6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: This Pentecost sermon emphasizes that the power of the Holy Spirit is greater than the evil in the world. Congregants are called to intentionally plan to come together and received the power of the Spirit.

Scripture: Acts 2:1-21 NLT

1 On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. 2 Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. 3 Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. 4 And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.

5 At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. 6 When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.

7 They were completely amazed. “How can this be?” they exclaimed. “These people are all from Galilee, 8 and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages! 9 Here we are—Parthians, Medes, Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, the province of Asia, 10 Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the areas of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism), Cretans, and Arabs. And we all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!” 12 They stood there amazed and perplexed. “What can this mean?” they asked each other.

13 But others in the crowd ridiculed them, saying, “They’re just drunk, that’s all!”

14 Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd, “Listen carefully, all of you, fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem! Make no mistake about this. 15 These people are not drunk, as some of you are assuming. Nine o’clock in the morning is much too early for that. 16 No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel:

17 ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. 18 In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike—and they will prophesy. 19 And I will cause wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below—blood and fire and clouds of smoke. 20 The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and glorious day of the LORD arrives. 21 But everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.’

Have you ever talked yourself into something and then regretted it? Most of us have. I am a little afraid of snakes. I have become convinced that black snakes will drive away poisonous snakes. Jane and I lived in the Gilkey parsonage in rural Rutherford Co., and like many older, rural homes there was a shed behind the house. I kept my tools, Christmas decorations, my wild bird seed, and other miscellaneous junk stored there. I was concerned that copper heads would hide close to the bird seed. So, a few years ago I started telling people that I wished I had a black snake to keep the copper heads out of my shed.

One day I was at the Gilboa church when I saw a fairly long black snake. I had parked my beat-up old pickup nearby. After having convinced myself that I wanted a black snake, I decided to try to catch this one. I took a long stick and flipped it toward my truck. I did this a couple of times until the snake lay just behind it. Then I went around, rolled up the windows, put the key in the ignition, then with one more flip I tossed the snake into the bed of my truck. I jumped in, raced home, and backed up to the shed. When I got out I was surprised that the snake was still in the truck bed. I am sure the snake didn’t want to come toward me or the open yard, and when it saw my shed it went over the tail gate and under the crack of the door like it was going home.

I was pleased with myself. Now I didn’t have to worry that a poisonous snake might be in my shed. On the other hand, I knew the blacksnake was there somewhere, and I was scared of it too. Every time I started to go in the shed I stopped at the door and eased it open. I looked carefully around, then stuck my hand in to turn on the light. Then, I would open the door all the way and look all around before going in, and I stayed anxious because I might step on it or uncover it curled around my tools. Eventually I wished I had never put the snake in my shed.

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