Sunday, May 19, 2013
The Power of Pentecost and the Clarity of the Gospel
Acts 2:7 Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?
Acts 2:8 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?
It was the day of Pentecost and the humble band of Jesus followers had been waiting and praying for ten days in an upper room in Jerusalem. They didn't know what it was they were waiting for -- but they were being obedient to Jesus and so, they waited. Suddenly something happened that no one had ever before experienced and the entire place was filled with the sound of a rushing mighty wind and tongues of fire landed on each of them -- but then they all began to speak and tell the good news of Jesus Christ. The miracle was that everyone present began to hear them speaking in their language. In that very moment the power of the Holy Spirit unleashed the spread of the gospel to every corner of the earth. For the first time people from all over the known world heard the news about Jesus in their own language, and it was with such clarity that they had to respond. Over 3000 people spontaneously were baptized into faith in Jesus Christ that day.
The Church was birthed at Pentecost long ago, in the midst of power and clarity of the gospel. In just a short period of time I will be leaving my home to go to church and worship the Lord. We will celebrate Pentecost Sunday and yet will we join into the experience of that powerful first Pentecost? In a day and age where churches are struggling to survive is there something simple that we could take away from this very first Pentecost?
First of all, the people of God took the time to pray. They were obedient to what Jesus Christ had called them to do and they were willing to wait in humble obedience for what God wanted to accomplish. I think this is the hardest thing for us to do these days. Waiting is not one of the gifts of this society. We are all in hurry, we don't want to waste any time, and surely God could hurry up and do things on our schedule! And if God knows what we need before we ever ask him -- then why in the world would we need to spend a lot of time in prayer and waiting on him?! And yet, I believe that God is still asking his people to be willing to set aside time to pray and to wait upon him and his moving. Too often we are trying to do everything on our own. It is when we wait on him that we have the privilege of experiencing his power.
Second -- the church needs to experience God's power. Because we are impatient we try to manufacture the power on our own. Somehow we think that if we have the best worship music, or the best sermon, or the coolest videos that we will experience the power of the presence of God. I'm not sure that God cares all too much about that stuff. I think what God cares about is a willing heart that is open to following him. This means that we are willing to put aside our personal desires and sit back and watch the Holy Spirit do his work. God gets all the credit in this -- not us! We simply become obedient vessels through which the power of the Holy Spirit can flow. And this is God's plan and desire for the church. Our job is to know him and allow ourselves to be obedient vessels to the movement of God's Holy Spirit.
Third -- we need to present a clear message. The "Good News" that we have to share is all about Jesus Christ. This is what they discovered on the day of Pentecost. Too often we try to make things difficult. It's not that hard to share the story of Jesus who was willing to come to this earth to provide a path for all of humanity to be restored in their relationship with God the Father. Often I have had people tell me that they would have no idea how to lead someone to the Lord. Just share your story! The story on the day of Pentecost was simple and clear. Through the miracle of language, the whole world understood it and they responded.
What a combination; power and clarity! What a difference this would make if we experienced these in our churches, but also in our personal lives today.
Lord, may I be patient and wait upon you. Amen.