ACTS, The Acts of God
Believers, for whatever reason, are somewhat afraid to talk about the power of the Holy Spirit. I’m not sure why, unless it is because some who claim to be of God, “full of the spirit”, have made a spectacle of themselves. Some have used God’s name in drawing attention mostly to their ministries with impure motivations in order to make a lavish living preying on the emotions of others. Could that be it?
We have seen it happen in many religious movements over the decades of our own lives. But those do not last. What remains is what is clearly stated in God’s Word. For His Word and promises do not change. Ever. Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit, another Friend, like Him, who WAS a part of Him, to help us.
What peace to know that when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and our Lord, He gives us a part of the Trinity to live IN us Who is HIS Holy Spirit. There is power in His Spirit, the same power that raised Jesus from the grave! There are no spiritual calisthenics we have to do to receive His Holy Spirit. It is simply a gift from Him to help us and to guide our living and behaviors because of His love for us and others.
No man can conjure Him up, emotionally make it happen or purchase Him. His Spirit is of God and of Jesus, the Three-in-One. God-Jesus-Holy Spirit. We teach children about this gift using an apple as an example. The apple has a skin, flesh and core. You can peel away the skin from the apple but it is still apple. You can cut away the flesh from the apple, but it is still apple. You can see the core when you finish the process of cutting an apple to eat. Even the core is still apple. Core, Skin, Flesh…all still apple. Separate but One.
God’s Holy Spirit is in all who believe in Him. God’s Holy Spirit was upon Jesus and in Jesus when He came to earth. Now, with Jesus back in heaven, sitting at the right hand of God, His Holy Spirit is poured out, as promised by Jesus, over the people who are gathered after the resurrection waiting for the promise. They do not know what to expect, they just know it will happen.
The followers, men and women, had all gathered for the feast of Pentecost. They were all in one place, in unity, as we read in Acts chapter one yesterday. That’s when it happened! God’s Holy Spirit, promised by Jesus, came and spread through all hearts and minds “like a wildfire” and sounded like “a strong gale-force wind”.
Full of God’s Holy Spirit Jesus’ followers were given the ability to speak in the language of all who had gathered in Jerusalem for the event. “Devout pilgrims from all over the world” had come and needed to hear about Jesus. The Holy Spirit jump-started the revolution of God’s church in men AND woman with the ability to tell the story in their own language so they could understand the Truth completely. Now the Pilgrims from other nations could go back and tell Truth in their own hometowns!
What a miracle! Do you see what is happening here? This is not an emotional experience but the power of the Holy Spirit living and working within men and women who have given all to follow Christ and live to tell the Truth about Him.
Through God’s prophets, He predicted the actions of His Holy Spirit and this resonates with those gathered in Jerusalem. Peter, (“the Rock upon which I build my church”, says Jesus) begins is first, bold “sermon” by connecting Scripture that they know with the Truth they do not yet know. The Holy Spirit is promised to give us just the right words at the right time in the right Spirit. Perfect example!
Enough talk, let’s pray, read and see what God’s Spirit says to us today!
Acts 2, The Message
1-4 When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.
5-11 There were many Jews staying in Jerusalem just then, devout pilgrims from all over the world. When they heard the sound, they came on the run. Then when they heard, one after another, their own mother tongues being spoken, they were thunderstruck. They couldn’t for the life of them figure out what was going on, and kept saying, “Aren’t these all Galileans? How come we’re hearing them talk in our various mother tongues?
Parthians, Medes, and Elamites;
Visitors from Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia,
Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,
Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene;
Immigrants from Rome, both Jews and proselytes;
Even Cretans and Arabs!
“They’re speaking our languages, describing God’s mighty works!”
12 Their heads were spinning; they couldn’t make head or tail of any of it. They talked back and forth, confused: “What’s going on here?”
13 Others joked, “They’re drunk on cheap wine.”
Peter Speaks Up
14-21 That’s when Peter stood up and, backed by the other eleven, spoke out with bold urgency: “Fellow Jews, all of you who are visiting Jerusalem, listen carefully and get this story straight. These people aren’t drunk as some of you suspect. They haven’t had time to get drunk—it’s only nine o’clock in the morning. This is what the prophet Joel announced would happen:
“In the Last Days,” God says,
“I will pour out my Spirit
on every kind of people:
Your sons will prophesy,
also your daughters;
Your young men will see visions,
your old men dream dreams.
When the time comes,
I’ll pour out my Spirit
On those who serve me, men and women both,
and they’ll prophesy.
I’ll set wonders in the sky above
and signs on the earth below,
Blood and fire and billowing smoke,
the sun turning black and the moon blood-red,
Before the Day of the Lord arrives,
the Day tremendous and marvelous;
And whoever calls out for help
to me, God, will be saved.”
22-28 “Fellow Israelites, listen carefully to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man thoroughly accredited by God to you—the miracles and wonders and signs that God did through him are common knowledge—this Jesus, following the deliberate and well-thought-out plan of God, was betrayed by men who took the law into their own hands, and was handed over to you. And you pinned him to a cross and killed him. But God untied the death ropes and raised him up. Death was no match for him. David said it all:
I saw God before me for all time.
Nothing can shake me; he’s right by my side.
I’m glad from the inside out, ecstatic;
I’ve pitched my tent in the land of hope.
I know you’ll never dump me in Hades;
I’ll never even smell the stench of death.
You’ve got my feet on the life-path,
with your face shining sun-joy all around.
29-36 “Dear friends, let me be completely frank with you. Our ancestor David is dead and buried—his tomb is in plain sight today. But being also a prophet and knowing that God had solemnly sworn that a descendant of his would rule his kingdom, seeing far ahead, he talked of the resurrection of the Messiah—‘no trip to Hades, no stench of death.’ This Jesus, God raised up. And every one of us here is a witness to it. Then, raised to the heights at the right hand of God and receiving the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, he poured out the Spirit he had just received. That is what you see and hear. For David himself did not ascend to heaven, but he did say,
God said to my Master, “Sit at my right hand
Until I make your enemies a stool for resting your feet.”
“All Israel, then, know this: There’s no longer room for doubt—God made him Master and Messiah, this Jesus whom you killed on a cross.”
37 Cut to the quick, those who were there listening asked Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers! Brothers! So now what do we do?”
38-39 Peter said, “Change your life. Turn to God and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is targeted to you and your children, but also to all who are far away—whomever, in fact, our Master God invites.”
40 He went on in this vein for a long time, urging them over and over, “Get out while you can; get out of this sick and stupid culture!”
41-42 That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.
What do we learn?
–God’s Holy Spirit comes to reside in all who have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. There is no “trick” to receiving His Spirit. It is a gift to all who believe. His Holy Spirit lives in us and becomes a part of who we are in Him.
–We also live in a “sick and stupid culture”. Get out and rise above it with Jesus as Savior and Lord of our lives! Follow His Holy Spirit’s guidance!
–Living by His Holy Spirit means surrender to all that the world has to offer. In return there is peace, renewed spirit, peace, restored joy, peace and an unconditional love that makes you giddy and assured. And did I mention peace? When our minds are focused and “stayed” on Jesus, the peace from His Holy Spirit calms our troubled hearts and teaches us consistently in all that are best for us?
–The best “altar call” ever expressed is boldly spoken with urgency from Peter who has the power of the Holy Spirit leading him. The Holy Spirit through Peter answers the world’s desperate question, “What now do we do?” We are a mess, we have done wrong, we have missed the boat, what must we do to turn life around?
Peter answers, “Change your life. Turn to God and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is targeted to you and your children, but also to all who are far away—WHOMEVER, in fact, our Master God invites.” –Peter, by the Power of the Holy Spirit in him.
Peter gets to the heart of it all with, “Get out while you can; get out of this sick and stupid culture!”
–“That day about 3,000 took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up.”
–We finish this passage with the beauty, foundation and commitment of the new marriage of Jesus, the Groom and the Bride of Christ, His newly formed church:
“They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.”
God’s Word, Shared lives, Communion Meals, Prayer…Foundational and Effective to Honoring and Loving God and Loving Others.
Dear Heavenly Father,
You have taught us much this morning as we read about the beginnings of Your established church, men and women, devoted to You and to each other, living fully and boldly by Your Holy Spirit’s power and guidance. Thank you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit for living and working in us and in me. Continue to transform me to be and do all that You intended…by the power of Your Holy Spirit in me.
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! …
43-45 Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met.
46-47 They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.
CAN we get an AMEN??