Pentecost – The Giving of God’s Spirit
To encourage the acceptance of God’s own Spirit and the willingness to use that gift from God it all started with Jesus’ promise.
Acts 1, 1 – 11 In my first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught until he rose to heaven, after teaching the apostles he had chosen through the Holy Spirit. After his suffering, he showed himself to them and gave many conclusive proofs that he still lived. He appeared to them over forty days teaching them about the kingdom of God. While sharing a meal with them, he told them not to leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift his Father promised, which they had heard him speak about. Telling them John baptized with water, but soon you will be baptised with God’s Holy Spirit.”
They gathered around him and asked, “Lord, are you now going to restore Israel’s kingdom?” He replied: “You’re not to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority, yet you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, to the ends of the earth.” After saying this, he rose to heaven before their very eyes, until a cloud hid him from their sight. As they were looking keenly up into the sky suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you still stand here looking into the sky? Jesus, has been taken from you into heaven, he will come back in the same way you have seen him go.”
Jesus told us that when we accept him as God’s Son and Our Lord then we give to him and God a commitment to try and live to his ways and to help us, The Holy Spirit is given to enabling us to use the gifts of God to witness Jesus’ teaching and life. These gifts are not for ourselves but for the benefit of others to come to know Jesus, to help us go and do God’s work, witnessing the truth and the ways of God. These gifts are not to be ignored or abused but to be eagerly sought after, used in the purpose that they were given to us for, ‘pleasing God’.
Nowadays it’s rare we see in our churches the gifts of The Spirit that Paul listed as being used; Prophecy, Miraculous Power, Healing, Wisdom, Discernment, Faith, Distinguishing between spirits, Tongues and their Interpretation. If we did then people would be coming to church in their droves Worshiping God, acknowledging Jesus is the Messiah and being in union with The Holy Spirit. Using God’s Gifts, give us the confidence and the encouragement to step out in faith in everything we are, showing in our lives we are God’s Children living for his glory.
We, like the first Christians, have been given the task to bring Jesus’ words to others that is, to help build God’s Kingdom here on earth as it is in Heaven. It’s after all what we say in the Lord’s Prayer and we need help to do it. Some Christians feel to make it happen, we need buildings, money, a standing in society, qualifications, professionalism, traditions, yet these things aren’t important as shown by the early church for they had none of them, and they grew by their faith and works.
When we look at those first Christians, we see they trusted in Jesus and used God’s gifts allowed themselves to be led by Jesus’ gifts; faith and God’s Holy Spirit. Faith is the certainty of having a relationship between ourselves and God, knowing Jesus is real, our leader, our teacher and our friend and who is the Way to God with The Holy Spirit to guide and encourage us to do God’s work.
Worship is a consequence of making Jesus Lord, it’s why Christians come together collective worship enables us to share God’s love and help us all to grow in his ways. We need to encourage each other to use the gifts given and so take Jesus’ message to others
Acts 1, 12- 14 Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. They went to an upstairs room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. With the women, Mary the mother of Jesus, Jesus’ brothers they joined together earnestly and constantly in prayer.
This passage tells of the small band of 120 or so followers gathered to worship God, praying earnestly for direction and encouragement wanting direction to be able to live to God’s ways, serve God, carrying out Jesus’ teachings. Most likely in hiding, waiting, wondering what would happen next, uncertain even fearful, but still had the courage to stay together. They were doing what Jesus had told them To pray and wait for The Spirit of God, who would guide them in the truth, so help in the role of witnessing The Word of God. Two lessons come together and pray earnestly.
In Jerusalem at the time there were hundreds of thousands of extra people, visitors who come to celebrate the Feast of Weeks, when God’s law was given by Moses. It was 50 days after Jesus had been crucified and the disciples had returned to Jerusalem from meeting Jesus in Galilee. For them at that time it would be difficult to speak against the views of the priests and their traditions. Tradition makes people comfortable and unprepared to change or be challenged should the disciples had witness Jesus openly then they would risk arrest and their lives
The Holy Spirit coming changed all that, it was the first time God had sent his Spirit upon a large group of followers who were then inspired to go out and preach the word of God to strangers.
We, like the disciples have not been asked but TOLD to take Jesus’ message to the people and it is difficult to take that first step when unsure of the response we’ll receive. Our problem is we don’t really trust that the Holy Spirit is with us, we may have the desire to witness in some way but fear the reaction we’ll get. Is it we don’t want to cast pearls before swine, as will we be thought of as religious nuts? What’s important is not what others think, or what we think, but what God thinks of us. The gifts from God are varied and spread out for everyone to use and by using them we witness The Truth of Jesus in what we do and say
Acts 2, 1 – 4 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Those who make Jesus Lord are given the gift of God’s Holy Spirit and they are changed, Peter who denied Jesus tree times now stands up and preaches, proclaiming God, quoting the prophet Joel that God’s own Spirit had been poured out on them as they witnessed Jesus. They were able through Faith and God’s Spirit do miracles and healing. It is no wonder so many people were converted that day as Peter spoke, giving his own story of witnessing that Jesus had risen, Jesus was alive
We all have different gifts, given at the different stages of our relationship with God. In professing to love him, we need to witness that love, not hide it or deny it. When asked what we did at a weekend, the first thing we can say is we met with God. When asked why we are Christians we can say we have reacted to being chosen by God. When asked why we do things we can say we’re led by God. That’s why we’re here
Peter had the courage to stand up and tell people about Jesus,, he gave a personal testimony and that’s the most powerful way of witnessing. Yet n witnessing our faith we will make enemies but we will also make far more friends, but best of all is Jesus will be pleased with us and won’t deny us. We witness our love of God in the way we live, in what it is we do and say. Witnessing Jesus is a consequence of loving him, it’s why we have been given gifts
Acts 2, 5 – 6 There were God-fearing Jews from every nation staying in Jerusalem and when they heard the noise, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken.
Acts 2, 12 – 15 Amazed yet confused, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” however, some made fun of them saying they have drunk too much wine. Peter stood up with the Eleven, he raised his voice speaking to the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all who live in Jerusalem, let me explain what happening; listen carefully for these people are not drunk, as you suppose after all it’s only nine in the morning!
It is up to us to create an environment that God can see his children do love him, showing that we are prepared to put ourselves out for him. Satan has done some of his best work persuading educationist and politicians, the media, the celebrities that people look up to for they views that God and the spiritual side of life is unnecessary. Remember the battle we are in, it is Satan led and we need to fight for God, yet fighting Satan is never easy but we can win with the help of God’s Holy Spirit
How do we bring Jesus and his teaching to people, how do we start a revival and renewal? First we need to know God’s ways and then commit ourselves to them, accepting that his ways are the best ways and the ways we want to live by. Then we get together in groups and pray earnestly and constantly for it, together we grow in God’s love by caring for one another and in what we do and say witness Jesus as our Lord
We say regularly in the Lord’s prayer, ‘Thy kingdom come on earth, as it is in heaven’, well we are in God’s kingdom the moment we accept Jesus as Lord, which means we have to live in God’s ways no matter how hard that might be. Accepting rejection and mockery from this world just as Our Lord did, we need to live to please God.