Picture of the Valverde grandkids this Easter weekend: Saraí, Liam, Caleb, and Eliana. What gladness they always have and gladness they share with me! Bless and protect, dear Lord.
What Else Could Living in the Presence of God bring?
From Acts 2: 14a: But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, "Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 22 "You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know— 23 this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. 24 But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. 25 For David says concerning him, "I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken; 26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will live in hope. 27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One experience corruption. 28 You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.' 29 "Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying, "He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh experience corruption.' 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses.
God has blessed me with some great ushers. Pastors know the value and worth of good ushers, and we dislike it when we have bad ushers. But great ushers never stop their work for the Lord Jesus Christ. One was retired from working and so he gave his life to missions work across the border. He would attend and worship in Mexican churches and help usher there. One night as the pastor of that particular church was preaching two drunks came and began to heckle him. "He's no good, why do they have him preaching!" The other chimed, "Yeah, he doesn't know what he's talking about!" My usher walked over to them and quietly said, "Don't worry fellas, you're next!" They walked away.
Such pressure may have been in Peter's heart called on at the last minute to preach this first post-Easter, post-Pentecost sermon to a crowd bewildered by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. He begins by identifying them and with them. We're all israelites, but listen to the story of Jesus of Nazareth. Another identity point; if they weren't from Nazareth they must have heard of it and some may have even heard about Jesus. Then the point of the story; Jesus rose from the dead! And not only that, Peter adds, David, the prophet, foretold all this! Another connecting point and one from their own scriptures. He quotes a life-affirming, hope-giving source about Jesus: Because I can see the Lord always before me, I will not be afraid and my heart is glad. You can't stop my tongue from singing praises and this body lives in hope. I know gladness! Then, some reality; David died and his tomb is still with us, but David knew the Messiah would not die forever nor would his body experience corruption; He rose! And of that we are His witnesses.
Bam! The sermon is good at this point and it's not over. It continues next week in the next passage from the lectionary for next week. But Peter has made His point. All that Jesus did and experienced was foretold in the scriptures we have. And what David said should be our life's experience and testimony as well; If we put Jesus before us always, strength, hope, joy, praise, and health are always before us, with us, and in us.
PRAYER: Loving God for Your Word we are so thankful. We are blessed and we are joyful. Speak to our hearts and bring us all that we need, and let us bless others. This we pray in Christ Jesus, amen.
Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!