Day 10) 3 POWERFUL PRIVILEGES OF PENTECOST

imageDay 10) 3 POWERFUL PRIVILEGES OF PENTECOST

Today is Pentecost Sunday-50 days since Easter. On the Day of Pentecost in 33ad the Holy Spirit was poured out on the praying church and the blessings of that day have continued ever since. Have you ever considered the privileges you enjoy today as a result of Pentecost? Here are a few.

THE PRIVILEGE OF A CHURCH FAMILY

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42)

Immediately after the Spirit fell, the new believers were gathered into a church fellowship. They learned the Word together, and enjoyed friendships, worshipped the Lord and prayed. Every Sunday when we gather we have those same privileges with our church families because the Holy Spirit is with us.

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THE PRIVILEGE OF EVANGELISM

“…praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47)

Someone once said, “Evangelism is not complete until the evangelized become evangelists.” The Holy Spirit empowered a group of new believers and virtual strangers into the most effective missionaries the world has ever seen. When we are filled with the Spirit, His love for the mission becomes our love for the mission.

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THE PRIVILEGE OF PRAYER

And they devoted themselves to…the prayers.” (Acts 2:42)

If the Spirit is in our church, we will be “a house of prayer for all nations.” The greatest personal privilege you have at your disposal is the free access you have to God through prayer. The Holy Spirit organized the “Jesus People” at Pentecost into a praying powerhouse and He is doing it again today all over the world.

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I could say much more about our privileges as a result of Pentecost but today I just want to say, “Thank you, Holy Spirit!”

-JKB
PENTECOST SUNDAY
MAY 15, 2016

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Day 9) HARP AND BOWL

JKBcircleDay 9) HARP AND BOWL

One of the unusual scenes in the book of Revelation allows us a brief glimpse into the worship around the throne of God in heaven. There two objects, held by heavenly beings, suggest how we might worship God on earth.

And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” (Revelation 5:8)

THE HARPS
There is music in heaven. Musical instruments accompany worshippers as they sing praises to God. The elders around God’s throne hold harps. God loves when we praise Him on instruments now, partly because He is surrounded by praise like that for eternity in heaven. In Revelation 4:8-11, John informs us the four living creatures and the twenty four elders, (the same group holding the harps and bowls in chapter 5) are in a perpetual chorus of praise. As fascinating and encouraging as it is to consider the elders with their stringed instruments forming an eternal orchestra, it is the second object they hold that staggers the imagination!

THE BOWLS
John saw a prayer meeting in heaven unlike any other. The elders are holding golden bowls, full of a smoldering incense.

Incense was burned in the Temple at Jerusalem day and night. It was made of sweet spices and frankincense, an aromatic resin that smells something like nutmeg. When the incense was ignited, the aroma of the rising smoke made the area around the holy place extremely desirable and inviting.

In heaven, the elders are holding bowls of incense. This isn’t potpourri- just sitting in a bowl throwing off fragrance. Incense is combustible. The bowls the elders hold are on fire!

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As if that imagery isn’t enough to electrify our spirits with curiosity, John confirms an additional detail- the bowls are made of gold. Gold means the content of the bowls is highly valuable. It’s at this point John informs us the content of the bowls, the incense of heaven, is prayer. Your prayers and mine-every prayer we’ve ever prayed- are kept in golden bowls coming up before God like incense.

HARP AND BOWL WORSHIP
Today, we can worship God in a variety of ways but I suggest the heavenly harp and bowl model as a great option. By combining worship music and prayer, our prayers are more easily joined with others in the congregation or in a prayer meeting.

Music also encourages and lifts our spirits and allows us the privilege of praising God with our our entire life- our bodies, our spirits, and our minds. By singing and playing instruments during prayer we add life and a fragrant, inviting aroma to our prayers. Think of it as “worship based prayer“. Harp and bowl is not entertainment, it’s the biblical model of worshipping God simultaneously with music and prayer.

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The next city wide prayer meeting we hold in Austin, plan to attend and we can worship like the living beings in heaven- with harps and bowls.

-JKB

Day 8) THE FULLNESS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

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THE FULLNESS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

God wants His people to live Spirit filled lives. That’s why Paul instructed the Ephesians to “be filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18) That Scripture applies to every believer today as well. How can we be filled with the Spirit?

GOD DOES IT

“Be filled,” is a passive verb meaning the action of filling is outside of our control. It is not something we do- it is something done to us. God fills us with the Spirit, we do not fill ourselves.

GOD DEMANDS IT

“Be filled” is an imperative form of the verb, therefore it is a command. It is God’s will for you to be filled with the Spirit. If you are not Spirit filled you are living outside of God’s design for the Christian life.

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THE TIME IS NOW

“Be filled” is a present tense verb. That means we are to continually be filled with the Spirit. Fullness is not a “once and for all” experience. It is a fresh, dynamic part of our daily life.

 

 

THIS IS FOR YOU

“Be filled” is a plural verb. That means the fullness of the Spirit is for every believer. That includes you. Are you seeking the fullness of the Spirit? If you’re a believer you should. The Holy Spirit is not reserved for a sub-set of the church or a spiritual “special ops” branch of the Body of Christ. All of us should live Spirit-filled lives!

As we approach Pentecost Sunday on May 15, shouldn’t the church today long for the outpouring of the Spirit just as the church 2000 years ago did? I believe we should.

Today, right now, ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit. God will hear your prayer.

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-JKB

 

 

 

Day 7) HOW TO BE CERTAIN YOU ARE HEARING THE VOICE OF GOD

JKBcircleDay 7) HOW TO BE CERTAIN YOU ARE HEARING THE VOICE OF GOD

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)

Abraham heard God. Moses heard God. Elijah heard God. Paul heard God. Can you hear God?

God is a communicator. The fact He speaks is one of the first things we learn about Him from Scripture. The first chapter of the Bible details how He spoke the universe into existence (Genesis 1). His Son is revealed to us as “the Word” (John 1:1). The God whose self designation is “the Word” must take communication more seriously than we can imagine!

Can people hear God today? If so, how can we be sure we are not imagining it, or being conned by false prophets and fakes?

HIS PROMISE
Jesus promised His followers will hear His voice. He said “My sheep hear my voice….” Since He said some will hear, we can be sure of this: He is speaking!

HIS PEOPLE
Not everyone hears God. Jesus said “My sheep hear my voice….” If you are a Christian, you are a candidate for hearing the Lord speak to you!

HIS PROTECTION
I don’t want to be deceived by a counterfeit or a charming phony and neither do you. We must, however, assume the fakes are present and will attempt to deceive the people of God but we must not be led astray. Remember, Jesus said “A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” (John 10:5)

HIS PURPOSE
Why does God speak to us? As our Shepherd He is leading us into the life He has planned for us. As a result, He is speaking to us so we know which direction to take in life’s journey. Jesus said “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27) God speaks so we can follow Him as His disciples.

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PRACTICAL GUIDELINES

1) Pay Attention
None of us can listen to too many things at once without getting confused. Have you ever been on the phone while someone in the same room you’re in is talking to you at the same time? It gets confusing doesn’t it?

When attempting to hear God, get quiet and block out competing voices. Prayerfully listen for the familiar voice of your Shepherd.

2) Don’t Be Gullible
Just because someone says they are speaking for God, you are not automatically obligated  to believe it. The Apostle John warned us. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)

3) Start with Scripture
We may question some voices but where the Bible speaks-God speaks. Paul said, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness….” (2 Timothy 3:16)
God may use a sermon, a Christian spouse, a close Christian friend’s counsel, a dream, an impression during prayer, or a life circumstance to speak to His people (I have heard from God in all of those ways) BUT, if anything you “hear” contradicts Scripture it is false. Reject it immediately.

We could say much more on this subject but today remember this – God is speaking. Are you listening?  

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-JKB

 

Day 6) 3 WAYS TO DEVELOP A TEACHABLE SPIRIT

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Day 6)  3 WAYS TO DEVELOP A TEACHABLE SPIRIT

Disciples of Jesus are by definition, “learners.” The word “disciple” comes from a Greek root word meaning “to learn.”

In my early days of walking with God I was hungry to learn. In those days, I heard and read a lot about “a teachable spirit.” The Body of Christ in the 21st century needs to return to the emphasis on being “teachable.” As followers of Christ we have a lot to learn, and a lot to “un-learn.”

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The psalmist certainly understood the need for a teachable spirit. He prayed God would teach him. He said, “Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.” (Psalm 25:4) If the authors of Scripture needed to learn, I’m certain I do! In what ways can we develop a teachable spirit?

1) READ THE WORD
The only reliable source for the knowledge of God is the Bible. The truth of the Bible can fall on unresponsive hearts and fail to penetrate and do it’s work, (like the seed that fell on hard ground in the parable of Jesus) however, if we are “unteachable.”

2) CONFESS YOUR SIN
Unconfessed sin of every kind is always accompanied by the sin of pride which closes our hearts and ears to God’s Word. We can become entrenched in an unwillingness to learn and as a result, our spiritual lives begin to “dry up.” The only right response is confession.

 

3) TRUST THE SPIRIT
Today, as you open the Bible to read, ask God to forgive you of every sin, and to stir your heart and mind to receive His instruction. And ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth. Paul reminds us the Spirit is our best Bible teacher. “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.”
(1 Corinthians 2:12)

Remember, “it’s what you learn after you know it all that really counts.” Do you have a teachable spirit?

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-JKB

Day 5 “ONE SIMPLE STEP TO HELP YOU SPEND MORE TIME IN PRAYER”

JKBcircleDay 5 “ONE SIMPLE STEP TO HELP YOU SPEND MORE TIME IN PRAYER”

“How can I find more time for prayer?” That’s what a radio host asked me a few days ago during a live on air interview.

Most of us want to spend more time in prayer but we find ourselves easily distracted by our already too busy lives. So what is the answer? How can you find more time for prayer? We’ve heard about the great prayer warriors of the past spending hours a day in prayer, while we wonder how to manage even a few minutes a day.

But there is a simple step for spending more time in prayer. It may sound strange but spending more time in prayer is like eating an elephant- just take it one bite at a time! In other words, break up your prayer life into “bite size chunks.”

 

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In the Old Testament, Daniel was a mighty man of prayer. But Daniel wasn’t a pastor or a priest- he was a civil servant. He worked in a secular government. He didn’t have full control over his time- he had a job and a boss who set his schedule. So how did he work a full time job and still find time for a prayer life? Simple. He broke up his prayer into manageable segments throughout the day.

 

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“When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.” (Daniel 6:10) Daniel’s habit was prayer 3 times a day. Could you do the same? Could you give God 10 minutes of prayer and Bible reading every morning, add another 5 or 10 minutes during your lunch hour, then conclude the day with another 10 minutes every evening before you go to bed? If you did that you would be spending at least 30 minutes a day in prayer everyday!

What is stopping you from trying a “3 times a day prayer life” at least for the next few days? If you start somewhere, your time with God may grow. Try it, and let me know how it works out.

Day 4) THE MIRACLE OF WAITING

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Day 4) “The Miracle of Waiting!”

Do you like to wait? It sounds like a trick question, right? No one likes to wait. But that’s exactly what Jesus instructed the early church to do. He said “…stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”(Luke 24:49). In the Greek New Testament, the word “stay” literally means “stop all movement.” In other words, “wait.

Waiting was part of the preparation for Pentecost. Without the spiritual discipline of waiting on God’s plan to unfold, perhaps the disciples would have attempted the mission without His power. To prevent failure, Jesus instructed them to wait for the Holy Spirit.

The early church did not object to the waiting period. Instead, they correctly interpreted the forced “down time” as a call to pray and seek God. The church always benefits when we deliberately wait on God in prayer.

What is true for congregations is true for individual Christians too. Today, make it a priority to carve out time to slow down physically, sit quietly, and allow your prayers to be more focused on hearing God. Let your focus be on knowing His heart and growing in fellowship with the Lord. There is power in being still in the presence of God.

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Try it. Work more spiritual “waiting” into your calendar everyday. It will soon become second nature and you may discover a deeper experience in prayer than you’ve ever known before. If you don’t believe it, just wait!

-JKB