Trailing the Acts of the Holy Spirit

Module 6 – Google Maps Tour of the Bible by Johann Quisumbing

In module 6, we will visit the Bible sites of where the Holy Spirit led followers of the Way from Asia and then through Europe during the early years of the church. So, let us start in the…

1 – Middle East

Before ascending to Heaven, Jesus Christ gave His disciples the Great Commission.

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

The question is, how did they do it? The chosen twelve disciples still had SIN issues. Simon Peter, the leader, said he would never abandon Jesus but he ended up denying Him three times. Except for one, ten of them abandoned Him and was not even there when He was crucified. And sadly, the one who betrayed Him, did not believe enough that he could still have been forgiven, if he did not commit suicide. Everyone of them (like all of us) could not fulfill the Great Commission by themselves. With Jesus in Heaven, what were they to do? Well, as promised, God sent help. For this, we go back to the…

Click LINK 1 – UPPER ROOM

I hope you don’t mind, but I’m making an assumption that you already know that you are inside the Cenacle, also known as the Upper Room. And if you went through Module 5a, you would also know that this place is located on Mount Zion, just outside the Old City walls, west of the City of David. I guess that I don’t have to remind you that the Upper Room was where Jesus held the Last Supper (John 13). As special as that was, this room was witness to an even more spectacular event. For true Christians all around, it was called Pentecost.

The Christian Pentecost

For the Jews, Pentecost is the Feast of Harvest which is mentioned in the five books of Moses. This feast came during the months of May and June. It was at this time, that the Chosen Twelve (including Judas’ replacement), Jesus’ mother and siblings, with a 100 or so other believers were gathered together in this room to pray. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:1-4)

This filling of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost was different than the Spirit filling that occurred during the Old Testament. In the Old Testament it was mostly temporary. But Jesus said in John 14, that this time, the Holy Spirit will be with them (and yes, with us who believe) FOREVER (14:16).

What exactly happened here? Jesus said that they (& us) became born again (John 3:3-8). Everyone who were filled with the Spirit became NEW creations (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Being filled with the Holy Spirit meant change. What kind of change? And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability (Acts 2:4). Peter especially showed a great change and we will see this at our next site.

Click LINK 2 – JERUSALEM MODEL

You are looking at southern side of the Temple Mount of the Jerusalem Model. I chose this site as a probable location of where the Apostle Peter (newly Spirit filled) may have addressed for the very first time a large crowd about the Gospel of Christ. Meanwhile, let us go to to the actual site of the Temple Mount’s south wall.

Click LINK 2a – SOUTH WALL

You are standing before the south wall of the Temple Mount. Of course, this is not actual stone wall. The first century structure is really underground. But imagine that this street was the plaza before the southern entrance into the Temple complex.

Peter’s Sermon

In Acts 2, after the Holy Spirit entered the disciples in the Upper Room, the Holy Spirit made such a big noise, the people of the city heard it. Among the people were Jews from foreign lands that spoke the languages of the Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamia, Cappadocia, Pontus, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, Libya, Cyrene, Rome, Cretans and Arabs (2:9-11).

When the Spirit-filled disciples came out of the upper room, the Jews from the different land heard the disciples speaking their languages. They were amazed and astonished, saying, “How is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?” (2:7) Many thought that they were drunk out of their minds.

Enter the Apostle Peter who boldly exposed the good news of Jesus Christ to them. The entire sermon can be read in Acts 2:14-36. Here is the amazing point, Peter never thought that he could ever give a sermon like this ever. He probably felt that he was inadequate especially since a few months back, he denied the Lord. But he did give the sermon and guess what, because of the Holy Spirit in him, about 4000 new believers were added to the church.

Let’s jump a few years ahead. The church in Jerusalem grew and grew and grew. To most, this was a good thing. But then the Holy Spirit never intended the church to be in just one place. After all, Jesus did tell His disciples that…

“…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and as far as the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

As the church grew, so did the persecution. Non-believers clashed with members of the Way (early Christians). Then, when the religious leaders came into play, it became deadly.

2 – Stephen, a Man of Grace

There was man named Stephen who was chosen by the Apostles to be one of seven deacons of the church in Jerusalem. In Acts 6, he was a man filled by the Holy Spirit with grace and power. He had performed great wonders and signs among the people. Some tried to debate with him, but they were unable to cope with his wisdom and the Spirit by whom he was speaking. So, they made up false accusations of blasphemy against him and turned him over to be tried before the religious leaders, the Sanhedrin. He testified before them with a summary oration of biblical history starting with Abraham leaving his home in Mesopotamia to the time when Solomon built the Temple for God. At first, some members of the Sanhedrin were loving what they were hearing until his defense of his faith in the Jesus being the Son of God whom they crucified enraged his Jewish audience. He was taken out of the city, through what tradition claim is the…

Click LINK 3 – LION’S GATE

The Lions’ Gate, a.k.a. St Stephen’s Gate, is one of the Gates of the Old City of Jerusalem. It is associated with the ancient Sheep Gate. After the trial, Stephen was forcibly taken out and they began stoning him… 

They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” Then he fell on his knees and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:59-60)

More persecution hit the church which actually caused Jerusalem believers to leave the city to foreign lands bringing the Gospel with them which Jesus intended when He gave out the Great Commission. Among those that were scattered was…

3 – Philip the Evangelist

Philip the Evangelist was one of the seven deacons appointed to tend the believers of Jerusalem, thereby enabling the Apostles to freely conduct their missions. His energetic preaching, however, earned him the title of the Evangelist and the Holy Spirit led him to minister successfully in Samaria. So, let us go to what was once a…

Click LINK 4 – SAMARITAN CITY

You are standing on some ruins of a Samaritan city on top of Mt Gerizim. This archaeological excavation is part of the nearby Samaritan Museum, which is an Ethnographic Museum that explores and present the culture of the “Samaritans” people. The museum is the only museum in the world dedicated to Samaritans and their language. 

Philip began proclaiming Christ to the Samaritans. The crowds were paying attention with one mind to what was being said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing. For in the case of many who had unclean spirits, they were coming out of them shouting with a loud voice; and many who had been paralyzed or limped on crutches were healed. So there was much rejoicing in that city. (Acts 8:5-8) Among them was the conversion of the infamous magician named Simon Magus (vs9–13). Philip was so successful that when the apostles heard what he did, they sent Peter and John to pray for them that they would receive the Holy Spirit. When they began laying their hands on them, they were receiving the Holy Spirit. (vs14-17)

Then an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Get ready and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (Acts 8:26)

So, let us go on a…

Click LINK 5 – ROAD TO GAZA

You are on one of many National Trails of Israel, west by south-west of Jerusalem. This is not exactly the actual site where the angel told Philip to go to, but it does parallel a modern highway that will take you to Gaza.

So, it was like on this dusty road that the Holy Spirit guided Philip the Evangelist to rendezvous with an Ethiopian official riding on a posh 4-wheeled chariot. Coaxed by the Spirit to get closer, Philip heard the official reading out loud a Messianic passage from Isaiah 53:7. Philip saw an opening to use the passage to share who Jesus Christ was to him. The official was so convinced that he asked Philip why he should not be baptized (by water) right there and then.

The work of the Holy Spirit is never done and even an Apostle need to learn from Him. Let’s go to a church at the coast. Let’s go to…

4 – Lesson for Peter

Click LINK 6 – JOPPA

Welcome to the inside of the St. Peter’s Church which is a Franciscan church in the historical part of Jaffa. Jaffa was once known as Joppa, a trading and fishing port where once the Prophet Jonah tried to run away from God by going to sea. About a block from the pier, the church was constructed on its present location because of the significance this city has to Christianity. It was in Jaffa that the Apostle Peter raised Tabitha, one of Jesus’ disciples, from the dead according to the Acts 9:36–42.

Zoom-in onto the painting behind the Altar. That painting depicts the lesson that Peter needed to learn. You see, the Holy Spirit had to break Peter away from choosing tradition to obeying the Lord. In a vision, a sheet of all sorts of animals were presented to him including non-kosher* ones. God then told him to kill and eat. But Peter refrained siting that he had never eaten anything unholy and unclean. Then a voice would say that, “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” To make sure he got it, this test happened three times. (Acts 10:9-16)

Peter was perplexed in mind to what it all meant. But the Holy Spirit made it all clear.

[* Kosher means food satisfying the requirements of Jewish law]

So, let us go about 33 miles up the coast to…

Click LINK 7 – CAESAREA

You are virtually standing among the archaeological ruins of Caesarea which is an affluent town in north-central Israel. It inherited its name and much of its territory from the ancient city of Caesarea Maritima. It was built by Herod the Great about 25–13 BCE as a major Roman port and it served as an administrative center of the province of Judaea in the Roman Empire.

In Acts 10:1, we meet an unusual God-fearing Roman centurion named Cornelius. And he too received a vision to send for Peter. Four days later, Peter was knocking on his doors. After which, he confessed that he understood the lesson that the Holy Spirit was teaching him. Peter proceeded to share the Gospel to Cornelius and his entire household, but before he could lay his hands on them, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message (v44). 


When it came to the Gospel, the Lord uses even the most unusual people.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” [Isaiah 55:8,9]

Enter…

4 – The Apostle Paul

We first met Paul back in Acts 7. Of course, at that time, he was known as Saul of Tarsus, a young Pharisee on his way up the ladder into Jewish leadership. Saul was there when Stephen was stoned to death. He was there, not as a spectator, but as an honored participant (v58). That was when the great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and leading the attack was a very zealous Saul. He ravaged the church, entering house after house; and he dragged away men and women and put them in prison (Acts 8:1,3). It did not stop there. When he heard that members of the church escaped to as far as Damascus, he intended to chase them down and drag them back in shackles.

So, we will g0 north, about 133 miles from Jerusalem to an even more ancient city of…

Click LINK 6 – DAMASCUS

Welcome to the House of Saint Ananias also called the Chapel of Saint Ananias. It is an ancient underground structure located in old Damascus, Syria. This site is said to be the remains of the home of Ananias. We’ll get to his identity in a sec, for now, please zoom-in on the three framed relief sculptures above the altar. These reliefs depict how the Spirit chose the most notorious person in early Christian history and converted him to become the most influential Apostle who wrote 14 out of the 27 books of the New Testaments. Let us start with the right one.

Relief 1 [Act 9:3-9]

On the road to Damascus, Saul was struck by a brilliant light, fell to the ground, heard a voice from heaven identified as the voice of Jesus asking, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” After receiving instructions, Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

Relief 2 [Act 9:10-19]

Enter Ananias of Damascus, a believer who left Jerusalem to escape persecution. One day, the Lord told him to go to Saul and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight. Ananias was reluctant, for he knew Saul’s reputation. But the Lord revealed that Saul was to be a chosen instrument of His. So, Ananias came before Saul, regained his sight and was filled with the Spirit.

Relief 3 [Act 9:20-24]

Saul began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” He kept increasing in strength and confounding Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ. When many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were also closely watching the gates day and night so that they might put him to death; but his disciples took him at night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a large basket.

Many years later, we find Saul (now Paul) in…

5 – Asia Minor (Turkey)

Click LINK 9 – ANTIOCH

Antioch was a Hellenistic city by the Orontes River. Its ruins lie near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey, to which the ancient city lends its name. Antioch was one of the largest cities in the first-century Roman world, accommodating a population between 100,000 and 300,000. The city was home to a wealthy and thriving Jewish community. The first mention of Antioch in the New Testament is in reference to Nicolas, a Gentile convert to Christianity who was one of seven Greek-speaking (Hellenist) leaders chosen to serve as deacons at the church in Jerusalem (Acts 6:1–7).

The church at Antioch played a crucial role in the book of Acts. Here believers were first called Christians (Acts 11:26). With its mixture of Jews and Gentiles, the church at Antioch became fertile ground for the growth and spread of Christianity and a model congregation in the early days of the new Christian church. It was from here that Paul and other believers were sent on a mission by the Antioch church… inspired by the Holy Spirit, of course… to bring the Gospel to all of Asia Minor (Turkey).

Now there were prophets and teachers at Antioch, in the church that was there: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were serving the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set Barnabas and Saul apart for Me for the work to which I have called them.” Then, when they had fasted, prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. [Acts 13:1-3]

Paul’s Journeys

Apostle Paul 1st, 2nd & 3rd Evangelical Missions

The Apostle Paul traveled over 10,000 miles proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His journeys on land and sea took him primarily through present day Israel, Syria, Turkey, and Greece. Paul walked the roads built by the Romans to facilitate their control over their Empire. In 2 Corinthians 11: 25-27, he described being shipwrecked; in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from his own race, dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea; experienced toil in hardship, through many sleepless nights, through hunger and thirst, through frequent fasting, through cold and exposure.

I wish we could visit all the places that the Holy Spirit led the Apostle Paul to. One of these days, I’ll create a detailed itinerary tour specifically of his journey. For now, we can only visit 6 particular sites starting on the island of Cyprus at…

Click LINK 10 – SALAMIS, CYPRUS

Salamis was an ancient Greek city-state on the east coast of Cyprus, at the mouth of the river Pedieos, 6 km north of modern Famagusta. Nearby is…

Click LINK 10a – ST BARNABAS MONASTERY

St. Barnabas Monastery near Famagusta is dedicated to the patron saint of Cyprus, St. Barnabas. The church is now an icon museum housing a stunning collection of Cypriot artefacts dating back as far as the 7th Century BC which are kept in the monks’ old cells. Barnabas was Jewish and hailed from Salamis. He travelled to the Holy Land to study law and whilst he was there studying, he met Paul, the apostle, and was converted to Christianity. He was made the Archbishop of Salamis and when he returned from the Holy Land to Cyprus, he became a preacher, taught others about Jesus Christ.

According to the Acts 13:5-12, after landing at Salamis (eastern Cyprus) and proclaiming the Word of God in the synagogues, the prophets and teachers, Barnabas and Paul of Tarsus, traveled along the entire southern coast of the island of Cyprus until they reached…

Click LINK 10b – PAPHOS, CYPRUS

You are standing on the ruins of the archaeological site of Nea Paphos which is located in southwest Cyprus. Nea Paphos was founded on the sea near a natural harbor. It was here that Sergius Paulus, the Roman governor, was converted after Paul, who was filled with the Holy Spirit, confronted and rebuked the Sorcerer Elymas who was advising the Roman governor to not listen to Paul’s teaching. The Holy Spirit caused Elymas to be blind.

Now, let us go to…

Click LINK 11 – ANTIOCH PISIDIA

Welcome to the ruins of Antioch of Pisidia which was a city in the Turkish Lakes Region. This ancient city was at the crossroads of the Mediterranean, Aegean and Central Anatolian regions, and formerly on the border of Pisidia and Phrygia, hence also known as Antiochia in Phrygia. The site lies approximately 1 km northeast of Yalvaç, the modern town of Isparta Province, Turkey.

Paul the Apostle and Barnabas, as recounted in Acts 14, visited Antioch of Pisidia in the course of Paul’s first missionary journey, and Paul’s sermon in the Jewish synagogue there caused a great stir among the citizens and the ensuing conflict with the Jews led to Paul being stoned and then their expulsion from the city. They returned later and appointed elders for the Christian community there. Paul also visited the region in both his second and his third journeys. Paul’s “persecutions and sufferings” at Antioch are spoken of in 2 Timothy 3:11.

During Paul’s second mission in Acts 16, the Holy Spirit, strangely enough, actually blocked him from preaching the Gospel in the northern regions of Asia Minor (Turkey). Instead, he and his companions were (more or less) herded toward the west coast. (By the way, it was here in verse 7 that the Spirit of Jesus was used in conjunction with the Holy Spirit.)

Let us go to our next site at…

Click LINK 12 – TROAS

You are virtually standing amongst the ruins of Alexandria Troas. This is the site of an ancient Greek city situated on the Aegean Sea near the northern tip of Turkey’s western coast, the area known historically as Troad, a little south of Tenedos (modern Bozcaada, Turkey). It was here that Paul understood why the Holy Spirit was blocking his way to bring the Gospel north.

Click LINK 12a – TROAS SHORELINE

And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and pleading with him, and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” When he had seen the vision, they immediately sought to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called them to preach the Gospel to them. (Acts 16:9,10)

6 – Macedonia/Greece

So, from Troas, they ran a straight course to Samothrace, and on the following day to Neapolis, Macedonia; and from there to…

Click LINK 13 – PHILIPPI

You are looking at a 360 aerial view of the ancient amphi-theatre of Philippi. These ruins were once a major Greek city northwest of the nearby island, Thasos. Its original name was Crenides but was renamed after Philip II of Macedon in 356 BC. The present municipality, Filippoi, is located near these ruins and is part of the region of East Macedonia and Thrace in Kavala, Greece. It was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016.

The New Testament records a visit to this city by the Apostle Paul during his second missionary journey (likely in AD 49 or 50). On the basis of the book of Acts and the letter to the Philippians, early Christians concluded that Paul had founded their community. Accompanied by Silas, by Timothy and possibly by Luke (the author of Acts), Paul is believed to have preached for the first time on European soil in Philippi. One story stuck out for me…

Conversion in Jail [Acts 16:16-34]

During their time here, a slave woman who had a spirit of divination would hound Paul day after day. Annoyed, Paul commanded (by the authority of Christ’s name) that the evil spirit come out of her which it did. Then Paul got trouble from the master of the slave woman. Apparently, the woman’s fortune-telling ability once brought much profit to the master. Without the spirit meant no more profit. They were brought before the magistrate, convicted, beaten with rods and thrown into prison with their feet fastened into the stocks.

That night, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains were unfastened. The jailer thought that all the prisoners had escaped and was about to kill himself when Paul called out that they were all still there. This act of Christian behavior and faith eventually led the jailer and his household to saved.

The Holy Spirit led Paul down the Greek peninsula through Amphipolis, Apollonia, Thessalonica, Berea until they reached the center of Greek culture & philosophy, the great city of…

Click LINK 14 – ATHENS

Welcome to Mars Hill, best known as the Areopagus. It is a prominent rock outcropping located northwest of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. (Look east – That’s the Acropolis up there on the mountain.) Mars Hill was sometimes used as an open air council or court of justice.

According to Acts 17, while he was waiting for his companions, Silas and Timothy to arrive, Paul was distressed to see Athens full of idols. According to a commentator, Paul’s soul was troubled and his heart was grieved, …he was exasperated and provoked to the last degree… he had a burning fire in his bones, and was weary with forbearing, and could not stay; his zeal wanted vent… and he gave it [by John Gill].  So, Paul went to the synagogue and the Agora (market) on a number of occasions to preach about the Resurrection of Jesus. Some Greeks then took him to a meeting at the Areopagus, the high court in Athens, to explain himself. 

Click LINK 14a – SERMON ON THE ROCK

Imagine Paul standing on this rock surrounded by a people who considered themselves as philosophers & stoics. Wise men in their own sight. Paul knew that the Athenians needed to be made to see that what they believed lacked a true foundation before they would accept his teaching. So, he started with something that they were familiar with. He started with one of their altars that had this inscription, ‘TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.’ He used what they didn’t know about this unknown god to introduce GOD.

Paul conveyed to them that the unknown God was not Zeus or some other deity, but the true God, Jesus Christ, who created all things and every man. The sermon ended with the mention of the resurrection of the dead. Some scoffed but a lot more wanted to hear more. and many believed. [Acts 17:22-34]

7 – Paul’s 3rd Mission

The church grew and Paul went amongst them again during his 3rd mission. And one of the places that he visited was…

Click LINK 15 – EPHESUS

Ephesus was an ancient Greek city located about 2 miles southwest of present-day Selçuk in İzmir Province, Turkey. It was built in the 10th century BC by Ionian Greek colonists, when the western coastal region of Turkey was under Greek influence. During the Classical Greek era, it was one of twelve cities that were members of the Ionian League. The city was famous in its day for the nearby Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BC). The city came under the control of the Roman Republic in 129 BC.

Acts 19 – It was here that Paul found some disciples of John the Baptist. Paul asked them if they received the Holy Spirit when they believed. They answered that they had not even heard of the Holy Spirit and also that their baptism was the baptism of repentance. So, Paul completed their education by sharing the full Gospel to them, which they accepted willingly. So, when he laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. 

Since, we are here in Ephesus, we might as well visit one other site that is a favorite of many pilgrims.

8 – Apostle John & Mary, Mother of Jesus

According to tradition, Ephesus also became the final home of the Apostle John and the mother of Jesus. If you recall at the crucifixion, Jesus had handed the welfare of His mother, Mary, onto the hands of John. Jesus did this because He knew that His brothers as well as the Apostles (except John, of course) would eventually be martyred. So, the Holy Spirit (I assume) inspired John & Mary to leave Judea and migrate to Ephesus which already had an established church.

So, they had to have lived somewhere and… guess what I found???

Click LINK 16 – MARY’S HOUSE

The House of Mary is a Catholic shrine located on Mt. Koressos in the vicinity of Ephesus, about 4 miles from Selçuk in Turkey. Catholic pilgrims visit the house based on the belief that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was taken to this stone house by the Apostle John and lived there for the remainder of her earthly life.

By the way, the Gospel of John may have been written here… well, not exactly in this place, but close.

8 – Journey to Rome

Let us leave the vicinity of Greece and Turkey… and go across the Mediterranean Sea about 750 miles to the island of…

Click LINK 17 – MALTA

Welcome to eastern side of Malta. Malta is a tiny nation made up of 3 islands. It is located about 60 miles south of Sicily and is about 160 miles from the boot tip of Italy. What are we doing here? Well, for now, I want you to be a tourist and explore this side of the island. Meanwhile, allow me to quickly summarize how the Holy Spirit led Paul to here.

At the tail end of Paul’s third mission, he called to himself the elders of the church in Ephesus and said this…

And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that chains and afflictions await me.  [Acts 20:22,23]

So, Paul went back to Jerusalem knowing full well what to expect. And sure enough, while completing a Jewish purification rite, he was seized by the Jews that opposed his teaching to the Gentiles. They wanted to put him to death but the Romans intervened. The Jews were persistent and tried to get custody of him several time. But by the Lord’s grace, Paul’s Roman citizenship kept him away from their clutches. From Acts 22-26, he was tried before his own people, before 2 Roman governors and a Herodian king. Each time, his defense was the Gospel of Christ. Though his testimony won over the hearts of the judges, they could not resolve his case mainly because he, as a Roman citizen, demanded to be brought before the Roman emperor. So, off to Rome he went… and by ship.

Now, like every sea going adventure, they were bound to hit a storm… and so, they did. With their keel broken and leaks throughout the hull, Paul’s crippled ship limped into what today is called…

Click LINK 17a – ST PAUL’S BAY

You are virtually standing in-front of the Church of St Paul’s Shipwreck. I am not making this up. This little place is a Roman Catholic parish church in Valletta, on the western side of Malta. It is one of Valletta’s oldest churches. The Apostle Paul is considered the spiritual father of the Maltese. His shipwreck on Malta reads like an adventure story in Acts 27:14-44.

Now, the Holy Spirit has a funny and even strange way of giving us an opportunity for the Gospel. How?

When Paul, the crew and passengers landed on the beach, the Maltese showed them extraordinary kindness, for they kindled a fire and took them all in because of the rain that had started and because of the cold. As Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand. When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “Undoubtedly this man is a murderer, and though he has been saved from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.” However, Paul shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm. Now they were expecting that he was going to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had waited a long time and had seen nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god.

[Acts 28:1-6]

Click LINK 17b – RABAT

You are standing in-front of the Basilica of St Paul in Rabat, about 5 miles from the bay where they shipwrecked. Annexed to this church is the smaller chapel of St Publius. Publius was an island leader whose father was afflicted with a recurring fever and dysentery. Paul, who was guest, prayed over him and healed him. The word of the healing got out and the rest of the people on the island who had diseases were coming to him and being cured. [Acts 28:7-9]

Under that chapel is…

Click LINK 17c – THE GROTTO

Sorry that it is a little dark down here. This underground grotto is the place where, according to tradition, Paul lived and preached during his three months stay in Malta in 60 A.D. Then Paul took ship for…

9 – Rome

Rome is the capital city of Italy. According to Wikipedia, Rome’s history spans 28 centuries. While Roman mythology dates the founding of Rome at around 753 BC, the site has been inhabited for much longer, making it a major human settlement for almost three millennia and one of the oldest continuously occupied cities in Europe.

The Roman Forum are the remains of those buildings that during most of Ancient Rome’s time represented the political, legal, religious and economic centre of the city. Image & footnote from Wikipedia.

Click LINK 17 – PAUL’S TOMB

Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls, is one of Rome’s four major papal basilicas. The basilica was founded by the Roman Emperor Constantine I over the burial place of Saint Paul, where it was said that, after the Apostle’s execution, his followers erected a memorial, called a cella memoriae

The Bible did not record the death of Paul. But in his last epistle addressed to Timothy, he knew his time was close.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. [2 Timothy 4:6-8]

But let’s go back a little. When Paul entered Rome, he was allowed to stay by himself, but always with a soldier guarding him. Essentially, he was still under arrest. Now, Paul called together the leading men of the Jews, and when they came together, he explained to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening. For the people who listened, some were persuaded while others did not believe. So, as those who did not believe were leaving, Paul called after them with this prophetical warning…

“The Holy Spirit was right when he said to your ancestors through Isaiah the prophet,

‘Go and say to this people: When you hear what I say, you will not understand. When you see what I do, you will not comprehend. For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes— so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.’

So I want you to know that this salvation from God has also been offered to the Gentiles, and they will accept it.” [Acts 28:25-28]

The final verses of the book of Acts spoke of the Apostle Paul spending the next two years, welcoming all who visited him including members of the elite Roman Praetorian guards, boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ. And no one tried to stop him. According to tradition, Paul never got to go before the emperor. When Emperor Nero increased persecution against the church in Rome, he ordered Paul’s execution.

Now, about 3 miles from Paul’s Tomb is one more site to visit.

Click LINK 18 – PETER’S TOMB

You are standing on the Piazza San Pietro or St. Peter’s Square located in the center of the Vatican City. Before you is the majestic St. Peter’s Basilica which was built in the Renaissance style.

Catholic tradition holds that Peter, after a ministry of thirty-four years, travelled to Rome and met his martyrdom there along with Paul on 13 October 64 AD during the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero. His execution was one of the many martyrdoms of Christians following the Great Fire of Rome. According to Jerome, Peter was crucified head downwards, by his own request because he considered himself unworthy to die in the same manner as Jesus. The crucifixion took place near an ancient Egyptian obelisk in the Circus of Nero. The obelisk now stands in St. Peter’s Square and is revered as a “witness” to Peter’s death.

9 – Apostle John & Revelations

Before we end this module, we have one last stop. Let’s go to…

Click LINK 19 – PATMOS

Patmos is a Greek island in the Aegean Sea. It was the location of where the Apostle John was sent when he was arrested in Ephesus during the height of the persecution of Christianity. The white building is the Monastery of St. John. It located approximately halfway up the mountain, along the road between the villages of Chóra and Skala. Within the monastery is a memorialized grotto called the…

Click LINK 19a – CAVE of the APOCALYPSE

This grotto marks the spot where the Spirit of Christ gave distinct visions of the future to the Apostle John. From those visions, he wrote the Book of Revelation.

The Book of Revelation – also called the Apocalypse of JohnRevelation to John or Revelation of Jesus Christ – is the final book of the New Testament and consequently is also the final book of the Christian Bible. Its title is derived from the first word of the Koine Greek text: apokalypsis, meaning “unveiling” or “revelation”. 

The book of Revelation provides the clearest biblical portrait of the events of the tribulation, dealing with the specifics of that terrible time (chapters 4–18). The tribulation will be a time of judgment, a time when those left on the earth after the rapture will suffer deeply for their nonbelief. John pictured this judgment as a series of twenty-one events—inaugurated by the breaking of seven seals, the blowing of seven trumpets, and the pouring out of seven bowls. This grand judgment on the sinfulness of humanity shows the seriousness with which God views sin—payment will be exacted from those not covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. [www.insight.org]

Revelation is not all bad news. Chapters 19–22 portrays Christ’s future triumph over the forces of evil and His re-creation of the world for the redeemed. Ultimately, the book—and the world—end in a final victory for truth and goodness and beauty. As Christians, we look forward to this and joyously shout…

HALLELUIA!

This ends our tour of Module 6. Thank you for joining me in  Trailing the Acts of the Holy Spirit.



WORD Sent Forth #15

How can you be sure if the Holy Spirit is in you? How can you be sure that you are truly born again? How can you really be sure that you are saved from eternal damnation?

The answer is the ‘fruit’ that you produce.

Matthew 7:16,17
By their fruit you will recognize them. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.

What are the bad fruits?

Mark 7:21-23
For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

Romans 7:5
For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.

1 Corinthians 3:3
…for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?

What is the good fruit?

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

John 14:26
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

Romans 8:26
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

Isaiah 11:2
And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

Romans 5:3-5
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

John 15:1-17
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. …

Ask yourself, what kind of fruit do you produce?


I really hope we can have a conversation. Please contact me here at Facebook MESSENGER by audio from 3-5pm Monday to Friday. Scheduled small group chats can be organized as well. Or send me a message HERE.

GOSPEL part 4

SQUARE & ROUND PEG ANALOGY

Good News! Eternal life is in hand for all who believe that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:4). Of course, while we are still walking this world, we are yet to experience the unimaginable glory of eternal life. However, God provided a way for believers to get a taste of it in this world. It required a major transformation.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. [2 Corinthians 5:17]

How does one become ‘a new creature’? At that matter, what exactly kind of creatures were we before becoming a new creature?

Well, we have to go back to the beginning, when God first created Adam and Eve. In the beginning, they were spiritually alive mainly because they were in close relationship with Him in the Garden of Eden. But then they sinned! Though they were physically alive, inside… they were separated from God… that is, they became spiritually dead. When they were cast out of Eden, every human being born outside that Garden were born spiritually dead.

The Apostle Paul laid out our reality in this verse below. Keep in mind that Paul was speaking to believers.

1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh a and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. [Ephesians 2:1-3]

{ I will hold off in explaining about the ruler of the kingdom of the air and the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient for later posts. }

But for those who believe, this is what happened.

4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. [Ephesians 2:4-5]

How would God make us ALIVE?

In John 3, Jesus Himself explained this to a very religious scholar (Nicodemus) who secretly visited him at night. Unapologetically, he basically said that unless Nicodemus (and everyone else, as well) become BORN AGAIN, no one can see the kingdom of God [vs3]. In verses 5-6, Jesus expanded more on the meaning by saying that to enter the kingdom of God, they must be born of water and the Spirit; with flesh giving birth to flesh first, then the Spirit giving birth to spirit.

To better illustrate the meaning, consider this analogy.

How does a square peg fit into a round hole?

Let us imagine that you are a square peg. But you have a problem. There is a desired place to be in and that is at the other side of an obstruction or a thick wall. There is only one opening and that is through a round hole of which you, the square peg, could not fit through because you are the wrong shape.

So, how are you, the square peg, to fit through a round hole? The answer is simple enough. You must be transformed into a round peg. But the reality is that you are unable to change yourself. What is the solution? Enter the woodcrafter.

The woodcrafter sizes you up then proceeds to reshape you into the perfect round peg.

I hope you have guessed what the analogy above is all about.

Again Jesus cited 2 conditions (John 3:5-6) of what it would take be ‘born again’. The first condition is that one has to be born of water. Let me say right here and now, that being born of water has nothing to do with ‘water baptism’ as some had believed. Let’s not beat around the bush. Being born of water is actually our physical birth – flesh giving birth to flesh first (John 3:4). And like the analogy, mankind started out just like the square peg. Like the square peg, mankind too want to fit through the round hole which is a representation to the gate of eternal life. Unfortunately, like the square peg, humans are not the right shape and in our case, (because of sin) we are spiritually dead.

And I too was a square peg. Then, I heard the message of truth, the gospel of my salvation, after which I believed! But that was as far as I was capable of. Enter the woodcrafter… oops, I mean the Lord our God.

When God saw my faith, He took over the process of my transformation… making me into a ‘new creation’. How?

If you recall what Jesus said that we must be ‘born of water and the Spirit’. Well, since I was born physically, this satisfied Jesus’ first criteria, born of water; that leaves being born of ‘Spirit’.

‘Spirit’ is actually referring to the Holy Spirit of God. What Jesus was saying was that what was lacking in my spirit was the Holy Spirit. This made sense since I was spiritually dead or I should say that my soul was empty of which only God could fill. And that was what God did. In 1990, He made me complete spiritually. I was born again. His Spirit in me guaranteed my salvation.

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. [Ephesians 1:13-14]

This is my reality today. I am not deserving of it, yet He saved and placed His Spirit in me. For as long I am still in this world, His Spirit guides and equips me. And most especially, His Spirit sustains me even during when I am a quadriplegic today. By every right, I should be depressed and miserable but yet I have real JOY! I credit the Holy Spirit in me.

So, let me ask you…

Are you still a SQUARE PEG?

I pray, you would believe.

———————————————

I encourage you to, where ever you are right now, know that God is listening for you. Talk to Him with no delay and express your faith in Jesus Christ and receive Him into your heart as your Lord and Savior. You only have to pray the prayer below once, but with sincerity, because when He enters your life, He will never leave you.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you so much for loving me. I confess that I am a sinner worthy of eternal punishment. Thank you for dying on the cross to pay for all of my sins. With your help, I am turning away from all my sins. Today, I put my trust in you as my Lord and Savior and I receive you into my heart. Thank you for forgiving my sins and for coming into my heart. I accept your free gift of eternal life. Thank you that one day, I will go home to be with you in heaven. From this day on, I will follow and obey you. Amen.

Sketching HIStory #4

Sketching-HIStory-2-w

Gen 1 – Creation of the Universe

I welcome you first to open and read your Bibles: Genesis chapter 1. For those who want to read online below are links to Bible Gateway in 3 English translations.

New International Version NIV
Good News Translation GNT  (for Catholics)     King James Version KJV

Here is an observation. Have you noticed that the account of the creation of the universe is covered only in one chapter of Genesis? In my old college library, I recalled seeing 5-6 tall book shelves dedicated to the sciences of our universe. In this age of computers, I’m sure you can find several terrabytes of the same research available in the world wide net. My point is, how is it that the most spectacular cosmological event was limited to less than a thousand words in the Bible? Keeping in mind that God inspired Moses to write it this way, I believe God intended Genesis 1 to be read so that the focus is not so much on the created but more on the CREATOR. This is after all HIS story.

As a storyteller, I always believe that Genesis was meant to be read out loud with a slight theatrical flair. Imagine those times when the Israelites wanted to hear more about Him from their leader, Moses. Besides preaching to the entire congregation from on top of a mountain, I think he would from time to time, join them in smaller groups at their open fires and regale them under the stars, strengthening their faith in God. So, let’s get on with… HIStory.

“Once upon a time…”

Hold on! I know that this is how most bedtime stories usually start. However, God’s story does not start this way.

In the beginning, God… [vs 1a]

As a matter of truth, God’s story didn’t start in Time, but way… way before it, in… Eternity!

crimson-john1.jpg

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
The earth was formless and empty,
and darkness covered the deep waters.
And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. [vs 1-2]

You know, I would have loved to present to you this part of the creation story from inside my old college planetarium. If I can get my hands on the planetarium’s animation generator, you… while resting in a reclined position, will be looking up into the dome ceiling and will see God’s spiritual hands laying out the heavens, in this case, the blackness of space.

gen-1-1-2-w.jpg

And in that vast expanse, He also made from nothing the earth. No, I do not mean our planet Earth with a capital ‘E’, but earth or ‘erets’ which means dirt in Hebrew (language of the Old Testament). This dirt is not the same you find on the ground. What is described in verse 2 as being formless and empty implies that this material, being so primordial, is in actuality an integral building block for all existing matter. Take note, so far, we have SPACE and MATTER. There is an acknowledged scientific process that when you take these two then add ENERGY, you get an ATOM. (Who said that the Bible and science can’t go hand in hand?)

And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. [vs 2b]

What is God doing over the surface of the waters (by the way, this is not referring to a literal body of water)? He was ‘hovering’!? In other Bible translations, the word ‘moving’ was also used. Can anybody say… Kinetic ENERGY?!

It is right about here that something BIG is going to happen!

Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. [vs 3]

gen-1-big-bang-2-w.jpg

What is bigger than WOW!?

W O W ! ! !

Now, when God turns the light on, we’re not talking about Him flicking a switch and a light bulb comes on. No sir! This light probably and spectacularly lit up the entire universe. By the way, this almost sounds like what scientists call the Big Bang Theory (and I am not talking about the popular TV sitcom).

The Big Bang theory represents cosmologists’ best attempts to reconstruct the 14 billion year story of the universe based on the sliver of existence visible today. Most generally, it illustrates the arc of the observable universe as it thinned out and cooled down from an initially dense, hot state. The Big Bang theory found widespread acceptance for its unparalleled ability to explain what we see. [content from www.livescience.com]

And God saw that the light was good. [vs 4a]

In the Genesis creation story, God saw that what was created was good. In the surface, God was pleased that what He created and set into motion – will do what it was meant to do.

When He created the light (that I’m convinced was the BIG BANG), that event explosively pushed all that cosmological materials out into space forming gas clouds, dark matter, black holes, nebulas and galaxies.

gen-1-universe-expands-w.jpg

Imagine again, you sitting in the planetorium blinking rapidly after the effect of that bright flash of light from the Big Bang. Then you watch in wonder, blurred lights slowly float away from where the explosion subsided down to a distant glow. Those lights, as they come closer to you become swirling galaxies. Imagine 14 billion years of moving and expanding universe compressed into about a 10 minute planetarium presentation. I always loved those effects.

Anyway, one galaxy… a familiar one, at that… seem to be getting bigger than the rest. It is our own Milky Way Galaxy. And if it is like every planetarium show I’ve ever watched, we majesticall fly in toward one of our galaxy’s swirling arms to where God is preparing our world. However, before we fly in, let us finish our understanding the rest of Genesis 1:4-5.

Then He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.”

And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day. [vs 4b-5]

The passage of where God separated the light from the darkness, besides the obvious, actually have spiritual implications which I will cover more in-depth in later studies. For now, let me explain that the usage of ‘day and night’ which is repeated 6 other times, by the way, in the creation narrative were not meant to represent a 24 hour Earth time period. In other words, God did not create everything in just 6 days. However, I am not saying that God Almighty can not do it in 6 days. Frankly, He could probably flick His fingers and create everything instantly. But His words reflect differently. Remember, Genesis 1-3 was meant to be read as an Exalted Prose – that is, it is neither pure narrative nor pure poetry, but tells a story using a number of poetic features and a clear literary framework like the usage of the transition from night to day. Consider again Moses, as he told each of the creation event at the end of which, he theatrically swung his arm, east to west, with his fingers spread wide open uttering “And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day”.

jer32-17.jpg

The purpose of Sketching HIStory is so that you can get to know Him more personally. We have just read the biblical account of how the universe was made but besides the claim that it was He that created it (which should be enough reason to praise Him), how else can we know Him more? How can we go beyond the intellectual knowledge to the faith building way of knowing Him? I mean that we may experience Him… feel Him deep inside. The answer was already provided to us by God when He created the universe.

The Apostle Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, said that what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. [Roman 1:19-20]

Do you want to experience Him closely? Then open your eyes and look closely at what He created. Go out where you can escape the light pollution of the city and find a field where you can cast your eyes at the spectacular view of the Milky Way. Or go to the nearest planetarium. Then, I encourage you to believe the words of the Psalmist below.

Psalm 19:1-4
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

In the next post, we will see how God formed our world. See you then.

Click to go to Sketching HIStory #5

Seeing the Power of God in Oneself (Part 3 final)

On the streets of the southern end of Jerusalem next to the pool of Siloam, a young man came out excited, shouting that he can see. Attracted by the commotion, people recognized him as the blind beggar. They were amazed. The power of God was seen in the healing of the young man who was born blind in that day, some 2000 years ago. But it doesn’t stop there. God’s power was seen in another way through the most unlikely representative.

The people asked the young man on how it happened. He told him about how Jesus healed him. Then they took him to the Pharisees because what Jesus did violated a Jewish law. The Pharisees were the fundementalist faction of the leadership of the Jewish people and they met in a judgement center somewhere in the Temple Mount. This is where the young man was brought, to stand before a group of educated old men. They questioned him extensively about Jesus and tried to convince him that Jesus was not from God. Then they threathened and cursed him and finally, they kicked him out (John 9:13-34). Where was the power of God in this encounter?

In Scripture, we find example after example of God choosing the weak to fulfill His will. In this case, here was a young man who was once handicapped and had no formal education stood toe to toe against a group of the best minds in Jerusalem. As they exclaimed that they did not know where Jesus came from, his message to them was simple: “Why, that’s very strange!” he replied. “He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from? We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will. Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. If this man were not from God, he couldn’t have done it.”

Do you remember this verse? …God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. (1 Corinthians 1:27 NLT) Do you want to know something? God is still doing this today.

History is filled with examples. Billy Graham was a shy farming boy at the age of 12. He never thought he would become anything until the age 16 when he became born again. He became the most prominent evangelical Christian figure in modern history. He was the spiritual advisors to several U.S. Presidents and even to the Queen of England. Nick Vujicic is a 33 years old painter, swimmer, skydiver, and motivational speaker. He is an inspiration to so many. He is also a Christian born with no arms and legs. Then, there is Joni Eareckson Tada who is an evangelical Christian that became a quadriplegic from an accident. The Lord used her as an inspired author, radio host, and founder of ‘Joni and Friends’, an organization accelerating Christian ministry in the disability community. I wish I can name them all, but I’ll cite one more, President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Pres. Roosevelt was America’s successful leader that led them through World War II. Did you know that he did all this on a wheelchair?

The day I read Jesus’ words about a fellow handicap that he was the way he was so that ‘the power of God could be seen in him (John 9:2 NLT).’ I was esctatic that maybe I would be used by God one day. And I was, hopefully to the glory of His name.

Thank you.

Johann Q

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NLT – New Living Translation

Seeing the Power of God in Oneself (Part 2)

In my last post, the healing of the blind man in the story of John 9 was to support what Jesus said, “…so the power of God could be seen in him.”

The question now is, what was the lesson that the Lord wanted to teach me? Well, here is the clue that sort of popped into my mind which I believe came from the Holy Spirit. (By the way, the Spirit has that tendency to do that to me from time to time.) Anyway, here is the clue.

…God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. (1 Corinthians 1:27 NLT)

What does the passage of 1 Corinthians 1:27 have to do with the young man born blind in John 9? Let us look at the rest of John 9, just as Jesus was about cure the young man of his blindness. I hope you don’t mind me playing the part of storyteller in this.

After Jesus put mud on the eyes of the young blind man, he started to grope his way toward the Pool of Siloam. The young man was a little confused in the encounter. That morning, his mother helped him to his favorite spot in the marketplace for begging. He was on his way back to his parent’s house, when from out of the blue, a man named Jesus said some words then spread some gooey mud on his eyes. Then he was told to wash his eyes in the pool under southern ramparts of the City of David. You can well imagine what thoughts was going through his mind. Is this a trick or is he the butt of someone’s joke? This young man have probably heard stories of Jesus healing the sick. Maybe, this is the same miracle healer. You can well imagine him quickening his steps to the pool. When he gets there, his hands, shaking just a little, dips into the cool water. He cups the water, splashes his eyes and rinses the mud from his eyes. For a fraction of a millisecond, he hesitates to open his eyes. Then he opens them.

Keep in mind that he had never experienced sight in his entire life. He parts his eyes ever so slowly. At first, he frowns a little because his vision is somewhat blurry. But then his vision clears and the clarilty sharpens. He looks around with wide eyes. Passersby on the busy street stop in their tracks upon hearing a thrilled and excited voice shouting out, “I can see! I can SEE!”

You would think that a grand party would be next at hand. But the story of what happened next will have to be told in my next posting.

Until the next post,

Johann Q

Please help me go mobile, donate at or share this link to others: https://www.gofundme.com/quadriplegic-needs-mobility

NLT – New Living Translation

Where does my JOY come from? (Part 8 Final)

I think it is quite clear that my JOY comes directly from God. The Holy Spirit had provided the tools I need, one of which is to be joyful regardless what. But it is not automatic.

In my last post, the Holy Spirit let me fly solo on my own. A good pilot never fly unprepared. They actually disciplined themselves to go through a preflight check list before they put their hands on the controls. In many ways, we Bible guided folks have our own lists or shall we say disciplines so that we can accomplish what is important to God. In my case, God wants me to be a witness to His goodness. And I do this with how I conduct myself in-front of others. You see, I want people to get to know the Lord whom I know and I want to do it through my faith and especially my joy. But my joy must not be superficial and fake.

This is where the disciplines come into play like celebrating the Lord’s Supper by properly partaking in the eating of the bread and the drinking of wine. The Lord’s Supper is a practical way of remembrance of what Jesus did on the cross. This is done by the church as a whole. There are also disciplines for individuals to practice like how believers are encouraged to put on the full armor of God daily as a way of protection against the evil one (Ephesians 6). What is the discipline for me to be a harbinger of joy to others? Enter my favorite Bible passage.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials… (James 1:2 NASB).

Allow me to be a Bible teacher for a short while. Let me ask you, What is the action word on the verse above? Many have answered, ‘to be joyful’, which is half correct. The verb of James 1:2 is ‘Consider’ which is defined in the dictionary as ‘think carefully about (something), typically before making a decision.’ How would I apply this as a discipline? How does one be joyful in the midst of a trial… in the midst of pain? You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve heard, ‘It is easier said than done!’ It is true but it is not impossible especially when you have the Spirit of God guiding you.

I do not mind saying this over and over again. If it wasn’t for the Holy Spirit in me, I would never be able to discipline myself to choose joy every time. It is He that reminds me of my eternal heritage. You know how I can manage to genuinely smile inside and out as a quadriplegic. I always have a vision of myself… a vision of my body entirely whole… my heavenly body made for us by God himself’ (2 Corinthians 5:1 NLT). This is one of those things I repeatedly consider as I face an existence of trials. I do this as a discipline but I can honestly say that I also do this to bring the same joy to all of you.

So, I say, let us all ‘REJOICE’! (Philippians 4:4-9)

Thank you.

Johann Q

NASB – New American Standard Bible
NLT – New Living Translation

Where does my JOY come from? (Part 7 of 8)

In 1990, I became ‘born again’ and I wish I could cite the hundreds of Bible verses that speak of what I gained when God sealed me with His Spirit. However, for this part of my self story of where my joy come from, there is one verse that I’ll focus on that is pertinant, Galatians 5:22-23.

On the first five years of my walk with the Lord, I underwent what I call the ‘School for Baby Christians’. Let me tell you, in that school, I learned a lot about the Holy Spirit and He taught me like a mentor. And one important lesson was that the Holy Spirit is real and not a figment of my imagination nor the brainwashing of others. You see, when the Spirit of God entered me, there was proof according to the Apostle Paul, the inspired author of Galatians, who wrote that “the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” [Galatians 5:22-23 NLT]

To emphasize this lesson, God took very good care of me like a mother hen who had gathered her chicks under her wings. I recall in those early years that I hardly underwent any negative effects of any trials that came our way (that is, my wife and I). It was like all life problems were suspended, at least for a short period of time. We were blessed. One aspect of His blessing was the incredible sense of peace I had. Where once the thought of death scared me, I had peace because I know where I’ll go when my time comes. As to anxiety and stress, well, one time, my wife returned with the news the our car was rear ended. My wife was upset but I was unusually jovial about the whole incident. One of the things I noticed was how much I can love unconditionally especially to those who the world would deem unloveable. I was even more impressed by how the Spirit worked on my self-control through which I became a disciplined student. I wish I became born again during my college days. I was such a lousy student then. Other hard trials happened, but instead of emotionally breaking down, the Spirit helped me learned and I grew in faith. So, much so, when the time came, I was ready to fly on my own.

In 1994, the bottom fell off from under me. That was the year, when the peso’s value went so low, I lost a lot of work in the broadcast production business. For awhile, my wife and my savings was down to a few thousand pesos and we had bills and rent to pay. You can imagine, how my mind tried to play tricks with discouraging thoughts. What sustained me emotionally was a promise of God in the Bible’s Old Testament. It read like this. “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” [Joshua 1:8 NLT] So, I did. I continued my daily meditation of the Bible and went to numerous Bible Study classes. Some thought I was wasting my time. I was even approached by a family member who took my Bible from my hand and slammed it on the table in front of me and said, ‘it will not put food in-front of me.’ Funny though, the Bible did feed me, so to speak.

One lesson I learned was that God always keep His promises. Less than a month after our bank account went very low, first my wife got hired on a new job and then, money (when needed and unlooked for) would come our way from unexpected sources. You see, by faith I acted upon on Joshua 1:8 and as promised, the Lord prospered me, so to speak.

I have been now walking with the Lord for more than 25 years and I have yet to be disappointed in how the Lord had led my life direction. Sure, it could seem to others that my life story was heading downhill. Since 1994, I have not been able to gain work (except for sporadic projects). Then in 2001, my body started to slow down to a point where I began to depend on an electric scooter. I graduated to a joystick controlled chair when my left arm… my working arm… lost all strenght in 2010. Then my legs gave out and I needed another machine to transfer me from my bed to my chair. By 2015, excruciating pain invaded my body and I was diagnosed that my spinal cord was being dangerously compressed. Today, it is 2018 and I am a quadriplegic unable to be independently mobile like in the old days.

I could be depressed but I choose to be grateful and joyful… an after effect of a Spirit filled life.

Until the next post,

Johann Q

NLT – New Living Translation

Where does my JOY come from? (Part 6 of 8)

John 3:3,7 NLT
[3] Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
[7] “…don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ “

Ephesians 1:13,14 NLT
[13] And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. [14] The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.

Here is a riddle that actually popped into my head as a way to prepare me for the significance of the spiritual truth that blew my mind away. “How do you fit a square peg into a round hole?” Believe it or not, this is actually a simplistic but yet precise illustration to what happened to me when I believed that Jesus died for my sins.

You see, the square peg was me and I so wanted to go through the round hole very much like the way I desire to be in Heaven. But a square peg can never go through the round hole unless it can become a round peg. In John 3, Jesus said that ‘You must be born again’ or else ‘you cannot see the Kingdom of God.’ To keep this short, let me already reveal that the one who is ‘born again’ is the round peg. So, if the square peg wanted to go through the round hole, how does it become a round peg? Or in this case, how does one become born again?

In my last post, I have said that because of sin I can never earn my way into Heaven. Guess what, there is no way the square peg can transform itself into a round peg. So, what can the poor square peg do? Enter God… and rightly so. For only God can take a square peg like myself and make me new… make me born again. How? When I believed, God placed His Spirit in me (Ephesians 1:13). I’ve been born anew where once I was once without His Spirit and now I am indwelt by Him. As the Bible says, I am a new creation. And by the way, I have and still am REJOICING this truth, even in my present condition as a quadriplegic. Halleluhiah! But my story doesn’t stop there. In my next posting, I’ll show you how my Spirit filled life sustains my continued joy.

Until the next post,

Johann Q

NLT – New Living Translation