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Entries in Pentecost (2)

Tuesday
Jun102014

The Greatest Birthday Gift

This Sunday is a celebration of the Day of Pentecost.  Some scholars refer to this as the birthday of the Church.  We won’t deal with that debate here today.  However, it is the day that God gave a great gift to His followers.  Just as Jesus was an incredible gift of salvation to the world, so the Holy Spirit is a similarly incredible gift to those who believe on Jesus.  In fact, Jesus had told his followers not to leave Jerusalem until they had received the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit would be taking the place of Jesus.  Just as Jesus taught, so the Holy Spirit would teach.  The Holy Spirit would also work through the Church to heal and do miracles.  The Holy Spirit would be a comforter just as Jesus was to his disciples.  Ultimately, the Holy Spirit would do all that Jesus did, but without the physical limitations and restraints.  Thus today, as hundreds of millions of believers awake, they are instantly greeted by the presence of God’s Spirit.  He who is called the Promise of the Father is with us.  So, today we celebrate that no matter how dark and difficult our situation is, God is with us through His Holy Spirit and that is more than enough.

We are going to look at Peter’s sermon following the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts chapter 2 and verses 36-39.

You Shall Receive The Holy Spirit

When the Holy Spirit is poured out on the disciples, they are in Jerusalem.  The resulting worship and praise of God in many different languages at the same time causes a ruckus that draws the attention of a large crowd.  At this point Peter begins to explain what is happening and why.  They are receiving the Promise of the Father because they are followers of Jesus.  The people recognize that they are in danger of missing out on this promise that they all had been waiting for and so they ask what they should do.  Peter’s answer gives them the hope that they can experience the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for themselves.  It’s not too late.

But, in order to receive the Holy Spirit, the people needed to do some things.  First they needed to repent.  They needed to definitely repent of participating in the death of Jesus.  However, it was their sinful hearts that led up to this act.  They needed to see their own sinfulness before God and turn away from it- both the actions and the mindset that led up to them.  The beautiful thing is that they were “cut to the heart” by Peter’s words.  This is a way of saying that Peter’s words pierced their hearts with sorrow and grief.  I say it is beautiful because it is the very work of the Holy Spirit that Jesus said would be in John 16:8.  “[The Holy Spirit] will convict the world of sin.”  Though the Spirit is being poured out on believers in Jesus, He is also graciously working in the hearts of unbelievers to convict them of their sin.  Conviction of our sin enables us to desire something better.  The word “repent” literally means to turn away from one thing and towards another.  They needed to turn away from the way they were and towards the person and teaching of Jesus Christ.  Of course some will refuse this grace of the Holy Spirit.  Such refusal only hardens us further to His conviction.  At some point an individual can become so hard that they will never repent.

The second thing that is necessary is to identify with Jesus.  I say it this way because we can focus on being baptized all the while losing sight of Jesus.  Baptism is not the critical word in the phrase, “Be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.”  It is actually “Jesus Christ.”  They were used to being baptized in the cleansing rituals in response to the law.  But they were doing it in obedience to the Law of Moses. Now they are to do the cleansing ritual in obedience to Jesus Christ.  This purposeful identification with Jesus is the key point.  We turn from our sins and publically identify with Jesus and his people.  I am a follower of Jesus.  Today there are many baptized people who are letting their sins lead them to identify with the Spirit of this World, rather than picking up their cross and following Jesus.  We redefine who Jesus is and what he would do because we do not want to let go of our sins.  God’s Spirit is given to those who want to turn away from sin and towards Jesus.  In those days there was only one Jesus and the society was polarized as for or against Jesus.  But today we have many different images of Jesus.  This is why it is so important to go into the Bible for yourself and discover who Jesus really is; not what someone says he is.  Are you following the true Jesus or a politically correct Jesus?  Are you following the true Jesus or a socially acceptable Jesus?  Only the true Jesus opens the door for the Spirit of God.  Any other “Jesus” opens the door for the spirit of this Age.

If you do those two things, repent and identify with the true Jesus, God will keep His word.  He is not a liar.  God has been faithful to convict the hearts of people in this world, calling them out from this world to become a part of a community that is being saved from judgment.  Not just that, but, He is also empowering us to work with the Holy Spirit in this.  Peter is the prime example.  The Spirit came upon him and enabled him to preach the truth to his generation.  It was a hard truth and one that Peter would have ran away from in his own flesh.  But now he boldly proclaims to them that they killed the Messiah and need to repent and believe on Jesus.

Now God will always empower those He calls.  His will is two-fold.  Regarding me, the Spirit helps me to keep turning from sin and to strengthen my faith in Jesus.  This is more than maintaining a status quo.  But rather a day by day growing in our understanding of sin’s hold in our life and the trustworthiness of Jesus.  Thus our position in Christ should become stronger over time.  In regards to others, the Spirit enables me to love them with Spirit-filled actions that come from Spirit-led motivations.  Now for believers this is helping to build up their faith.  But towards the lost it is helping to lead them to Christ.

There has never been a time that Christians could do such a work without the Holy Spirit.  No amount of technology and psychological analysis will enable us to do what only the Holy Spirit can do.  We have been given the Holy Spirit because the work cannot be done without Him.  In fact, He is not just another component in this.  He is the Key component.  So what should we do?  We must first make sure that we are turning from sin and towards the true Jesus.  Then we must recognize that God is faithful and the Holy Spirit is with me.  You will not always feel like the Holy Spirit is present, but remind yourself that it is true nonetheless.  Then ask for His help.  Don’t wait until you have tried everything.  Instead begin each day by asking the Holy Spirit for His leading, help, comfort, correction, and guidance.  Then walk by faith.  Whether it is doing what God’s Word says, or responding to a prompting in our heart, we need to walk by faith.  Of course “promptings in our heart” are subjective.  But that does not mean they cannot be real.  God calls us to be mature children who are learning and have learned how to discern the difference between my flesh and the Holy Spirit.  If your heart is in the right place and you are carefully walking out what you believe the Lord is saying to you then God will help you.  Even when you make mistakes, He will help you to see that and grow, and learn.  Let’s be led by the Spirit of God and not the spirit of this world!

Best Birthday Gift Audio

Tuesday
May212013

The Holy Spirit Empowers Us

Today is Pentecost Sunday.  For the Church of Jesus it is sort of like our birthday.  So this will be a perfect day to finish our series on the Work of the Holy Spirit.  We are going to see today that He is the source of power that God wants us to rely upon in this life.

Pentecost Is A Feast Of The Lord

Under the Old Covenant with Israel, God had commanded them to celebrate 7 feasts.  They are sometimes referred to as the Feasts of Israel.  But it is technically more correct to call them the feasts of the Lord.  Pentecost is feast number four in this list if you start at the beginning of the year.

1. Passover

2. Unleavened Bread

3. First Fruits

4. Weeks (Pentecost)

5. Trumpets

6. Day of Atonement

7. Tabernacles (Booths)

The first three Feasts happened several weeks into Spring and thus were called the Spring feasts.  They would happen in rapid succession together.  Pentecost usually is considered a part of the Spring feasts.  However, there is a clear separation of 50 days between it and the first 3 feasts.  Originally the feast was called the feast of weeks because you would count off 7 weeks and then on the next day the feast would begin.  As the Greek language became dominate, the Greek term for 50 (i.e. Pentecost) was used.  Of course with the New Testament being written in Greek, the term stuck.

The last three Feasts similarly happen in rapid succession at the beginning of Fall.  These are the Fall Feasts.  So, the Feast of Pentecost was conspicuous in its separation between the other two groups of Feasts.

Jesus revealed to his disciples that these feasts had prophetic significance.  In fact, each time Israel had celebrated them in the way prescribed by the Lord, they were acting out a prophecy of things to come.  The first 3 Feasts point to the first coming of Christ.  The last three point to the 2nd Coming of Christ.  So what was Pentecost?  Well let’s walk through them.

Passover spoke of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross so that the angel of death (our punishment) would “Passover” us.

Unleavened Bread spoke of who Jesus was.  He was the bread from heaven that had no corrupting influence of sin within him (leaven or yeast) , which was provide by God the Father.  The disciples of Jesus spiritually “fed” upon who he was.

First Fruits points to the resurrection of Jesus.  Not only was he resurrected, but also several Old Testament saints.  They were the first fruits that recognized the later full harvest that would come in and be resurrected to God.

Pentecost was also connected to the harvest.  It was a celebration of the summer harvest and points to the Church being filled with the Power of the Spirit to be a witness to the world.  The last 2,000 years have been a Spirit-empowered harvest time.  Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles all point to the coming of Jesus to be King over the earth.  There will be separation and judgment to the wicked and atonement and grace for righteous.  Those who are worthy will be allowed to dwell with Jesus forever in new resurrected bodies.  Thus we will “tabernacle” (dwell) with him, never to be separated.

All of the first four feasts had their prophetic fulfillment exactly on that day.  Thus we can see the reason for the separation between Pentecost and the other two sets.  Though it would begin shortly after Christ’s fulfillment of the first 3, it would initiate a long period of time in which the Harvest was gathered.  Now don’t get depressed that we are only on feast 4.  When the next three happen they will also happen in rapid succession.  Will they also happen exactly on the feast days?  I guess we will have to wait and see.  It would fit the pattern, but there is no such statement in Scripture.

At Pentecost The Holy Spirit Came To

This brings us to the Feast of Pentecost that happened 50 days after the Passover in which Jesus was sacrificed.  This was the day that the Promised Spirit of God was to be poured out upon the Church.  Now the Holy Spirit had been active in their lives already.  It was the Spirit that had drawn each of them to the Lord and convinced them that He was the Christ.  But this day is the day in which the Holy Spirit came to officially take His place among believers.  He was the Other Helper that Jesus had promised them.  Only this Helper was not limited to a human body.

He also came to supply them with power.  Clearly not all believers had the same scope and level of power in the things they did.  Even Luke records that the Lord did unusual miracles through Paul and Peter.  But all of them were empowered for the ministry and work to which they had been called.  Thus the majority of them were empowered for the “Normal Life.”  You know what I mean: growing up, getting married, giving yourself to a task that helps your fellow-man (AKA a job), raising kids, being a light to the world, and passing the Truth to the next generation.  Do we need God’s power for such tasks?  Isn’t that rhetorical?  Be careful of being dissatisfied with the task that God has given you.  By definition there are few apostles, but many believers.  Paul would start a church but then leave it in the hands of capable leaders who would lead Spirit-filled believers.  We can despise the day of “small things” when we have an inordinate desire for “something better.”  In Jesus there is nothing better than Normal (as defined by God not the world). 

However, we should never let satisfaction be about the mere physical satisfaction of life.  That kind of satisfaction will lead to laziness, drunkenness, spiritual sleep, and even spiritual death.  Thus we should be about our Father’s business: point out Jesus to a lost world.

Lastly the Holy Spirit came to lead them in being a witness to the world of Jesus.  When we think of the picture of a harvest, we see the workers and master as people.  But the truth is that even the wheat being harvested is made up of lost people.  No farmer asks wheat if they would like to be harvested.  You don’t see a guy out in front of a combine trying to convince the alfalfa to just surrender to what he is about to do.  People are more than wheat.  Yet, in the end they must believe and surrender themselves to a process by which they are bundled together with other believers (local churches).  Then, in the midst of that, they are drawn into the Master’s house. 

Final Thoughts

Pentecost is not about strange languages, although God does manifest himself through speaking in tongues.  Pentecost is mainly about harvest.  The Spirit of the Lord takes believers and fills them with His power to be His harvesters on this earth.  He first gives us power to be a follower of Christ.  He also gives us power to open our mouths and speak the words and deeds of Jesus to others.  Lastly He gives us power “to do” like Jesus did, that is to live a Spirit-led and Spirit-empowered life.

Don’t let the pleasures of life cause you to be absent from the Lord’s harvest field.  He is looking for workers.  Won’t you go and labor for Him today?

 

The HS Empowers Audio