Sunday, May 27, 2012

Blueprint for Pentecost

Pentecost 2012
May 27, 2012
Fr. Philip Eberhart

Acts 2:  Blueprint for Pentecost

So often in our lives we know that we have a need – a deep seated, even sometimes desperate need – but we don’t know how to fulfill that need, or even how to get it fulfilled!  Our need of the Holy Spirit in our lives is like that.  In fact at the most basic level of life in Christ, it IS that need!

It’s very common these days to hear people asking the question, “Isn’t there more to life than this?”  People of all walks and stations of life:   rich as well as poor, accomplished people and homeless people, professionals, day laborers, shop clerks and managers – all are in the same boat, searching for that “something more” that makes life worth living.

Well friends, today is the day we celebrate the secret!  We celebrate the birth of the Church of Jesus Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit into the world, poured out on all flesh, by the Father and the Son.  The Secret! 

The Holy Spirit himself is the Secret!  The secret to the abundant life that Jesus promised to his followers in John 10.  The Holy Spirit is the Secret to the motive power for living a victorious life as a follower of Jesus!  The Holy Spirit is not the fancy, optional equipment that makes your car special, no!  The Holy Spirit is the engine, that moves the car down the road.  

I love that Subaru commercial where the dad is leaning into the window and giving instructions about the mirror and the seat belt and the camera pans to a 5 year old in the driver’s seat – and we all panic – then he continues about the cell phone and hands his little girl the keys, only to pan back to the 16 year old, going out for her first time in the car!  That’s how I feel about my role as a pastor.
At some point in your life, you have to take the keys and put them into the ignition and fire this baby, called the Christian Life up!!  But getting “fired up” is the purview – it’s the will and the work of the Holy Spirit himself.  But you need to know that you have a part in this process, just like all of the processes of salvation, God has made you to have a volitional part in the process.  

Last week, Valerie delivered a word that the Lord had laid on her heart for our church body, but that word applies equally to this sermon this morning!  “You have not because you ask not!”  Friends, our Christian experience is anemic.  Anemia is a constant state of weakness, caused by lack of red blood cells which carry needed oxygen to the cells of the body – the carry the fuel for the fire that keeps our body going.

How willing do you think God is that we should be fully alive in Him and fully active in His Kingdom and its work?  Well, God is so willing that He sent his Only Son to die in order to wipe away all the barriers that stood in front of you – that stood between you and Him – that stood between you and asking God for ALL that He has for you!

When Jesus said, “It is finished!” this is what He was talking about.  All the obstacles have been removed – all our sin, all our bondages, all our addictions – the power of them have been wiped out and swept away in the moment of Jesus death.  “It is finished” wiped the slate clean and God reached down in that moment and tore the curtain of separation between His people and His Presence in two!

How anxious is God for you to come and ask Him for ALL that he has for you?  Hmmmm?

It’s interesting though, we are preoccupied with the old toys.  We would rather stay in the sand box and play with the dump trucks there than go and drive the real thing!  We would rather play with the cars on our indoor race track than ask Father for the keys.

Anyone here ever known a 15 year old boy?  How interested are they in cars?  Man, I was obsessed.  I had a subscription to Hot Rod Magazine!  I bought my first car the day I turned 16 – a 1966 Pontiac Tempest – appropriately named!  It had bucket seats and a big motor and could get on down the highway.  I lived, ate, slept and breathed cars.  I had all the accessories, the wheels, the big tires, the stereo tape deck – yeah, I’m that old! – but the most important part of that car was the engine.  The rest was just window dressing!

Friends, how is your engine?

The presence and the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives as Christians isn’t optional equipment!  God has given us the most powerful force in the universe – His Spirit – to move us along in the life He has designed for us to live!!

I want to look at the outline of the 2nd Chapter of Acts this morning as an outline that we can overlay onto our Christian Life.  This overlay will keep us focused on the main things as pertaining to the Holy Spirit and the force and direction of His life in our life and in the midst of His People.

Acts 2:1   Willingness, Availability & Obedience
All that has gone before in Acts, chapter 1, has been the orchestration of these three be-attitudes in the community of the believers and followers of Jesus.  Jesus said, several times, “stay here until…”  -  don’t get out ahead of me, don’t try to help me out by doing things out there in your own power!!  WAIT HERE –
For ten days – from Ascension to Pentecost morning, the whole company of the disciples waited and prayed.  Friends, if we did that for ten days, we would have this kind of Pentecost too!  I’m convinced that the root of our emptiness and powerlessness when it comes to the Holy Spirit is our busy-ness.  Our lack is in our preparation – in our willingness – in our availability to Him – and in our obedience when He calls, when He gives us instructions!

Acts 2:2  The Suddenly
In God’s timetable there is no suddenly!!  It is only from our earthly perception that what God does happens suddenly, but when God comes on the scene, things change!  Rushing, violent wind – tongues of fire – the gift of the Holy Spirit given to each one there – the speaking forth as God gave utterance.  

You know we can make a lot of all the phenomenology around the coming of the Holy Spirit.  Much has been made of the giving of these gifts, especially the gift of tongues.  Most all of the Pentecost experiences recounted in Acts include this phenomenon or the presence of other gifts, such as prophesy and healing, as signs of the coming of the Spirit.
The point is, friends, you will know when this happens.

The word in verse two for violent, only occurs once in the whole of scripture.  Here in Acts 2:2 – and its root only occurs another 4 times.  Its not a common occurrence that you could mistake for something else!!!  It’s like being handed the keys to the car!  Your heart is racing, the blood is pumping, the senses are keen; you put the key in the ignition and turn it and wow!!!  The suddenly happens!!

And then you turn it off.  And you turn it on again.  And you turn it off. And you turn it on again.  WOW?   NO!!!

The engine and the key aren’t just for your fascination in hearing the sound of the engine or turning it on and off to make sure it will start!  The engine is here for a reason.  Look at verse 5:  Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem.
Here is our first hint as to purpose!  The reason the Holy Spirit was sent, wasn’t for the amusement of the Church!  It wasn’t for the edification, the up-building, of the Church!  It was because “there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem!”

You don’t have an engine in your car so you can go out and start it and listen to it run!  Or sit and start it and rev it up, over and over and over.  Wouldn’t that seem a little ridiculous to you if you saw someone doing it?  Just revving up their car but never going anywhere?

The Holy Spirit, the engine in the Christian life, is MOTIVE power!  This MOTOR is given to you because around you live “Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs” – actually lets bring it home. . . around you live residents of Arapahoe, Douglas, Jefferson, and Denver counties, residents of Aurora, Centennial, Lakewood, Littleton, Evergreen, Castle Rock, Parker, Denver, Commerce City, and you can name the neighborhoods and businesses that you work at and live in.

I had opportunity to listen to a young lady in our midst who is being given an vision for an orphanage in India – why? Because she works with a group of Indian people who have a heart for their nation and its plight, who belong to Jesus!  She is able to minister to the people from India, from the comfort of her own home!  

The Holy Spirit is sent, my friends, from God, by Jesus, to you, FOR THEM!!!

Jesus said it in Acts 1, during his preparatory teaching in his last speech ever to the disciples:  His very last words were:  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”  If we combine this with the other picture we have of Jesus last moments with the disciples, from Matthew, we see a clearer picture of our charge, our commission, as well as the power to accomplish it:
Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”  “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age!”

The rest of Acts 2 is Peter telling this story to those people.  If you want to know what to say when God sends you to the people of the world, study what Peter said here in ACTS 2.  It is the gospel in a nutshell.

And then the chapter ends with verses that are very familiar to us here at REZ!

The outcome of the day of Pentecost was a community!  A living, dynamic, growing and alive community of faith.  The rest of Acts is the REST OF THE STORY!  But it begin here in Acts 2.

“And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.  And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.  Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.
And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

Friends, we have not, because we ask not.  Let’s ask dad for the keys!  Amen.

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