Study from God’s Word… Acts, Chapters 1 & 2 … Passage for Reflection: Acts 2: 38 … NIV Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
My Journal for Today: And now my guided tour (by the Bible editing and devotional authorship of Dr. LaGard Smith) in the New Testament continues as I’m led to begin reading in the book we know of as The Acts of the Apostles, which begins with that astounding sermon delivered by Peter to thousands of Jews who had gathered in Jerusalem for the traditional Jewish feast known as Pentecost, which takes place annually on the Hebrew calendar 50 days after Passover.
And after Peter preached his evangelically powerful sermon about repentance in Christ, well over 3000 men (and probably man thousand women and of-age children) were brought into the kingdom of God as new, born-again Christians that day. This was the launching of what we now know of as “The Church;” and in today’s excerpt from Peter’s sermon, we read of Peter’s “altar call,” (if you will) with a declaration that these Jews repent and receive the indwelling of God’s Spirit, which had been promised by Jesus Himself before He ascended to heaven. And as we’ve just referenced, thousands did exactly that on Pentecost; and what followed was a miraculous exhibit of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit from these newly indwelt believers, many of whom even had a new, Spirit-led, gift of being able to speak in tongues with others who could interpret that gift for those who were not so gifted. But all of these new believers had been given various spiritual gifts which benefitted the new community of so-called (later) “Christians,” which we now know of as “the Church.” And all of these new, born-again believers were endowed with fruit of God’s Spirit, which Apostle Paul would later list in his letter to the church of Galatia [see Gal. 5: 22-23], to include love, joy, peace and other attributes which demonstrated that these new believers were changed – i.e., transformed – people, enabled by God’s Spirit to live, love, and interact in ways non-believers could not.
And Dr. Smith today, uses a word picture of this transformation process being like Jesus, with righteous intent, coming in and radically cleansing the Temple, as He did on at least two recorded occasions in the Gospel accounts [the 1st account in John 2 and the second documented in Matt 21 and Mark 11]. Jesus came in to a corrupted Temple; and as we know, cleaned it out so that the Temple would honor God’s presence as His house of worship. And this becomes a picture of what God, the Holy Spirit, does in the corrupted and sin-ridden temple, we know of as our body or “heart,” indwelling us with His grace and, over time, cleaning out the temple God has given us (our bodies) where He can dwell and be in a place of residence which glorifies God. The later Apostle Paul would also write about this to the Church in Corinth, when he asked the believers there (see 1st Cor. 6: 19-20), “19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
Dr. Smith, as he usually does, challenges his readers with a question at the end of his devotional entry, which today he calls a “purifying question.” He writes, ”If I truly wish to have the presence of God in my life, have I allowed my temple to be washed and filled?” I hope and pray all of us, here, either writing or reading this day, can answer that challenging question with an unqualified “YES!” Because, …only those who are truly born-again and surrendered to God’s Spirit in their lives will be able to do so.
My Prayer for Today: Lord, please, … PLEASE … purge my “temple” of anything unclean so that my heart may glorify You. Amen