This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday, (The time the Holy Spirit was poured out on a large group of people in Jerusalem). It’s the 7th Sunday after Easter. I want to share a portion of what happened.
On the day of Pentecost all of the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.
At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.
They were completely amazed. “How can this be?” they exclaimed. “These people are all from Galilee, and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages! Here we are Parthians, Medes, Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, the province of Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the areas of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism), Cretans, and Arabs. And we all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!” They stood there amazed and perplexed. “What can this mean?” they asked each other. But others in the crowd ridiculed them, saying, “They’re just drunk, that’s all!”
Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd, “listen carefully, all of you , fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem! Make no mistake about this, These people are not drunk, as some of you are assuming…. No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel: ‘In the Last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people….'”
v. 41. Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day – about 3,000 in all. (Acts 2: 1-17&41).
Between verses 7 and 41 Peter gives an incredible message about who Jesus was, the work of the Holy Spirit in the last days, the reason for the resurrection, the certainty that Jesus is Lord and Messiah, the need for belief in Jesus, repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus for forgiveness of sins which results in receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit.
I’d like to point out a few things that I find encourage me as I celebrate Pentecost this Sunday with you all. My prayer is they will encourage you as well. They are taken from the first 17 verses of the story.
This was a God set up. Men didn’t set up the the coming of the Holy Spirit. The early followers of Jesus were told to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit, but they couldn’t make him come – this was not under their control. God came down with a sound of a mighty windstorm and tongues like fire and then they began speaking in a language not their own, and I suspect they didn’t really know what they were saying. I am positive that when God showed up in this way, they were as shocked as those who were not in the meeting and heard the great noise and were gathered to the meeting to see what was going on. I think these first followers of Jesus were very hungry for the Holy Spirit to come, but they were not in control of this move of God.
That takes a lot of pressure off of us. It came from heaven to earth. We never need to manufacture a move of God, rather we need to have a hunger for God to come and when he comes, we want to receive and respond. His move will likely be much different than we expect, and it will be in His own perfect timing. It strikes me that God builds on history. He chose to send the Holy Spirit on a day that was the Jewish holiday celebrating the harvest. And isn’t that just like God.
Another thing that encourages me is that God creates his own audience. The followers of Jesus had already received their orders.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1: 8
GOD GATHERED his first international congregation together in Jerusalem. A sign of things to come. God wants to speak his wonderful message to all people. Look at the variety of people he called to listen to his message. He is cross cultural and he uses people! We will be called to speak to people who are different than us, and God will help us by the power of the Holy Spirit. We can speak in ways people understand. We need to be sensitive to Spirit, not approach all people the same way. Same message, but unique to the audience we address. I can trust the Holy Spirit to empower my words, so can you. Just as we are told not to fear what we will say when we speak before kings, we should not fear speaking to people who are different than us. God knows their heart and will empower our words if we will simply stay humble, sensitive and flexible.
What God put in their mouth was “the wonderful things God has done”. God wants people to know that following him is a great deal. That is where God started at Christmas. Angels appearing to shepherds in a field, “Don’t be afraid!” the angel said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to ALL people. The Savior – yes the Messiah, the Lord has been born today in Bethlehem…Glory to God in the highest heaven and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” (Luke 2:10,14).
This has always been God’s plan.
At Pentecost, God goes out of his way to make sure we have an opportunity to know his heart. It is only in Peter’s message (which is part of the Pentecost’s story) after people have heard about the goodness of God and they ask what they must do, that Peter explains repentance from sin. It helps to remember that what God fed his people in the wilderness was manna – which had the taste of honey.
Not everyone understood the message. Some heard the message in their own language and accused the speakers of being drunk, while others heard and were perplexed about the meaning. Some disregard – while others want to understand so that they might respond to what God is doing. The story doesn’t tell us how many walked away from this miracle, but it does tell us 3,000 believed and were added to the church. When God calls an audience we can count on fruit.
As we celebrate Pentecost together let us do it with a hunger for the Holy Spirit to come. Let our prayer be that he will gather a cross cultural audience in these days of upheaval! People might not know they are hungering for God. Let us be good partners with God, sharing the story of how he has worked on earth and in our own lives. Let us be sensitive to His presence, without fear of rejection, ridicule or feeling we won’t have the right words. And let us not be anxious about God’s timing. Come Lord!
You might want to read the entire story of Acts 2 to prepare your heart for this Sunday. So much is to be gleaned from it.
With Great Love,
Nancy