of the job. Gideon wrestled back and forth with God, seeking more and more confirmation that he was the one to do this great work of leading the resistance against the Midianites. At some point in it all, the Angel of the LORD spoke to Gideon and told him, Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites.

This Might of Yours

Given the circumstances, it was strange thing to say: Go in this might of yours. Though it didn’t look like it to many, Gideon was already mighty in many ways.

Gideon had the might of the humble. When the LORD came to Gideon, he was threshing wheat on the winepress floor. This was both difficult and humiliating. Wheat was threshed in open spaces, typically on a hill-top so the breeze could blow away the chaff. Wheat was not normally threshed in a sunken place like a winepress. In this humble place, Gideon was mighty.

Gideon had the might of the caring, because he cared about the low place of Israel. When the LORD came to Gideon, he wanted to know why Israel was in a low place. Gideon cared about the low place of Israel and was interested in doing something about it. In this caring place, Gideon was mighty.

Gideon had the might of the spiritually hungry because he wanted to see God to great works again. Gideon asked the LORD, “We heard of these great things in the past, but we want to see God’s greatness among us now.” This hunger for more of what God could do was a trigger for future action. In this hungry place, Gideon was mighty.

Gideon had the might of the teachable, because he listened to what the LORD said. After this conversation, Gideon set about doing the will of God. This showed he really was teachable. In this teachable place, Gideon was mighty.

More than anything, Gideon had the might of the weak, and God’s strength is perfected in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). He knew he was weak, and this made him wise enough to trust the strength of God. In this weak place, Gideon was mighty.

Looking at it with the eye of man, Gideon was weak and God’s message was sarcastic. But looking at it through God’s wisdom, we see that Gideon really could go forth in might – because it was the might of the weak relying on the strength of God.

This week, go forth in this might of yours – just make certain that it is really the strength of your mighty God.

Click here for David’s commentary on Judges 6