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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 31

The Advent part 23

Since what those who had gathered in the upper room were doing was praying, I thought it only fitting that I would spend some time on the topic of prayer and the importance thereof. The disciples of Christ were not gathered in the upper room strategizing their next fund raiser, they were not in the upper room having managerial discussions on where they could make cutbacks in the budget due to the shrinking economy, they were not planning the next community outreach pizza night or movie night, they were as one, with one accord in prayer and supplication.

This is one divine truth that many congregations either overlook, or are just too lazy to implement, the fact that it is prayer that opens the windows of heaven, it is prayer that grows a ministry, and it is prayer that touches the heart of God. Too often we take it upon ourselves to do what only God can do, employing the tactics and gimmicks of the world to elicit a positive response from others when it comes to receiving Jesus. Rather than hire jugglers, clowns, and comedians, rather than attempt to bribe people with prizes and monetary compensation for coming to the house of God on Sunday morning, why not pray that the power of God fall in such a powerful way that men will be compelled to come and give their lives to Christ?

Gimmicks are, well, gimmicky and they have no long term effect. The power of God however, is real and true and lasting, and it opens men’s eyes to the reality of Jesus far more readily than a farceur in a pink suit spouting off double entendres with a spiritual undertone.

The disciples as well as those who were gathered in the upper room had learned the importance of prayer from none other than Jesus Himself, and this is why, while they waited for the promise to be fulfilled they used the time to pray together.

The great misconception concerning prayer, especially in the now infamous ‘give me’ era we are living in is that when we pray, all we are supposed to do is ask God for things. Whether for material possessions, for health, for our daughters to find the right husbands or our sons to find the right wives, we’ve limited prayer to a laundry list of things we need to have, and we go before God with the selfsame petitions day in and day out.

Although they continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, it was not so they would somehow obligate God to keep His word, and send them the promise through their prayers. This would have shown more than a little lack of faith on their part to be sure. Their prayers were, as prayers should be, prayers of thanks and glory and praise toward God for what He was about to do in them and through them.

While they waited for the promise, they strengthened themselves and prepared their hearts through prayer, for that great event that God had promised through Christ Jesus.

No time is better spent than time in prayer and this is yet another lesson that the Disciples of Christ had learned from their Rabbi. Yes, prayer night has fallen out of favor in many Christian circles, and even the churches that still have them testify to the fact that they are poorly and sparsely attended. If only believers understood the importance of prayer, if only they understood that these are some of the most beautiful, powerful, and necessary fellowships among believers, perhaps they would prioritize their lives in such a way wherein going to prayer would not be burdensome, but rather something to look forward to and anticipate with great expectation and longing.

When a fellowship of believers gathers to pray under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the very act of prayer and supplication to God serves to strengthen the brotherly bonds, and to fuel the love of Christ in the hearts of those gathered. The Body of Christ becomes a more cohesive unit, and those gathered are no longer individual members but are in one accord, with the singular purpose of bringing glory and praise to the name of God.

Before I leave you for today there is one other thing I wanted to point out in regards to this verse, and that is the fact that along with the disciples of Christ there were also some women present, perhaps some of the disciples’ wives, Mary the mother of Jesus, and others heretofore unmentioned in the Word. The reason I bring this up is because some to day have taken it upon themselves to legislate certain practices within the body of Christ, and numbered among these new rules and regulations is also the stipulation that women are not allowed to pray in church. The Word tells us that all of them were with one accord in prayer and supplication. The women were not standing to the side, they were not downstairs preparing snacks, they were, as the Disciples of Christ, in prayer and supplication. There is no verse in the New Testament that says a woman is not allowed to pray in church, but rather when they pray they ought to adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation.

1 Timothy 2:8-10, “Therefore I desire that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves with modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.”

Now we could easily digress at this point, and start mandating what a woman should wear and what a woman shouldn’t wear, as many have and many do, but I think Paul said it best when he said that a woman should wear in the house of God, what is proper for women professing godliness with good works.

‘Is what I am wearing proper for a woman professing godliness?’ that is the question sisters need to ask themselves every time they prepare themselves to enter the house of God. When we ask such questions with sincerity of heart, be certain that we will receive an answer to our query, and know it with certitude.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 30

The Advent Part 22

If in any way we are led by the spirit of this world, if our goal is to raise up men and glory in men, if we attempt to highlight our accomplishments, our virtues, our wisdom, rather than God, if we seek position and power, rather than to humbly serve the household of faith, then it is better that we abandon our studies concerning the congregation of God and seek our place in a denomination or a ministry or a manmade organization that more readily match our innermost convictions and true intentions.

If in our estimation the ends justify the means, and we are prepared to turn the words of the prophet Samuel on their ear and tell people that sacrifice is indeed better than obedience, then it is useless to seek out what it means to be a member within the Body of Christ. The only way one can walk the narrow path of faith, is to learn to avoid the thousands of other paths and alleyways that have been etched out by the hands of men, then summarily decorated with flowers and greenery. Yes, the paths of men are pleasing to the eye, they attract the flesh that still struggles to get free, they are groomed and manicured, and fancifully decorated, but they do not lead to life, they do not lead to Christ, and they do not lead to the cross.

A true believer, one who is born again must know that the Congregation of God exists, and due to the anointing, and divine grace that they have received, and that abides in them, that believer is able to find His place within the congregation, and recognize it for what it is.

1 John 2:27, “But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.”

If we study the Holy Scriptures under the guidance and tutelage of the Holy Spirit, we discern, and clearly so, that there is a vast difference between a system that has been fashioned, built up, and led by the wisdom and will of men, and the Ecclesia, the Congregation of God, which is one in Christ and is led by Him.

The Congregation of God does not receive anything in its midst that is not of God. In the New Covenant as well as in the Old Covenant God established an order, and guidelines to which we as believers must adhere. Just as it was in the Old Covenant, we who are of the New Covenant must hold to the commands of God, and not allow that which is defiled, wicked, and not of God to remain in our midst.

Tolerance of sin looks good on paper to some, but it is the most destructive force within the Body of Christ. Sin does not remain isolated, it spreads and metastasizes, it corrupts and defiles, until its ultimate goal is reached, that of destroying its host, of killing off the member, or the body altogether if possible.

Just as God commanded Israel of old that their camp should remain holy that He may walk in the midst thereof, He commands us today to keep the camp holy that He may likewise walk in our midst.

The Word tells us that God does not change, and just as He turned away from Israel when He saw the unclean things among them, He turns away from those who claim to serve Him when He sees the unclean things among them. Although sin might be a subjective term to some within the church today, and to others the notion of sin entirely nonexistent, God still calls sin, sin, and when He discovers sin in the camp He judges in righteousness and holiness.

Those who are at this time gathered together in prayer and supplication were the core group through which the Congregation of God would be birthed through the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. On the day, more were added to this number, as the Word tells us they numbered one hundred and twenty souls, and when the power of the Holy Spirit fell on them, they became one body, with one purpose, and one goal.

1 Corinthians 12:12-13, “For as the body is one and had many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free – and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.”

Yes, the body has many members, but it only has one head and that is Christ Jesus. Anyone that attempts to supplant, usurp or displace the authority of Christ and take it upon themselves is attempting to remove the head from the body thereby effectively killing the body.

We treat so lightly those who by their actions prove themselves to be enemies of Christ, having infiltrated the Body of Christ, and attempting to dismantle it from within.

‘Well you know brother, it’s just a difference in doctrine that’s all, you say Jesus is they only way, they say there are many ways, and in the end it will all come out in the wash.’

Pardon my bluntness, but that’s the coward’s justification for inaction each and every time. Men who say that Jesus is not the only way, that He is not the only truth, and that He is not the only life, are calling Jesus a liar to His face, and negating the need for Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection, since other ways already existed by which men could be reconciled unto God.

We either tether ourselves to the truth, or we get swept away in the lie. We either stand in Christ, or fall with men; the choice is up to us.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 29

The Advent Part 21

Since I went on somewhat of a mini-rant in yesterday’s post, today we will discuss and dissect the verse we were supposed to be discussing yesterday. For a seemingly innocuous verse, informing us that the disciples, Mary, and Christ’s brothers continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, there are many layers to it, and much hidden truth that we must explore.

Acts 1:14, “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.”

As I said there are many layers to this verse, and they have to do, and predominantly so, with the New Covenant as opposed to the Old Covenant. In fact, in this verse we begin to see the transition between the Old and the New Covenants in regards to the people of God.

In the Old Covenant God had one people and they were the Jews. Israel was the chosen nation, the holy nation, through which God fulfilled His plans here on earth. They were the people of God favored above all others.

Although they were always known as Hebrews or Jews, they were not referred to as the Congregation of God until after they were freed from the bondage of their slavery to the Egyptians, and received the Law given to them in the desert of Sinai. It is then that God considered them His congregation, a congregation in the midst of which He would dwell. The commandments God gave regarding His congregation were strict and left no room for debate or second guesses.

Deuteronomy 23:1-4, “He who is emasculated by crushing or mutilation shall not enter the congregation of the Lord. One of illegitimate birth shall not enter the congregation of the Lord; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the congregation of the Lord. An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the congregation of the Lord; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the congregation of the Lord forever, because they did not meet you with bread and water on the road when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia to curse you.”

Deuteronomy 23:14, “For the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and give your enemies over to you; therefore your camp shall be holy, that He may see no unclean thing among you, and turn away from you.”

In the New Covenant God still has one holy people, that has not changed, but His ‘Ecclesia’ His congregation is now made up of all tribes, peoples and tongues, from all walks of life, and from every continent on this earth. The foundation of this new congregation, under the New Covenant is the redeeming sacrifice of the Lamb of God, His Son Jesus Christ, who took the sins of the world upon Himself on Calvary’s tree and redeemed those who would receive Him from everlasting darkness.

All who receive Jesus by faith, all who deny themselves, pick up their crosses and follow after Him, all who sanctify the Lord in their hearts are born again in God, and by being reborn they become members within the congregation of God, which is also known as the Body of Christ.

1 Peter 3:15, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”

John 1:12-13, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name: who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man but of God.”

The congregation of God, the Body of Christ is built up by Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. There is only one congregation of God, there is only one Body of Christ, and we cannot confuse it or compare it with any manmade, man inspired, and man created religious organization or denomination. The Body of Christ is not any one denomination, it is not any one religious organization, it is not any one ministry, but rather under the New Covenant, as many as receive Him, to them He gives the right to become children of God.

As I said, the congregation of God is formed through the Holy Spirit, centered around and tethered in the person of Jesus the Son of God that it may worship, adore, and praise the Father and have fellowship with Him. We are the Body of Christ, He is our head, and when we submit wholly to Him, when having surrendered our will and having made Him our all in all we are integrated and made active members within His Body, we begin to perceive the beauty and glory of consistent, sustained, and perpetual fellowship with Him.

If we begin our quest for understanding as to what the congregation of God is having preconceived notions, personal preferences, or the traditions of men as a starting point, we will never grasp the full truth of what it is to be a child of God. In order to understand the congregation of God we must be taught by the Word of God, and led by the Spirit of God, for what has been said of the children of God is likewise true of the congregation of God, namely that the world does not know it. We perceive the spiritual through the prism of the spiritual, just as we perceive the physical through the prism of the physical.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 28

The Advent Part 20

Acts 1:14, “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.”

Given all the talk in certain circles of Christ’s fabulous wealth while He was on earth, the foolhardy and fallacious assumptions that He wore designer clothes, had bodyguards, and even hired His own private treasurer because of all the money rolling in, one would think that after His ascension His disciples would have gotten busy divvying up ‘the ministry’ each claiming a certain city, or a certain following, each laying claim to ‘the mantle’ of their Rabbi, but instead all of them gathered together, with one accord in prayer and supplication, and continued in these things.

To preach a homeless, shunned, and rejected Jesus to a generation overtaken by greed, avarice and selfishness is not popular. It is likewise as unpopular to speak of His disciples not as men who built kingdoms for themselves and attained fabulous wealth, but rather men who gave up everything in order to follow Him, men who walked away from businesses and families, and comfort only to suffer gruesome deaths at the hands of Christ’s enemies. As attractive as it might seem for some however, we cannot rewrite history just because it is unpleasant or unpopular.

We live in a time and amidst a generation wherein men who claim to serve Jesus, wholly disregard His words. It is Jesus who said that in the world we would have tribulation, it is likewise Jesus who said that if the world hated Him it would surely hate us, but somehow we’ve managed to expunge these words that Jesus spoke, and replace them with our own more palatable versions of the truth.

Why would men knowingly distort the words of Jesus? Why would men knowingly disregard the words of Christ?

Because only by distorting and disregarding His words could they justify their lifestyle, their greed, and their excesses. It is sad, tragic, and lamentable, but it is also true, that much of what we call the church today has become a gigantic and well-orchestrated pyramid scheme wherein the few at the top live lives heretofore unimagined by the lowly masses they claim to serve. The only way these few who have laid claim to the thrones of spiritual authority can continue to exert control is to convince the multitudes who are financing their excesses that one day they too could reach the top, one day they too could be rich and have everything they ever wanted.

It is cruel and inhumane to beat a dead horse, but at the risk of seeming so I will do just that if only metaphorically. The entirety of the Christian experience, from start to finish, without equivocation, is about the Son of God coming to earth, living as a flesh and blood man, preaching the Word of God, performing miracles, being put to death, rising the third day, and ascending back to the Father all so that you and I could be redeemed by His blood, that we could be reconciled unto God, and be with Him in the home He is preparing. Jesus never focused on this life, Jesus never focused on the here and now, and every time His disciples attempted to shift the focus from the heavenly things to the earthly things He rebuked them.

It is the enemy’s good pleasure when we shift our focus from the future Kingdom, to this present kingdom. It is the enemy’s good pleasure when we seek first the things of this world, the pleasures of this world, the material excesses of this world, and no longer having time to seek the Kingdom of God omit doing so altogether.

Although the once popular book ‘how to win friends and influence people’ might frown upon what I am about to say, I believe wholeheartedly that one of the most detrimental things to happen to Christianity in the last hundred years is the ‘prosperity movement’ and all its various sired offspring.

We have managed to do in thirty years what the enemy could not do in two thousand, convince the children of God to stop fervently seeking the kingdom of God, the gifts of God, the power of God, and focus all their efforts on the here and now.

It’s not the enemy that’s decimating the church, it’s not the enemy that is so effectively transforming the church into a hollow shell of what it ought to be, we are doing it all on our own, because we have allowed deception to creep in unchecked, we have chosen to receive the soothing messages, the pleasing messages, the unchallenging messages, the ear tickling message and despise anyone who would dare preach the truth, who would dare challenge us, who would dare attempt to wake us from our comatose state. As long as our bellies our full, and our bills are paid, and we can have movie night once a week, who needs the power of God? As long as we can get the new car, and go on our dream vacation, who needs prayer and supplication?

We have become ineffective in all things pertaining to the kingdom of God, precisely because we chase after the things of this world with as much abandon as those of the world do.

Are there still those, who do as the disciples once did, and prayerfully seek the face of God? Are there still those whose one desire is to know the fullness of the power of God, and see His works manifest through them? Praise God, yes!

Yes, there are still those who hunger for righteousness, there are still those who hunger for truth, there are still those who will not compromise, who will not yield, who will not bend, who will not go along to get along, and it is through those individuals that God will begin to manifest in greater measure in these last days.

Whether we choose to seek God and the things of God with humility, purpose and sincerity of heart, or seek the things of the world, is a choice we make as individuals, and as Newton’s law of motion would dictate, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The more we chase after the things of the world, the further we get from God, but the more we chase after God and the things of God the closer we get to Him.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 27

The Advent Part 19

Acts 1:13, “And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James.”

After the resurrection of Jesus, the disciples all lived under one roof in Jerusalem. Perhaps it was a rented home so more of them could be in one place, perhaps it was the home of Mary the mother of John whose surname was Mark, perhaps it was the house with the upper room in which Jesus celebrated the Passover. Although we cannot be sure of whose home the Disciples of Christ gathered, we can be certain of two things. First, we can be certain that they in fact made it home, and second, as we will see later in this chapter, this upper room where they were gathered was large enough to hold no less than one hundred and twenty people. As was customary both in Jewish and Greek culture, homes had one spacious room, most often called the upper room wherein people gathered, most often to hold religious services.

The notion of the upper room was by no means something new, but rather it can be traced back as far as the prophet Elijah while he tarried in Zarephath.

1 Kings 17:19, “And he said to her, ‘give me your son.’ So he took him out of her arms and carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his own bed.”

An upper room is also mentioned within the context of the prophet Elisha, and in Judges and in Daniel it is referred to as a private chamber.

It is in the upper room that the disciples spent countless hours with Jesus, and they had done it so often that it had become customary to them. The minute they left the Mount of Olives, they returned to the most comforting place they knew, the place they best associated with Christ, and that was the upper room.

It is in this verse that all the Apostles, eleven at the time, are named in the New Testament for the last time, signifying that it is these eleven men that were the foundation upon which the church of Christ, and the household of faith would be built. In and of themselves none of these men were anything special, they were not the Albert Einstein of their time, their oratory skills were not that great, they did not know the Pentateuch by heart as the Pharisees most certainly did, some of them were even fearful, and often cowardly, yet it was with this handful of souls that Jesus chose to work in such a powerful way that the entire world stood up and took notice.

Some who saw the things that God did through them repented and came to the faith, while others blinded by their own rage at losing the tenuous sway they held over the people persecuted them, and hunted them, and murdered them in the most atrocious of ways. All that the church became, all that the body of Christ grew into, started with eleven men in an upper room, waiting for the promise of Jesus, waiting for the power that would descend upon them, and fill them, and make them fearless warriors of the faith.

No Paul was not numbered among them, as yet he was still one that persecuted the brethren, so truly and without equivocation none of these men stood out in any way, other than the fact that they were all average. Peter was a fisherman, James was a farmer, Matthew was a tax collector, all different, yet singular in their purpose of being obedient to Jesus no matter the cost. Jesus brings individuals together that would have otherwise never intersected, and He makes them brothers in Him.

Now it is our hearts that have become the upper room, or the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, it is our hearts that Christ desires to reside in, and in order for this to occur, our hearts must be reserved for Him and Him alone. He will not share space, He will not accept a roommate, He will not be content with being one of many that take up residence therein, He desires our hearts, in their entirety to be His. Only when our hearts are His in totality will we be able to comprehend the love of Christ which passes knowledge.

Ephesians 3:14-19, “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Holy Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Before I leave you for today there is one other thing I wanted to comment on if ever so briefly concerning the eleven men named as the Apostles of Christ, and that is the fact that they trusted Jesus to make a way for them to go and preach the gospel to the nations. They didn’t gather together and fret about how this would occur, they didn’t try to find reasons as to why they were not the best choices for the task at hand, they simply obeyed, and let God do the rest.

If God has called you, just obey. Too many, too often talk themselves out of seen a greater measure of the power of God in their lives, they talk themselves out of seeing God work through them, because in their mind they don’t thing they will ever be able to accomplish what God has called them to.

I doubt myself every day, I doubt my abilities every day, but never once have I doubted God, or my calling as it pertains to ministry or what God has commanded me to do. I know I am but a vessel, and it is only what the Master pours into the vessel that makes it a vessel of honor. My only duty as a vessel is to keep myself pure, to keep myself clean, to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling, and let God be God, and work through me as He wills, to whatever end He sees fit. I trust God because He has never given me reason to doubt Him, because He is a good Father, and because long ago, in a manger in Bethlehem He sent His only Son just so that I might be reconciled unto Him today.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 26

The Advent Part 18

Acts 1:12, “Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey.”

After the angels spoke to the disciples and strengthened their hope with the affirmation and promise that Jesus would return in like manner as they had seen Him go into heaven, they departed leaving the disciples with their thoughts on the mount called Olivet. Not wasting any time, the disciples returned to Jerusalem, understanding perhaps more clearly than ever before the words that Jesus had spoken to them, while He walked among them.

Luke 12:35-37, “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them.”

Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching! Not those servants whom when the master comes will find arguing, not those servants whom when the master comes will find backbiting, not those servants whom when the master comes will find slandering, not those servants whom when the master comes will find sleeping, not those servants whom when the master comes will find jockeying for position in their chosen denomination, but blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching.

Their ministry needed to begin, and the disciples knew that it needed to begin in Jerusalem. They also knew that they needed to wait there and patiently so until they received the power Jesus had spoken of and promised. All these men knew the words of Jesus, they knew that it was Jesus who had said ‘I will build My Church’ and they likewise knew that He had chosen them to fulfill this promise. How He would go about it, how Jesus would take a handful of ordinary man and turn the world upside down, they as yet did not know. All that they knew was that Jesus had made a promise, and that He would keep it.

Too often we overanalyze certain tasks that God presents us with, we overthink certain duties that He commands us to perform, and in the back of our mind there is always that constant knowledge that in and of ourselves we are not up to the task, that we will fall flat on our faces, make fools of ourselves, and fail miserably. Personally I believe this is a good attitude to have when it comes to the work of God, because when we think that we can’t do it on our own, when God does it through us, we won’t get tempted to take the credit, or heap glory upon ourselves. It is a far better thing to think ourselves unworthy and incapable, than think ourselves entitled and eminently overqualified for the duties that God sets before us.

Isaiah 57:15, “For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”

The writer of the Acts of the Apostles, namely Luke the evangelist, also includes the geographical location of Christ’s ascension, namely the Mount of Olives, or the mount called Olivet as it was then referred to. This is by no means a tall mountain, it is by all accounts a hill on which many a soul are buried since it has been used as a cemetery for the past three thousand years or so. The garden of Gethsemane, the place where Jesus was accustomed to going and praying through the night, lies at the foot of mount Olivet. This was neither the disciples’ first visit here, nor was it Christ’s since He often taught the people that came to hear Him there, and one of His most stirring sermons is even entitled, at least in our modern age as ‘the Olivet discourse’.

Surprisingly the Mount of Olives is not that far from Jerusalem, as even Luke indicates that it is a Sabbath day’s journey. Roughly translated a Sabbath day’s journey is two thousand cubits, or a little over half a mile, the distance a devout Jew was allowed to travel on the Sabbath without breaking the commandment found in Exodus, that every man remain in his place, and that no man go out of his place on the seventh day.

Now before anyone accuses me of just making up some random number and passing it off as what a Sabbath day’s distance was, there is Biblical precedent for it, dating back to the time of Joshua when the people were commanded of God to leave a space of two thousand cubits between them and the ark of the covenant as the crossed the Jordan.

Joshua 3:4, “Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go for you have not passed this way before.”

So I guess I said all that, to say that the disciples didn’t have far to walk, yet there was no delay in their return to Jerusalem and doing what Jesus had commanded them to do. Jesus was gone, they had seen Him ascend into glory, they had been with Him for three years, had suffered the loss of Him, had gloried in the resurrection of Him, then suffered the departure of Him, so why not take a few days off, why not take a break, why not regroup and refocus and have a meeting about where to go from there?

They returned to Jerusalem, as they had been commanded, and they waited.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 25

The Advent Part 17

Although some do not see it as such, I see the words of the angels of the Lord spoke to the disciples as being a light rebuke. ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven?’ Within the same breath however, within the same sentence, the angels also gave the disciples great comfort, strength and hope. For the second time in this chapter, the disciples are rebuked. First, by Christ Himself when they, looking toward earth, and the things of this earth inquired of Him when He would restore the kingdom to Israel, something they were told was not for them to know, but only for the Father to know, and second, by the angels that stood beside them.

During this second rebuke, they no longer looked to earth, or to the things of this earth, but rather they were gazing up into heaven. So how could this be? It is understandable that we be rebuked when we are consumed with the things of this earth, but what could be so wrong as to merit a rebuke from the angels of the Lord in gazing up into heaven?

In essence it has everything to do with how they were gazing up into heaven, rather than the fact that they were doing so. When we gaze upon the things of God as we would the things of this earth, from a selfish standpoint, seeking only our individual salvation, being concerned only with ourselves and with our own patch of dirt all the while indifferent to everything and everyone else, then yes, we are deserving of rebuke. We must look to Christ through the prism of His heart, His eternal Plan, His desire for unity within the Body, His work here on earth through us, and not through the prism of self.

The ‘what’s in it for me’ mentality is running rampant within the house of God, we have even made a doctrine out of it, and countless souls have embraced it with the zeal of a drowning man embracing a life preserver. The ‘what’s in it for me’ doctrine is known by many names, but the most popular name it is known by is the doctrine of prosperity.

‘Come to Jesus and He’ll give you stuff. Come to Jesus and He’ll make you rich, and popular, and healthy and happy and well adjusted. It’s all about you and what Jesus can do for you.’

But it’s not all about us, and it’s not about what Jesus can do for us, it’s all about Him and what He has already done for us. What more could we ask of Christ than what He has already given for you and for me? He shed His blood, He hung on a cross, He died in unimaginable pain all so that you and I could be reconciled unto God. There is nothing greater than this precious gift, there is nothing more valuable that God can bestow upon an individual than what has been freely bestowed upon mankind on the cross.

It is tragic, and sad, and in my opinion even slightly blasphemous to disregard what Jesus has done, to disregard the supreme sacrifice of the Son of God, and demand that He fill our wallets and clear our acne and straighten our teeth.

‘Well, yes, Jesus died, that’s all well and good but what about my Rolex, and my Mercedes, and my summer chalet in the Hamptons?’

Shame on us for not realizing the true worth of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf; shame on us for minimizing and disregarding what it is that He did for us on the cross; shame on us for putting the things of this earth before the eternal ones, and for having our gaze perpetually fixed only on the material rather than the spiritual.

We are mesmerized by the material, consumed by it, devoted to it, worshipful of it, while it is slowly but surely slipping away, like sand through our fingers, and the more we try to clutch it and hold it close, the more it seems to be evaporating before our very eyes. What hollow hearts, what empty souls, what purposeless existence, to surrender our hearts to passing trivial things, while ignoring the eternal and lasting. We pass Jesus by every day and don’t give Him a second thought, because we are so transfixed with the bright, shiny, worthless trinkets of this world.

Even though the things of this world are passing and dying, even though that which once burned bright is but a flickering ember, we still pursue them with abandon all the while neglecting He whose blood would ready wash us and make us clean, He whose breath would readily restore us and make us whole, and He whose reward to those who remain faithful until the end will be beyond what we can presently imagine in our limited understanding.

The hour is late, Jesus is coming, and He will come in like manner as the disciples saw Him go into heaven, yet we are still distracted and disjointed and divided, we are still pursuing our own kingdoms and our own glory, putting off repentance and righteousness and holiness unto God because we have more pressing matters to contend with.

1 John 3:2-3, “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

So who will see Him as He is? Those who are children of God! Because we have this hope, that not only will we see Him as He is but we shall be like Him, we purify ourselves just as He is pure. We are active in our faith, we are active in our worship, we are active in our obedience, and we are active in our service. We are not indifferent, we are not negligent, and we are not distracted by the things of this world.

Philippians 3:8-9, “But indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.”

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 24

The Advent Part 16

Jesus was gone, and all that the disciples saw as they looked steadfastly into heaven was the cloud that had received Him out of their sight. Even though He was gone, they still looked toward heaven hoping to catch one last glimpse of their Master, so overwhelmed by what they had just witnessed that they could not look away. Then two men dressed in white stood by them, and spoke to them. The angels of the Lord knew who the disciples were, they knew that they were Galileans, because it is what they called them, and they also understood the emotional state the disciples were in, and so they had been sent to strengthen, to edify and to encourage.

Much as we would like we will never understand the full measure of God’s love and goodness toward us, we will never see the fullness of His mercy and grace, even though we get glimpses from time to time, and perceive it if only in part. God could have let the disciples stand there, looking to the heavens until the sun set and darkness covered the land, yet in His goodness He sent His messengers, to remind them that one day Jesus would return in like manner as they had seen Him go into heaven.

There are no words that could have been spoken at that particular moment that would have given the disciples greater encouragement than these. Yes, Jesus had gone back to the Father, but He would return again, He would return in glory and power and majesty, and take unto Himself those who are His.

Those called of God to a higher calling cannot allow themselves to be overcome by sentiment or emotion, they cannot allow themselves to be sidetracked or distracted by the trials, disappointments or hardships or this life, and no matter what they cannot cease their journey. Yes, oftentimes the road gets hard, yes oftentimes we are spiritually exhausted and we think to ourselves that just a little respite, just a little nap, just a little rest would do the trick, but we cannot stop, we must press ever onward toward the prize.

The enemy is always in pursuit of us, and just as those who in the dead of winter lay down in the snow thinking that they will only rest their eyes for a few minutes and end up being found months later frozen to death, the believer who chooses to lower their guard, to put down their sword, to do away with their shield and just rest for a while, runs the risk of never again awakening spiritually.

There are no days off for the servants of Christ, there are no respites, there are no vacation days, this journey of hours is a lifelong one, and it is when we breathe our last upon this earth that we will enter into our eternal rest. Yes, it is tempting to stand rooted to one spot, look steadfastly toward heaven and hope to catch a glimpse of Jesus, but His command to His disciples, both those two thousand years ago, and those today, is to labor faithfully, diligently, and consistently.

God’s work ought not to be dependent on our disposition, or our circumstances. We don’t do the work of God only when we feel like it, we don’t do the work of God when everything else is going smoothly, we don’t do the work of God only when it’s convenient, we don’t do the work of God only when it is profitable in some way, we don’t labor only when we are in perfect health, or when the weather is just right.

Once again we look to Jesus as our example, we look to Jesus as the prototype of that which we ought to be, and we can readily conclude that Jesus labored, without ceasing, until the day He was taken up and a cloud received Him out of the disciples’ sight.

John 5:17, “But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.’”

I realize I’ve mentioned this at some point, but it bears repeating because the essence of it is one that needs to be deeply rooted in the heart of every servant of Christ. It is when we approach ministry as a job rather than a calling, as a career rather than a divine mandate that we begin to assimilate the practices of the world, and as such begin to mimic them. When we begin to mimic the practices of the world, something detrimental to the house of God occurs in our hearts. We are no longer concerned for the lost, we are no longer concerned for the hurting, we are no longer concerned for the hungry and the naked, all our concern begins to turn itself inward, onto ourselves, and the only things we become concerned with is what kind of retirement package we can get from our new pastorate, what sort of perks, whether or not the job comes with a parsonage and a ministry vehicle, whether we get paid vacations, and whether or not dental and medical are included in the contract. Having received all the perks and benefits that we bargained for, we then begin to tailor the messages we preach and the teaching we present in such a way that they do not offend or challenge those responsible for our paycheck, but rather we flatter them and make them feel at ease. Jesus begins to be marginalized because by His very nature He is controversial and divisive, the sermons on repentance begin to be nonexistent because they are challenging and uncomfortable, rebuking sin becomes less of a priority than pizza night because anyone in their right mind would rather have a slice than be told that their sin is leading them to perdition, and slowly but surely what was to be the house of God, the household of faith, the congregation of saints, becomes a social club wherein God is never discussed but everyone’s really nice and welcoming and tolerant.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 23

The Advent Part 15

Acts 1:10-11, “And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven and He went up, behold two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

There they stood, looking steadfastly toward heaven, and one could only speculate what was going on in their hearts and minds. Their Master was after all leaving them, He was ascending into the heavens and a cloud received Him. This was no small thing it was something that one would remember for the rest of their time here on heart.

Now the cloud that Jesus was received into was no atmospheric formation, but rather it was manifestation of the presence of God, just as during the days of Moses the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting.

Exodus 40:34-35, “Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.”

I often think of the reverence those of old had concerning the things of God, the reverence with which they approached worship and service, and once again I am compelled to compare it with the absolute lack of reverence that we see when it comes to the sacred in our present generation.

A cloud received Christ out of the disciples’ sight, because in His glorified state the disciples could no longer look upon Him and live. He was hid from their face, and instead two men stood by them in white apparel.

Although there are scripture wherein we are expressly told that no man could see God and live, and that no man has ever seen God, no one bats and eye when some televangelist or another starts spinning a yarn of how they sat on God’s lap and braided His hair. Either we are ignorant, blind or just foolhardy, but whichever the case may be it is still tragic and sad.

There is so much of God for us to discover, there is so much of the power of God that is readily available to us as His beloved, yet we feed ourselves with irreverent stories, and boldfaced lies, rather than press in, and seek out, and pray and fast that the true power of the Holy Spirit might manifest in our midst.

How can we reconcile the fact that the Bible says no man can see God and live, yet one of the most televangelists in America has said, on live television that they sat on God’s lap and braided His hair. I’m sure they’ve said worse, but it’s this one thing that I remember as having seen when I was young that marked me even to this day.

1 Timothy 6:13-16, “I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.”

So some of the things that Paul writes to Timothy concerning Christ, is that He dwells in unapproachable light, that no man has seen or can see Him, yet we do nothing and say nothing and accept as point of fact when someone says they played patty cake with Jesus in heaven.

I guess I’m just tired of all the foolishness, and sick of all the gullibility. Do I believe angels appear to individuals? Yes, of course I do, I’ve even seen one on occasion. Do I believe God still speaks to His children via the Holy Spirit by way of prophecies, dreams and visions? Of course I do it is Biblical, and I’ve experienced these things on occasion as well. Prophecy however, angelic visitations, dreams or visions are not a competition, and I get the sense many believers are trying to one-up each other when it comes to supernatural experiences.

‘You had a dream? Well, I was translated to the third heaven. You were translated to the third heaven? Well, I sat on God’s lap, on His throne, and we played Sudoku!’

God chooses the measure in which He reveals Himself to His servants, but whichever means and measure He chooses to reveal Himself in, He will not bypass or disregard the Word. So, no, I don’t believe the nice lady with the purple hair when she said she sat on God’s lap in heaven, no matter how sincere she might seem.

As far as the two men dressed in white are concerned, the selfsame two men that stood by the disciples as they looked steadfastly toward heaven, they were angels of the Lord. Angels are first and foremost messengers. They are created beings, they were in fact created by God through Christ, and for Him, and although they are divine in their nature, men ought not to worship them as it is a sin. We worship God, and God alone, and not angels, dominions, principalities or powers. All these things are subject to Him, created through him, and for Him. I mention this in passing, only because I’ve heard this wind of doctrine blowing about, that men ought to worship and believe in angels just as they ought to worship and believe in God, because it is in fact the same nature, the same celestial origin, just different manifestations of it.

Colossians 1:16, “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were crated through Him and for Him.”

Revelation 22:8-9, “Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then he said to me, ‘See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 22

The Advent Part 14

Acts 1:9, “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.”

After the great miracle of His resurrection, and upon having been seen by His disciples as well as many others, the second great miracle of Christ occurs, namely that of being taken up as His disciples watched. It is the miracle with which our Savior ended His journey on this earth, the miracle with which He ended His work while among mankind.

The ascension of Christ, just as the resurrection of Christ is powerful proof that He conquered death, the grave, and the devil. We do not serve a dead God, we do not serve an impotent God, we are not as the prophets of Baal once were, dancing about and cutting ourselves but never hearing from the one we are worshipping, we know that our Redeemer lives, we know that He conquered the grave, we know that He ascended into heaven, and now sits at the right hand of the Father.

From what we can deduce from the twenty fourth chapter of Luke, as well as the first chapter of Acts, the ascension of Christ took place on the Mount of Olives, which separated Jerusalem from Bethany.

There is nothing that Jesus left unfulfilled, nothing He forgot to let His disciples in on before He was taken up and a cloud received Him out of their sight, and so having given them their final instructions, having poured into them all the wisdom and knowledge necessary for them to continue their journey, He ascended into heaven. Jesus knew that He was leaving His disciples in good hands, He had time and time again comforted and encouraged them by reminding them that He would not leave them orphans, that He would send the Comforter, the Helper, the one who would help them carry on, persevere, overcome, and be faithful until the end.

As the disciples watched, Jesus was taken up. It was clear, and absent of ambiguity, Jesus didn’t go hide behind a tree, then disappear into the ether, He didn’t tell them He’d be right back never to return, they saw with their own eyes as Jesus ascended into the clouds, and of this the continued to testify throughout their lives. It is what they had seen, what they had felt, what they had touched, what they had experienced, that they shared with others, and it is these experiences that fueled their conviction, and their steadfastness in the faith.

Jesus rose from the dead not so He could continue living His life as before, but to take His rightful place in the glory He shared with the Father before time began. As was the case with His entire ministry, He returned to the Father, He returned into glory publicly, before the eyes of those who followed after Him, and not secretly or mysteriously. From the beginning of His time on earth, to the very end of His journey, Jesus was transparent. He was an open book, and anyone that desired to know Him could know Him, anyone that desired to understand Him, could understand Him if they were willing to abandon their preconceived notions, ambitions and pre-established dogmas. Jesus didn’t ride around in a fleet of top of the line chariots, He didn’t shy away from helping the afflicted, binding the broken, comforting the hurting, or speaking life to those who were spiritually dead, nor was He safely cocooned between six bodyguards as He walked the streets of Galilee.

Why is it that men who are supposed to be the followers of Christ, who purport to have Jesus as their master act nothing like Him? Why is it that when Jesus commanded us to be humble, we give ourselves over to pride, when He commanded us to be wise, we give ourselves over to foolishness, when He commanded us to be faithful we give ourselves over to compromise, when He commanded us to speak truth, we water it down because it is more palatable for the masses?

Not only is the inconsistency between the followers of Christ and Christ Himself glaring and self-evident, it is detrimental to the kingdom of God, as well as those faithful few who will not compromise, who will not go with the flow, who will not bow to the pressures of being mocked and despised, because their allegiance is not to a man or to a denomination but to Christ and Christ alone. The world looks on those who have Christ on their lips yet live as they do, then they look at those who walk the narrow path of faith, and the conclusion they come to, is that those walking the narrow path of faith are just extremists, men and women who deserve to be marginalized and ostracized because the great majority of ‘Christians’ aren’t all that different from themselves.

There is a story that makes the rounds in Romania once in a while of a man who went to a village and introduced himself as a doctor. Since the village had no doctor, he was welcomed with open arms, given a home to live in, and after some time the locals began to come to him and ask to be examined. The man would go through the motions of asking the folks to stick out their tongues, feel their foreheads to see if they were warm, but he never really prescribed anything, or diagnosed anyone. This went on for quite some time until an elderly man, came to the sham doctor and said, ‘sir I fear you are not what you pretend to be!’

I think the same could be said of many who call themselves Christians today, who hold positions of power and prominence, who have forgotten that being a follower of Christ is to be a servant to all, and master over none, I fear that they are not what they pretend to be. May we be authentic Christians, full of wisdom, full of grace, full of faith, and full of the power of God.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 21

The Advent Part 13

Even though the question they asked Jesus had more to do with the earthly than the spiritual, the answer they received from Him was wholly spiritual. Jesus did not tell the when the kingdom of Israel would be restored, but rather what the duty to which they were called entailed. They were to be His witnesses, not among an isolated pocket of believers, not just in Jerusalem, but as far off as Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth.

Jesus was telling His disciples that the work to which they had been called was not their own. It was not Peter’s ministry, or John’s ministry, or Matthew’s ministry, it was Christ’s ministry, and they were the vessels that the Holy Spirit would use in order to bring His ministry to fulfillment.

By wrongly applying these verses, some individuals today believe that when you receive the Holy Spirit, He must manifest Himself via some unusual or abnormal outbursts or sensations, that you lose control of your bodily functions or that you start barking or clucking or mooing, whatever the case may be. Jesus made it clear as to what the purpose of the power of the Holy Spirit is, namely to give us the necessary strength to be His witnesses, and faithfully so.

The purpose of the power of the Holy Spirit is not to manifest feathers or gold dust or gold fillings, it is not to get oily hands or find hundred dollar bills in you Bible. The purpose of the power of the Holy Spirit is to equip us that when we confess Jesus we do it with authority, that when we lay hands on the sick they are healed, that when we pray over one who is oppressed the spirit flees, and that when we need direction He is there to give it.

All the foolishness that is being passed off as godly, all these manifestations that are being packaged as having their origin in the Holy Spirit, are nothing more than counterfeit signs and wonders that discredit and undermine the true work of the Holy Spirit.

From the now ex-wife of a famed televangelist who concluded that we all need ‘Holy Ghost enemas’ to the carbon copied hipster types that encourage the younger generations to step up and ‘toke the Holy Spirit’ counterfeit spirituality is growing by leaps and bounds. If there is one silver lining in all this, if there is one positive note to the overwhelming number of cases that have some form or another of a counterfeit Spirit, it is that nobody counterfeits a nonexistent currency. If the power of the Holy Spirit no longer existed, if it was no longer available to those who believe, then the enemy would not have bothered counterfeiting it so frequently and in so many ways. A person counterfeits something in the hopes of passing it off as the real thing, and the enemy likewise counterfeits the work and gifts of the Holy Spirit hoping to pass it off as the genuine article.

First and foremost the purpose of the power of the Holy Spirit is to make every follower of Christ, a witness. It is not to make us feel superior, it is not to make us theologians and talented preachers, it is not to make us world renowned writers and artists, the purpose of the Holy Spirit is to make us witnesses of Jesus to the ends of the earth. In order to be a witness, one does not need a seminary diploma, one does not need pedigree, because in essence a witness is one who can give a firsthand account of something they have seen, heard or experienced. When someone is a witness in a court case for either the defense or the prosecution, they are not asked whether or not they graduated ‘cum laude’, but rather they are asked to describe what they saw, what they heard, or what they experienced. So the only prerequisite to being a witness is to have seen, to have heard, or to have experienced that thing to which you are testifying.

Sadly, a great many souls who carry the name of Christ are not His witnesses because they have not known, they have not felt, nor have they lived the one and true salvation that comes through Christ and Christ alone.

Have you been freed from your shackles of sin and despair? Have you been made clean by the blood of Christ Jesus the Lamb of God? Have you received a new nature? Have you been transformed by the power of the Word? Have you received the baptism and indwelling of the Holy Spirit? Then be a witness, confess and testify to that which you have known, and felt, and experienced, and men will hear your words, and see the transformation in you, and the Holy Spirit which dwells in you will compel them to seek forgiveness and reconciliation at the foot of the cross.

A witness will not speak his own opinions, he will not speak his own thoughts, he will not draw his own conclusions, but merely relate that which he has seen and heard. May we be as humble as the Disciples of Christ in this regard, and may we only speak the words of life, may we only speak that which we have looked upon and felt and known, may we lift high the name of Jesus, and preach Him and Him alone.

Acts 4:20, “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”

1 John 1:1-3, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life – the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us – that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.”

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 20

The Advent Part 12

That man possesses no power in and of himself that is useful to the work of God on this earth, and that all man receives he receives from the Holy Spirit, is in essence what Jesus was saying to His disciples when He told them that they would receive a power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them, and only then would they be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

When we open our hearts toward God in prayer and faith, He will fill us with what we need that we may carry out the duty He has set before us. The duty that had been set before the disciples was no small task, they were to preach a risen Christ, they were to be His witnesses in a world that was violently opposed to Him, and that treated His followers with disdain, readily persecuting them, marginalizing them, and even putting them to death. I realize it is difficult for some in the West to conceptualize what the followers of Christ went through during those first years after His ascension, I realize it is difficult to imagine seeing your entire family beheaded, dipped in tar and set aflame, stoned to death, crucified, fed to lions and various wild animals, and because it is difficult to imagine these things in our mind’s eye, because it is difficult to envision such things ever happening in our day and age, we write off the historical retellings of these martyrs’ faithfulness as hyperbole or as having been exaggerated for effect.

I assure you, the trials, tribulations, and persecutions the primary church went through, and the trials tribulations and persecutions that the household of faith is presently going through in certain parts of the world are not exaggerated, or made out to be more than they are.

The Apostle Peter really was crucified upside down, the Apostle James really was beheaded, Philip really was crucified then subsequently stoned to death, Bartholomew really was flayed alive then crucified, Matthew really was axed to death, Matthias really was burned to death, and the list goes on. Even today, Christians are being executed, burned alive in their churches, suffering the greatest of tortures and untold grief for the cause of Christ Jesus, having forfeited their lives, having been buried with Christ and born again in Him, and as such counting all but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus.

We are a woefully impotent and pampered generation who has God on our lips but not in our hearts, who desires only to receive but never to surrender, only to accumulate but never to sacrifice, only to laugh but never to weep. We have erased the notion of suffering for the sake of Christ from our Christian lexicon, and replaced it with the notion that once we raise a limp hand in a tepid church service we are entitled to, and therefore must demand of God, untold riches, impeccable health, immeasurable success, and global acceptance. It is because we are teaching a fraudulent gospel, it is because the gospel we preach is not the gospel of Christ, that the coming season of hardship that will cover the land will cause many to rebel against the selfsame God they purported to serve, denying the Christ, and becoming the persecutors of those who having prepared spiritually will stand faithful and true in Jesus.

For the past three years the message that God has been putting on my heart each time I preach in a church service, or at a conference, and this is without fail, is that believers must prepare for the coming persecution. I could tell what most people are thinking when I begin speaking of persecution in America just by the expression on their faces. There is always a mix of disbelief and pity, with a splash of skepticism thrown in for good measure, and as a collective I could see ‘that could never happen here’ etched on their furrowed brows.

We have lived with the belief that this is God’s country for so long, that we refuse to see the reality that is taking shape before our very eyes. We avert our gaze, we find plausible justifications for what is happening, we skirt the issue, and we kick the can down the road, all so that we won’t have to face the truth that the warning signs that have been visible throughout history as forerunners of persecution are clearly seen today throughout the land. There’s a long road from ‘in God we trust’ to ‘if you believe in God you’re a fool, a throwback and a troglodyte’, but we’ve managed to make the journey from one to the other at breakneck speed. In order to begin persecuting a certain segment of the population you must first dehumanize them, or make them seem less than human. Once you have dehumanized them the next step is relatively simple, and history has proven that ordinary people can readily become butchers and executioners of their fellow man.

So what does all this have to do with the Holy Spirit? Why have I strayed, if only seemingly so from the main topic of this study in today’s post? Because in order to endure until the end, in order to have the strength, boldness, fortitude and courage to stand for truth even in the face of persecution, one must possess the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives us power to overcome, the Holy Spirit gives us the strength to endure, and the Holy Spirit guides us and strengthens us in our time of need and hardship. It is only when we are in difficulty, it is only when we are suffering persecution that we see the paramount need for the Holy Spirit in our lives. It is the Spirit that gives power, and this is a truth that is self-evident throughout the book of Acts, as well as other books of the Bible. These men and women that went to their deaths for the cause of Christ were not some elite specimens, they were not superhuman, they were average, and ordinary like you and me, but the Holy Spirit residing in them gave them the strength to stand for Jesus even when confronted with death.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 19

The Advent Part 11

Acts 1:7-8, “And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority, but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

If we ask God a question, we must patiently wait until we receive an answer, and once we have received an answer, accept the answer that He gives us. One of the most difficult things we must come to terms with as believers, is that sometimes God’s answer to our query will simply be, ‘it is not for you to know.’ For some reason we refuse to be told that something is not for us to know, and rather than accept it and move on, we begin to formulate scenarios, we begin to hypothesize, we begin to make connections of certain things where no connections can be found, and in our stubbornness believe that if God was unwilling to reveal something to us we’ll just figure out on our own.

A telling interaction took place between Peter and Jesus in the gospel according to John, one that we could learn from when it comes to accepting that some things are not for us to know, and it is of no use trying to see beyond the veil of them because God will not allow it.

John 21:20-22, “Then Peter, turning around saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, ‘Lord who is the one who betrays You?’ Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, ‘but Lord, what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”

Rather than understanding what Jesus was saying, namely that it was not Peter’s concern as to what would become of John, but rather his only duty was to follow Christ, the saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Jesus never said that John would not die, but merely that it was none of Peter’s concern if He willed it that John remain alive till He came.

To put it bluntly, far too often we stick our noses in things that do not pertain to us, things that we have no business sticking our noses into, because we are self-righteous busybodies who want to impose our own understanding, our own viewpoint, our own perceptions upon the entirety of the house of God.

‘Well brother, you know, you quote Paul the Apostle far too often even though his allegiance to Jesus is suspect, and there are even rumors floating about that he was a satanic plant to lead the household of faith astray.’

Yet these selfsame individuals have no problem quoting from the Apocrypha, the lost book of Enoch, or the gospel of Judas when their point of view is supported by them.

Know what your responsibility is toward the body of Christ, know what your duty is within the body of Christ, and go about it with faithfulness and zeal, follow Christ, and allow for the reality that some things are not for you to know.

You will never get bored with Jesus if you pursue Him with pure intentions and a humble heart, you will never come to a point when you’ve learned everything there is to know of God, and ascended to the mountaintop of sanctification and holiness, so why expel your energies pursuing something that profits you nothing spiritually? We can come to God, but we can never surpass God for He is infinite. It is only when we in our stubbornness attempt to go beyond Him that we find ourselves in the mire of confusion and uncertainty. What is it to me if Christ would have willed for John to remain until He returned? My duty is to follow Him, everything else is a nonissue.

Yes there are things which God will not reveal to us, there are things which we were not given to know, because they would be counterproductive to our spiritual journey, and our walk of faith. Thus the reason we will never know the day and the hour when the Lord Jesus will return, because it would keep people from pursuing a lifelong, constant and perpetual relationship with God. Why would this be? Because the heart of man is exceedingly wicked, and if man knew the day and hour when Christ would return, they would make sure to be on their best behavior no more than a few hours beforehand.

Those things which lead us to a greater knowledge of the person of Jesus, those things through which we grow and are sanctified, those things which give us courage and boldness to labor on behalf of His kingdom are readily available to us, they are revealed to us, because they aid in our progress and our growth. It is these things we ought to be concerned with, it is these things we ought to be focused upon, those things that mature us in the faith, that bring us out of a state of spiritual infancy to spiritual adulthood wherein we become soldiers of the cross, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

We must trust and implicitly so that the Holy Spirit will guide us in all truth, and all that we need in order to live full lives for Jesus will be revealed to us by Him. At the same time we must likewise understand that certain mysteries will remain mysteries for as long as we remain in these husks of flesh, but those things that remain mysteries will do nothing to impede our progress, stunt our growth, or diminish us in any way spiritually. In His mercy God has seen to it that we have everything we need at our disposal to be all that He desires us to be.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 18

The Advent Part 10

Acts 1:6, “Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”

After the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ Jesus His disciples felt the need to be together. There are some within theological circles who have criticized this need for belonging as being infantile and childish, putting forth various hypothesis from accusing the disciples of dragging their feet when it came to the great commission, to them being unsure as to whether or not they would be able to faithfully carry out the duty that they’d been given. Personally I believe they were just being obedient to the command of Christ, to remain in Jerusalem until they received the power, and their being together was more the doing of the Holy Spirit, leading them and compelling them toward this end rather than their own personal need for fellowship.

Fellowship within a body of believers is important, because it leads to the requisite unity within that body. Due to lack of true fellowship among the brethren, many churches and congregations are disjointed, purposeless, absent of vision, each attempting to go his own way, and do his own thing, getting nowhere and growing perpetually frustrated with their lack of progress. The disciples were being prepared, melded and molded together to become that one body, that united amalgam of members, that would only be accentuated and emphasized once the power of the Holy Spirit descended upon them.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made, each individually unique, each eerily similar, like snowflakes on a cold winter’s morning. Too often we shrug off fellowship because we cannot find others who agree with us regarding every minute and infinitesimal detail, we bypass integration within a body of believers, overlooking the fact that we ought to be the body of Christ, united in purpose, committed to Him, laboring on behalf of His kingdom.

Given enough time every one of you that has ever read anything I’ve written will find something to disagree with in something I’ve said. You will find something in the teachings I present that you see from a different angle, that you perceive through a different prism, perhaps something small and insignificant, and it is often that we become so consumed and obsessed with one piece of the puzzle that we lose sight of the whole.

I’ve had people write me off as a heretic because I wear a wedding band, others because when it’s hot outside I sometimes wear shorts, and all I can do when something like this happens is pray for them, and hope in my heart that their critical spirit will abate, and that they will one day, someday, be humble enough to realize that anyone else could just as readily find fault in them, whether perceived or real, and judge them as harshly as they’ve judged me.

The point I’m trying to make, is that we need fellowship. We like to think ourselves lone wolves, but in reality, if we choose to bypass fellowship we are lone sheep, and a lone sheep is easy prey. Some have even found fellowship and formed friendships through this weblog, others through our ministry, but wherever you find it, fellowship is a necessary and integral part of the Christian experience, one that will help us grow and mature in the faith.

From what we understand from scripture this meeting wherein the Disciples of Christ asked if He would at that time restore the kingdom to Israel was the last face to face meeting they had with Him before the ascension.

Luke 24:50-51, “And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven.”

Even though Jesus had been speaking to them concerning the Kingdom of God, the disciples were still fixated on an earthly kingdom. Since they had not as yet received the Holy Spirit, their thinking did not differ much from that of the average Jew. They waited for an earthly Messiah, a warrior prince, who would come and restore the kingdom to Israel, who would push back the enemies of God’s people, and who would bring about justice in the physical. They only saw the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God within the context and framework of the Jewish people, here on earth, and in their limited understanding the Messiah was supposed to free Israel from the heavy yoke of Roman oppression, make Jerusalem the capital of a new kingdom, and appoint them as leaders and ambassadors of this kingdom.

Absent the guidance of the Holy Spirit we are likewise inclined to adopt the mindset of those around us, just as the disciples were influenced and ultimately perceived the work of Christ through the prism of the men of their time. Tradition dictated that the Messiah would come and establish a kingdom on earth, tradition dictated that He would be a great warrior and unifier of the people, and so influenced by tradition the disciples asked Jesus what many would rightly deduce was a foolhardy question. They had been witness to His ministry, they had heard His teaching, they had seen the miracles He performed, they ought to have realized that Jesus wasn’t interested in building up an army in the natural, they ought to have realized that swords and spears and bows and arrows were useless in the spiritual battle that was to come, they ought to have realized that their calling was not to live in palaces and wear fine linen, but to preach and to live and to suffer and to die for the cause of Christ, yet with all the things they ought to have known, they still asked Jesus if He would at that time restore the kingdom to Israel.

The worthwhile lesson to be learned from this exchange between the disciples and Christ, is that it is we who lose out when we attempt to force the beautiful truths of God into the molds that we’ve fashioned from our own earthly convictions, the presuppositions we’ve contrived from our own denominations, or the conclusions we’ve allowed others to come to on our behalf regarding God and the things of God.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 17

The Advent Part 9

The sixth passage concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit, a passage that is interconnected with the fifth passage is when Peter defends his ministry to the gentiles, and reminds the apostles and brethren in Judea who contended with him for having visited the uncircumcised and eaten with them, that it was God who had baptized the gentiles with the Holy Spirit, there was no way he could have withstood God.

Acts 11:15-17, “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?”

Peter was explaining himself, and his reasoning for having entered the house of a gentile, trying to get the brethren to see that it was not something he had intended but rather something God had mandated. What never ceases to amaze me is that the apostles and the brethren who were in Judea, simply lashed out at Peter upon hearing that the gentiles had also received the word of God. They were not excited, enthused, thankful, or joyous, they did not inquire as to the supernatural event that took place wherein the gentiles were baptized with the Holy Spirit, they simply pointed the finger at Peter and said, ‘you went and ate with gentiles!’

‘The Holy Spirit fell upon them? They started speaking in tongues? God gave them the same gift as He has given us? Nope, none of that matters, irrelevant, beside the point, what’s really important brother Peter, is that you went and ate with gentiles! You entered the house of the uncircumcised! Explain yourself sir before we have you excommunicated!’

Thankfully after Peter explained everything the brethren came to their senses, but it just goes to show that human nature hasn’t changed much throughout the centuries, and we hold as violently to our pet doctrines today as the brethren of Judea did two thousand years ago.

Acts 11:18, “When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, ‘then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”

Oh that we would glorify God for the wonderful works He does; Oh that we would glorify God for granting repentance to life even to those whom in our pride and arrogance we deemed unworthy of Christ; Oh that we would glorify God when He pours out His Holy Spirit and not try to douse the fire with our doubts and preconceived doctrinal beliefs. Oh that we would learn to be humble, and meek, and obedient, and once in a while even silent, that we might understand the work of God is greater than the limitations we’ve placed upon Him, and that His will, will be done if not with us, then in spite of us.

The seventh passage concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit, teaches us what it means to be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:13, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free – and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.”

By one Spirit we were baptized into one body, regardless of nationality, skin color, gender, or age. We are baptized into one body by one Spirit.

So in six of the seven scriptures that we’ve gone through the advent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost is highlighted, and in the seventh we are shown what the Holy Spirit does in the inner part of a man, and that we were all baptized into one body upon being baptized in the Spirit.

The unity of the Body of Christ is brought about by the Holy Spirit, and not by the plans and machinations of men. We can have all the interdenominational breakfasts we can stomach, we can have interdenominational pastoral retreats, we can attend services and become aware of the differences of other denominations, but unless the Holy Spirit is present, unless we have been baptized into one body, all our efforts will be for naught, all our efforts will do nothing to facilitate the much sought after unity. There is one Spirit, and there is one body, and all who are baptized into this one body, have been made to drink into one Spirit.

Biblically, there is a difference between water baptism, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Water baptism is the symbol, or the confession of one’s faith, while the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the reality thereof. These two together, water baptism and the baptism of the Holy Spirit constitute the true baptism, the one baptism that Paul speaks about in his epistle to the Ephesians.

Ephesians 4:4-6, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

Water baptism and the baptism of the Holy Spirit are like two sides of the same coin. They are individual, and unique, yet only when they are together do they constitute the whole. Although water baptism and the baptism of the Holy Spirit are two separate events, they constitute one baptism. It is when we have been baptized in water, and with the Holy Spirit that we have been baptized into Christ Jesus, and walk in newness of life.

Romans 6:3-4, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 16

The Advent Part 8

Other than the second chapter of the book of Acts, there are seven verses within the New Testament in which the baptism of the Holy Spirit is mentioned. Three of the passages center around John the Baptist’s prophetic foretelling of He who is to come after him, namely Christ Jesus, who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

Matthew 3:11, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

Mark 1:8, “I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

 
Luke3:16, “John answered, saying to them all, ‘I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal straps I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”

In the fourth of seven passages concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit, we find John testifying, concerning the person of Jesus, and that the way he knew Him, was because that which was foretold to him concerning the Christ, and that the Spirit would descend upon Him, came to pass.

John 1:30-34, “This is He of whom I said, ‘after me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me. I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.’ And John bore witness saying, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”

John had been commissioned of God to baptize in water, but he was also told of God that one day a Man would come to him, a Man preferred before him for He was before him, and the way John would recognize this man would be that the Holy Spirit would descend upon Him, and remain on Him. This prophecy concerning the Christ came to pass as Jesus came to be baptized by John, and the Holy Spirit descended from heaven like a dove, and remained on Him.

There is no doubt in John’s testimony, there is not a shadow of turning in his witness, he knew who Jesus was because what he had been told would happen happened, and due to this, due to the fact that He saw the Holy Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, he testifies that this is the Son of God.

The fifth and sixth passages concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit are found in the book of Acts, and therein we also see gentiles being baptized in the Holy Spirit. So for those who continue to affirm that the Holy Spirit descended only on the hundred and twenty in the upper room, then returned to the Father, the Word of God contradicts you.

Acts 10:44-46, “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they had heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.”

So who were these gentiles that received the gift of the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues? They were the relatives and close friends of a centurion named Cornelius, in the opinion of many, the first gentile to be converted to the faith. Although the Word does not specify a number, due to the fact that it tells us Cornelius gathered both his relatives and close friends chances are there were more than a handful of people. It was upon these individuals that the Holy Spirit fell, uncircumcised gentiles, something that astonished those who had come with Peter.

Acts 10:34-35, “Then Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘in truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.”

Before this particular event, Peter as well as those that had come with him has a well-established preconceived notion concerning gentiles, and those who were not circumcised. They believed that salvation was for the Jews alone, and that the gentiles could never attain that which they had attained. Yet God turned their entire doctrine on its ear by transforming Cornelius and his household, and likewise baptizing them with the Holy Spirit. Upon seeing this, Peter realized the fact that God shows no partiality and that in every nation, whoever fears God and works righteousness is accepted by God. Here was a man who was willing to let go of his preconceived notions, a man who realized that he didn’t know it all, that he hadn’t arrived, and that yes, he had been wrong concerning gentiles and their ability to be converted.

What if Peter would have been set in his ways as many believers of certain denominations are concerning certain doctrines? What would have happened if he didn’t have a teachable spirit, or the humility to admit that he was wrong?

‘Well, gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues just doesn’t fly, nope, can’t be, it must be of the devil. There is a consensus on this matter after all, the majority agrees, so even though there is no Biblical foundation for what we believe, the majority consensus proves that what these gentiles are experiencing is not of God.’

I submit to you that if Peter and those that had come with him were as set in their ways as some denominationalists are today, upon seeing Cornelius and his household receive the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues they would have attempted to rebuke the devil, denounce the entire thing as demonic, brand them all heretics, and wipe the dust of their feet on the way out.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 15

The Advent Part 7

Since yesterday’s post one thing keeps making its way to the forefront of my mind, and that is the fact that Jesus commanded His disciples to wait in Jerusalem, and they waited. The disciples obeyed. We cannot expect anything from the hand of God if we are unwilling to obey Him. The disciples received that which was promised to them because they obeyed what Jesus commanded them to do. If they had all departed from Jerusalem even after Jesus had told them not to, if they had all gone their own way, doing their own thing, seeking the fulfillment of their own aspirations, then they would not have received what Jesus had promised that they would. Wait on the promise of God, in the place He has told you to wait, for as long as you have to wait, otherwise we wait in vain.

As Jesus continues speaking to His disciples, He points something out that is of relevance to our study, the fact that John truly baptized with water, but they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit. I want to dwell on this for a while, because it is important and relevant, and because any Biblical truth that is twisted to fit our own preconceived ideology or doctrinal stance can readily become untruth.

Any apostolic practice performed differently than in the Spirit of the New Covenant, is seen of God as defilement, impure and absent of divine blessing.

John baptized with water, and the baptism of John also referred to as the baptism of repentance, was something ordained of God. As men would come to be baptized, they would be asked to confess their sins, and only after confession would the baptism of John be granted to them. Of those who came to be baptized, some could have been insincere in their confessions, this is why John consistently reminds them that the One who is to come after him, will know the hidden things of the heart, and Him they would not be able to deceive or lie to.

Matthew 3:11-12, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

Although he was a man of God, John was in the end just a man with human limitations, and constrained to His calling. The One who was to come however, would be the Son of God and as such no limitations would be placed upon Him. John knew his place, he know the extent of his calling, and in humility he looked for the One who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire, for the One who would thoroughly purge His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn, and burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

It is the pinnacle of wisdom to realize our place within the body of Christ, to remain within our calling, and not attempt to ascend to duties beyond those which we were called to. John was fully aware that He who was coming was mightier than himself, he was fully aware that He would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire, and so he did his part, faithfully performed the duties of his calling until the Christ came.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the work of God, a work which He performs in the hearts and lives of the faithful, as He sees fit. I realize making demands of God is becoming increasingly popular in our day and age, I realize men who call themselves spiritual leaders are instructing their sheep to look up to heaven shake their fists at God and order Him to do one thing or another on their behalf as though He were some indentured servant, but the reality of the situation is that God does what He wants, when He wants, how He wants, and though we might stir His heart with our prayers, we will never get anywhere by making demands.

One other aspect of this passage that I want to point out is the fact that within the fifth verse of the first chapter of acts Jesus also defines what the Promise of the Father is. There has been much back and forth within theological circles, there have been speculations, and personal opinions, but they are worthless, pointless, and in the end a waste of time, because we discover the truth of what the Promise is from none other than Christ Jesus Himself.

Acts 1:5, “For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

The Promise of the Father is the baptism of the Holy Spirit! This truth is undeniable when viewed via the prism of the Word of God. Try as one might to bypass this truth, try as one might to skirt this issue because their denominational doctrine compels them to, the Word of God changes for no man, and the truth thereof is self-evident to all who have ears to hear and eyes to see.

We have not because we ask not, and we ask not because we’ve been taught that what we could be asking for, what we should be asking for is no longer available, that it has long expired and become null and void, even though God never sent out that particular memo, nor is the mention of the cessation of the work, the indwelling and the gifts of the Holy Spirit found anywhere within the Word of God. One would think that something of such paramount importance would be clearly outlined within the Bible, or that at least we would have been told that we should stop asking for the power and the gifts because, well, they were just for a handful of folks two thousand years ago, and not for us.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.