The Increase

Photo by Josh Sorenson on

Jesus’ last words to the apostles were, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about” (Acts 1:4).

His friends waited in Jerusalem. The gift Jesus spoke about was the power of the Holy Spirit. It came on Pentecost when people from many nations were in Jerusalem. Tongues of fire rested on each of the apostles and they began to speak in languages the people could understand. Peter explained, “This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:16:21).

Peter had the attention of the people and continued to speak with great power. He said, “Let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, who you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” The people felt helpless and asked what they must do. Peter said, “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 2:36-38). Peter used many other words to warn the people, and that day about 3,000 people accepted the message and were baptized.

While the apostles were still in Jerusalem, the priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John. They were disturbed because the apostles proclaimed the resurrection of the dead in Jesus. Even though they seized Peter and John, the number of believers grew to about 5,000 (Acts 4:4).


The same power that raised Jesus from the grave was at work in Peter and John. These were not educated men, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, they made convincing statements that led people to believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. This same power is at work in believers today. We are a kingdom of priests, called to tell the truth. Will you rely on this strength to speak boldly about God’s amazing love to a dark and dying world? I assure you, many people need to now the love of Jesus–mercy instead of judgement, peace instead of anxiety and hope instead of hopelessness.


Thank you, Heavenly Father, for Jesus and His sacrifice that brought about the forgiveness of our sins. Help us to live in the power of our salvation, to show compassion to others and to speak of your love to those who need to hear it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Help for the Suffering

depressed man sitting against the light reflected in the water

Do you suffer from injury, pain, disease or depression? Suffering has been a part of life from the time of Adam and Eve, and we all handle it in different ways. It’s a huge topic and difficult for me to know where to begin, but I want to tell you about the benefits of praise. The Bible records how many people dealt with pain. Job lost his family, wealth and health. I cannot imagine the pain of his boils, so severe he scraped them with shards of pottery–and he complained. Who wouldn’t?

In contrast, Paul and Silas were beaten with rods and put into the deepest, darkest part of prison with their feet in stocks. How unbearable their pain must have been! In the middle of the night they sang praises to God. They got the attention of the other prisoners and the jailer. Then it happened! An earthquake shook the jail. The cell doors flew open, and all the prisoners were free to go, but they stayed for the salvation of the jailer and his family.

Peter and John healed a paralyzed man and used the miracle to tell how the government and the temple leaders crucified Jesus, the Lord of glory, and how He rose from the grave for the salvation of those who believed. The temple rulers ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, but they said, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard,” (Acts 4:19). The officials could not agree on how to punish them and so released them. Peter and John returned to their people to report what had happened and to give prayer and praise to God for His mighty works to save them (Acts 4).


Most of us have not suffered like Job, been beaten and imprisoned like Paul and Silas or persecuted like Peter and John. However, things are changing quickly in our world. Are we ready to face persecution and suffering for what we believe? We might have to.


Holy Lord, gracious Father, draw us so close to you that we will be confident in the day of testing. Speak boldly in us and give us peace even in suffering. In Jesus’ name, Amen.