IMAGINATION & AMAZING GRACE - Cordia Novell, Christian Writer
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A Week in Acts 2: David's Prayer in Acts 2
A Week in Acts 2: Fellowship
A Week in Acts 2: God is Working!
A Week in Acts 2: Peter Preaches to the Crowd
A Week in Acts 2: The Holy Spirit Comes

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A Week in Acts 2: David's Prayer in Acts 2

King David said this about Him:

‘I see that the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and my tongue shouts His praises! My body rests in hope.  For You will not leave my soul among the dead or allow Your Holy One to rot in the grave. You have shown me the way of life, and You will fill me with the joy of Your presence.’

Acts 2:25-28 New Living Translation (NLT)


Dear Lord God,

Thank You! Thank all Three Persons of You:  Father, Son and Holy Spirit. You created us to know You and sent Your Son to show us the way of life You meant for us to live.  By His blood we are redeemed and forgiven of the sin that seeks to bind us. Thank You for giving us the Holy Spirit to guide, comfort, protect and help us as we stumble toward Your Kingdom awaiting the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and Your promise of everlasting life with You through Him.  Sustain us with Your unchanging hands.  Abide in us through Your Spirit and cleanse our hearts and minds.  Love us with love we do not deserve until we learn to love You as You deserve. You are worthy of our praise and to You we give all the glory.  Fill us with the joy of Your presence as You feed us till we want no more.

Thank You Father!  Thank You Jesus!  Thank You Holy Spirit!

Amen and Amen.


For David himself said—and the Holy Spirit was speaking through him when he said it—‘God said to my Lord, sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.’  Mark 12:36 TLB 







A Week in Acts 2: Fellowship

Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need.  They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

Acts 2:41-47 New Living Translation (NLT)


Imagine a world in which people are devoted to worship, praise and fellowship.  Not just on Sundays while attending church services and sometimes on Wednesday nights for Bible study, but every day as the early disciples did.  Ponder a planet where people share all they have so that no one has need of the basic necessities of life.  Envision a world where we all are "haves" and there are no "have nots" and where every heart is filled with the love of Christ and love for one another. This is what God had in mind when He spoke the world into existence.  But not long after God created this world in which we live to be a paradise for us, sin slid into that garden and everything changed. Yet, God's plans for us did not.

God is good and His mercy endures forever. God is love.  He hasn't given up on us. He just decided to fulfill His purpose for our lives in another way.  His plans will still prevail and He gave the part of Himself that is His Son to make it happen. His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses and He knows every one for He examines our hearts.  He demonstrates patience and kindness and compassion, and He's waiting for us to learn to do the same. 

We must embrace God's grace for without it, we are doomed.  We must obey His command to love and care for each other.  Jesus walked the earth and gave us an example to follow.  How long do we have to get it right?  Don't wait too long because His Kingdom is coming.  God will have His way.  Believe it!

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”  Revelation 21:3-4 NLT



A Week in Acts 2: God is Working!

“People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know. But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him.  But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip.”

“God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this.  Now he is exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand. And the Father, as he had promised, gave him the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us, just as you see and hear today.

Acts 2:22-24, 32-33 New Living Translation (NLT)


We live, move and have our being because God created us to do so.  We die because God has numbered our days on this planet.  But God isn't quite finished. Although we would like to maintain some semblance of control of the length of this gift of life, we don't. That may be why some don't believe in God.  There are those who dismiss the miracle of birth and who attempt to embrace and accept a finality in death.  However, let's face it:  no one really wants to die, especially if they are living well in this world.  Jesus came to defeat death and He did. The grave could not hold Him. He got up to finish God's plan of salvation.

Believing in the resurrection of Jesus and who He is, presents us with the alternative God has planned for His children.  Through belief in Christ, we are promised everlasting life.  God raised Him from the dead and exalted Him with full authority to pour the Holy Spirit upon those who accept Him as Lord and Savior. We no more asked for God's mercy as Jesus Christ gave His life for us when we were destined to die in our sin, than we asked to be born into this world.

Everything that happens is a part of God's plan.  God takes even the bad things He allows to happen and uses them for our good and His glory.  Through Christ, God has turned death into a transition to eternal life with Him.  When Jesus was crucified, He died for our sin. God raised Him from the dead and gave us all another chance to live with Him forever and He sent the Holy Spirit as a guide to help those who believe progress to His Kingdom.  God is at work and He never sleeps.  We can rest in His care.


From one person God made all nations who live on earth, and he decided when and where every nation would be.

God has done all this, so that we will look for him and reach out and find him. He isn’t far from any of us, and he gives us the power to live, to move, and to be who we are. “We are his children,” just as some of your poets have said.  Acts 17:26-28 CEV







A Week in Acts 2: Peter Preaches to the Crowd

But others in the crowd ridiculed them, saying, “They’re just drunk, that’s all!”
 
Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd, “Listen carefully, all of you, fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem! Make no mistake about this. These people are not drunk, as some of you are assuming. Nine o’clock in the morning is much too early for that. No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel:
 
‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike—and they will prophesy.  But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
 
Acts 2:13-1, 21 New Living Translation (NLT)


When we question the power of the Holy Spirit, all we need to do is get to know Peter.  Jesus called Simon "Peter."  The Greek translation of Peter is "rock."  Just as Jesus knew Peter would deny Him three times before that rooster crowed, Jesus also knew that Peter was ordained to be the foundation on which He would build His church.  This was an ordinary fisherman who would be used by God in spite of himself.  That is the power of the Holy Spirit.  God will use even a rock to fulfill His plans.

People who doubt God's power often look for other reasons to explain things that happen outside of their realm of understanding.  As the Holy Spirit filled the believers with His power, those who did not believe accused them of being drunk.  In the Old Testament, as Hannah prayed earnestly to God for a child at the Tabernacle, she was accused of being drunk by the priest (1 Samuel 1:14)!  Must have been a lot of drinking going on in those days for that to be such a common accusation from those seeking to condemn behavior they didn't understand.  These believers at Pentecost may have seemed drunk, but they were being filled with the Holy Spirit.  God was keeping His promise to send a Helper and His plan was in action for all to see, believe and receive.

Some people refer to drunkenness as being "full." These people were full, alright! But they were full of the Holy Spirit. They were being saved and used by God to carry His message to others as Jesus promised they would as they believed. This is a drink Jesus offers to fill us all with. A drink that promises we will never thirst again.

Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. Ephesians 5:18-19 NLT







A Week in Acts 2: The Holy Spirit Comes

On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.

When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.

They were completely amazed. “How can this be?” they exclaimed. “These people are all from Galilee, and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages. And we all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!” They stood there amazed and perplexed. “What can this mean?” they asked each other.

Acts 2:1-4, 6-8, 11-12 New Living Translation (NLT)


When Jesus promised that God would send them a Helper, His disciples had no idea what was about to happen.  They were told to stay where they were and wait (Luke 24:49).  Waiting on the Lord is hard when we lack patience, which is why patience is a virtuous fruit of the Spirit.  Many go their own way only to come back and then ask for God's help.  This often makes those of us who claim belief to realize that we do better to obey Him in the first place, especially since He promises to always help us. 

God sent the Holy Spirit in such a way that those who already believed were literally caught up in His arrival and those who didn't yet believe were caught up in the struggle of trying to figure out what was going on.  One thing was certain:  Everyone was caught up! 

When we rely on our own understanding, we will undoubtedly be led to discover how little we really understand.  Things have changed since the time when Jesus ascended to Heaven and promised the coming of the Holy Spirit.  Even those who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior don't always fully grasp the entire plan of God.  The Good News is that we don't have to understand. We just have to believe. God's ways are higher than our ways. "Things" may have changed in our world, but God has not changed and He is in full control.  He is going to show up and show out just like He said and did long ago and everybody is going to be "caught up" one way or another, just like they were back then. The only difference is this was how it was in the beginning when God sent the Holy Spirit to help us to live in this troubled world. Believers are now waiting for Jesus Christ to return when all trouble in this world will end.

And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”  Luke 24:49 NLT





Jeremiah Prays

“O Sovereign Lord! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you! You show unfailing love to thousands, but you also bring the consequences of one generation’s sin upon the next. You are the great and powerful God, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. You have all wisdom and do great and mighty miracles. You see the conduct of all people, and you give them what they deserve. You performed miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt—things still remembered to this day! And you have continued to do great miracles in Israel and all around the world. You have made your name famous to this day.”

Jeremiah 32:16-20 New Living Translation (NLT)


God of all Glory,

You are the sovereign Lord who spoke the world into existence and by Your powerful might, You sustain all You have created.  Be exalted by my praise. All things are subject to Your will and I worship You in Spirit and in truth.  You are the only wise God and You knew we would need a Savior.  You gave Your only Son to die once and for all to save mankind from sin so that we could be reconciled to You as we only believe.  I thank You for who You are and for loving me as I am, but pray to be made more pleasing in your sight.  Unworthy, undeserving but forgiven, I bow before Your throne of mercy and grace.  Cleanse me and make me a whole and useful vessel to You.  Finish the good work You have begun in me and be glorified. You are the same yesterday, today and forevermore.  You are my God and all glory for every good and perfect gift is Yours. Thank You!!!

In the matchless name of Jesus, I pray,
Amen.








Trouble Won't Last Always

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken. We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit.  We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going.  These bodies of ours are constantly facing death just as Jesus did; so it is clear to all that it is only the living Christ within who keeps us safe.

2 Corinthians 4:8-10 Living Bible (TLB)


Life in this world can be difficult. Yet, we were created by God and made able to survive. Trials come but we are sustained.  As we look back on our lives, we all have a story to tell.  At some point in every single existence, we each have gone through something that seemed too hard to bear, but we made it through. Surely it was not because of how tough we try to be because we are not tough.  We are fragile and easily broken. Had we been so strong and mighty in and of ourselves, we would not have suffered such an ordeal.  We would not have experienced the distress that caused so much misery.  The pain would not have knocked us off our feet.  But it did.  We get up and keep going because God picks us up so that we can keep going.  God's power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). 

When we are surrounded by trouble, we may feel like giving up but something inside will compel us not to give up.  At that moment, as we begin to wonder what's the use in trying, some of us pray. Some of us cry out to God for help with faith that He can fix whatever is wrong. We gain strength as we realize that God will never abandon us and that He is always with us, and in us, helping us as we "go through." God promises that absolutely nothing can separate us from His love.  We have Christ to thank for that.

We have only to believe in what Jesus did and still does to be able to put our trust in Him. Because of His promises, we can be confident that the issues we face in life shall all pass. He who offers us forever in God's Kingdom will get us there if we follow Him. In fact, He is preparing our places right now.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”  John 14:1-3 NIV








Temptation

Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”

Luke 4:1-7 New International Version (NIV)


If we ever wonder about the reality of the enemy and how he operates, the Scripture above illustrates just how bold he is.  Believers accept that Jesus is the Son of God.  We believe that God sent His only Son to save the world from sin.  We believe that He died on a cross and rose from the grave, thereby defeating death so that we might live forever in God's Kingdom.  We believe that God has given Him all authority in Heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18).  And the devil still tried to tempt Him.  Pretty deep!  Without Jesus, nobody is safe from satan's efforts to keep us in bondage.

Our faith is tested as we live in a world that God allows the enemy to run rampant through our lives, for now.  He lies, he steals, he destroys.  He knows our weaknesses and he uses them against us as he attempts to draw us away from God.  It is he who encourages us to hurt and hate others.  He promises us everything and gives us nothing because he has nothing to give but death.  If we let him, he will try to lead us straight into that fiery lake of burning sulfur that has been reserved as his last destination (Revelation 20:10). 

When we start to think we can overcome temptations on our own, we need to remember that the ultimate tempter and enemy of our souls has no shame in his game. If he thought he could break Jesus, the only Son of the Most High God, what won't he try to do to demolish us?  Let us thank God for our Savior and stay very close to Him as we pray not to be led into temptation.  Our strength and protection comes from the Lord.  Don't ever forget that!




Saved by Grace

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. In those days you were living apart from Christ. . . . You lived in this world without God and without hope.  But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.

For Christ himself has brought peace to us.

Ephesians 2:8-10, 11-13 14 New Living Translation (NLT)


Grace wakes us up each day after graciously allowing us to sleep, resting our bodies from the toils of our day.  Sometimes we can't sleep, but this can be attributed to our ignorance of God's grace as we toss and turn and worry about moments in a future we don't control.  Yet, even then His grace is sufficient.  We don't deserve it, no matter how good or bad we think we are.  So bragging and taking credit for God's grace may be keeping us awake and unable to sleep on yet another night.  Only surrender to the One who surrendered His life for us can work the miracles we need for the peace we yearn for. 

While so much division is taking place in the world today, those who are believers of Christ must remember that we were once foreigners to the Gospel of God and without hope. We don't control the market on who God will bless or who He wants to bless through us. As we resist this truth we are kept from being united with Christ. Being united with Christ means being united with everyone with the newness of the loving spirits He has given us when we accepted Christ as Savior and having the desire to share this precious gift.  Anyone who denies they must love others, denies God love (1 John 4:8).

We may build governments and borders and walls marking off our own little places on this planet we don't want others to cross, but it all belongs to God.  We must let others in with the same grace that opened the door for us. When we strive too hard to keep others off of what we consider "our turf," we must remember that we are all still "outsiders" hoping to get into God's Kingdom. 


Our Bodies Belong to God

I can do anything I want to if Christ has not said no, but some of these things aren’t good for me. Even if I am allowed to do them, I’ll refuse to if I think they might get such a grip on me that I can’t easily stop when I want to. For instance, take the matter of eating. God has given us an appetite for food and stomachs to digest it. But that doesn’t mean we should eat more than we need. Don’t think of eating as important because someday God will do away with both stomachs and food.

Haven’t you yet learned that your body is the home of the Holy Spirit God gave you, and that he lives within you? Your own body does not belong to you.  For God has bought you with a great price. So use every part of your body to give glory back to God because he owns it.

1 Corinthians 6:12-13, 19-20 Living Bible (TLB)


If we're a part of that group of folk who cannot get rid of that belly fat, be of good cheer! God's Word clearly states that we won't have that to worry about on the other side!  That is probably because God promises to perfect those who follow His Son, Jesus, to dwell forever in His Kingdom.  Those finishing touches will continue throughout our earthly lives.  For now, we remain imperfect with souls housed in bodies of varying degrees of health and wellness.  However, these bodies were created by God and as good stewards of God's gift of life, we must take care of them.

When we give our lives and hearts to Christ, we also pledge to allow the Holy Spirit to dwell within us and clean us up inside. We literally give the body God gave us back to Him to piece together those things life has chipped or broken away from the masterpiece He created us to be.  Jesus paid the cost for us to be returned to our Rightful Owner.  He asks that we give God glory and trust Him to make us new.  Better than before.  That is love.

With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can keep our temples clean.  Especially that area around our hearts that sometimes get a little crusty and hard.

Create in me a new, clean heart, O God, filled with clean thoughts and right desires. Don’t toss me aside, banished forever from your presence. Don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.  Psalm 51:10-11 TLB



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