Summary: We need to experience the Holy Spirit.
Calling on the Spirit
August 26, 2007
Have you ever received a gift you just weren’t sure you knew what to do with? Ties that make good presents for someone else. Perfumes and colognes that would rival a skunk for a worst smell contest. Maybe it was some picture or painting that would look great in the attic, garage or someone else’s home. When you receive them, we struggle with how to act. You know the routine, we smile, we say thank you, and we hope we can move on to the next present.
Speaking of gifts, have you ever received the gift of fire? Yup, it’s one of those unusual presents that we can receive, yet fire is fascinating. Children say they want to grow up to be firefighters. If you hear that there is a fire in the neighborhood, chances are you will go out to watch it. On a winter’s evening, we build a fire, not just for warmth, but for the chance to watch it do its work and to hear the wood popping. On a summer’s evening while camping or in our backyard, we enjoy gathering around a campfire, not for the warmth, but for the sheer pleasure of being near it, and making a few smores. Fire fascinates us and it scares us.
Now, combine those two thoughts: gifts and fire. I wonder what would happen if someone gave you a gift of fire. What in the world would it mean? Maybe the early Christians wondered, too. After all, that was part of the Lord’s first gift to the church on that great earth shaking Pentecost...FIRE and the HOLY SPIRIT.
The faithful remnant of Jesus’ followers had gathered in the upper room near the temple in Jerusalem. There were 120 of them. In Acts 1:4-5, Jesus told the group “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
They had been in Jerusalem, dutifully waiting for the gift of the Holy Spirit, a gift they really could not conceive of. What was the Holy Spirit? What would it do to them and for them?
For 10 days, they prayed together, they chose a replacement for Judas, they ate together, they just hung out and talked about life and faith and Jesus and what was to come. They were gathered in Jerusalem to wait for this gift, yet they weren’t quite sure what this gift was all about, nor what to do with the gift when the received it.
Jesus had told them about the Holy Spirit. During their meal with Jesus on the night before His crucifixion, He told them that it was necessary for Him to leave them so that He might send them a COMFORTER, one who would walk beside them, one who would ENCOURAGE them, TEACH them and EXHORT them. Still, they weren’t sure what Jesus was talking about. Still later, Jesus told them through the Holy Spirit, they would receive POWER, a supernatural power, and the Holy Spirit.
But what did it all mean? How would they receive this gift? Who would deliver the gift? UPS, DHL and Fed Ex had not been invented.
In a moment we are going to listen to a 3 minute piece of classical music. Whenever I hear it, I think of the Holy Spirit coming upon the early followers. It is a piece of music from the Edvard Grieg, called Peer Gynt. It is the section called “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” The music starts out slowly, just as if it is a typical day in the upper room, however, the pace picks up and intensifies, and I picture the Holy Spirit coming upon the disciples, and finally, they are excitedly dancing and praising God as never before, then it’s over. Then it’s time to work.
The group heard a noise. It sounded like a windstorm . . . a tornado . . . the sound of some tremendous force. But nothing was moved: no buildings destroyed, no doors slammed shut, not even a leaf rustled. As they looked around to see what was happening, they noticed that above each head was what appeared to be a FLAME. . . FIRE that simply sat there . . . the FIRE that would be Christ’s first gift to His church . . . the FIRE that was the Holy Spirit.
CLOSE YOUR EYES and LISTEN and IMAGINE THE SPIRIT COMING.
I always feel my body begin to race when I hear “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” I wonder if the disciples had any more idea what to do with a gift like this fire than we do? But to their eternal credit, and to our undying benefit, they did not think of possessing the gift; they let that gift possess them.