Power of Pentecost
When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness. Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. Acts 4:18-21. 23-33
In your life today, how will you reconcile your life with God? How will you reconcile your life with others?
Power of Pentecost
I will now call to mind the works of the Lord,
and will declare what I have seen.
By the word of the Lord his works are made;
and all his creatures do his will.
How desirable are all his works,
and how sparkling they are to see!
All these things live and remain for ever;
each creature is preserved to meet a particular need.
All things come in pairs, one opposite to the other,
and he has made nothing incomplete.
Each supplements the virtues of the other.
Who could ever tire of seeing his glory? Sirach 42:15-25
In your life today, how will the gift in your hand fulfill the works of the Lord?
Power of Pentecost
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,
‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation.. Luke 2:25-30
In your life today, where or when have you seen or experienced God’s salvation?
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…many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy… cast out demons…and do many deeds of power in your name…? Then I will declare to them I never knew you… you evildoers. Matthew 7:22-29 Clearly, what we see and or hear rarely tells the full story. We sometimes go through life either not recognizing or forgetting to read the fine print and fall victim to judging a book by its cover. Yet, rest assured no one fools God. God has given us the gift of the Spirit to be used in many ways, prophecy, healing, teaching, preaching etc. Along with those gifts, God has given the gift of praise so that anything we do according to the gifts God has given is done to the glory of his name. The gift of the Holy Spirit is not to be abused. So, let us continually examine ourselves and go humbly before the Lord and work in order that the content of what God sees on the inside reveals the full story of a foundation that is in Christ and not go forth merely as a cover for the world. For God is always reading the fine print.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 2:11-22). Prayer is always a good way to sustain the spirit and this one from Ephesians I believe is particularly good to embrace. The writer commends the readers and encourages them to focus on their relationship with God in order that the gift of the spirit of God within will continually guide and strengthen them.
Often the issue we have in this journey is whether or not we will allow God’s love to guide and strengthen our resolve to do the work God has called us to do. Our focus on the spirit within will help us stay a course that is pleasing to God. This is not to say that the course will be perfect by human standards. Rather it is a course that involves praise and thanksgiving for our blessings (including hardships & lessons learned), confession and repentance for our mis-steps (including disobedience to God’s word) and our testimony to the glory of Christ to which God in his grace heeds. Thus, when we lose focus (as we sometimes do) in this journey, God’s discipline and mercy will help us regain our focus on his spirit within and move us forward.
Most assuredly, if blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe, faith then is confidence in God. True confidence nurtures expectation. Expectation shapes our hope in Christ and hope does not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us (Romans 5). Pentecost, the gift of the Holy Spirit, is given to all those who have faith in the Son sent by the Father. As his disciples today, we fulfill the scripture when we witness and testify to his love, faithfulness and truth, and the ministry of Christ continues to make available to every one who believes, the reconciliation of our lives to the Father and the Son. And through the Holy Spirit our 1 day recognition of this gift becomes a 366 day celebration of life redeemed in the spirit of truth, giving all glory to God. Amen.
“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.” Acts 2:1-21
This right relationship, what Christ has been giving, living and expressing in his actions since God sent him to be with us; is simply this – that we love God and love one another as Christ has loved us. It is a relationship likened as to a good Shepherd to his sheep, a true vine that nourishes its branches, and friend who is a confidant. After he has given to his disciples all that his Father has made known to him, Jesus emphasis on this relationship of love culminates into his final discourse; what is known as the “High Priestly Prayer”, before he is taken out of this world. He does not pray for our perfection. He does not pray for our guilt and shame. He does not pray for our atonement. He prays for our sanctification. Jesus petitions God to sanctify (make holy) his disciples and those who come to believe through their word. From that moment on we who know God’s love, live God’s love among one another and make God’s love known through his son to all who will come to believe after us, become a holy nation made one in Christ. As we continue to live in fulfillment of the scripture, how incredibly blessed we are to be in this love relationship with the Father, Son and the advocate which he promised to send, his Holy Spirit, the one love relationship that I believe Judas could not receive, because he did not have faith.
Consider for a moment a time when you may have felt hurt or betrayed by someone and yet as you look back on life you find yourself in a better place because of that experience. There is no way of knowing with absolute certainty what Judas’ thoughts may have been, but we can not argue that he must have had some questions and struggles within him even into his death, which in my mind is a tragedy. We know that Judas questions the use of the oil used to anoint Jesus feet. Perhaps he also questions Christ’s tactics and motives and particularly through out these last days struggles with the perceived rise of Christ among common humanity. Judas finds himself in between his relationship with the world and the spiritual relationship with Christ. He is having a difficult time seeing beyond the vehicle that is the body of Christ. Remember Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Is not Judas portrayed to be in a place where we sometimes find our selves; unable to see beyond our present circumstances questioning God’s ways? The reality for us today is that when Judas died those questions, concerns and doubts did not die with him. Ultimately Judas had to make a decision and so do we. The scripture had to be fulfilled and Judas made the choice that led him to a sacrifice for death and yet leads us to the one sacrificed for life. Judas could be anyone of us or someone we know, but Judas’ dilemma doesn’t have to be our dilemma. The good news is that we have something that Judas did not have, the gift of the Holy Spirit. Are we using the gifts of the Holy Spirit so that the scripture can be fulfilled in our own lives?
“…for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” Conversion is a process. It is the act of converting, often as a result of a revelation, a moment or event of sudden insight. Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus was a revelation of Christ. Paul’s process of conversion began with his study of the scripture and the law from a changed point of view made known through that revelation. Many of us experience moments or events of sudden insight that cause us to pause and change direction in our lives. However, I believe true conversion is not merely an external or physical change in direction. True conversion must also involve a change in how we think and what we believe because our thoughts guide our actions. As a Christian I have come to understand that what I believe is not based on human perception of who I am, but rather who God has called me to be. Conversion takes time. It took Paul three years of study and a lifetime of journeying. Thus, in reality, it’s a never-ending process. Throughout this journey we can’t be discouraged! We are not perfect. We make mistakes and sometimes make unhealthy decisions. God knows the heart of his own and he will never give up on us. So too, we must never give in to the mis-steps. I believe God is well pleased with us when we confess, repent and move on in Christ, because freedom through Christ is our reward. One of the most poignant movie scenes for me is from The Shawshank Redemption (1994). Morgan Freeman’s character is brought before the parole board for the last time. After 40 years of saying what he thought the parole board wanted to hear, ‘Ellis Boyd Redding’ finally reaches the manifestation of his own conversion; freedom in every sense of the word.
Revelation of Christ; Conversion; Freedom through Christ; A Shawshank Redemption