Summary: The story of Pentecost tells us not only of how the church was born, but also how the church has continued to outreach and outdo herself because of the power, influence and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
WHEN THE CHURCH WAS BORN
Text: Acts 2:1-21
I read the story about a football player whose performance exceeded the expectation of others. "…. In the last two minutes of the game, with the score against his team, makes a touchdown. He runs faster than his legs can carry him, and farther than he has ever dreamed of running. When he comes out, the coach says to him, "I didn’t know you had it in you." He replies, "I didn’t. I was picked up and carried by something outside myself." That is the experience that men have when they completely outreach and outdo themselves". (George A. Buttrick ed. The Interpreter’s Bible. Volume 9. 1954. Theodore P. Ferris. "The Acts Of The Apostles: Exposition". Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1987 the thirty-ninth printing, p. 40). The story of Pentecost tells us not only of how the church was born, but also how the church has continued to outreach and outdo herself because of the influence and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
It is truly interesting to know that Pentecost Sunday falls in harmony with the Homecoming celebration of Ebenezer United Methodist Church today. Pentecost marks the birthday of the Christian Church. In the church, when we celebrate homecoming, we are celebrating the history of that church. When we celebrate Homecoming, we look at where we have been, where we are and where we are going. When we celebrate Homecoming, in the spirit of Pentecost, we are looking at far more than just the anniversary of the church, we are looking how the church has continued to outreach and outdo herself because of the influence and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. When we celebrate Homecoming, we are reminded of our continuing journey and the power, influence and inspiration of the Holy Spirit that helps us to continue the journey.
THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
There is power in the Holy Spirit, because Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to indwell in the lives of Christians. The Holy Spirit dwells in the lives of Christians and guides them daily in such a way as to continually renew their hearts. This process means that we must cooperate with God’s Spirit. “God’s plan for you is nothing short of a new heart. If you were a car, God would want control of your engine. If you were a computer, God would claim the software and the hard drive. If you were an airplane, he’d take his seat in the cockpit. But you are a person, so God wants to change your heart. …God wants you to be just like Jesus. He wants you to have a heart like his. …. God loves you just the way that you are, but he refuse to leave you that way.” (Max Lucado. Just Like Jesus. Nashville: Word Publishing, 1998, pp. 2-3). It is God’s desire to work with us through out our lifetime to the point that we reflect the image of Christ. Again, that means that there must be cooperation on our part. It is God who wills and works in us to will and act according to His good purpose (Phillipians 2:13). We must ask ourselves how well we are "keeping in step with God’s Spirit" (Galatians 5:25) so that God can continually make our hearts new.
There is power in the Holy Spirit, because where the Spirit is there is freedom (Second Corinthians 3:17). The power and the freedom that we find in the Spirit comes in the form of our surrendering our will and our own understanding to God’s Holy Spirit. "Trust in the Lord with all you heart and lean not to your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths" (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV). The wind blows and we do cannot always understand where it is coming from or where it is going (John 3:8). We can hear the wind and see the effects of the wind as it blows and moves blades of grass on the ground, leaves on branches in the trees and the jingles of wind chimes. It was on the Day of Pentecost that a sound like a mighty rushing wind came from heaven and filled the house where all were sitting (Acts 2:2). It was on the Day of Pentecost that God poured out His Spirit on all people (Acts 2:17). True freedom cannot be found until we yield ourselves to the guidance of the power, inspiration and the influence of the Holy Spirit.
Someone has wisely said what it takes to find freedom in the power of the Holy Spirit. "It costs much to obtain the power of the Spirit. It costs self-surrender and humiliation and the yielding up of the most precious things to God. It costs the perseverance of long waiting and the faith of strong trust. But when we are really in that power we shall find this difference, that whereas before it was hard for us to do the easiest things, now it is easy for us to do the hardest things. James Hervey, the friend of the Wesleys at Oxford, describes the change which took place in him through his anointing by the Spirit: that while his preaching was once like the firing of an arrow, all the speed and force thereof depending on the strength of his arm in the bending of the bow, now it was like the firing of a rifle ball, the whole force depending upon the powder back of the ball, and needing only a finger-touch to let it off". (A. J. Gordon as quoted by Walter B. Knight. Knight’s Master Book Of New Illustrations. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Company, 1986, p. 292).