Summary: A message encouraging evangelism by church members.
PENTECOSTAL KIND OF WAITING
INTRO: All of us have some experience with waiting. Who can’t recall the delight of going to the doctor’s office? Don’t you wish you could charge the doctor for your time? No doubt you had the joy of waiting in the grocery store check-out line. You sometimes start to wonder if your discount coupons are going to expire before you ever get to the cashier.
And then, of course, some of you are well acquainted with the great fun of waiting for a spouse. “I’m almost ready.” forty-five minutes later, you finally get in the car. Waiting is among our high points in life, isn’t it? Sure. Mostly we feel like it’s empty space, dead time, fruitless. The less we wait, the happier we are.
You can imagine the feelings of the followers of Jesus, when at the Ascension he told them to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. “Wait? Surely you don’t want us to lose our momentum, Lord.” “You heard me,” said Jesus “go and wait.” Why? Not for nothing, that’s for sure. (Acts 1:8)
Waiting for power — unseen, intangible divine power. Did they really need to do that — and do we? Couldn’t they carry on with their native strength and can’t we? Why did they have to wait for the Pentecostal power of God? Isn’t a good plan and a little determination enough? Evidently Jesus didn’t think so.
Pentecost is about evangelism. When all is said and done, the saying and doing of the church is intended to spread the good news of God and bring people to faith in Jesus.
I. ONLY THE HOLY SPIRIT CAN ENABLE US TO OVERCOME A SENSE OF SELF-DISQUALIFICATION.
Our awareness of our moral flaws and spiritual shortcomings can lead us to “bow out” when it comes to being a witness for Christ. “How can I encourage other people to become a Christian when I’s such a shabby example myself? How can I talk to people about faith in Christ when I have so many problems of my own?” And so, with comments like these, we decline to be witnesses because we’re not worthy.
Imagine what would have happened if the earliest followers of Jesus thought this way. Peter could have said, “How can I urge people to give their lives to Christ? I denied him and claimed I never even knew him.” And think of Paul: “How can I tell the good news of Christ when they all know I helped brutalize Christians?” The power of the Holy Spirit helped them overcome their sense of self-disqualification. We need the Spirit for the same reason.
II. WE NEED THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT TO ENABLE US TO GET PAST OUR DIFFERENCES.
The gospel is for all people of every race, nation, gender, and social class. But we tend to live by the “birds of a feather” principle. When we have our “rathers,” we’d rather stay around people who are largely like us. Only the Holy Spirit can empower us to get beyond our group with the gospel.
Don’t get me wrong here; it makes sense to begin by being witnesses to people who are like us. The Jewish Christian apostle Paul had a slogan: “First to the Jews.” But he didn’t leave it there. The second part of his slogan was, “but also to the Greeks.”
On the day of Pentecost, people from many nations heard the message of the crucified and risen Christ. From a diverse collection of people, God forged a church. Only the Holy Spirit can enable that to happen. The same is true in our time and in our congregation. People don’t have to be from different nations and cultures to need the Spirit to bring them together. There are times we feel separation right here and we are far more alike one another than we are different from each other.
III. ONLY THE HOLY SPIRIT CAN EMPOWER US TO SPEAK WITH OTHERS ABOUT SOMETHING SO IMMENSELY IMPORTANT AS THE HOPEFUL MESSAGE OF THE GOSPEL.
We are comfortable talking about all sorts of things: the price of lettuce, the level of taxes, what our children are doing, the weather, our struggles at work, our retirement plans. How do we move from the temporary issues to speak of eternity with God? It’s not easy for most of us. We need the power of the Spirit.
Asking God to fill us with the Holy Spirit will give us the courage and can open our eyes to opportunities to speak the message of Christ. So often we miss opportunities and allow timidity to take over. That is why it is crucial that we look to the power of God and pray for guidance.