In the course of a twenty-four hour period we make gobs of decisions. Some of these we make with a serious amount of forethought and prayer. Others we make spontaneously with little or no thought as to the consequences or impact our decisions will have—not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives are intertwined with ours.

Have you ever thought much about how a single decision can change your life forever? For better or worse?

In these blog posts I’d like to look at the one good decision that some people in the Bible made that changed the course of their life for the better. By looking at ourselves in the mirror of God’s Word I hope we’ll all take comfort, courage, and hope in the fact that, despite the mess we’re presently faced with, we can still turn things around. A lousy past or dismal present doesn’t have to give us the same future. By God’s grace, our future and life can be changed for the better…if we only make the right decision today. May God help us do that on a daily basis!

By way of introduction, the daily news are replete with reports of people who, quite tragically, were at the wrong place at the wrong time. Some of these unfortunate people end up being horrifically hurt or scarred for life. Many end up dead.

I don’t ever want to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. No matter where I am, I want to be where I’m supposed to be. Where God wants me to be.  I want to be at the right place at the right time.

But am I? Are you? Self is so deceitful and we can brusquely dismiss the question with a positive Yes, I am where I’m supposed to be! But, really and truthfully, are we where we’re supposed to be? How can we tell if we are or aren’t? Just so you know, I don’t have all the answers. But the Lord was good enough to give me one telltale way to know if we’re where we’re supposed to be.


The time was rapidly drawing nigh when Jesus would be killed. Months prior to this, Jesus began preparing His disciples for the fate that awaited Him in Jerusalem. He would be killed. The chief priests would arrest Him, try Him, then condemn Him to death. He was gonna be crucified. As He approached Jerusalem, Jesus broke the sad and awful news: one of His very own disciples would betray Him and hand Him over to the chief priests. One of the twelve was gonna help Him get killed! It was, for sure, very sad and disturbing news.

But, good news! He was gonna come back to life on the third day. He wasn’t gonna stay dead forever. He’s was gonna come out of the grave and live again! Live forever! Hallelujah! That’s really great and fantastic news!

The problem is, even though Jesus is going to live again, He isn’t going to live on earth. He’s going back to Heaven where He came from (John 14:1-3, 16:5-7).

The thing I really like about Jesus is, He doesn’t just dump the bad news on us: He follows up with good news. WITH GOD, THERE’S ALWAYS GOOD NEWS WITH THE BAD. In the context of His departure, the good news is, when Jesus leaves this ole world He’s gonna send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to live and be with us (John 14:16, 16:7).

The Comforter is gonna do a lot of really neat things for us. He’s gonna help us, teach us, and remind us of everything Jesus taught us in His Word (John 14:26, 16:13).

The best part is coming. We’re here on earth to do a mission for God (Matthew 28:16-20). We’re supposed to be telling other people about Jesus and getting them to follow Him. We can do that on our own with very limited effects or results. But when the Spirit of God comes upon us and lives inside us, wow!, we’re gonna be filled with so much Spirit and heavenly power that we’ll take the Gospel worldwide and people in every corner of this ole world will become believers and followers of Christ (Acts 1:8). The truth is, we need the Spirit to help us make Christ known and make Christ-believers!

Jesus knew His disciples needed the Holy Spirit in order for them to be successful in their evangelistic mission. That’s why He told them in Acts 1:4, Don’t leave Jerusalem yet. Wait here for the Father to give you the Holy Spirit, just as I told you he has promised to do.

True to the Lord’s command, the disciples stayed put in Jerusalem. They waited. And prayed (Acts 1:13-14).

The day of Pentecost came, much like any other day. The sun came up, people woke up, and everyone began their daily routine. For the twelve apostles in particular, they continued doing what Jesus told them to do. They all met together in someone’s house and prayed. All twelve of them (Acts 2:1, 14).

Suddenly, at about 9 o’clock in the morning, the Father kept His promise. The Spirit came down from Heaven in such a mighty outpouring of power that Peter and the rest of the apostles went right to work, witnessing for Jesus. By the time Peter was done preaching, about three thousand Jews became believers and followers of Christ! Hallelujah! It just goes to show what great works we can do for Christ when we’ve got the Spirit working in and through us!

So what’s the point? All twelve apostles were baptized and filled with the Spirit because all twelve of them were obedient to the Lord and waited. They stayed together. They met together. They prayed together. They were where God wanted them to be. They were where they were supposed to be—all together. All waiting. All praying. Just like what Jesus wanted them to do.

Now here’s a probing question. I asked you earlier how we can tell if we’re where we’re supposed to be. We may not always see the answer for ourselves. But we can readily see it in others. Here’s the question. What if one of the apostles was a No-Show on that Pentecostal morning? What if he decided that it was more important for him to be somewhere else, doing something else? Would he have received the Pentecostal experience? Would he have been in the street that morning, with the rest of the apostles, witnessing for Jesus, and seeing thousands of his fellow Jews get saved? No, I don’t think so. The Scriptures explicitly state that the Spirit of God filled the entire house where the apostles were and they were all filled with the Spirit (Acts 2:1-4). Nothing is said about the Spirit filling and baptizing anyone outside the house.

The point is, Jesus gave His disciples a promise: the Spirit is coming! He told them what to do: wait for the Spirit to come upon you. They obeyed Him. And, as a result, God kept His Word and the Spirit came upon them just as Jesus said would happen. They were obedient to the Lord’s command. They put themselves in a position to receive the promised Holy Spirit. They were at the right place at the right time.

Like the promise of the Holy Spirit, God’s made us all sorts of promises. Gobs of them. We want them all. And, like the Pentecostal baptism, God’s going to keep His promises. Every last one of them.

But, in a manner of speaking, are we all together in the same place, in one accord, praying and waiting? Are we doing what God’s told us to do in the mean time? Are we at the right place at the right time? Are we where we’re supposed to be?

Sometimes, maybe a lot of times, it looks to us as if God’s a No-Show with some of the promises that we’ve prayed to Him about. It looks like God’s not going to keep His promise. But, instead of God being the problem, could it be we’ve not received the promise because we’re a No-Show? Because we’re not where we’re supposed to be at? Because we aren’t at the right place at the right time? Could it be we haven’t received what we’ve asked God for because we haven’t been doing what God’s told us to do?

Let me say it once again. God gave these apostles a promise. He told them what to do. They did it. And, as a consequence, they received the promised Holy Spirit. They received the Spirit because they were obedient. They were at the right place at the right time.

So where’s the right place at the right time? Where are you supposed to be? How do you get to where you’re supposed to be? Friends, you obey the Lord. You do what God’s told you to do.

In a manner of speaking, if you’re not with the rest of the disciples praying in the house, you’re not gonna receive the promise God made you. If you’re not doing what God’s told you to do, then you’re not where you’re supposed to be. You’re not at the right place at the right time. WHEN YOU’RE DISOBEDIENT TO GOD YOU’RE AT THE WRONG PLACE AT THE WRONG TIME.

You may think you know a better way. You have a different, howbeit, a better, idea of where you need to be and what you need to do.

Aghast! Are you for real? Have you lost your mind? When did you become smarter than God? What could possibly be better than obeying the Lord? What on earth could be more important than doing what God’s told you to do?  What could possibly be more right than obeying God?

Despite whatever temptations the apostles had to do other things beside meet and pray, they kept Jesus’ command foremost in their thoughts, priorities, and actions. They obeyed Him. And waited. And prayed. All of them together in one place.

And, as a consequence, they all received the Spirit’s indwelling. They were never again the same. Pentecost changed them into mighty missionaries. They stayed loyal and obedient to Christ that not even the threat of death, or death itself, could turn them away from Him. THEY CHANGED THE WORLD BECAUSE PENTECOST CHANGED THEM. THEIR OBEDIENCE CHANGED THEM.

Let’s be clear about one thing. The disciples were just like you and me. They weren’t omniscient. They didn’t know that Pentecost would change them. They didn’t know that the promised Holy Spirit would come on Pentecost morning. Jesus didn’t tell them exactly when the Spirit would come. They just kept on obeying the Lord. The met together and prayed. Day after day. Until God kept His promise to them and gave them the Holy Spirit. Continuing to meet and pray together was their best decision ever and it changed them for the rest of their lives.

Friends, it’s Pentecost morning. The promise is a coming. I know you’ve got a thousand and one things to do today. There’s a bunch of really important stuff you need to get done today. You’ve gone to church a lot lately. You even went to the last prayer meeting. You’re tempted to skip your time with the Lord and the rest of the believers because something you think is more important has come up.

Brethren, don’t be a No-Show. Be where you’re supposed to be. Where God wants you to be. Where God Himself is gonna be. Be at the right place at the right time. How do you do that? JUST DO, AND KEEP DOING, WHAT GOD’S TOLD YOU TO DO. IT’S HOW YOU GET ANSWERS TO PRAYER. GOD SHOWS UP WITH THE PROMISE WHEN YOU’RE WHERE YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE, DOING WHAT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE DOING.  So be there! Like the twelve, newly Spirit-baptized apostles, it’ll be your best decision ever! God bless you. And thanks for dropping by.



How well do you know Jesus? We all like to think we know Jesus pretty well. I’ve had close to fifty years of wonderful, sweet communion with Jesus. I’ve devoted over forty years of my life to studying and teaching His Word. I’m talking about going back to the original languages and learning as much as I can about Jewish culture, institutions, and beliefs. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a Know-It-All. And you can ask my kids: I’m not inerrant or infallible. But still, knowing what I know, I’d like to think I know Jesus pretty good. To my pleasant surprise, however, I don’t know Jesus as good as I think I do. To this day, He still shows me more about Himself. Here, let me give you some snippets of the Jesus I never knew.


Hi guys. I wish I had some uppity-up things to say to you today. I’d like to cheer you up. But I’m in need of cheering up myself. I’m about to lose my head. Literally. And, as you can imagine, I’m not too thrilled about that. I guess I’m getting ahead of myself. Here. Let me start over and introduce myself.

I’m John the Baptist. And here’s my story. As many of you know, I’m the forerunner of Messiah. For those of you who don’t know what that means, for hundreds of years our prophets told us about the Messianic King who would come to Israel and rule the world. Messiah had to be preceded by His forerunner. This was the guy that went before Messiah and announced His coming. We Jews have been longing for Messiah for hundreds of years. When the forerunner appeared we knew Messiah was not far behind.

Well, before I was born, an angel appeared to my dad while he was serving as a priest in the holy place in the Temple in Jerusalem (Luke 1:5-17). He told dad that I would be Messiah’s forerunner! I was special! God Himself trained me in the desert where I took up residence. When it came time for me to make my move, I started preaching and baptizing in the Jordan River. Then I told everybody the great news. Messiah has come! I even know who He is! He’s Jesus of Nazareth! So, from an advertising and PR point of view, you can say I’m a pretty important fellow. I’m a pivotal figure in Jewish history (if I may humbly say so myself).

We all knew that Messiah would be a political, militant, conquering King. He would come to Israel, free us from Roman domination, and restore Jewish independence and sovereignty. From here He would go on, with us as His followers, to conquer and rule the world. He would establish the worldwide kingdom of God on the earth. And we, of course, would help Him rule the world. We lived for this dream and this day! And now that Jesus was in our midst we were pumped up with excitement and the realization that we were uniquely blest by God to live in such a signal moment of history as now.

I was at the crest of my popularity when Herod Antipas caught me baptizing in Galilee and had me arrested. Herod was the Governor at that time and, seeing that he was in an adulterous marriage to his sister-in-law Herodias, I spoke out against him and that’s why he busted me and threw me in the dungeon at his palace fortress in Machaerus.

If you’ve never been in solitary confinement in a cold, damp, dark dungeon you wouldn’t know or understand the doubts that began to run rampant in my mind. Jesus was the Messiah. I knew that beyond all shadow of a doubt when I saw the Spirit of God descend upon Him like a dove after I baptized Him in the Jordan River. But persecution and suffering have a way of getting you to doubt things that you never imagined you would doubt. Jesus was out there. I’m in here. Why hasn’t He come to free me from his hell hole in the ground? He wouldn’t begin the liberation of Israel without me, would He? Even if He did, He’d still come and get me, wouldn’t He? I am, after all, His PR man. He needs me! I served Him faithfully. I even put my neck on the line for Him. No way is He going to let me rot or hang in here! But if He’s the Messiah with the power to conquer the world, why hasn’t He come for me? Why am I still in here? Could it be He’s not the Messiah after all?

When I couldn’t bear it any longer, I sent some of my disciples who had come to visit me to go find Jesus and ask Him if He really was the Messiah.

When my disciples came back a few days later you should’ve seen them. They were all pumped up about Jesus! He did all sorts of miracles that you wouldn’t believe. The blind saw. The deaf heard. The dumb spake. The paralyzed moved. Demon-possessed people were set free. Jesus did all these, and more, for my disciples to see. He was doing exactly what the prophets said Messiah would do when He comes to Israel. The miracles were Jesus’ way of letting me know that, yes, He was still the Messiah! Then He told my disciples, Go and tell John what you see. And give him this message from me, Blessed is he who doesn’t stumble over Me (Luke 7:19-23).

You’d think I’d be jumping over chairs with jubilation about the miracles Jesus did. I was. I was relieved to hear it straight from Him that He was truly the Messiah. But, and this is what I asked my disciples, Did He say anything about coming to get me? Is He going to get me out of here? Is He on His way? When is He going to rescue me from Herod’s dungeon?

The jubilance of Messiah’s miracles was instantly changed into a deafening silence. Somberness instantly set in and heaviness hung in the air. It was as if death itself had come into my dungeon cell riding his pale horse.

Turned out Jesus didn’t say anything about coming to rescue me. If He was going to do it you’d think He would’ve said something to my disciples. His silence was ominous. 

Even more ominous were His words the longer I thought about them: Blessed is he who doesn’t stumble over Me. They were cryptic at first. But the longer I thought about them the realization finally hit me: Jesus wasn’t going to come to the rescue! Why in the world not? That didn’t make any sense at all to me! Jesus needs me! I did my part serving Him! He owes me! You bet I was starting to stumble over Him. He was tripping me up royally! I was a fuming and a flipping! God, I just don’t understand what you’re doing! And why!

After I settled down and dried my tears, the words of Jesus came back to me. One word in particular. Blessed. It’s as if Jesus knew I was going to flip out over Him not coming to get me. He would still bless me if I could just pull myself together and stay loyal to Him no matter what. Even in His abandonment He would bless me. I won’t be resentful or hateful. I won’t turn my back on Him. I’ll be blessed.

As you would understand, Jesus’ answer was not the one I wanted to hear. I fully expected Him to tell me He was on His way. He’d get me out of this hole in the ground. Freedom would be my reward for my faithfulness. Of course I was disappointed. Big time! I thought God let me down. He didn’t come through for me. He was a No-Show when I really needed Him the most.

But I had it all wrong! It was what I wanted, not what God wanted. Anytime we want things our way we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment because God doesn’t always do things our way. He sees the big picture. He knows what’s good for us. And He always does what’s good for us. Yeah, He may disappoint at times. But even in disappointment He speaks comfort. He’s the Comforter. And He knows how to cheer us up if only we’d listen.

Want to feel better? Take it from me. Listen to God speak and you’ll be feeling a whole lot better a whole lot sooner. Stick to your ways and you’ll be in the dumps. Trust God’s goodness, let Him have His way with you, and you’ll be victorious over life’s disappointments.

I thought I had Jesus all figured out. He was gonna come get me because He was the political, militant, conquering King. He was. He still is. But He’s also the sin-saving Savior, the spiritual Messiah as the prophets also prophesied (which all of us Jews conveniently forgot). We wanted our King! God would give Him to us. But first He would give us our Suffering Servant and Sin-Savior. He wasn’t going to rescue me because He wasn’t going to reign. The cross had to come before the crown. I didn’t understand this at first. But now I do.

I’m going to lose my head. That’s a tough way to go out. But I’m going to stay faithful and true to the end because I want to be blessed. I know you probably won’t understand me, but I value faithfulness now more than freedom. I value loyalty more than life itself.

I thought I had more to do for Messiah. I guess not. God’s done with me. I’ll die holding my head up high, privileged to have been Messiah’s forerunner. I won’t get a chance to read my obit, but I know Jesus will say something good about me. I AM blessed. So don’t feel sorry for me. The good thing about losing my head is I’ll be with God in glory. And you can’t be any more blessed than that!