Pentecost is the Greek name for Shavout (Hebrew for “Weeks”). Shavout was the celebration for the giving of the law to Moses at Mount Sinai. That occurred fifty days after the Passover in Egypt. It was now the fiftieth day since the Passover had been celebrated in Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit was given at this time confirming the New Covenant of Grace and the beginning of what we call the “church” age. When the Bible says that we can do nothing without Jesus (John 15:5) but we can do all things through Christ (Phil 4:13), the verses are referring to the strength and direction that we receive from the Holy Spirit who abides in us. He gives us the words to say and the ability to say those words. We need to make plans, study and be prepared to always give a reason for our hope in Jesus Christ, (1 Peter 3:13), but we should always be flexible enough to make an adjustment in our plans. Why? Because we can’t plan for every conceivable event but the Holy Spirit can and does. It is He Who will give us the exact words to speak and the strength to speak them in any situation. (Luke 12: 11-12). Just be obedient and trust the Holy Spirit for strength and safety.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
In those times, the people thought that physical ailments meant that you or someone in your family had sinned and the problems were God’s way of punishing them. This was why the disciples asked the question, “why was this man born blind?”. Jesus explains to them that his blindness is not caused by a particular sin of either the man or his parents. After all, how could a person sin before they were even born? This blindness was another evil thing that occurred because sin was still in the world. But Jesus used the evil for good to demonstrate the power of God against such things. People are still asking the same question today, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” The answer is the same, sin is still at work in the world. But Jesus can still use those situations to show the power and the glory of God. All of us are born spiritually blind and we still need Jesus, “the Light of the world” to open our eyes. But rejoice! The day is soon coming when all these evil and bad things will be gone! That day could be tomorrow!
12 The next day a great crowd who had come to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast heard that Jesus was coming there. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Jesus, shouting, “Praise God! God bless the King of Israel!” 14 Jesus found a colt and sat on it. This was as the Scripture says, 15″Don’t be afraid, people of Jerusalem! Your king is coming, sitting on the colt of a donkey.” 16 The followers of Jesus did not understand this at first. But after Jesus was raised to glory, they remembered that this had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.—John 12:12-16 (NCV)
The crowd heard that Jesus was coming so they took palm branches and went out to greet Jesus. In those days, it was common for the people to lay branches out for a king or a great leader to walk on or ride on as he entered the town. A conquering king would normally enter riding on a horse trained for war. A king that was coming in peace would ride in on a colt to show his humbleness. Jesus was a King who came in peace and riding on a colt also fulfilled prophecy. 9 Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey— riding on a donkey’s colt.—Zechariah 9:9 (NLT)
Jesus came first as a suffering servant and a peacemaker but His next entrance will be as a conquering King on a horse prepared for war. 11 Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war.12 His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns.–Revelation 19:11-12a (NLT)
Chorus to “The King is Coming” by Bill Gaither
The King is coming, the King is coming
I just heard the trumpet sounding and soon His face I’ll see
The King is coming, the King is coming
Praise God, He’s coming for me!
17 But you, my dear friends, must remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ predicted. 18 They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires. 19 These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them. 20 But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, 21 and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love. 22 And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. 23 Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.—Jude 17-23 (NLT)
We live in the times Jude is describing in these verses. Everyday, we read more and more articles and hear more comments about people who either disrespect Christianity or refuse to believe in God. They are becoming much more militant in their actions each day, demanding more and more rights but at the same time wanting to limit the rights of others. They use all manner of deception and false claims that others are mistreating them. We must stand firm in our beliefs and refuse to compromise the truth that is laid out in the Scriptures. God has not changed His mind about what He knows to be sin. After all, does the Creator not know what actions will harm the creatures He so lovingly created? Which of us can say to the Creator, “hey, you made a mistake”? After all God is Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient. We must encourage new believers to stand firm and grow in the faith. We do this with love and mercy, just as God has shown love and mercy to us. We “snatch others from the flames of judgment” by witnessing to them about Jesus. We must do this also with great love and mercy, not judging them for their sins, but showing them a different way of life. We must love the sinner and hate the sin just as God does. As we do this, we must be sure not to allow the sins to contaminate our lives.
****Bob Dylan circa 1964
9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment. 11 Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, 12 looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames. 13 But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.—2 Peter 3:9-13 (NLT)
One day and possibly in the not too distant future, this earth will once again be destroyed. Only this time, it will be with fire, the heavens, the earth and everything in it will be burned with fire and melt away. There is only one Person to turn to, if we want to escape this terrible destruction. We must turn to Jesus. We should be practicing that every day of our lives. In the smallest of trials and frustrations, we should be turning to Jesus now. That is how we build our faith and know that we can trust Him to deliver us from the wrath to come. If we can’t trust Him with a hangnail, how do you suppose we can trust Him with the future of our souls? When the doctor says, “you only have a few days”, where do you turn? We should practice turning to the Great Physician in the small things. Regardless of who applies the bandage, He is the one who does the healing. He, and He alone, can direct the medical team if the end result is going to be healing. Above all, praise Him that the day is coming when we won’t need doctors of any kind. We will live an eternity where there is no sickness and no more dying.
32 How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. 33 By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. 35 Women received their loved ones back again from death. But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. 36 Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. 37 Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. 38 They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground. 39 All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. 40 For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us..–Hebrews 11:32-40 (NLT)
All the people mentioned in Chapter 11’s Faith Hall of Fame were used greatly by God because they remained faithful to God through all of their trials and temptations. They earned a good reputation while they were here on earth, but none of them received all that God has promised them and us. The total fulfillment of the promises is yet to come. More of the promises were fulfilled at Calvary and after the resurrection. But the “better” thing that God had in mind for them and for us will only be given to all of us when Jesus returns to take us home to live with Him for eternity. By faith, we hang onto the hope of the complete fulfillment of all of God’s promises. Now we only get to see glimpses, but one day we will see all of it clearly. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.–1 Corinthians 13:12 (NLT)