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The apostles went back to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives.  They were very happy.  They went to the place where they were staying; this was in a room upstairs.   The apostles were all together, constantly praying and praising God.

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            After a few days, there was a meeting of the believers. There were about 120 of them. Peter stood up and said, “Brothers, in the Scriptures the Holy Spirit said through David that Judas would lead men to arrest Jesus. (Judas was paid money for doing this. But when he saw what was done to Jesus, he was very sorry, and he hanged himself.) So now another man must join us and become a witness of Jesus’ rising from death.”           

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             The apostles put two men before the group. One was Joseph Barsabbas. The other man was Matthias. The apostles prayed, "Lord, show us which one of these two men you choose to do this work. Judas turned away from it and went where he belongs. Lord, show us which man should take his place as an apostle!"

            Then the apostles used lots to choose one of the two men. (Lots were rocks or sticks used for making a choice.) The lots showed that Matthias was the one the Lord wanted. So he became an apostle with the other eleven. 

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            The apostles were all together in one place when the day of Pentecost came. (Pentecost was a Jewish festival that came fifty days after the Passover.)

            Suddenly a noise came from the sky. It sounded like a strong wind blowing. This noise filled the whole house where the apostles were sitting. They saw something that looked like flames of fire. The "flames" were separated and sat upon each person there. The apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak different languages. The Holy Spirit was giving them the power to do this. 

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             There were some very religious Jewish men in Jerusalem at this time. These men were from every country in the world. A large group of these men came together because they heard the noise. They were surprised because the apostles were speaking, and every man heard in his own language. The Jews were all amazed at this. They did not understand how the apostles could do this.

            They said, "Look! These men that we hear speaking are all from Galilee! But we hear them in our own languages. How is this possible? We are from many different countries. But we can hear these men in our own languages! We can all understand the great things they are saying about God."

            The people were amazed and confused. They asked each other, "What is happening?" Other people were laughing at the apostles. They thought that the apostles were drunk from too much wine. 

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            Then Peter stood up with the other eleven apostles. He spoke loudly so that all the people could hear. He said, "My Jewish brothers and all of you who live in Jerusalem, listen to me. I will tell you something you need to know. Listen carefully. These men are not drunk like you think. It is only nine o'clock in the morning! But Joel the prophet wrote about the things you see happening here today. This is what Joel wrote: `God says: In the last days I will give my Spirit to all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions. Your old men will have special dreams. At that time I will give my Spirit to my servants, men and women.'" 

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            Peter said, "My Jewish brothers, listen to these words: Jesus from Nazareth was a very special man. God clearly showed this to you. God proved this by the powerful and amazing things he did through Jesus. You all saw these things. So you know this is true.

Jesus was given to you, and you killed him. With the help of bad men you nailed Jesus to a cross. But God knew all this would happen. This was God's plan. God made this plan long ago. Jesus suffered the pain of death, but God made him free. God raised Jesus from death.  

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            "David said this about Jesus: `You will not leave my soul in the place of death. You will not let the body of your Holy One rot in the grave.' David was talking about Jesus rising from death. We are all witnesses of this. We saw him! Jesus was lifted up to heaven. Now Jesus is with God, at God's right side. The Father has given the Holy Spirit to Jesus.

            "So now Jesus is pouring out that Spirit. This is what you see and hear. So all the Jewish people should know this truly: God has made Jesus to be Lord and Christ. He is the man you nailed to the cross!" 

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            For 2,000 years, people had looked forward to this day. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and all the prophets had looked forward to it. Even Jesus had pointed to it. Now, the time has finally arrived. This was the day when Jesus sat down next to God to rule over his kingdom. 

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             When the people heard they had killed the King, they were alarmed and felt very, very sorry. They asked Peter and the other apostles, "What should we do?"

            Peter said to them, "Change your hearts and lives and be baptized, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ. Then God will forgive your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is for you. It is also for your children and for the people who are far away. It is for every person that the Lord our God calls to himself."

            Peter warned them with many other words. He begged them, "Save yourselves from the evil people that live now!" Then those people who believed were baptized. On that day about 3,000 people were added to the group of believers. 

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            The believers continued to meet together. They used their time to learn the teaching of the apostles. The believers shared with each other. They prayed together and ate the Lord's Supper. 

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            The apostles were doing many powerful and amazing things, and everyone felt great respect for God. All the believers stayed together. They shared everything. They met together in the temple every day. They all had the same purpose. They were joined in their hearts, and they had the same spirit. They ate together in their homes. They were happy to share their food and ate with joyful hearts. The believers praised God, and all the people liked them.

            With great power the apostles told the people that the Lord Jesus was truly raised from death. And God blessed the believers. More and more people were being saved every day and the Lord kept adding these people to the group of believers. 

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             1. Peter unlocked the door to God's kingdom. At Caesarea Philippi, Jesus promised to give Peter the keys of the kingdom. Peter would be the first to open the door and invite people into the kingdom.             On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came to the apostles and they received power from heaven. Peter stood up and preached the Good News (the Gospel) about Jesus Christ. This Good News was the key that unlocked the door to God's kingdom. About 3,000 people believed Peter's message and were baptized. These new followers came under the rule of the King.  

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2. Anyone can be forgiven. The people who heard Peter's message that day had done some very bad things. They had rejected the One whom God had sent to save them. They had laughed at him, insulted him, shamed him, and killed him on a cross. They had murdered the One who had come to give them life. Can you imagine a crime worse than that?

            We may think that God could never forgive us for all the bad things we have done. But that is not true. No matter what we have done or have failed to do, God still loves us and wants to forgive us. Even if we have been God's enemy, God wants to be our friend. If God was able to forgive the people who murdered his Son, he can certainly forgive you and me. 

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            3. We must change our hearts and lives. God wants to make an agreement with us. He will forgive us if we will turn away from sin and follow him in paths of goodness. We must say "No!" to sexual sins, worshiping idols, witchcraft, hatred, saying bad things to other people, cheating, lying, making trouble, being jealous, angry, and selfish, causing divisions, getting drunk, having wild parties, and doing other things like this.

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            4. God forgives us when we are baptized. On the day of Pentecost, Peter said to the people, "Change your hearts and lives and be baptized, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ. Then God will forgive your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

            These people believed that Jesus was Lord, but they still needed to change their hearts and lives and to be baptized. When they said "No!" to sin and were baptized (immersed) in water, God forgave them.

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The apostle Paul explained the meaning of baptism in his letter to the Romans. He said, "When we were baptized, we were buried with Christ and we shared his death. We were buried with Christ so that we could be raised up and live a new life, the way Christ was raised from death by the power of the Father."

            In baptism, we are united with Christ in a death like his. We are also united with Christ in a resurrection like his. When we come out of the water, we are new persons. We are joined with Christ in a new relationship. We are dead to sin and alive to God. 

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            5. At baptism, God gives us the Holy Spirit. On the day of Pentecost, Peter gave two commands: (1) "Change your hearts and lives," and (2) "Be baptized." Peter also gave two promises: (1) "Then God will forgive your sins," and (2) "you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." At the time of our baptism, the Holy Spirit begins to live in our bodies.

            As the Holy Spirit lives in our bodies, he gives us moral and spiritual power. He helps us to quit doing bad things, and he gives us strength to do good things. He helps us develop love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. He gives us life and freedom from sin. The Spirit himself joins with our spirits to say that we are God's children. He helps us with our weaknesses. He even helps us pray like we should. In other words, the Holy Spirit helps us to change into the likeness of Jesus Christ.

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Scripture References: Acts 1:1-26; 2:1-47; 5:32; Matthew 16:15-19; Mark 9:1; John 3:3-5; Romans 6:3-5; 8:5-16, 26-28; I Corinthians 4:15; 6:19-20; II Corinthians 3:17-18; 5:17; Galatians 3:27; 5:16-25; Ephesians 1:13-14; 3:16; 5:18-19; 6:11-18; Colossians 1:15; 2:11- 15; Titus 3:3-7; James 1:18; I Peter 1:3-5; 22-25


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