Thursday, June 27, 2013

Our Comforter

Jorge Rodriguez was a Mexican bank robber who operated along the Texas border around the turn of the century. He was so successful in his forays that the Texas Rangers assigned an extra posse to the Rio Grande to stop him. Late one afternoon, one of the special Rangers saw Jorge slipping stealthily across the river, and he trailed him at a discreet distance as he returned to his home village. He watched as Jorge first mingled with the people in the square around the town well and then went into his favorite cantina to relax. The Ranger slipped into the cantina as well and managed to get the drop on Jorge. With a pistol at Jorge’s head, he said, “I know who you are, Jorge Rodriguez, and I have come to get back all the money you have stolen from the banks of Texas. Unless you give it to me, I am going to pull the trigger.” But there was a problem—Jorge did not speak English, and the Texas Ranger did not know Spanish. The two adults were at a verbal impasse.

About that time, an enterprising villager said, “I am bilingual. Do you want me to act as a translator?” The Ranger nodded, and the villager proceeded to put the words of the Ranger into terms Jorge could understand. Nervously, Jorge answered, “Tell the big Texas Ranger that I have not spent a cent of the money. If he will go to the town well, face north, and count down five stones, he will find a loose one there. Pull it out, and all the money is behind it. Please tell him quickly.” The little translator assumed a solemn look and said to the Ranger in perfect English,” Jorge Rodriguez is a brave man. He says he is ready to die!” What we do not know most assuredly does hurt us!

We need a reliable interpreter in life to tell us what is really going on. Jesus said that person was the Holy Spirit. He promised his disciples he would not leave them as orphans but would send the Holy Spirit to help them (John 14:17-18). This Counselor would remind them of everything he had taught them (John 14:26). In short, he would be everything Jesus had been to them.

After Jesus’ resurrection, he told his disciples to rely not on themselves but on the Spirit to live the Christian life. They had just hit bottom and had failed miserably and were ready to depend on God. They were ready to seek God because they recognized their inability to meet life’s challenges and the demands of ministry. Their ineffectiveness to do spiritual warfare with carnal weapons was obvious—they now needed power from above.

Jesus instructed them how to receive the power, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:4-8).

The disciples were transformed by this power, as was illustrated by Peter’s boldness. Peter was truly turned from shifting sand to solid rock. We see him standing confident, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit as he faces the multitude and boldly proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ. Peter proclaimed, “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear,” (Acts 2:32-33).

To the people, Peter gave two commands and a promise, "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,” (Acts 2:38). This Spirit Baptism occurred all through the book of Acts, first in Jerusalem, then in Samaria, then Caesarea, followed by Damascus and finally Ephesus. It is still going on all over the world where there are people who believe the promise of the Father is for them. Peter assured everyone on the day of Pentecost that this promise was for all time, “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call," (Acts 2:39).

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