- “The greatest longing in the church today, stated both directly and indirectly, is the quest for something more than dull religion.” ~Lloyd Ogilvie
- “What I hear from people today is an agnosticism about the Holy Spirit. Not disbelief, but an aching, ‘I just don’t know’ – and a longing to understand who He is and how to live in the flow of His power.” ~ Lloyd Ogilvie
Something new is taking place on Pentecost; it is the completion of something old that was promised ~ The Holy Spirit! Three symbols accompany the giving of the H.S., each symbol telling us something about what it means to have the H.S. dwell within believers: The sound of wind, fire, praise.
The Wind. One word translates wind and spirit in the Bible. When the breath of God is mentioned, it is a reminder of the Spirit of God… One of my favorite chapters of the Bible, perhaps someday I’ll be bold enough to preach a sermon on it, Ez. 37, a valley of dry bones comes to life ~ it’s a vision of God renewing, recreating, breathing on the bones and bringing new life… Ez. 37:9 Ezekiel cries out, “Thus says the Lord God, ‘Come from the four winds, O breath, and breath on these slain, that they may live.’” The dry bones represent those that are defeated and dejected and need the Spirit of God to live again… In that most beautiful of chapters, John 3, Jesus speaks to Nicodemus the Pharisee who comes to Jesus at night inquiring how to live, and Jesus says, “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘you must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes or where it goes. So is everyone born of the Spirit.’” Wind and Spirit are the same word
Acts 2, on the Day of Pentecost, an outward sign is the sound of the wind. When the wind rushes, you can’t help but notice. Decades ago, I was in a tent on the slopes of Mt. Baker, trying to sleep a few hours before rising to attempt to summit the mountain. The wind came up so fierce it blew the wall of the domed tent flat across the sleeping bag, it seemed as if it went on for hours. Suddenly it was like God flipped a switch, and it was instantly gone…///// … The sound of the wind on the day of Pentecost is an outward sign of the coming of the Spirit, which soon becomes an inward stirring, as one person puts it, “an inward rushing of new thought, emotion, and will.” Everything changes when the Spirit dwells within… like Ezekiel’s dry bones, the Spirit recreates life!!!!
Fire is the next image. READ Acts 2:3. “seemed to be tongues of fire” I don’t know exactly what they saw…but by equating fire with the Holy Spirit, images of burning up, cleansing, purifying come to mind. Luke 3:17: “His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.” We all love the role of the Holy Spirit when we think of supernatural peace, gentle correction, confidence, but we also need the purification of fire. Jesus thundered in Luke 12:49, “I have come to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled.”
The sending of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost is the fulfillment of the divine fire of purification and cleansing. Something new is taking place in this scripture. The Holy Spirit makes appearances throughout the O.T., there are many references to the H.S., but now on the day of Pentecost the H.S. becomes a constant indwelling presence for those who believe in Jesus Christ and accept his offer of forgiveness.
I absolutely believe the Coming of the H.S. on the Day of Pentecost is a one time event in history that is never to be repeated again
~ like the birth of Christ, that is the only time God became human
~ like the cross of Christ, forgiveness is secured once and for all no other sacrifices needed
~ like the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a one time forever event,
~ like the ascension of Christ, he rose in the clouds and he will return
and now the coming of the Spirit. One time. Something prophesied of old, but now come to fulfillment on that first Day of Pentecost after the Ascension of Jesus. There are many details in this scripture that are never duplicated… the entire event smacks of a new beginning as the disciples are called to carry on the ministry of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit… We still constantly need a fresh visitation of the Spirit, a renewal of our hearts. The Spirit is already here, so our need of the spirit is like when we sin and need to ask for forgiveness based on that long ago event of Jesus dying on the cross. When overwhelmed and discouraged we need a renewing of the H.S. The need for the H.S. is like the wind, when sheltering in your house during a violent northeaster you go back to the basics of life. When life is stripped away of our patterns we long for the simple pleasures… our priorities are reevaluated…. We need to be reaffirmed that we are loved, we have value… when your spirit feels far away from God, pray for the H.S. to renew your heart, purge you like fire, get rid of the chaff of life, so you can rediscover the promise of God’s presence.
The final sign of the H.S. comes after the Spirit indwells those gathered: Praise. Acts 2:4-11 describes the miracle of speaking in different languages so that people from all nations could understand. v. 11 says the languages are all praises to God! The list of languages includes nations around the Mediterranean. The message of this beautiful miracle of communication: Jesus is for all people of all nations of all ethnic backgrounds. Guess what! I have more opportunity to share my faith with non believers when I am excited about my faith in Jesus. The indwelling power of the H.S. causes us to praise the Lord which gives us opportunity to serve his greatest purpose of sharing the message of salvation with others. If I am bored with my faith, if I am only going through the motions, nobody cares what I have to say. If I am excited, if I am content, that’s when others will want to be around me. One of the great purposes of the Holy Spirit, to share the message of salvation to all… This is a miracle unlike any other before or after…
May the wind and fire of the Spirit fill us with the transforming power of praise. I feel lost when I find myself angry at the world, wanting to argue on FB about what is said, how to meet the challenge of the current protests and riots. A desire to praise lies deep within each of us, a longing to be whole and complete. We must let go of everything that distracts us from a full relationship with God and puts up walls between people.
When the crowds heard the apostles praise God in their own languages, something stirred their hearts. There is something about authentic praise that causes others to wonder, question. In the last two verses of today’s scripture, some people are drawn to the praise and others dismiss the apostles words as babbling READ Acts 2:12-13. Next week Peter speaks to both groups, assuring the one to explore deeper to discover more of Christ, and inviting the other group to reconsider their dismissal.
Praising will have different responses to our enthusiasm for God. I’m lost in knowing how to respond to the world right now. I don’t even always know what to do in the church right now. So my prayer: may I be renewed in the Spirit. As Jesus died on the cross and I need to be renewed by the cleansing power of forgiveness over and over, so the Holy Spirit was sent on the Day of Pentecost and I need to invite once again to be renewed and cleansed so I can praise God with a spirit of optimism, expectation, joy, delight… as we praise the Lord, opportunities will be created to share our joy with others.
Is the statement I read at the beginning true? “What I hear from people today is an agnosticism about the Holy Spirit. Not disbelief, but an aching, ‘I just don’t know’ – and a longing to understand who He is and how to live in the flow of His power.”
I say it’s true. The fullness of the Spirit is already here. The gift was given for all on the Day of Pentecost! We need to ask, we need to receive, we need to believe. If you are struggling right now emotionally, socially, spiritually, uncertain which way to turn, invite the Spirit to renew you like the wind, change you, transform you like fire, so you can praise again. By the power of the Holy Spirit you can be a different person!
The biggest lie is that people can’t change, I am who I am. That’s a lie of Satan. If that were true, Jesus would never have given the spirit. Jesus said to Nicodemus the Spirit/wind it comes nobody knows how or where, but you can be born again. If you have never received Christ as your Lord and Savior, pray a prayer of salvation, accepting God’s gift of the Holy Spirit to renew you, change you. You can change. You can be a different person. You can find purpose and identity in Jesus Christ through the power of His Spirit.
If you are discouraged, confused by our present world, you can change too. Not by digging in your heels, but by inviting the Lord to dwell within you by His Spirit. The invitation is constant, just as you can ask forgiveness a 1000 times, so you can ask the Holy Spirit to renew you and change you.
End with a prayer for those desiring to be changed by the Lord: Lord, fill me with your spirit of praise so I can live again. Make these old bones live. Fill my heart with life again through your Spirit. Cleanse me of my negative thinking, my depression, my temptation to hole up and quit, purify my Spirit that I might be one with you, filled with your power to praise you, and learning to love those around me with a supernatural love. Amen.