Pentecost 2020 – The Outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

“’And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.  And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’” (Acts 2:17-21).
When the Holy Spirit is being poured out from heaven, he does not enter quietly, he is accompanied by signs and wonders. When God poured out his Spirit on that first day of Pentecost, “…suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where [the 120 disciples] were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:2-4).
On the night of his crucifixion Jesus spoke to his disciples about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, saying “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.
And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged” (John 16: 7-11).

These are the three convictions that are being manifested through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all flesh in these last days. On the first day of the church age, the Holy Spirit came to breathe life into and empower the newborn Church. In these last days of the church age, the Holy Spirit is being poured out to convict the world of sin, the Church of righteousness, and the enemy of judgment.
The Greek verb for “to convict” is elegcho, which can mean to accuse or rebuke, but also means to tell or to expose. Before a behavior can be addressed, it must be exposed. One of the names of the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. As Jesus said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16:13). The presence of the Holy Spirit exposes the truth of what has been hiding behind the scenes.
Jesus promised that he would send his Spirit to demonstrate the three convictions. First, the Holy Spirit convicts the world of the sin of unbelief – the sin from which all other sins arise. Next, he convicts the Church of righteousness – he reminds us to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7), and that all of our righteousness comes through our faith in Christ by the grace of God (Romans 3:19-27). Finally, he convicts the enemy of judgment, because Satan, the obsolete, defeated prince of this world and all his demons are judged guilty in the presence of God (John 16:11).

The signs and wonders that were prophesied to accompany the outpouring of the Spirit by the prophet Joel in the Old Testament (Joel 2:28-32), and by the apostle Peter in the New Testament (Acts 2:16-21), are the evidence of the three convictions of the Holy Spirit that Jesus foretold would accompany the outpouring of the Spirit in the last days.
Therefore what we are witnessing playing itself out in the world at this time is not random or willy-nilly, but is in fact the evidence of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all flesh – the sinful and the righteous – so that their works may be exposed.
As the works of the enemy become darker, the Church is meant to shine brighter and brighter to expel that darkness. Isaiah 59:19 says, “So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him” (KJV). The standard that the Spirit lifts up against the enemy is the righteousness of God in Christ as demonstrated through his Church.
This is the time for God’s people to shine the light of Christ into the world, and not be afraid. As Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16).

God is not pouring out his Holy Spirit on all flesh because he wants to persecute people. He is pouring out his Spirit in order that the works of the enemy will be exposed, and the light of Christ will shine into that darkness and overcome it.
In the outpouring of the Holy Spirit there is great transforming power. On the first Pentecost of the church age, “…those who received his word were baptized, and there were added [to the church] that day about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41). Peter and the prophet Joel both promised that at the outpouring of the Spirit, “…it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’” (Acts 2:21).
Romans 10:14 asks “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”
But what kind of preaching are we to present to the world? Should we run out to the front lines of every crisis and hit people over the heads with our Bibles? By no means! And yet, we must not remain silent. As Jeanette has been asking in her series, “What Can the Righteous Do?”
Revelation 12:11 states that we overcome the enemy by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:2 that it was the believers themselves who were his “letter of recommendation,” written in his heart and open to be read by everyone. And as Jesus instructed his disciples, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

Beloved Friends, it is up to us as the Church and the Body of Christ on earth to present ourselves to the world as Christ’s letter of recommendation. To be his ambassadors, so that his will is done on earth as it is in heaven as we demonstrate the workings of his kingdom. As Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus:
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:1-10).

Beloved, if you have received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then you have been prepared by his Holy Spirit to carry out the good works that God designed for you from before the beginning of the world. And if you are alive on the earth right now, then this is your time to walk in them and to make plain your testimony as an overcomer in the name of Jesus by showing faith and love, hope and compassion to all people, whether they be red, yellow, black, white, old, young, man or woman, treating every person equally in Jesus' name.
As Mordecai the Jew said to his niece Esther the Queen of Persia, “…who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14b).
For more information on how the Holy Spirit is poured out at Pentecost, continue with parts five and six of our series, “Who is the Holy Spirit?” here:
Who is the Holy Spirit - Part Five: Pentecost the Breath of Life
Who is the Holy Spirit - Part Six:  Pentecost the Holy Spirit and Fire

 

All scriptures are from the English Standard Version translation, unless otherwise noted.

Pentecost 2020 – Repost: Who is the Holy Spirit? Part Four.

Part Four of our series, “Who is the Holy Spirit?” gives us insight into Jesus’ last words to his disciples before he was carried up into heaven. He instructed them: “And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49 ESV).
“The promise that they were waiting to receive was the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5).
But before he could send his Spirit, Jesus had to return to the Father:
“He told them, ‘You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.’
 These were his last words. As they watched, he was taken up and disappeared in a cloud. They stood there, staring into the empty sky. Suddenly two men appeared—in white robes! They said, ‘You Galileans! —why do you just stand here looking up at an empty sky? This very Jesus who was taken up from among you to heaven will come as certainly—and mysteriously—as he left’” (Acts 1:7-11 MSG).

After they recovered from the surprise of witnessing Jesus’ ascension into heaven, Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the zealot and Judas the son of James – along with Jesus’ mother, brothers and other disciples – men and women - totaling 120 persons, went to Jerusalem, returning to the upper room where Jesus had eaten the Last Supper with the twelve apostles; and “…all these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together…” (Acts 1:12-14 ESV), for ten days.
This timing is very important….”
Click here: Who is the Holy Spirit? – Part Four: The Ascension and the Promise.

Pentecost 2020 – Repost: Who is the Holy Spirit? Part Three.

Part Three of our series explains how the presence of the Holy Spirit provides us with the anointing and the power to live, work, and witness:
“Through the presence of God’s Holy Spirit in us, we are established in Christ, anointed for ministry, and sealed with the guarantee of our legal standing as children of God and co-inheritors with Jesus.
Therefore that same anointing that was demonstrated by Jesus is extended to us through his Holy Spirit, and we also are called to declare the good news of liberty to all those who are oppressed, herald the recovery of sight to the blind and to proclaim the wonderful grace of God’s favor.”
Here is the link to the article: Who is the Holy Spirit? – Part Three: The Oil of Anointing.

Comfort for Mothers

A few years ago, on Mother’s Day my daughter gifted me with a sweet little book called “For You, Mom” filled with quotes and quips about motherhood. I rediscovered it on my bookshelf yesterday and thought it would be nice to share a few quotes from it with you this Mother’s Day….
Historian Washington Irving said that “A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness and cause peace to return to our hearts.”
An old Spanish proverb declares, “An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy.”
Nineteenth century poet Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote that “The real religion of the world comes from women much more than from men – from mothers most of all, who carry the key of our souls in their bosoms.”
Oprah Winfrey stated that “Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.”
And George Washington, military general, and founding father and first president of the United States, summed it up when he said, “All I am I owe to my mother.”
To all our fellow Moms and Grandmas out there, I know that this Mother’s Day is unlike any other Mother’s Day we have ever experienced, and it feels like we are fighting huge battles on every front right now. Many of us are weary and worried, and we just want things to get back to normal as quickly as possible. And some of us are missing and mourning loved ones who have passed on or are sheltering in place away from our loving hands, and eyes, and arms.
But Mothers and Grandmothers, Aunts and Sisters and Friends and Caregivers, we have got this. Because greater is HE that is in us, than any virus that tries to take over the world. As Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).
God has a special place in his heart for mothers, so much so that he even promises to comfort his people the way a mother comforts her child, “For thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip, and bounced upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem’” (Isaiah 66:12-13).

Jesus knew what it was to feel the comfort of a mother, and even while on the cross, he made provision for her care in the midst of her grief (see John 19:26). Time after time, when women – mothers – came to Jesus, he saw them, he heard them, he strengthened them, he comforted them. He longs to do the same for us, especially in times of crisis and uncertainty.
So for those Moms who are feeling a little unsettled and uncertain about the future for their families this Mother’s Day, take heart and remember God’s promise that “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:29-31).

And for all the beloved Grandmothers, praying for your families because you may have raised your children but you will never let them go, this promise is for you, from Psalm 103:1-5,
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.”
God is with us. His Blood covers us. His Spirit fills and comforts us. His Word strengthens us. His Promises protect and restore us. His Truth illuminates our paths. His Provision carries us, all the way home.
All of us at Speak Comfort wish you and your families a Happy Mother’s Day. We love you, and we are praying for you every day, in Jesus’ holy name.

 

 

Haywood, Robin. For You, Mom. Portland, ME: Sellers Publishing, Inc. 2015. Print.

All scriptures are from the English Standard Version translation.

Pentecost 2020 – Repost: Who is the Holy Spirit? Part Two.

Please follow along with us as we revisit our series, “Who is the Holy Spirit?” parts 1-8.
Part Two highlights how we are reborn and made new immediately through salvation, and then how we are continuously being renovated by the presence of the Holy Spirit:
“Even though at the moment that we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior we are washed clean from every sin and our standing with God is made perfect in him, our souls, our mortal bodies and even our immortal spirits cannot – as a unit – receive all of God’s glory all at once. The process of sanctification while we are on earth is gradual.
The Holy Spirit transforms us into the image of Christ, renewing our “inner man,” which is another way to say that the Holy Spirit is renewing our spirits and restoring our souls, day by day. The Holy Spirit is leading us on a straight path, from glory to glory, one day at a time. He is our Teacher and Guide. God’s Spirit is the Spirit of Sanctification.”
Here is the link to the article: Who is the Holy Spirit? – Part Two: From Glory to Glory.

Trust God and Don’t be Afraid.

During this season of pandemic, it is essential that we as believers hold fast to the truth that nothing can separate us from the love of God and the protection of Jesus Christ. This is true no matter our circumstances, and now it is even more necessary that we do not lose faith in the goodness of God in these historically difficult times.
 On September 11, 2001, my daughter was five years old. I remember watching as destruction and devastation took hold first of New York City, then our nation, and finally the rest of the world as the safety and security we took for granted literally fell out of the sky. I remember whisking my daughter to another room, away from the television. She asked, “What’s wrong Mom?” and I told her, “Someone flew an airplane into a big building in New York City.” She asked, “Was anybody hurt?” All I could say was, “Yes, Honey, people were hurt, we have to pray.” How do you tell a child that everything just changed forever, in the blink of an eye? Since then she has grown up in the post-911 world and does not remember what it was like before.
Almost twenty years later my granddaughter is five years old, and the whole world is in quarantine. She started pre-K last fall and in the weeks before her first day of school she was extremely nervous. It only took her two or three days to find her place in the excitement of getting to know wonderful teachers, a flock of new friends, and activities that she was solidly prepared for. On Fridays she would say she could not wait for Monday so she could be with her pals.
Then suddenly stay-at-home orders were issued, everything came to a full stop, and she has not seen her friends and teachers for weeks. We have not explained to her yet that she may not see them again until she starts kindergarten in the fall. She knows there is “a thing” happening, and that one day it will “go away,” but that scrap of information does not make her feel any better. She can not wrap her understanding around why almost every kid in the world is stuck at home at the same time. Yesterday was gloriously sunny, and we ventured over to a local playground, only to be met with orange plastic barriers and signs that warned us to KEEP OUT. Although she is staying cheerful, this lockdown is starting to get to her. My granddaughter misses the little playmates she loves so very much.

 

During this Covid 19 crisis, my daughter is in what was once my position as she watches everything change dramatically before her eyes and wonders how the new normal will affect her precious daughter, and the world, in the years ahead. The truth is nobody really knows.
But that is the little truth. The Big Truth is that God the Father knows. Jesus knows. The Holy Spirit knows. And that is what we need to remember. In God’s eyes we are like little children, and it is hard for us to see beyond the trials in these moments and hold fast to what cannot be shaken.
The things of this world, although they are real and can indeed be very painful, are nevertheless like a vapor and insubstantial. They are not eternal, but temporary. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 
Paul said that the afflictions we suffer on earth are preparing us for glory. These earthly afflictions are “light” and “momentary” but the glory that is ours is eternal and weighty – like the difference between aluminum foil and pure gold. The things that cause us to suffer are not meant to last, and they will pass. But the ways we respond to these trials shape us and re-shape us, preparing us for our entrance into eternity.
In the Old Testament, Isaiah wrote of the suffering that Israel experienced when they strayed from God, but as always, God had a plan to heal his people even though it required a re-forming of their nation. Isaiah called upon the Lord, saying, “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand” (64:8). The hands of God guide and protect us. But they also mold and shape us. We are the work of his hands, and God uses our temporary sufferings to prepare us to carry the full weight of his glory. A vessel made of clay cannot fulfill its function until it is shaped and tempered. Without the potter’s wheel, a lump of clay has no purpose; without the heat of the kiln, it has no strength.

In the New Testament, Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:27-30).
 Jesus, the Lamb of God, knows what it feels like to be one of the sheep, and because his heart is full of compassion for his flock, he is also the Good Shepherd. He leads us, he feeds us, he gives us rest. He guides us through valleys filled with shadows and prepares a feast of anointing for us on the other side. He is Goodness and Mercy and he will be with us all our lives, extending into eternity.
 Hebrews 11 is known as the “faith hall of fame.” In it, we find the names of Biblical heroes like Noah, Abraham, Sarah, and Moses, and we are introduced to a nameless host of others who conquered kingdoms, quenched fires, starved lions, and put armies to flight. They hid in caves and wandered homeless. They walked by faith and not by sight and they pleased God. Yet they did not receive the full promise that we, on this side of the cross, have received by grace. “And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect” (vv. 29-30).

The author of Hebrews goes on to encourage us, saying, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (12:1-3).
 As Jesus promised in his letter to the church at Laodicea, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline [shape and strengthen], so be zealous and repent [be strong and turn to Jesus]. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne” (Revelation 3:19-21).
We are in a season of shaping and re-forming. God is using what is happening on the earth to prepare himself a people who will be strong and of good courage, for his glory. He is the Potter, the Good Shepherd, the King of kings and Lord of lords. We are his People and his Body, his Bride and his Church. He will never leave us nor forsake us.

Like little children who can only see so far and understand so much, we do not know what the future holds. But our Father in heaven proclaims the end from the beginning and nothing can snatch us out of his hands. While he shapes us, he protects us. As he guides us, he strengthens us. We are being prepared for everything that lies ahead, and our Savior never lets go of our hands. With that assurance we can trust God and not be afraid, no matter the circumstances.
 “Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who stand by night in the house of the Lord! Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord! May the Lord bless you from Zion, he who made heaven and earth!”
(Psalm 134)

 

 

 

 

All scriptures are from the English Standard Version translation.

Pentecost 2020 – Repost: Who is the Holy Spirit? Part One.

After being filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, Peter preached the first sermon of the newly born church. He began by quoting the prophet:
But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
    and your young men shall see visions,
    and your old men shall dream dreams;
even on my male servants and female servants
    in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
And I will show wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
the sun shall be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood,
    before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:16-21 ESV).
Our Father in heaven has been pouring out his Holy Spirit from that first day of Pentecost until now; and these are those last days spoken of by the prophets.
Who is this third member of the Trinity, comprised of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit? What is his mission? What can we expect him to do in these last days? How does he work within us and through us? When do we receive him, and how can we receive more of his sanctifying power?
As we approach Pentecost 2020 and beyond, we can increasingly expect to see the evidence of God’s hand moving on the earth and among his people – and the activity of the Holy Spirit operating through his Church, the Body of Christ.
If you would like to know more about the Holy Spirit and how he works within us as believers, please join us in reviewing our eight-part series, “Who is the Holy Spirit?” from May 2019, re-posted weekly.
Here is the link to Part One: 

 

Happy Easter! He is Risen!

This Easter Sunday we want to remember the families and friends of all of those who have lost loved ones, especially over the past year, and all of us, like myself, who are celebrating Christ alone this Easter.
The message of hope on this Resurrection Sunday is that because Jesus came, and lived, and died, and lived again, our hope is in him, and whosoever believes in him will never die but have eternal life.
As Jesus hung on the cross between two thieves, one of them mocked him saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” While the other said, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? ...but this man has done nothing wrong. And he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’” From the cross Jesus replied, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:39-43 ESV).
Christ’s Blood poured out through Jesus’ suffering and death are the proof of our salvation. His Resurrection is the proof of the promise that God has given us of eternal life (John 3:16).

Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 KJV).
God has not left us alone and he has not left us as orphans. He sent his Holy Spirit to be with us forever, and as the surety of our secure place with him in eternity.
As we celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection today, even if we are unable to hug and kiss and hold all of our loved ones, please remember that because our hope is in Christ alone, we are never truly alone. And we will see those who have gone before us again one day in Paradise, with Jesus. “Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18 KJV).
Beloved Friend, if you have not yet received Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and you are feeling confused and alone, please pray this prayer with me now, to receive Christ into your heart, and I promise you, he will send his Holy Spirit to abide with you forever as your Guide and Comforter.
Dear God, I believe with all my heart that Jesus died on the cross for my sake, and that He has risen from the dead for my deliverance. Lord, I receive your Word, and I repent of my sins.  I receive the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus. I receive Your complete forgiveness and my new birth into Your kingdom. I receive Your Holy Spirit to guide me and teach me, and I make You the Lord of my life. I receive salvation in the holy name of Jesus, today and forever.
Amen.
If you prayed this prayer from your heart today, then you have been cleansed of all your sins and born again into new life through Jesus Christ, and we are so happy for you! We are praying for you, we love you, and God bless you, in Jesus' name.
All of us at Speak Comfort wish you and your families a very Happy Easter.
If you have a moment, please enjoy this article: “MUST SEE 'In Christ Alone': Virtual Choir of 48 Singers, Produced by ICU COVID-19 Nurse, Gives 'Gospel in a Nutshell'”
Scroll to the bottom and click the photo to hear their moving rendition of “In Christ Alone.”Link to Article

Good Friday: John 3:16

I have a dear friend, Jedidiah, whose name means Beloved of God, who sits a vigil to keep awake and pray during the time that Jesus was in the tomb. She waits with great sorrow for all that we caused him to suffer on the cross, and she sits with wonderful anticipation for all that we will continue to receive through his resurrection.
Under what we used to call normal circumstances, many of us would be busy on Good Friday organizing egg hunts and Easter baskets, cooking for celebrations with our families, and looking forward to wearing colorful Spring outfits to church services where we are likely to see friends who haven’t been in attendance for a while, but made a special effort to come and worship at Easter time.
But this year, everything is different.
God has allowed us to be taken out of the hustle and bustle of holiday planning and is giving us the opportunity to look at the world and each other from a new perspective. This Good Friday, we are all keeping vigil.
On the very first Passover, God commanded all the people of Israel to remain in their homes, while the final plague that he intended to send into Egypt passed over them:
Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb.  Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning.”
At the end of 430 years, on that very day, all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. It was a night of watching by the Lord, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the Lord by all the people of Israel throughout their generations. (Exodus 12:21-22, 41-42 ESV).
While they were waiting, God had a plan, and he was working.

While Christ was in the tomb, his closest disciples had gathered in the same Upper Room where, just two evenings before, they had celebrated the Passover Supper with Jesus. On that Good Friday between the Last Supper and the Sabbath, their world had fallen apart. They were together, but they were agonized, confused, and terrified. They did not realize that the Blood of the Lamb of God had been poured out for them, so that they never had to be afraid again.
“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?... in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:31, 37-39).
While they were waiting, God had a plan, and he was working.

Forty days later, the Risen Christ gave his disciples specific instructions:
He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
“…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. (Acts 1:3-5, 8-9)
While they were waiting, God had a plan, and he was working.
After ten days had passed, 120 of Jesus’ disciples were watching and praying in the Upper Room when something unimaginable happened:
“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.  And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4).
While they were waiting, God had a plan, and he was working.

That same morning, Peter – filled with the Holy Spirit - stood outside the Upper Room in Jerusalem and preached the Church’s first sermon:
And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.’… So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls” (Acts 1:38-39, 41).
While they were waiting, God had a plan, and he was working.
Beloved Friends, during this time of waiting, God has a plan, and he is working.
This is his plan: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
And this is how he is working: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17).
Everything that we see happening in the world is for the furtherance of his plan.

While we are in this time of waiting, God is preparing us to serve as a part of his plan. This is our Upper Room experience, and God’s plan is always working behind the scenes.
Shortly after Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, Luke witnesses in Acts 2:46-47 that, “… day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” The time of waiting will not last forever. God intends for his people to serve as joyful witnesses to his grace and goodness, and we cannot do that if we are always in the Upper Room.
But while we have this precious time to be set apart, let us come together in the Spirit and seek the Lord and pray that God will prepare us to meet whatever challenges lie ahead with joy and strength, in Jesus’ name.

“…but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
Like my friend, Jedidiah, we are all Beloved of God. And like her, let’s all sit vigil, watching and praying, in anticipation of the unimaginable miracles God has planned for us as we celebrate his resurrection, alone but most definitely together in Christ Jesus.
“None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him’” (1 Corinthians 2:8-9).

 

All scriptures are from the English Standard Version translation.

Comfort for Today: Our Lifeguard Walks on Water!

When I was younger, my husband and I enjoyed wilderness backpacking and camping. One summer we hiked the west coast of Vancouver Island, and while we were walking a deeply forested path, suddenly the view unfolded and we found ourselves on a cliffside high above the Pacific Ocean. Jutting out from the cliff was a narrow spit of land that led to a spire of rock rising hundreds of feet above a small bay where a herd of seals played in the sparkling water and sunned themselves on the rocks.
As I stood there drinking in the glorious view, my husband said, “Let’s go out there!” “Out where?” I said, wondering if he wanted to somehow climb down the side of the cliff. “To the top of that spire,” he replied. “NO WAY.” I said. “Yes, you can do it!” he said. “The path is three feet wide. There’s plenty of room and nothing to be afraid of. You can walk anywhere with three feet of room!” Somehow, that made sense to me, and I thought, “OK, sure. I can do this. I’ve got three feet of solid ground to walk on and it will be fun!”
Beloved Friends, when you picture a path consisting of three feet of solid rock in your minds, you, too, may think, “Oh sure! I can walk across that!” But let me tell you the truth – when you’re in the middle of a spit of rock a thousand feet in the air that is about ten yards long and three feet wide, you feel very differently about the entire operation! Somehow three feet wide becomes three inches wide, and it feels like walking on a tightrope! The wind was blowing, the waves were crashing, the seals were barking, and I was freaking out!

Of course, my husband dashed across like he’d been brought up by the Flying Wallendas and was cheering me on from the plateau about five yards ahead of me. It looked like he was standing in empty space.
I.DID.NOT.LOOK.DOWN.
Once I got to the top of the rocky spire, which was perfectly flat and round, about the size of the top of a dining table that could seat maybe six people, I stood there weak-kneed with my teeth chattering in fear, gazing out to sea and wondering if it would be painful when I fainted and plunged headlong into the Pacific.
I heard my husband’s voice say, “Sit down.” Again, I said, “NO WAY.” (I was afraid to move even one inch in any direction.) He said, “Sit down. There’s plenty of room and once you sit, you won’t be afraid.” I figured, “What the heck, I’ve come this far. I might as well be comfortable because I am not walking back over that tightrope. I’m gonna be here ‘til the park rangers come and rescue me.”
I sat down.
And, miracle of miracles, my whole body relaxed, I took a long deep breath, and realized that I was immersed in a view that was glorious beyond imagining. Friends, it was incredible! The sky was so blue it colored the wind. The ocean sparkled like a field of diamonds in the sun, the seals were frisking and frolicking below us – and, I am not kidding – grey whales were migrating up the coast, while bald eagles soared over our heads. It was one of the most spectacular afternoons of my life. Literally a taste of what we can expect in heaven.
And, maybe most wonderful of all, we had brought lunch. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

We spent the afternoon on that tiny tabletop of rock over the vast sea - suspended in the air, glorifying God. And, another miracle, when it was time to walk back to the cliffside, I wasn’t afraid at all! We just walked on back to the forest, in about three minutes, tops. Seriously, we were practically skipping! Something about all that fresh air, exercise, good food and magnificent beauty wiped away every fear and soothed my weary soul.
This story reminds me of the time that Peter walked on the water. You remember, in Matthew 14, when very early in the morning while it was still dark, Jesus, who had stayed behind on a mountain alone to pray, saw his disciples on a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee when a storm came up – and he walked across the water to rescue them? The first thing he said to them as he drew closer over the crashing waves was, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid” (v. 27). Peter, who had no problem taking risks while Jesus was around, said, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come out on the water” (v. 28). Jesus said, “Come.” And Peter leaped out of the boat.
He had good success for a few steps, until he took his eyes off Jesus, and got distracted by the wind and the waves. The scripture says that Peter became afraid and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me” (v. 30).
Of course, Jesus was standing right there on the water, and he reached out his hand and rescued Peter, who had never been alone and was never in any danger. (Notice that the scripture says that Peter began to sink. Not that he obeyed the laws of physics and sank like a rock. Nope. He began to sink. Was he maybe waist deep when Jesus grabbed him? Can you imagine the look on his face? I’ll bet he was feeling pretty sheep-ish!)

Then Peter and Jesus walked across the water and back to the boat. “And when they got to the boat, the wind ceased” (v. 32).
So here, Beloved Friends, is the point. Three feet of solid rock is plenty of ground to walk on, even if you’re a thousand feet in the air. And, with Jesus by our side, we can accomplish the impossible - like walking on water!
Then why, when challenges come, are we so afraid?
If you took a yardstick and drew a path on the ground that was three feet wide, you would be absolutely confident that you could hop, skip, jump, run or cartwheel over it. But suspend it in the air over the ocean, and NO WAY. Walking hand-in-hand with Jesus on a normal day? It’s a blessing and a pleasure! Walking next to him on a stormy sea? Not so much, and we lose heart and begin to sink.
You see, Beloveds, it isn’t the path we are on, but the circumstances surrounding us and where we place our focus that distract us and makes us afraid. While I was walking on the shady path in the woods, fear never entered my mind. Surround that same path with empty space instead of solid earth and it became very scary. Would Peter have spent more time above water if the sea had been calm? Maybe, but the whole reason Jesus walked on the water in the first place was because he saw his disciples struggling in the very storm that rattled Peter. Peter never would have walked on the water at all if there had been no storm; and I wouldn’t have spent an unforgettable afternoon hovering over the ocean if I hadn’t been willing to walk through thin air.

Today our world is engulfed in a storm of biblical proportions. And even though the situation is dire, God has not changed one bit. He is still on the Throne and he is still in control. Remember his first words to his disciples as he approached them were, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid” (v. 27).
So, Beloveds, please take heart. Jesus is with us. He is the Alpha and Omega. He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever, and he will never leave us nor forsake us. Don’t be afraid. Everything will continue to happen according to his perfect plan. We can trust him, and if we get distracted and find ourselves beginning to sink, Jesus is standing right by our side, to lift us up above the waves.
Jesus Calms a Storm
 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him.  And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep.  And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.”  And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.  And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”
(Matthew 8:23-27 ESV)

 

 

 

All scriptures are quoted from the English Standard Version translation.