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Showing posts from July, 2013

Jesus cleanses the spirit

Foreground: Remember the Gospel story where Jesus cleanses the Temple? In Matthew 21, Mark 11, and Luke 19, Jesus overturns tables, drives out money changers, and clears the walkway through an overly crowded area, so people could get back to worship.

Earlier than this, Jesus cleansed a synagogue. Although Mark sets that first chapter episode in Capernaum, it’s quite possible something similar occurred in synagogues throughout the region. Regardless of where or how often this happened, these spiritual cleansings consistently cleansed and cleared away the unclean, for no spirit in heaven or on earth can outrank, overcome, or overpower the Holy Spirit of God, given to us in Christ.

God gave us free will to choose life or death, love or hate, care or apathy, good or evil, clean or unclean, but spirits have no choices or decisions to make. They must obey God in the power and authority of Jesus’ Name.

In Capernaum the Sabbath came,
and Jesus entered the synagogue,
astounding everyone w…

Praying with the enemy

Background: In the heart of Palestine, in between Nazareth and Jerusalem, in between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and somewhere in between Judaism and paganism, lay Samaria - the grape-growing hill country where few Jews would set a sandal and where grudges grew old and deep.

After the death of King Solomon, the people of God split into two kingdoms, North and South. In the Southern Kingdom, Jerusalem remained the capital, while Samaria eventually capped the Northern Kingdom.

Each of the feuding families had their own kings, too, with good and bad rulers occasionally arising on either side. First and Second Kings and First and Second Chronicles tell of such matters – and such people as the Samaritan King Ahab, who actually lived in an ivory palace with his wife Jezebel – the wicked woman who killed God’s prophets and scared Elijah so much, he ran for his life!

Many years later, the Assyrians waged a three-year war until winning over Samaria in 722 B.C. The triumphant …

Stephen prays for his murderers

Background: As the early church greatly grew, people from diverse backgrounds had to find ways to connect with the Body of Christ. Since Jesus and the Apostles belonged to the Jewish faith, the church began as part of the Temple and local synagogues, which meant that the early Christians had to discern whether to keep Jewish rituals, customs, and traditions or openly welcome peoples from the Hellenist (Greek) community.

God made it clear that all peoples who accepted Jesus as their Savior were to be included in the Body of Christ. Nevertheless, Christians from the Greek community felt they weren’t being given as much as Jewish Christians, so they complained to the Apostles in Jerusalem.

Wisely, the Apostles advised the Hellenist Christians to select seven Spirit-filled men with good reputations to be in charge of food distributions and other acts of service. Stephen, one of the seven, had so much wisdom and power that he caught much attention, including negative attention that jealo…