5/31/20, Acts 2:1-4
Good morning on this beautiful Sunday. The day on which we celebrate Pentecost. You may or may not know this, but Pentecost was a Jewish holiday and was celebrated long before we Christians ever celebrated it. The word Pentecost comes from a Greek word meaning 50th.
As the Jewish holiday it was held on the 50th day after the Sabbath of Passover week. It was also called The Feast of Weeks, the Feast of Harvest and the Feast of First Fruits. It’s the occasion for celebrating the harvest, and particularly for giving thanks to God for graciously bringing forth fruit from the land.
Jesus was crucified at Passover time, and He ascended 40 days after His resurrection. As a Christian holiday Pentecost occurs 10 days after our Lord’s ascension. It’s highlighted by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within His followers. And it marks the beginning of the Christian church.
I’d like to read a verse from Luke 24:49 – “I am going to send you what my Father has promised, but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” He told the disciples this after His death and just prior to His ascension.
So, basically, He’s saying – don’t go anywhere and don’t do anything until you have been filled with the Holy Spirit. He told them to wait…… To wait for what? The power from on high! We often get ahead of God and seek to act without Him!
Has God ever told you to wait? It can be extremely difficult to wait on Him. Fortunately for the disciples, they only had to wait 10 days.
Now let’s look at 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.”
Let us pray……Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit, and we shall be created. And you shall renew the face of the earth. O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy your consolations. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Thus, on the day of the Jewish holiday Pentecost, they were all together in one place. Who is Luke referring to when he says they? (And yes, Luke wrote the book of Acts). He could mean the 11 disciples and Matthias, (who was chosen to replace Judas), or the 120 followers of Jesus. But more than likely Luke was referring to those previously listed in Acts 1:13-15. That list consisted of the disciples, the women who followed Jesus, and His mother.
Now when this took place scholars don’t believe they were in the upper room, but rather somewhere around the vicinity of the temple. During the gathering first they hear what sounded like a violent wind. In scripture breath or wind is a symbol of the Spirit of God.
Then they see what appears to be tongues of fire which come alight upon each of them. Have you ever wondered why tongues? Tongues symbolize speech, and the communication of the gospel. Fire symbolizes God’s purifying presence, which burns away the undesirable elements of our lives, and sets our hearts ablaze to ignite others to follow Him too.
So, Pentecost is the day we received the best gift ever, aside from the gift of salvation, and that’s the gift of the Holy Spirit. Every follower of Jesus has the Holy Spirit within them.
But let me ask you a question. How well do you know the 3rd person of the Trinity, who was sent by the Father and the Son? Do you recognize Him? Are you conscious of His presence? Do you know how to listen to Him?
If we don’t listen to Him, we are missing out on so much!! But listening is hard work! As a matter of fact, most of us are not very good at listening to each other, much less the Holy Spirit!
I certainly think our black brothers and sisters and other people of color feel that way. They don’t feel listened to at all! They don’t feel understood. I suspect they don’t feel respected, or valued. Certainly, they’ve been mistreated and abused. They’ve been discriminated against and experienced horrendous and inhumane crimes perpetrated against them.
They have definitely not been treated by some of their white brothers and sisters as Christ would treat them. It breaks my heart to think about what’s been happening still in this day and age. So, I know it breaks our Lord’s. But I digress.
When it comes to listening to the Holy Spirit, we tend to fall into 3 categories: 1) those who do not think it’s possible, 2) those who don’t know how, and 3) those who don’t want to. What about you? Do you fall into any of those categories?
First, let me assure you that yes, it is indeed possible to hear the Holy Spirit and no I’m not talking about an audible voice per say. Jesus told us we must worship in spirit and truth – heart and mind.
Therefore, He speaks to us in our hearts and minds. He uses our language, our grammar and the words we are familiar with. These thoughts or promptings from the Holy Spirit are so natural, that unless we are sensitive to them, we could easily ignore them or not recognize them.
And if we don’t believe it’s possible, then we won’t even try! So, believing that it is possible is of utmost importance when it comes to listening to the Holy Spirit. Yes, the Holy Spirit can and does talk to you and to me!
For those who feel they don’t know how — we must first lift up our heart to the Holy Spirit. And yes of course, we can make our requests before Him, but we simply can’t do all the talking. Yet, isn’t that what we typically do?
We have to give Him time and space to respond. This means, we need to eliminate any and all distractions as much as possible – both visually, as well as sound, and even smell. I don’t know about you but the smell of chocolate chip cookies would indeed distract me! Turn your phone, computer and television off. The quieter the room and surroundings the more conducive to hearing the Holy Spirit. It’s best to go into our prayer closet and shut the door.
Finally, I would hope that if you are a follower of Jesus, you would want to listen to Him. Of course, we all have moments when we don’t want to hear what He has to say, especially if He is telling us something we don’t like. We may even act like a two-year-old and hold our hands over our ears as if to quiet His voice. However, the more we trust Him, the closer we become to Him and the more we will want to hear what He has to say to us. So, if you don’t want to listen to Him now, that’s a good indication of the need to draw closer to Him. The Holy Spirit is a gift, an incredible gift, and one I hope you have received with joy in your heart! If you don’t know Him very well, I highly encourage you to get to know Him. I promise you — you will never regret it!
Let us pray…..Holy God we thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit. May we be cognizant of His presence, listen to Him and obey. May we use the power and authority granted to us by the Holy Spirit to enact change within our own hearts and then seek change within our society so that racism is eliminated and justice is served. This country is in desperate need of You Lord. Please hear our cries and show us the way out of the mess we have created. We acknowledge and repent of our sin. We seek unity and love. And now let’s pray the words our Savior taught us: Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever. Amen.Jesus loves you and so do I!