Don’t be an Esau Christian

“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.

Jacob was boiling pottage (lentil stew) one day, when Esau came from the field and was faint [with hunger]. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, I beg of you, let me have some of that red lentil stew to eat, for I am faint and famished! That is why his name was called Edom [red]. 31 Jacob answered, Then sell me today your birthright (the rights of a firstborn). 32 Esau said, See here, I am at the point of death; what good can this birthright do me? 33 Jacob said, Swear to me today [that you are selling it to me]; and he swore to [Jacob] and sold him his birthright. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils, and he ate and drank and rose up and went his way. Thus Esau scorned his birthright as beneath his notice.  Genesis 25:29-34 AMP

In Bible times, a birthright was the right, privilege or possession of the firstborn son; that to which he is entitled by virtue of his birth. In Israel, and the rest of the ancient world, the firstborn son enjoyed a favored position. His birthright included a double portion of his father’s assets upon his death. Another benefit was that he received a special blessing from his father and the privilege and responsibility of leadership of the family, including the spiritual leadership. He became responsible for the younger brothers, the widows, and the unmarried daughters.

The title of firstborn was sacred in ancient Israel. When Esau transferred his birthright to Jacob for a lentil stew, he showed utter disregard for the rights, privileges and responsibilities of the firstborn. He showed that he did not value, nor had he any respect for, his heritage, his parents, the promise of God, or the spiritual privilege connected with this inheritance: being progenitor (the forefather) of the promised Messiah! At that moment, Esau turned God down and chose not to follow or obey God. He chose not to accept the leadership of the next generation. He chose not to be named in the bloodline of the Messiah. Esau did not have a heart after God. Later, he wanted the blessing from Isaac, but he never did accept the boundaries of obedience that God required of him.

When Esau was 40 years old, he took, not one, but two women as wives from among the Hittites. They made life bitter and a grief of mind and spirit for Isaac and Rebekah (Genesis 26:34-35). Esau obviously did not respect God or his parent’s opinions, because he did not consult them concerning his choice of wife. He did not look for a godly wife or ask God for the one He had for him. Your choice of spouse is the second most important choice in your life after you choose your God/god – who you will serve and where you will spend eternity. You need God’s guidance – you need to respect the authority of parents and those who are older and wiser than you – wiser in God’s ways not worldly ways.

In Genesis 28:1-9, Isaac called Jacob and blessed him and commanded him not to marry one of the women of Canaan. He told him to go to Padan-aram and take a wife from Rebekah’s family, one of the daughters of Laban. Isaac blessed Jacob with the blessing of Abraham and sent him away to do as he had instructed. Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him to Padan-aram to take him a wife from there, and given him a charge that he should not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan and that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother and had gone to Padan-aram. Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan did not please his father, Isaac, so he went to Ishmael – the son of the bondwoman not the son of the promise – and took one of his daughters as an additional wife!

In God’s family, every one of us is considered “firstborn” in God’s eyes, but many Christians behave like Esau. They call themselves Christians – members of God’s family – but they don’t submit themselves to God and His will for their lives. They do not esteem their birthright. They don’t appreciate the blessings or the responsibilities of being a firstborn child of God. They don’t take the time to find out what God wants for them and from them. They pursue relationships that are detrimental to themselves and others; they don’t marry the one chosen by God, and who serves God; they settle for less; they just follow their flesh and the lusts and desires of their flesh; they only do what feels good to them in the moment.

“Esau” Christians are oblivious to spiritual things – they have no respect for God. When they hear another Christian talk about God’s leading in their lives saying something like, “God told me not to marry a Canaanite,” they decide not to “marry a Canaanite” either, but they still don’t go and marry a godly woman. They go for the daughter of the flesh – Ishmael. We are not only talking about who you marry, but all of the decisions you make every day.

Some Christians live their lives oblivious to the Spirit of God and the word of God. God’s word is not their standard; they live life according to the world’s standards. They do not even understand the dynamics of the covenant relationship between the obedient Christian and the Father. They may be envious of that relationship and of the blessings that go with it, but are unmotivated to make the changes in their own life to have this relationship with the Father themselves. Even when they hear what the Father requires, they still try to put their own spin on it and still end up doing their own thing. They always assume and presume.

The “Esau” Christian will never have God’s best and not because God doesn’t have a wonderful plan for them, but because they place no value on God’s plan and will for them or the blessings of obedience. These people go through life envious of obedient Christians, but never stop to look at themselves in the mirror, evaluating their own heart attitude, or trying to do things God’s way for a change! Don’t be an “Esau” Christian!

Jesus—The Resurrection & The Life

“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.

The thing that sets Christianity apart from all the other beliefs and religions out there is the resurrection of Jesus. Many people have been martyred or died, but only Jesus took the weight of the sins of the world on Himself and only Jesus was resurrected from the dead. Through this resurrection, all who believe are raised up with Him into everlasting life!

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”  John 11:25-26 NKJV

“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. 25 For David says concerning Him: ‘I foresaw the LORD always before my face, For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. 26 Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. 27 For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy one to see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.’ 29 “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, 31 he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. 34 “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, 35 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”‘ 36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” 37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
Acts 2:22-39 NKJV

And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.  Acts 4:33 NKJV

God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.’ 34 And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: ‘I will give you the sure mercies of David.’ 35 Therefore He also says in another Psalm: ‘You will not allow Your Holy one to see corruption.’ 36 “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption; 37 but He whom God raised up saw no corruption. 38 Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; 39 and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.  Acts 13:33-39 NKJV

For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:5-11 NKJV

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:3-9 NKJV

 

Prayer that Gets Results

“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.

PRAYER THAT GETS RESULTS
Foundation Scriptures: Ephesians 6:18; Luke 18:1

Ephesians 6:18 AMP
Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God’s consecrated people).

Luke 18:1
NKJV: Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.
AMP: Also [Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not to turn coward (faint, lose heart, and give up).

  1. Prayer is communication with your Heavenly Father.
  2. Prayer changes things—prayer changes people.
  3. If you want results when you pray, you must follow the rules.

    • There are different kinds of prayer in the Bible. You cannot pray the same prayer for every situation.
    • With different kinds of prayer, there are different rules just as different sports have different rules even though they are all sports.
  4. Prayer of consecration.

    • Some people say, “If it be Thy will” every time they pray, but this not the only way to pray.
    • This is a prayer of consecration. Even Jesus only prayed that once—in the Garden of Gethsemane. (Luke 22:42)
    • When it comes to getting something from God, we do not pray, “If it be thy will.” We already have God’s promise in His Word.
  5. God’s will.

    • We need to realize that it is God’s will that all our needs—spiritual; physical; material—be met.
    • Isaiah 1:19 AMP – If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.
    • 3 John 2 NKJV – Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.
  6. Prayer of petition.

    • When you pray—when you ask God for anything— you must pray in faith and expectation.
    • Mark 11:24 NKJV – Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.
    • Mark 11:24 AMP – For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it]. You can only pray this prayer for yourself.
  7. Praise and answered prayer.

    • There is a time to ask and a time to praise and worship God.
    • When Jehoshaphat and Judah were faced with several nations—a great multitude—coming to fight with them, they chose to praise and worship God and He delivered them.
    • 2 Chronicles 20:21-22 NKJV – And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: “Praise the Lord, For His mercy endures forever.” 22 Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated.
    • Paul and Silas were beaten and chained up, but when they began to praise and worship God, they were delivered.
    • Acts 16:25-26 NKJV – But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.
    • Tell God what you want and then just worship Him and thank Him.
  8. Don’t worry.

    • Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV – Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
    • Be anxious for nothing means: do not worry about anything.
    • 1 Peter 5:6-7 AMP – Therefore humble yourselves [demote, lower yourselves in your own estimation] under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you, 7 Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.
    • Cast ALL your cares—not just some of them—on Him.
    • When you believe God’s Word and refuse to worry, some people think that there is something wrong with you.
    • Casting your cares does not mean that you ignore your situation; it means you give it to the Lord—you put it in His hands.
    • Psalms 37:5 AMP – Commit your way to the Lord [roll and repose each care of your load on Him]; trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) also in Him and He will bring it to pass.
    • When you cast your cares on the Lord and commit your ways to Him, you demonstrate trust and faith in Him to bring it to pass.
    • Many people do not get their prayers answered, because they won’t stop worrying and won’t cast their cares on the Lord.
  9. United prayer.

    • If we, as the Church; as the Body of Christ, join our hearts, faith and voices together to pray and ask God for anything, we will see God do mighty things.
    • Acts 4:23-24a NKJV – And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord…
    • Acts 4:29-30 NKJV – Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.
    • Prayer that is prayed in agreement—in one accord—is answered prayer.
    • Matthew 18:19 NKJV – Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.

Living for Eternity

“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.

For thus says the high and lofty One—He Who inhabits eternity, Whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, but with him also who is of a thoroughly penitent and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble and to revive the heart of the thoroughly penitent [bruised with sorrow for sin]. Isaiah 57:15 AMP

Almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth, lives in the realm of Eternity. He has no boundaries and no limitations—no boundaries of time or space. He can do anything He wants to do! When I say “no limits” I do not mean that He is not bound by any rules at all. He is also a good and a righteous God, therefore, even though He has no boundaries or limits, He binds and obligates Himself to His Word and all that He does is also only good.

I have seen that everything [human] has its limits and end [no matter how extensive, noble, and excellent]; but Your commandment is exceedingly broad and extends without limits [into eternity]. Psalms 119:96 AMP

Everything human has its limits and comes to an end, but God is unlimited. Things of earth; things of man; will all come to nothing—only eternal things will last. The humble and repentant souls are the ones who are destined to live forever in eternity with the Father.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also has planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy], yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. Ecclesiastes 3:11 AMP

• He has made everything beautiful in its time.

God has a wonderful plan for your life. Everything He has called you to do you can do—with His help. Don’t even try to do anything in your own strength or ability. Rather trust the Holy Ghost to do His work in you and His work through you. There is a direction and a time for everything. The Holy Spirit is the one who will drop a desire in your heart that is in line with His call and purpose and it is the Holy Spirit who will prompt you when it is time to move ahead. That is why we must remain both sensitive and obedient to His voice. You will not succeed unless you implicitly follow Him on the path He has laid before you, just as the Israelites followed the presence of God—the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire—when and where they went. As long as you are walking in obedience to the Lord, everything God has spoken to you will come to pass. You can’t make it happen and you can’t stop it.

Walking in God’s will requires collaboration—us cooperating with the Holy Spirit. Never be intimidated by other people and don’t compare yourself to others. It will only make you to feel either inferior or prideful. Your identity must be in who He has made you to be and what He has called you to do. It’s not a popularity contest. Just do what He tells you to do. God’s will! Nothing more! Nothing less! Nothing else!

• He also has planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy].

God has planted eternity in your heart and mind. He has a Master Plan; a plan that was activated at the foundation of the earth and has continued to work through the ages; a plan that is still being worked out. Ephesians 1:4 AMP says, “Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love.”

Every one of us is part of His plan. We are called to carry out our small part of His big plan. God is the one who puts a divinely implanted sense of purpose in your heart. He puts the desire in your heart and only He can satisfy that desire!

• Yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

No one can figure God out or know what He knows or what He is doing, so don’t even try. That is why it is so important to obey even if we don’t understand it all; even if we don’t have all the information. The Lord expects us to trust Him. He is blessed and glorified when we trust Him. You are not displaying weakness to trust God—you are displaying strength. The weak individuals are the ones who trust the arm of the flesh.

Eternity is planted in your heart; live your life for eternity; make your life, and everything you do, count for eternity!

For me to live is Christ [His life in me], and to die is gain [the gain of the glory of eternity]. Philippians 1:21 AMP

Then we, the living ones who remain [on the earth], shall simultaneously be caught up along with [the resurrected dead] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so always (through the eternity of the eternities) we shall be with the Lord! 18 Therefore comfort and encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18 AMP

Testimony by Mrs. Tiffany

The Lord is showing me that the work of the ministry is for the people. A lot of times you get so caught up in the work you forget about the reason you are doing it causing yourself to get caught in a works program. It’s about seeing people healed. It’s about seeing people delivered. Freely we received freely we should give. We should show love without condemnation the same way Jesus shows to us regardless of what we have done.

Appreciate What you Have in Christ

The Prophets Longed For What We Have Now

Praised (honored, blessed) be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah)! By His boundless mercy we have been born again to an ever-living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 [Born anew] into an inheritance which is beyond the reach of change and decay [imperishable], unsullied and unfading, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are being guarded (garrisoned) by God’s power through [your] faith [till you fully inherit that final] salvation that is ready to be revealed [for you] in the last time. 6 [You should] be exceedingly glad on this account, though now for a little while you may be distressed by trials and suffer temptations, 7 So that [the genuineness] of your faith may be tested, [your faith] which is infinitely more precious than the perishable gold which is tested and purified by fire. [This proving of your faith is intended] to redound to [your] praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) is revealed. 8 Without having seen Him, you love Him; though you do not [even] now see Him, you believe in Him and exult and thrill with inexpressible and glorious (triumphant, heavenly) joy. 9 [At the same time] you receive the result (outcome, consummation) of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:3-9 AMP

All those, who have received Jesus as Lord and Savior, have every reason to rejoice and praise the Father for the great things He has done for us through Jesus. By His boundless mercy, we are born anew into an imperishable inheritance, reserved in heaven for us. We are being guarded by God’s power through our faith until we get to heaven and enjoy the fullness of our salvation. This great future should give us hope and make us glad, even though we may go through trials and suffer temptations here on earth. The genuineness of our faith is being tested like gold, which is purified by fire, and will be commended by Jesus when we see him. We haven’t seen Him and yet He is real to us through faith – we love Him and believe in Him and exult with heavenly joy. At the same time, His Spirit is working in us and bringing us closer to Him.

The prophets, who prophesied of the grace (divine blessing) which was intended for you, searched and inquired earnestly about this salvation. 11 They sought [to find out] to whom or when this was to come which the Spirit of Christ working within them was indicating when He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow [them]. 12 It was then disclosed to them that the services they were rendering were not meant for themselves and their period of time, but for you. [It is these very] things which have now already been made known plainly to you by those who preached the good news (the Gospel) to you by the [same] Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Into these things [the very] angels long to look! 1 Peter 1:10-12 AMP

The prophets who prophesied about Jesus – His life, death, burial and resurrection – prophesied by the Spirit of God; not by their own will. 2 Peter 1:20-21 AMP says: “[Yet] first [you must] understand this, that no prophecy of Scripture is [a matter] of any personal or private or special interpretation (loosening, solving). 21 For no prophecy ever originated because some man willed it [to do so — it never came by human impulse], but men spoke from God who were borne along (moved and impelled) by the Holy Spirit.”

The Spirit of Christ worked in them and predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. They searched and earnestly inquired and sought to find out who the Messiah was and when He would appear, but it was revealed to them that it was not for them or for their time period. How blessed are we, that we should be so privileged to live in this Church dispensation! What a privilege we have, to not only be able to have seen the fulfillment of these prophecies, which have already taken place, and passed down to us by those who actually walked with Jesus; but to be recipients of God’s grace and to experience the brand new heart that King David and the prophet Ezekiel spoke of!

Even the angels long to look into these things and experience what we experience, but they cannot. We are the redeemed of God! How truly blessed we are! Words could never express the blessing and privilege of this new life: being washed in His blood, the forgiveness of sin, sin having no more power over us, walking in His grace and resurrection life, filled with His Spirit, seated in heavenly places with Jesus, anointed with power and authority, children of the Most High and welcomed into His family.

For all that God has done for us – the least we can do is to fully appreciate what we have and to serve Him with all of our heart. We are purchased with the precious blood of Christ! He is holy and so we must be holy, too.

So brace up your minds; be sober (circumspect, morally alert); set your hope wholly and unchangeably on the grace (divine favor) that is coming to you when Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is revealed. 14 [Live] as children of obedience [to God]; do not conform yourselves to the evil desires [that governed you] in your former ignorance [when you did not know the requirements of the Gospel]. 15 But as the One Who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all your conduct and manner of living. 16 For it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy. 17 And if you call upon Him as [your] Father Who judges each one impartially according to what he does, [then] you should conduct yourselves with true reverence throughout the time of your temporary residence [on the earth, whether long or short]. 18 You must know (recognize) that you were redeemed (ransomed) from the useless (fruitless) way of living inherited by tradition from [your] forefathers, not with corruptible things [such as] silver and gold, 19 But [you were purchased] with the precious blood of Christ (the Messiah), like that of a [sacrificial] lamb without blemish or spot. 1 Peter 1:13-19 AMP

Characteristics of the Power of God – Part I

But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth. Acts 1:8 AMP

The word “power” used here is the Greek word “dunamis” or “dynamis”, from which we get our English word “dynamite”. It denotes explosive power! It has to do with not only power, but ability also and is translated variously in the KJV as: power; mighty work; strength; miracle; might; virtue; mighty.

Transforming power:

The Holy Spirit has the power to transform lives! In fact everyone who is genuinely touched by the power of God is transformed – both instantly, and over the course of time, as they continue to yield to the Holy Spirit’s power.

Peter experienced the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Before he was changed, it was a different story: In Matthew 26:69-74, Peter denied – three times – that he was a disciple of Jesus out of fear and self–preservation. He also cursed and denied that he even knew Him. But only 50 days later he was filled with the Holy Spirit, endued with fire power, speaking in tongues, and preaching boldly on the streets. We see an entirely different Peter! Peter was empowered by the Holy Spirit to be a bold witness for the Lord Jesus Christ!

As reported in Acts chapter 2, in the middle of people mocking and scorning the 120, accusing them of being drunk, Peter stood up in front of the multitude and preached a bold sermon – proclaiming the Lord Jesus, who was only recently crucified by these same people. The people were cut to the heart by his powerful and anointed preaching and asked him what to do to be saved. That day 3000 people received Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Paul experienced the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Before he met Jesus and had his powerful encounter with the Holy Spirit, he was a zealous and deadly persecutor of the early Church. He arrested and imprisoned men, women and children and was right there when Stephen was stoned for his last and greatest sermon. Paul might not have thrown a stone to kill Stephen, but he looked on and consented to it, and the garments of those who did, were left at his feet (Acts 7:58 & Acts 22:20).

“Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ 8 So I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ Acts 22:6-8 NKJV

Saul/Paul was struck blind for three days by this encounter and humbled by the Spirit of God. The Lord sent Ananias to preach Jesus to him, and restore his sight, baptize him, and prophesy to him: “The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.” (Acts 22:14-15 AMP)

“Now it happened, when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I was in a trance 18 and saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me.’ 19 So I said, ‘Lord, they know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believe on You. 20 And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’ 21 Then He said to me, ‘Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.’” Acts 22:17-21 NKJV

Even though Paul had done terrible things against the Church and against Jesus – Jesus forgave him, changed him and used him in a mighty way to spread the Gospel throughout Asia. Even when he tried to remind Jesus of what he done to Stephen, all Jesus said was, “Go to the gentiles!” His past was washed away and he was forever transformed. Paul went on to boldly teach and preach the Word of God and perform mighty miracles, despite powerful persecution. Acts 19:11-12 AMP says, “And God did unusual and extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 So that handkerchiefs or towels or aprons which had touched his skin were carried away and put upon the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.”

The Lord can transform your life in the same way too, and use you like He used Peter and Paul!

Healing power:

The Lord uses ordinary people, who are completely submitted to Him, to do great miracles and to heal the sick and raise the dead.

If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; 10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. Acts 4:9-10 KJV

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13 KJV

And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. 13 Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly. 14 And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15 so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. 16 Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed. Acts 5:12-16 NKJV

Peter and John were not educated men, and yet miracles of healing were performed by them. Through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. This was not their power or ability, but the power and ability of the Holy Spirit. This power is still available to us today – if we believe it and if we obey the great commission to lay hands on the sick – we WILL also see mighty miracles of healing performed!

The New is Wine is Better

Then He spoke a parable to them: “No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old. 37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. 38 But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved. 39 And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.'” Luke 5:36-39 NKJV

No one puts a new piece of material on an old garment:

Jesus told the disciples: “No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old.”

He was speaking of the New Covenant compared to the Old and to our new life in Him compared to religious tradition and our own efforts. Isaiah 64:6a NKJV says: “But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.” When it comes to garments, the material tends to shrink when it is washed, especially when it is new. An older garment has done most of its shrinking, but a new piece of material will still shrink further. When this happens, it will tear away from the garment it has been sown onto.

Christianity is not just another religion – it is a new life! We have a brand new covenant, based on better promises. You can’t put a new religious patch on an old religion. Jesus did not come to “patch up our religion, nor us” or to patch up the Law – He came to give each of us a brand-new garment – a robe of righteousness. You can’t fix the sin problem by fixing behavior – you can’t fix it from the outside in, with rules, but only from the inside out, by the Spirit of God. Only God can fix the sin problem, and He does it by changing the heart. When you believe the Gospel and you receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, you are born again and you become a new creation – your spirit is made brand new! You don’t have a new religion – you have a new life.

No one puts new wine into old wineskins:

Jesus said: “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

Jesus is speaking here about new wine that has been freshly squeezed. New Wine is symbolic of the Holy Spirit. You can’t put new wine into an old wineskin, because an old wineskin is rigid and unyielding. When the gases of the wine in it expand, it will not stretch, but burst. New wine must be put into a new wineskin that is soft and flexible, so that they can expand together. God puts His Holy Spirit into the heart that has been made brand new by the blood of Jesus.

Even an old wineskin can be pressed into service again if it is first soaked in water and then has oil thoroughly rubbed into it, to make it soft and flexible again. Water is symbolic of the Word of God and Oil is another symbol for the Holy Spirit. Where religion makes us hard and inflexible, liable to burst and tear, God’s Word and His Holy Spirit make us soft, humble and yielded, if they are allowed to do their work on our “wineskin”. If we want God to be able to use us then we must continually soak ourselves in the Word of God and allow it to soak into us. We must allow the Holy Spirit to do His work in us to keep us fresh and full of His wonderful new wine.

Old wine versus new wine:

Jesus said: “And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.’”

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. 3 And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” 4 Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” 6 Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it. 9 When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. 10 And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!” John 2:1-10 NKJV

The first miracle that Jesus did was to turn water into wine at the wedding feast. The master of the feast declared that this new wine was the best tasting wine at the celebration. When people drink too much of the “old wine” of religion, they are not thirsty for the new wine of the Spirit of God. Jesus came to give us His delicious new wine. Once we taste it, we will never want the old again!

Witnesses to the Resurrection

The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, 3 to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. Acts 1:1-3 NKJV

Just like the Virgin Birth, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is central to our faith and salvation. 1 Corinthians 15:14 says: “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” And 1 Corinthians 15:17 says: “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” (NIV) Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for our sins and He rose again to give us new life – eternal life. Christianity is not just another religion – it is a genuine experience and a relationship with Almighty God through Jesus Christ. It is a fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Hundreds of people personally witnessed His death on the cross and hundreds were witnesses of His resurrection. They saw Him, they spoke with Him, they touched Him, they ate with Him, and they saw Him ascend into the heavens into the presence of the Father and His angels.

Jesus’ Appearances After His Resurrection:

Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9-11; John 20:11-18):

Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. 11 And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe. Mark 16:9-11 NKJV

The other women at the tomb (Matthew 28:8-10; Luke 24:1-11):

And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. 9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. 10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me. Matthew 28:8-10 KJV

Peter in Jerusalem (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5):

Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. Luke 24:34 KJV

The two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Mark 16:12, 13; Luke 24:13-35):

After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country. 13 And they went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either. Mark 16:12-13 NKJV

Ten disciples (without Thomas) behind closed doors (Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-25):

And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. 38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? 39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. 40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. Luke 24:36-40 KJV

All the disciples, with Thomas (excluding Judas Iscariot) (John 20:26-31; 1 Corinthians 15:5):

And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. John 20:26-28 KJV

Seven disciples who were fishing (John 21:1-14):

After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself. 2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. John 21:1-2 KJV

This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead. John 21:14 KJV

Eleven disciples on the mountain (Matthew 28:16-20):

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. Matthew 28:16-17 KJV

A crowd of 500; Peter; Jesus’ brother, James; and Paul:

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 KJV

Those who watched Jesus ascend into heaven (Mark 16:19; Luke 24:44-49; Acts 1:1-11):

So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. Mark 16:19 NKJV

Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 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 NKJV

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