Summary: What do the symbols of wind and fire tell us about the experience of receiving the Holy Spirit?
Acts 2:1-4, 12
1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. … 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
We are here today to consider the topic of the Holy Spirit and me, how the coming of the Holy Spirit and the reality of the presence of the Spirit should impact my life. This is the season of Pentecost and we are to look together at this topic this morning.
We need to learn to see the things we thought we know all about in new ways. We are too often stuck in seeing the world in only one way and forget that we can be led to different viewings.
A wealthy oil baron once commissioned Picasso to paint a portrait of his wife. When the work was completed, the baron was shocked to see the image that had been created. "Why that looks nothing like my wife! You should have painted her the way she really is!" Picasso took a deep breath and said, "I’m not sure what that would be." Without hesitation, the oil baron pulled out his wallet and removed a photograph of his wife saying, "There, you see, this is a picture of how she really is! Picasso, bending over, looked at it and replied, "She is rather small and flat, isn’t she?"
The point is clear: The man was so wrapped up in HIS view of his wife he could not understand anyone else’s view of her. On the day of Pentecost there were many Jews who understood, who saw Gods new view of the world through the eye of the Spirit but there were also many there who did not, who could not see the world around them in any other way than the way it had always been.
We must remember that Pentecost in the Jewish tradition commemorated the giving of the law at Sinai. What the disciples experienced when they were all together and the Spirit came upon them was nothing less that the release of the law of the Spirit of life, replacing the old covenant law of sin and death. But, Pentecost was also a time of the celebrating the first fruits, a harvest festival. This experience of the disciples was only the first fruit of the outpouring of the Spirit, and we must consider, “What will the outpouring of the Spirit look like in our day as we get closer and closer to the Lord’s return?”
Sometime back the Associated Press carried this dispatch: "Glasgow, Ky.--Leslie Puckett, after struggling to start his car, lifted the hood and discovered that someone had stolen the motor."
I am not going to look at the fact of the coming of the Spirit, but what it means for us and I shall do so by looking at the symbols that came with the Holy Spirit that first Pentecost.
Come with me into West Texas during the Depression. Mr. Ira Yates was like many other ranchers and farmers. He had a lot of land, and a lot of debt. Mr. Yates wasn’t able to make enough on his ranching operation to pay the principal and interest on the mortgage, so he was in danger of losing his ranch. With little money for clothes or food, his family (like many others) had to live on a government subsidy.
Day after day, as he grazed his sheep over those rolling West Texas hills, he was no doubt greatly troubled about how he would pay his bills. Then a seismographic crew from an oil company came into the area and told him there might be oil on his land. They asked permission to drill a wildcat well, and he signed a lease contract.
At 1,115 feet they struck a huge oil reserve. The first well came in at 80,000 barrels a day. Many subsequent wells were more than twice as large.
In fact, 30 years after the discovery, a government test of one of the wells showed it still had the potential flow of 125,000 barrels of oil a day. And Mr. Yates owned it all. The day he purchased the land he had received the oil and mineral rights. Yet, he’d been living on relief. A multimillionaire living in poverty. The problem? He didn’t know the oil was there even though he owned it.
It is fair to say that you and I are a lot like Mr. Yates at times. We are heirs of a vast treasure and yet we live in spiritual poverty. We are entitled to the gifts of the Holy Spirit and his energizing power, and yet we live unaware of our birthright. We gather today to remember how rich we are.