"The place where they gathered shook as they prayed." Acts 4:31
I did not realize that what occurred in Acts 2 was repeated in Acts chapter 4. Believers who were gathered in one place were filled with the Holy Spirit. This means that "Pentecost", a feast commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ did not happen just once, but probably several times.
In Wikipedia, I learned that Pentecost is the old Greek and Latin name for the Jewish harvest festival, or Festival of Weeks which can be found in the Hebrew Bible. It is also called the Day of the First Fruits. As Pentecost is also known as the birthday of the Church, it is really the day of the first fruits of the Church. In 2 Timothy 1 verse 6, Saint Paul urges Timothy to "kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands." "To stir into flame" is another translation of this verse. I remember the first time I was laid hands on. Nothing happened. I was too interested in the noise and activity that was happening around me. People were speaking in tongues, and falling over chairs, and wailing.
I went to several Life in the Spirit seminars after that. It is all right for us to keep wanting to get an infilling of the Spirit. It is all right for us to ask to be laid hands on, prayed over. Just as God breathed on Adam, that "dead" body into life, and the Holy Spirit breathed into the "dead" body of the Church in Acts, so we too can keep asking Jesus to breathe His Spirit into us, that we may not be ineffective in our work as His people. There is not a single person that God can't use if we have His Spirit in us!
"...the power that has conquered the world is this faith of ours." 1 John 5:5
In the 20th chapter of John, there is the famous story of doubting Thomas, the one disciple who refused to believe the others when they said they had seen Jesus. He said, "I'll never believe it without probing the nail-prints in His hands, without putting my finger in the nail-marks and my hand into His side." And so he went a week being skeptical. Perhaps the disciples kept convincing him, and he would question them, and scoff, and say, "Psshaw! What a big fish story!" for fishermen are peerless when it comes to exaggeration!
Then after a week of this, Jesus comes again and shows Himself to Thomas and the other disciples. He invites Thomas to do what he needs to believe. Finally Thomas comes to this realization: "My Lord and my God!" Then Jesus gives this promise which we can can claim: "You, Thomas, became a believer because you saw Me. Blessed are they who have not seen and have believed." (John 20:29)
That's you and me. Believers who have not seen. There's a special blessing for you and me. We believe even though we have not put our fingers into the marks of the nails. We believe even if we did not follow Jesus around for 3 years, and watch Him make the blind see and witness Lazarus coming back to life. Just as Jesus did what Thomas needed for him to believe, I do believe Jesus will do what is necessary for our faith to grow. He wants us to conquer the world, and we can only do that through faith!
"...they refused to believe it." Mark 16:11
The writer of the Gospel of Mark is John Mark, who traveled with the apostle Paul. When he settled in Rome, he wrote down Peter's recollections of Jesus' life. The last chapter of his writings are a short summary of what happens after Jesus' death,
starting from when the women discover the empty tomb.
The disciples did not believe Mary Magdalene when she delivered the news that Jesus was alive. Neither did they believe Cleopas and his companion when they reported seeing Jesus on the way to Emmaus.
Jesus then appeared to them and rebuked them for their disbelief-
"their stubborn refusal to believe". Do you think Jesus is frustrated with the disciples here? Disappointed? Is He thinking they are hopeless? He can't depend on them? That they can't be trusted with the mission He wants to give them?
On the contrary, right after rebuking them, He says,
"Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to everyone, everywhere." I can imagine Jesus being frustrated with a lot of us!
We are being given so much! We are entrusted with so much treasure in His Word. What do we do with it? But then I know, because I see it in my own life, that no matter how much I fail, Jesus never gives up on me.
He still gives and gives and gives! Every day, He opens up His treasure chest. And every day, I just want to shout, "Yes, God is good!"
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