The Ark Brought to Jerusalem / The Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost: June 4th 2021

2 Samuel 5:6-6:23

David attacked the Jebusites and captured Jerusalem. He took up residence there and called it ‘the city of David’ (2 Sam. 5:9).

David built up the area around Jerusalem and became more and more powerful because ‘the Lord God Almighty’ was with him (2 Sam. 5:10). Hiram, king of Tyre, sent craftspeople to build a palace for David. David felt secure in his reign (2 Sam. 5:12).

The Philistines came to attack David and he enquired of the Lord whether they would be handed over to him (2 Sam.5:19). David defeated them with the help of God: (2 Sam 5:20). The Philistines abandoned their useless idols and David and his men carried them off – hopefully to be safely disposed of.

The Philistines came for war again and this time the Lord gave David a battle strategy (2 Sam. 5:23). The Lord sent what presumably were legions of angels marching in the tops of the balsam trees to strike the Philistine army ahead of David’s troops. Due to David’s obeying God’s plan, he was successful (2 Sam. 5:25).

David set out to retrieve the ark of the Covenant (2 Sam. 6:2). It was still a dangerous object, to be treated with reverence. One man reached out to steady it when the oxen pulling it on a cart stumbled and he was struck down dead (2 Sam. 6:6-7). David was then too frightened to take the ark to Jerusalem and so stored it for three months in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. His house was so blessed by the ark’s presence that David tried again to move it (2 Sam. 6:12).

As the ark travelled, David danced before it with all his might (2 Sam. 6:14-15). His first wife, Michal daughter of Saul, despised David in her heart for dancing in such a vulgar and undignified way (2 Sam. 6:20). There is always a family member ready to put a damper on any celebration. David was unrepentant and vowed to be even more undignified in the future. He knew that God had chosen him rather than Michal’s father, Saul, to be king (2 Sam. 6:21-22). God liked the way that David behaved. Michal had no children all her life to ensure that none of Saul’s descendants would gain the throne.

David sacrificed to the Lord and generously gave food to all the Israelites (2 Sam. 6:19). When we rejoice and celebrate out of our love of God, it gives us the desire to be generous and hospitable.

Acts 1:23-2:21

The disciples prayed, cast lots and chose Matthias to be added to the eleven disciples. There had to be twelve apostles at the birth of the church as there were twelve tribes of Israel.

Pentecost was a traditional Jewish feast, fifty days after Passover but this year it became the birthday of the Christian church. A sound like a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where the disciples had gathered. What seemed to be tongues of fire separated and came to rest on each of the disciples. All were filled with the Holy Spirit and they began to speak in other languages (Acts 2:2-4).

Speaking in other tongues / languages is a supernatural gift that all Christians can pray for today. It is the initial gift of power unlocking all the other gifts of the Spirit. It often comes when adults are baptized by Pentecostal Christians, because they are obedient to the Spirit and faithfully pray for his gifts to be unlocked. It is a marvellous gift and everyone should desire it as it brings wonderful benefits. It builds us up internally. It edifies us to be a powerful soldier for Christ. To receive this gift we have to believe, be baptized, and faithfully ask the Spirit to give us this gift. God will not refuse to give good gifts to his children. We are always in total control of this gift and can start it / stop it whenever we like. I feel that it is like a broadband prayer connection to God, instead of trying to communicate with him via a faltering dial-up connection. In my heart, I can feel the Holy Spirit broadcasting prayer to God twenty-four hours a day – to pray in tongues I just have to open my mouth and start to move my vocal chords, giving the Spirit permission to vocalise my prayers. It is extremely powerful. The more we pray in tongues, the more the Holy Spirit will be able to mould us, change us, sanctify us, through us the Holy Spirit speaks the perfect prayer to God.

The Holy Spirit also helps us pray when we don’t know what to say. He will pray the perfect prayer whatever the circumstances and, when we pray in tongues over other people, he will discern the prayer that they need and speak it through us. It is a powerful spiritual weapon used for delivering ourselves and others from evil and for healing.

The more we pray in tongues, the more other gifts will be unlocked. I love to sing in tongues as well. The Holy Spirit will give me a new praise or worship song each day, which I sing aloud as I take my dog for it’s daily walk. I love to record these on my phone and play them later on a keyboard as these are new tunes – written by God. I have never composed music before so I find it delightful that the Holy Spirit uses me to do this. The next gift we might receive is the ‘interpretation of tongues’. This allows us or the people around us to translate tongue languages into our native language. Tongue languages can be supernatural languages – used in heaven or by angels – or it could be one of the seven thousand earthly languages used around the world. My pastor prayed for a lady in Pakistan to receive the gift of tongues and she started speaking in perfect English, even though she had never been taught any.

At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit gave all the ‘God-fearing ‘Jews’ who could hear the apostles in Jerusalem the gift of interpreting tongues as they were all able to understand them in their own native language. ‘We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!’ (Acts 2:11-12). God loves it when we declare his wonders, particularly the wonder of how he rescued the Israelites from the Egyptians and he will bless us greatly as a result. Pentecost reversed Babel, when God made life more difficult by creating different languages (Gen. 11:1-9). Now, people could understand visitors from foreign lands making it much easier to spread the gospel.

Some people made fun of the apostles (Acts 2:13) and said they were drunk. Two thousand years later there are many people – even so-called Christians – who will make fun of this supernatural gift. Some Christians seem to regard their religion as just an academic exercise, they don’t expect to see someone demonstrate supernatural abilities or for prayers to actually achieve anything but it is they who are missing out. Without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, we will never make much progress in our journey towards God.

After the Holy Spirit descended on Peter, he instantly became a powerful and persuasive preacher and quoted from the prophet Joel (Acts 2:17-21). God will pour out his Spirit on all people in the last days. He has poured it out on thousands of people from all denominations over the last few decades giving them supernatural charismatic gifts. We can thus conclude that we are now in the end times. Young men will see visions and old men will dream dreams. I pray daily that elderly members of my family who have so far been resistant to God will experience such a dramatic, intense dream that it will instantly convert them. The evangelist, Ros Powell, wrote a beautiful article about how her atheist husband was converted through a dream: https://www.rospowell.com/my-old-man-dreamed-a-dream/

Through regularly practicing the gift of Tongues, the Spirit may then give other gifts such as a the gift of prophesy, which is far more useful in public if no-one present can interpret our tongue language.

The gift of tongues enables us to call out perfectly to the Lord through the intercession of the Holy Spirit. ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’ (Acts 2:21).

Psalm 69:29-36

God loves praise and thanksgiving more than sacrifices (Psalm 69:30-31).

The Lord hears the needy and the poor. He has a special regard for prisoners. Prison can be a blessed place where people turn their lives around and can find God. Apostles, like Peter and Paul regarded prison as an opportunity to loudly praise and worship, write Godly letters that would change the world and convert other prisoners and guards. Wherever we find ourselves, we can loudly give thanks to God.

God brought the Jewish people back to their land to rebuild it (Psalm 69:35-36). He has gathered them from around the world as he will always be faithful to his covenants.

God will save us and protect us. Even we are in pain and distress, we know that ‘in all things God works for the good of those who love him’ (Romans 8:28).

Image: Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

David Escapes from Saul / Jesus Prays for all Believers: May 27th 2021

1 Samuel 19:1-20:42

‘(King) Saul told his son Jonathan and all his attendants to kill David’ (1 Samuel 19:1). However, Jonathan was very fond of David and advised him to go into hiding while he pleaded his case. David had risked his life fighting Goliath to save Israel. He was a national hero and did not deserve to be persecuted. Saul listened to the intercession of his son and promised not to put David to death (1 Sam19:6).

David was reconciled to Saul. David successfully fought the Philistines again but before long Saul tried to kill him again, when an evil spirit ‘came upon Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand’ (1 Sam 19:9). It isn’t wise to have weapons in the house. If people are being oppressed by evil spirits and they can easily get their hands on a lethal weapon, terrible events can occur.

David fled to the prophet Samuel and told him the king was trying to kill him. Whenever Saul’s men approached their location, the Spirit of God came upon them and they prophesied. This happened to Saul himself when he travelled there. Even though Saul’s thoughts were on murder, the Spirit temporarily gave him a supernatural gift of prophesy.

David went to his friend Jonathan and asked why Saul was trying to assassinate him again. Jonathan endeavoured to find out at the New Moon Festival. However, Saul guessed that Jonathan was working with David and tried to spear him too. Jonathan sent a pre-arranged signal to David by firing arrows to confirm that his life was definitely in danger. Jonathan and David met up, said goodbye and wept together. They had sworn friendship between them and their descendants forever.

David left. He was a wanted man. He had friends in high places, Jonathan and Saul’s daughter, but the king wanted him dead. However, God was on his side and so these stressful trials would refine him and make him stronger. We can sometimes face persecution even though we are loyal and innocent. God has great plans for us. He will develop our character so that we can achieve great glory for God in the future.

John 17:6-26

As Christians, we are a different species from other humans. We have been pulled out from the world by Jesus. Everyone, believers and non-believers belong to God. He can do with us what he wants. However, believing Christians have been taken out of the world and given to Jesus. He now owns us and wants us to be with him for eternity (John 17:24).

The words that Jesus spoke came from God the Father. We believe for certain that God sent Jesus.

Jesus prayed for us that we will be protected from the evil one. Jesus knew that the devil could even attack the people closest to him. Judas was the one doomed to destruction ‘so that scripture would be fulfilled’ (John 17:12).

We are made holy (sanctified) by the word of God, which is truth. Through our baptism, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth sets up home within us.

We need to have close friends from all different denominations and work together on projects / evangelisation. All churches need to be warm and welcoming and ready to learn from and love each other. I love to attend churches of all different denominations and go weekly to both a Catholic and a Pentecostal church. If you are a Protestant, make sure you regularly go to a Catholic church and vice versa. Jesus wants all Christians to be together as one, in complete unity (John 17:23).

God loved Jesus, his son, before the creation of the world. Jesus spreads the love that the Father has for him into us. Jesus himself lives within us by the Holy Spirit (John 17:26).

Let us unite to spread his full measure of joy to the whole world.

Psalm 68:7-14

When God marches out before his people the earth shook and the heavens poured with rain (Psalm 68:7-8).

God is so generous that his bounteous world can provide for the poor. We just need to rein in our greed and selfishness in order to share our resources.

We are in a great company of billions of other Christians when we proclaim the world. Pagan kings and armies have fled in haste before the truth of God’s word.

The Holy Spirit shines within us, even while we are sleeping. He watches over us, protects us and prays for us.

Image: Public Domain https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_(1_Samuel)

David and Goliath / The Work of the Holy Spirit: May 26th 2021

1 Samuel 17:38-18:30

David tried on Saul’s tunic and armour but they were too cumbersome. He couldn’t move around freely because he wasn’t used to them. When we start a ministry we can’t let other people lay their burdens and expectations on us to weigh us down. We can’t impersonate others – we need to do what authentically suits our individual minds and bodies. People respond to truth and integrity.

David went to attack Goliath in his normal light-weight tunic, with his shepherd’s bag and his sling. Goliath despised him on sight and was insulted that such a young man had been sent to challenge him. Goliath cursed David by his Pagan gods but David came against him: ‘in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied’ (v.45). David had total faith that ‘the Lord will hand you over to me’ (v.46) and that the whole Philistine army would be defeated so that everyone would know there is God in Israel.

David killed Goliath with a perfect shot from his sling and then chopped off Goliath’s head with his own sword. The Bible doesn’t say whether Goliath even got a chance to throw his enormous javelin at David. If David had tried to fight Goliath with just a sword, he would have been easily defeated. However, servants of God have superior weapons and we can defeat evil at a distance. Exorcists had successfully deliver people via a telephone conversation. David had a slingshot – basically a forerunner of a rifle – and had honed his skill with it over many years under the guidance of God. When we are fighting evil these days, we can put on the full spiritual armour of God to be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Our sword is ‘the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God’ (Ephesians 6:10-17).

After Goliath was dead, the Israelites were able to chase and slaughter the Philistines and plunder their camp. David brought the head of Goliath to Saul.

Saul’s son, Jonathan, ‘became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself’ (18:1). There was mutual love between Jonathan and David. When Jonathan eventually died in battle (1 Samuel 1:26), David grieved for his dear friend: ‘Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women’. One reason it was more wonderful than that of women was that David and Jonathan’s relationship was pure celibate, friendship love (know as ‘philia’) rather than romantic love (known as ‘eros’). Pure friendship is extremely rare in the modern world. Men, in particular, can sometimes just have acquaintances based on shared experiences such as school or college or from mutual interests such as sport, drinking or hobbies. Many men have never had a lasting spirit bond with another male. Jesus will always love us whatever we do but, if we obey his commands, we will not be his servants, we will be his friends (15:14).

In contrast to friendship, a romantic / sexual love complicates relationships and David got into terrible trouble with God over his adulterous (eros) affair with Bathsheba. When we have sex with someone our soul gets supernaturally tied to theirs (a ‘soul-tie’) and anything that affects one of the pair spiritually can get transferred over to the other party. This is why you should never have sex with someone tied up with the occult. Their soul is likely to get ensnared by demonic forces which can transfer over to you. Soul ties are broken by prayer and people should always pray to break all soul-ties with others before they get married.

David and Jonathan were one in spirit and in love, yet they were purely friends. The most pure kind of love is to ‘love another as we love ourselves’. Sex does not have to go with love, which is a very difficult concept for modern society to live with. We can love people of either sex and never dream of having sex with them – we just have to live in the Spirit and pray to maintain a natural state of chaste friendship. Jesus never had sex with anyone, yet he loved us all so much he laid down his life for both men and women while we were still sinners. He loves us with unconditional selfless love (know as ‘agape’). If we live in union with the Holy Spirit and allow the Spirit to pray through us, he will show us the truth and lead us into a natural and pure way of life.

David was so successful in all his military missions that Saul gave him a high rank in the army (18:5). However, the Israelites started to revere David more than Saul. This made Saul jealous and he hurled a spear at David twice (v.11). Saul sent him on dangerous missions expecting the Philistines to kill David but, in everything he did, David had great success. He was seemingly invincible. Saul tried to give his older daughter to David in marriage but David was too humble to accept. Saul tried again with his daughter, Michal, and David was then happy to comply with Saul’s risky challenge to provide a hundred Philistine foreskins as a price for the bride. David and his men daringly killed two hundred Philistines so that he might become the king’s son-in-law (v.27). David had a great work ethic, even when it came to gruesome tasks. He was a formidable foe.

Saul became even more jealous when both the Lord and his own daughter loved David. He feared David’s popularity and became David’s enemy. However, this loathing was totally one-sided. David had no intention of seizing Saul’s crown and was a loyal subject. He was an asset, not a threat. Similarly, the Chief Priests and Pharisees envied Jesus, even though he was no threat to them. The Lord was with Jesus and people he helped loved him. The Pharisees should have embraced Jesus and celebrated his miracles rather than plot his death to assuage their own fear, jealousy and envy.

John 16:4-17:5

It was for our own good that Jesus died and returned to the Father. He was then able to send the Holy Spirit, the Counsellor and Comforter, to reside in each one of us. Jesus, as an incarnate man, could only be in one place at one time. The Holy Spirit is omnipresent and can fill the hearts of each of the seven billion inhabitants of the earth – if they believe. The Holy Spirit points out to us that unbelief is sin. When we believe, he activates his gifts in our heart. None of us can earn our righteousness through good deeds. We could never get to heaven by our own efforts. We are only made right with the Father through the sacrifice of Jesus’ precious blood. The devil and all his demons are condemned forever. God cannot stop loving any of his creatures but the demons knew God existed, they had full knowledge and yet still chose to rebel and so they can never be reconciled to their creator. They freely chose separation for eternity.

The Holy Spirit guides us into all truth. He will guide us into making the right decisions. We will feel unsettled internally when we are considering making an unwise decision. Jesus had much more to say to us, more than the disciples could bear (v.12). This is why we should not just rely on the Bible but also pay attention to the truths that the Holy Spirit has revealed to the saints over the last two thousand years.

No-one can take away our joy at the resurrection of our Lord. The Secular world might try to lessen Easter by making it about chocolate, chicks and rabbits but true Christians know the wonder of the risen Lord. Our Good Friday grief was turned into everlasting Easter Sunday joy.

God will give us anything we ask in Jesus’ name. There is immense power in the name of Jesus. Jesus overcame the world so that we might have inner peace no matter what issues we may be facing. Praying in Tongues to God through the Holy Spirit when we feel stressed is a gift from God that restores our inner calm and builds up our strength and defences. The Holy Spirit facilitates our intimate relationship with God our loving Father.

God, the Father, was always with Jesus until Jesus was dying on the cross. Jesus took on all our sins and became sin: ‘My God, my God, what have you forsaken me?’ (Mark 15: 34). God cannot look upon sin and so he had to turn his back on his son as he died, bearing all our past, present and future sins.

God showed his glory through Jesus’ life, miracles, death and resurrection. All we have is his and we should use all our talents and resources for the glory of his name.

Psalm 68:1-6

The wicked will melt like wax and be blown away like smoke by the wind. The rebellious will be ‘sun-scorched’ (v.6). and won’t be refreshed by streams of living water.

We are made righteous through the perfect sacrifice of Christ and so we should be happy and glad to rejoice joyfully before God. We sing praise to his name and pray to him: ‘Hallowed be your name’. I agree with the Jews that God’s formal name should never be vocalised. It is too holy. We should use ‘The Lord’, ‘God’ or ‘Father’ instead.

God is ‘a father to the fatherless’ and ‘a defender of widows’ (v.5). He gives the lonely a family. The church should provide a loving and welcoming family to us all. We can never have enough friends. We have all been prisoners locked in sin. God will release us from spiritual chains and lead us out singing through the supernatural grace afforded by our baptism.

Image: Nicolas R├ęgnier, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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