Summary: Your life can sparkle with the Spirit if you will let the Spirit live within you.
Today is the birthday of the church. We find the account of what happened in Acts of the Apostles, which perhaps should be called “Acts of the Spirit.” Newsweek magazine features a short column in which famous authors tell what the five most important books to them were. Garrison Keillor said that the Book of Acts was number one for him. When he described the book, he summed it up this way: “The flames lit on their little heads and bravely and dangerously went they onward.” I hope the flames will light upon our heads and we will bravely and dangerously go onward.
As I read the story, I want you to notice that each person hears the Gospel in his or her own language. Each hears an unique word tailored to their situation. Let us read the account of that day when the flames lit on the apostles’ heads:
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?"
But others sneered and said, "They are filled with new wine."
But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, "Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
“In the last days it will be, God declares that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Prayer: Holy Spirit, thank you for your constant comings—sometimes when we pray for the coming, sometimes when we least expect it, You come. We need Your Spirit coming anew into our daily living. Come, great Spirit, Come! Amen.
I love Pentecost. I love wearing red. I love balloons & I love celebrating the birthday of the church. I don’t remember Pentecost from my childhood. It seems a strange oversight given that I do remember Holy Week and the sad services, but I don’t remember celebrating the birthday of the church. I guess there was a period when we didn’t pay much attention to the happy holidays. I’m glad we do now.
I read an absolutely rhythmic description of the day by Scot McKnight. He wrote:
Pentecost, the day on which we are indwelt by the Spirit, sweeps us up into the dance of the Trinity. We are summoned to the dance floor, [and] the music is grace and love and holiness and peace…The music is supplied by God, and His people are invited to sing and dance along…Pentecost, my friends, is an invitation to dance. And it gives us the energy and power to pull it off. [Scot McKnight on www.jesuscreed.org (3-28-08)]
A big part of the reason that the Spirit makes us want to dance is that we’ve been given something much too important not to share. There was a Mercedes Benz television commercial showing their car colliding with a cement wall during a safety test. Someone then asks the company spokesman why they do not enforce their patent on the Mercedes Benz energy-absorbing car body, a design evidently copied by other companies because of its success. He replies, “Because some things in life are too important not to share.” [Jim Beranek, Parkerburg, Iowa, Leadership, Vol. 12, no. 3]
The gift of the Spirit is much too important not to share, but sometimes we don’t share it. A few weeks ago when I attended the preaching conference in Woodbridge, VA, I heard James Emery White speak. He is the president of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. In his book, Long Night’s Journey into Day, he tells this story: