Acts 2:4  NIV  –  And all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

     Pentecost Sunday falls on May 28th this year.  Pentecost, coming from the Greek word ‘pentecoste,’ which means ’50th day.’

     Pentecost, observed on the seventh Sunday following Easter (50 days), celebrates the descending of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus. The story of Pentecost, found in Acts 2, tells the marvelous story of how the Holy Spirit empowered the followers of Jesus, led to Peter giving a powerful sermon, and says that about 3,000 people were baptized on the day of Pentecost.

    In these days leading toward the 2023 Pentecost Sunday, please take time to read the story found in Acts 2 and consider God’s power poured out through the Holy Spirit.

The Most Wonderful Potato Salad

1 Corinthians 12:12 ESV  –  For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.

     Helen and I once traveled to Indiana to attend a funeral for one of her cousins.  During the dinner following the memorial service we were served the most wonderful tasting potato salad that I had ever enjoyed.  It was so very good that I wanted to seize the opportunity to ask for the recipe for the potato salad while we were still at the church.

     Stepping into the kitchen the women became silent as their eyes turned towards me.  In the tradition of the Old Order German Baptist Brethren, the kitchens are considered women’s territory; a territory which I had invaded.  When one of the ladies asked if I needed anything I said that I was amazed by their potato salad and was wondering if it were possible to get the recipe.  The request caused the women to break into laughter.  As it turned out, when women brought potato salad for a church dinner, they dumped all of the different potato salads into a single massive bowl and stirred them all together.  The flavor of the potato salad depended on the various recipes and talents of the several women who contributed to it.

     Isn’t that how a church is made up?  Every member brings their various mental, physical and spiritual gifts into the fold of the church and they are blended together to become a part of the body of the church. 

How do you measure good?

Psalm 107:1 ESV  –  Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

I think about it often, when I’m reminded, for example, when one makes a claim such as: it was a good movie… I’m thinking, good? What makes it good? Was it a Godly movie? The cake is so good, is it good? What makes it good? The way your tongue and senses respond to sugar and textures? Is this your understanding of “good” and “goodness”? I think too much, of course, it’s a figure of speech nowadays and the word is used for many things, some that are wicked… A “good time” could mean something totally different depending on the individuals involved.. but really, we all ought to ask ourselves and consider with one another, what is “Good” As Christians, we know or should know, Jesus said there is none Good but God alone. Let’s start with that alone and let that be our measurement and scale to weigh “goodness”. Does it honor God, is it glorifying God and the Gospel message of peace and reconciliation? Is it teaching wisdom, discretion, discernment? Charity, Patience, Self-Control, Long-suffering? Meekness or humility? Woe to those who teach Evil as Good and Good as Evil. We need to get it straight and do not hold back our voices, but lift them up as a trumpet, be wise as serpents And gentle as doves, for we are sent out as Sheep Amidst the Wolves.

The above is a Facebook public media posting, dated 4/27/2023, by Sean Keith Gray.

Call Waiting

Psalm 400.1 NIV  –  I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.
     Some years ago I was trying to phone a friend and got a busy signal at each repeated attempt.  Upon reaching him the next day, and knowing that he had two teenage daughters in the home, I suggested that he might want to invest in having call waiting phone service added to his extension.  My friend replied that he already had call waiting and that I wasn’t thinking like a teenage girl, call waiting only meant that you could be talking to one friend while you had a second friend on hold.  As his daughters were tying up both lines, anyone else attempting to call had to simply wait.
     That evening I was trying to call my friend, it was frustrating to get the recurring busy signal.  Each time I heard it meant that I had to wait longer before I would be able to speak with him.  Waiting is often hard for many of us.
     Often, when we pray, we petition God, asking for healing or changes in our circumstances.  Many have made the same request repeatedly and have wondered if their prayer would be answered. We humans crave control and our prayers are often for things for which we have no control. 
     To continue to pray for God to intervene gives us time to loosen our perceived control and to increase our trust in Him.  Waiting allows us time to recognize that, in our weakness, God is the one who is ultimately in control.  The waiting allows us time to prepare to fully appreciate His power and mercy as he administers it in his own good time.
     Waiting often reveals our true motives.  If our motives have good intention, and our prayers are committed, the waiting will weed out any desires of self interest.     Waiting builds patience and it changes our perspectives towards those things that are most important.     Waiting builds anticipation and anticipation helps us to appreciate answered prayer all the greater.     Waiting, and continued prayer, builds intimacy and dependency upon God.

    “The most important lesson I have learned while waiting on God is to pray my way through the ‘waiting time'”.   Karen O’Reilly

We have a responsibility to the non-believer

2 Corinthians 6:14 ESV – Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.  For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness?  Or what fellowship has light with darkness?


     Having read this passage many times I had always accepted the verse to mean that, if partnered with a non Chrisitan in my life, the non Christian would be a burden to my faith journey.  I accepted the verse as a warning to be headed.     A while ago an Amish friend put the verse into a new perspective through an insight that Levi, who still works with yoked horses, was able to share.  Levi pointed out that in any pairing one horse will be stronger than the other.  It is the responsibility of the stronger animal to hold back enough to allow the weaker to work alongside while they are yoked together.  The stronger horse also has the responsibility of pushing the weaker animal just enough to help the weaker grow stronger.


     Levi’s comments have not changed Paul’s warning to the Corinthians, or us, but they do add a new consideration.  Do not connect ourselves with unbelievers in ways that they become a negative influence in our spiritual growth.  Instead, touch lightly as you work with them, encouraging them to recognize the power and glory of Christ Jesus.  Lift the non-believer up and exhibit the new creature that you have become in Christ.

Transformation

2 Corinthians 5:17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold the new has come.

     A few days ago Cassie was talking about her young grandson, Preston.  On the evening before Easter, Preston’s parents helped him plant jelly beans in a pot of soil.  On Easter morning Preston was delighted to discover that his jelly bean pot had miraculously sprouted into lollipops.  This is such a cute story that it needed to be shared.
     The story that Cassie shared is one of transformation, jelly beans becoming lollipops. While jelly beans do not really transform there are transformations that are real.  One of the greatest transformations is the change within a person when they accept Christ as their personal savior.  Second Corinthians 5:17 reminds us that, in Christ, we become new creations.  
     As a new creation in Christ we become a member of the brotherhood of fellow Christians.  As new creations we begin to enjoy living in the freedom of the Holy Spirit rather than remaining in the entrapment of legalism.  By accepting Christ, and becoming a new creation, we begin to be transformed into the image of Christ.
     As a new creation in Christ, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit, are given Spiritual gifts and receive salvation.     Let us rejoice in being a new creation through the power of the Holy Spirit.