Summary: A sermon for Pentecost.
“Dreams and Visions”
A young football player, in the last
two minutes of the game, his team down by 3, makes a touchdown.
He runs faster than his legs can carry him, and farther than he ever dreamed of running.
When the game is over, the coach says to him, “I didn’t know you had it in you.”
The kid replies, “I didn’t.
I was picked up and carried by something outside myself.”
That is the experience that people have when they completely outreach and outdo themselves.
Taking a look at our Scripture Lesson for this morning, Peter is the one who stood up and addressed the crowd, and when he began to speak, they all listened.
He spoke with boldness and with power.
If anyone had said to Peter, “I didn’t know you had it in you,” he surely would have said, “I didn’t. It wasn’t me. It was the Spirit of the Lord speaking through me.”
We read that 3,000 people were saved and baptized that day.
When we are living under the power of the Holy Spirit, as the writer Annie Dillard says, “You’d better put on your helmet and strap yourself in, because you are about to be launched into a life you never thought possible—into the most exciting adventure—into a journey beyond your wildest imagination—into the more!”
If we were to be honest with ourselves, I would imagine that many of us can relate to Peter…at least the old Peter…the pre-Pentecost Peter.
Peter was just an ordinary man when Jesus called him.
He probably had already given up on making much of a difference in this world.
He was uneducated.
He would continue in the family business.
In the whole scheme of things, he probably didn’t feel very important.
But then, he and his brother Andrew were casting a net into the lake, when Jesus came upon them.
“Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of [people].”
At once, Peter and his brother left their nets and followed Jesus.
And they followed Him and followed Him and followed Him…
…for three spectacular years.
Peter was positive that he would never betray Jesus….
…not after all he had seen!
“Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you,” Peter told Jesus a few hours before He was arrested.
But Peter’s confidence in himself was shattered just a few more hours later when he denied even knowing Christ three times!
A few days before Pentecost, Peter was present when the Resurrected Jesus said, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Sometimes a Christian will hear the words: “Your ministry has changed my life.”
And that Christian will think to herself or himself: “Really?
I didn’t do it.
It wasn’t me!!!”
And it really wasn’t.
It was the Spirit of the Lord using him or her as a vessel through which lives are changed, the kingdom of God is increased, and thus the world is made a better place.
A colleague of mine recently got a call from a member of his church, who said he needed to make an appointment to speak with him.
He said he’d take my friend to lunch at a local restaurant.
My colleague became concerned.
The man has a beautiful family, and he hoped nothing was wrong.
There they sat at lunch, and the man said to my friend, “Pastor, I’ve been thinking a lot about a recent sermon of yours entitled: ‘Challenge for Growth.’
Well…as you know, I responded to your challenge, making a commitment to grow in God’s Word by reading and praying with Scripture daily.
So, every morning before work, I get up and read my Bible.
Then I pray with the Scripture passage.
Well, the more I read God’s Word and the more I pray, I feel…I don’t know how to explain it…but I feel God calling me to something more.
I don’t know yet what the more is, but God is definitely calling me to more service, to grow more, to serve God and people more.”
My colleague told me that “A violent and mighty wind of the Holy Spirit blew through that restaurant that day---and the flame of the Holy Spirit ignited souls on fire as much as it did in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago.”
When I was first appointed to serve as your pastor the Evangelism Committee, then headed by Jim and Barbara Jackson, started meeting every Wednesday evening--before Bible study.
And what we were doing was “seeking dreams” and “seeking visions” for the ministry of this church.
Each month we would go door to door to the houses surrounding this building—meeting the people, inviting them to worship with us, praying with them and for them.