Scripture reading for May 18th: Acts 10
Key Scriptures for over-comers: Acts 10:44-48 “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.”
The early church came mainly from converts among the Jews. Peter was a devout Jew, as were most of the other apostles. When God called him to go to the home of Cornelius and preach to the Gentiles gathered there, it was a shock to his cultural upbringing. But he took other Jewish believers with him as he obeyed the vision given him by the Lord. As he preached the Gospel to them, the Holy Spirit fell upon these Gentiles and they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in tongues and praising God. Peter then understood that God had given them the same gift and they should also be baptized and brought into fellowship of the Church! Peter had actually prophesied this on the day of Pentecost when he said this gift of the Holy Spirit was for those who were “far off”! (Acts 2:39)
Observations for over-comers: God’s ways are often much higher than ours. We must stay teachable and obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit and not be over-come by our own cultural prejudices. “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.” (Deuteronomy 10:17)
Scripture reading for November 4th: James 3
Another area of self deception concerned the use of our tongues. (James 1:26) Our tongues can easily get out of control. We can use them to bless and also to curse. We can boast, gossip, complain, criticize or judge others by allowing our tongues to speak what is in our unredeemed heart. James sought to warn the believers and us today about the evils of a tongue out of control.
“We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.” . . .”Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” (James 32, 5-6)
James did not sugar-coat the dangers of a tongue out of control. The forces of hell are behind the evil use of this small member of our body. James went on to state that no man can tame the tongue. Only under the power of the Holy Spirit can we use our tongues to be a blessing to others. Our hearts must be made new by new birth and the indwelling of Christ’s Spirit. When believers were baptized in the Holy Spirit, the initial sign was speaking in new tongues. ( Acts 2:4) “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” Let your tongue flow with the wisdom from heaven! (James 3:17-18)