Summary: Are we experiencing the Holy Spirit and unleashing the power He provides us with?
First Baptist Church
May 19, 2002
Accepting the Spirit
For many of us this started out as just another day in church. But, today is Pentecost. Pentecost is undeniably the most misunderstood and most often neglected special day on the religious calendar. Think of it this way, we celebrate the birth of Jesus, His death, and His resurrection are all special days in the church. We may even celebrate Passover, and include special secular days like Mother’s & Father’s Day, Graduation Sunday, Rally Day, Men’s Day, Women’s Day and the list can go on and on . . . BUT what about Pentecost? Pentecost is the birth of the church. It is the day when the promised Holy Spirit came upon those first apostles and close followers of Jesus. Without this event, the church would be 100% powerless.
Today, I want to take a look at Pentecost and what it means for us. I especially want to look at the decision we must make if we are to be Christ followers who use the full power of the Holy Spirit.
When I think about today’s scripture, I am struck by what Jesus told the disciples in Acts 1. In essence, Jesus told them to sit tight, don’t go anywhere because in a few days you will be baptized by the Holy Spirit. Have you ever been expecting a package in the mail, or waiting for a phone call from the doctor, or a call from that someone special. Maybe you were waiting for the microwave to cook your food, and one minute was like waiting forever.
Most of you know I love to read, and I order most of my books over the Internet. But, sometimes the waiting drives me crazy. I want the book now, so I can dive in to it.
Think about these followers of Jesus. They were simply told to wait, and if they obeyed they would receive power from God that would be more than they could ever imagine. After all, look at Jesus. Immediately after telling this to His followers, He is taken up to heaven before their eyes. After watching that, and knowing that He was resurrected from the dead, think we would have been satisfied to wait? Well, maybe we would have made it one day. But the Bible tells us the followers had to wait 10 long days.
Finally the day arrives. Of course, they didn’t know the day had arrived. They were just being obedient, devoting themselves to prayer, Bible reading and worship. Then it happens. The Holy Spirit comes rushing into the room. Luke describes what they heard. It sounded like a violent wind which was blowing and filled the entire upper room. Some of us may appreciate that sound, after being here during the tornado in 1999. Debbie and I were sitting on the living room floor in the dark, trying to open the plastic wrapping a new flashlight was in. Not the best time to struggle and open a flashlight. While the wind didn’t blow through our home, it sounded like a freight train rushing past our home. I can only imagine what the Holy Spirit sounded like to the 120 followers.
Then they saw what seemed to be like tongues of fire. What a powerful image. Fire from heaven coming down and touching each person, filling them with the Spirit of God. Can you imagine that? Wouldn’t it have been great to be in that upper room? Experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit, as it came upon not just the apostles, but every one who believed in Jesus was filled that day.
I have to tell you it blows me away to think of what those people experienced. Because, if most of us were to be honest, we too, would want to experience what they did. Sometimes we may even wonder — "am I really filled with the Holy Spirit? After all, I never had that happen to me."
You see when the Holy Spirit came upon those first followers of Jesus, there were many Jews in Jerusalem celebrating the Jewish holiday called Pentecost. Pentecost simply means "50 days." Because this holiday occurred 50 days after Passover. For the Jews, Pentecost was a special holiday. It was a religious harvest festival, something like Thanksgiving without the football games. Thousands of Jews would crowd into Jerusalem.
Now, the really cool thing about what happened comes next. The believers didn’t just stay in the upper room celebrating what happened. After all, that would have been natural. They could have compared stories about how they felt and what they saw and experienced, BUT they didn’t. Instead, they went outside and began to talk in languages that they didn’t even know. The people heard this commotion and they came to check it out.