God Running is a place for anyone who wants to (or even anyone who wants to want to) love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.
Last post from the book of Acts we saw how Peter stood up and led the disciples when he addressed the crowd. Today we’ll look at the first part of what he said. (If you’re interested you can read our last post here: Who Put Him in Charge?)
Drunk or Not Drunk?
But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:Acts 2:14-16
Some in the crowd who didn’t hear the disciples clearly were confused, and supposed the disciples were drunk. Peter points out to this group that it’s only the third hour of the day, or 9am according to the time keeping system of our day. Devout Jews in that culture, at that time, wouldn’t eat or drink anything before 9am (not all Jews, but among devout Jews this was the practice). So the idea that the disciples were drunk isn’t credible. Peter goes on to explain what’s happening with each hearer in this diverse group, hearing of the mighty works of God in their own native tongue. And he builds his explanation on the common ground of God’s scripture.
Knowing God’s Sacred Words
“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,Acts 2:17-21
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
Peter beautifully quotes and paraphrases from Joel chapter 2. It’s worth noting that an important part of why God’s using Peter to influence people for Jesus is because Peter’s well familiar with God’s scripture. That’s so important for you and for me too. It’s God’s desire we plant ourselves in the fertile soil of His words. His person is imparted to us when we read His words. We become more connected to Him when we study His words. We become more intimate with Him. And like Peter, we become more useful to Him for the purposes of His kingdom.
The Supernatural Way You’re Hearing Foreign Tongues Proves . . .
Peter shares how God, through Joel, prophesied He would pour out His Holy Spirit upon the descendants of the Jews of Joel’s time. Peter’s sharing with the crowd that they’re seeing the prophecy from Joel fulfilled this very day. Peter quotes the prophecy from Joel as a way to say to his Jewish listeners — who came from all over the world and who spoke such a variety of languages:
The supernatural way in which you’re hearing foreign tongues proves the Spirit of prophecy has come.
And the fact that the Spirit of prophecy has come proves salvation has come.
And because salvation has come, the messianic era has come.
And because the messianic era has come, the Messiah has come.
And the Messiah is Jesus.
The COVID Crazies and From Where Shall Our Salvation Come?
Sometimes I feel like I’m losing my mind during COVID. About a month ago the feeling was so strong I went on a five hour bike ride — indoors — on a trainer. I told my orthopedic doctor about it and she shared that she and a friend went on a run together and they didn’t stop for twenty-two miles. She said she just felt a little crazy, and those feelings drove her and her friend to run too far for too long.
Some nights I’m not sleeping great either. Between 3 and 4am I wake up and can’t seem to get back to sleep until not long before it’s time to get up in the morning. (As an aside, I recently found something helpful though. Instead of counting sheep I’ve taken to counting blessings. Instead of staring at the ceiling I’ve taken to praying about what’s on my heart. Other times I’ll focus on my breath. As I breathe in I say in my mind, “Father,” and as I breathe out I say, “be merciful to me because I’m a sinner.” Jesus talked about praying those words in one of his parables. Other times I’ll breathe in and pray in my mind, “Father,” and as I breathe out I’ll simply pray, “Thank you.” That last prayer seems to be especially helpful sometimes.) (Luke 18:9-14)
Occasionally, another symptom of my COVID craziness is a temptation to allow myself to be pulled into the quagmire of political polarization we’re experiencing right now. I live in the Portland, Oregon area where the people downtown receive riot forecasts from their apartment building managers. And like you, I saw video and read about protestors breaking into the Capitol building, threatening to kill certain people who work there. Some of my friends and family are all in when it comes to taking preventive measures against COVID. Other friends and family feel we should live life normally and the vulnerable are the ones who should take precautions. Some of my friends and family think the last president is the devil and others think our current president is the devil.
There’s a lot of talk about changing our systems and getting the “right” people into political office. If we could only do that then we as a society could be saved from injustice and suffering. All of my friends and family have the greater good in mind when they talk that way. They want to make a difference in the world. They want to make things better. And the path to making things better is through politics they say.
I used to think like that. When I was in my forties I had big opinions about politics. I put a lot of hope into improving our systems of government and society, and getting the “right” people into political power.
But if you’re a regular on this blog you know about the seven year deep dive I took into researching Jesus. And after completing that deep dive I’m completely convinced when I hope in the systems and leadership of human beings my hope is misplaced.
The last verse Peter quotes from Joel is this one:
“And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”Joel 2:32a
I’m now totally sold on where to put my hope when it comes to changing the world, when it comes to serving the greater good, when it comes to making the world a better place.
After seven years of studying Jesus’ life I’m a different person. I now believe, by far, the most effective way to change the world is to love Jesus with everything you have and to follow him and his words as closely as possible.
Jesus is where the world’s salvation will come from.
“. . . on earth as it is in heaven.”Matthew 6:10
Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament,
InterVarsity Press, 1993, p. 328
Image of Doubting Thomas painting by Giovanni Serodine via Wikimedia Commons – Public Domain
Newly released book by Kurt Bennett, now available on Amazon!
Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus)
Love Like Jesus begins with the story of how after a life of regular church attendance and Bible study, Bennett was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote this book for himself as much as for others.
Love Like Jesus examines a variety of stories, examples, and research, including:
- Specific examples of how Jesus communicated God’s love to others.
- How Jesus demonstrated all five of Gary Chapman’s love languages (and how you can too).
- The story of how Billy Graham extended Christ’s extraordinary love and grace toward a man who misrepresented Jesus to millions.
- How to respond to critics the way Jesus did.
- How to love unlovable people the way Jesus did.
- How to survive a life of loving like Jesus (or how not to become a Christian doormat).
- How Jesus didn’t love everyone the same (and why you shouldn’t either).
- How Jesus guarded his heart by taking care of himself–he even napped–and why you should do the same.
- How Jesus loved his betrayer Judas, even to the very end.
With genuine unfiltered honesty, Love Like Jesus, shows you how to live a life according to God’s definition of success: A life of loving God well, and loving the people around you well too.
A life of loving like Jesus.