[Note: Joleen and I traded places today. Joleen preached at Petersburg and Alexandria/Barree and I preached at Wesley Chapel, Ennisville, and Faith. We each repeated our sermons from Pentecost Sunday two weeks ago to give our churches another perspective on the importance of Pentecost. You can read Joleen’s Pentecost Sunday sermon here: Can We Talk? And, you can read my Pentecost Sunday sermon here: Power for Mission. Because the end of my message was pretty different this time around, I’m posting the new sermon here.]
Today is Pentecost Sunday.
Just before Jesus returned to heaven, he instructed his disciples,
“Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you what he promised.
Remember, I have told you about this before. John baptized with water,
but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts
I imagine the disciples had a pretty high level of expectation as
the Feast of Pentecost drew closer. Major things happened during the
recent feasts, including Jesus dying on Passover, being buried on Feast
of Unleavened Bread, and rising from the dead on Feast of Firstfruits.
Now, as the Feast of Pentecost draws closer, they are filled with
anticipation about “the promise of the Father.”
God poured out his Spirit to empower his people for ministry in the world.
“But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere–in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1.8)
So, let’s talk about our response to God’s Spirit, God’s work in our lives …
>> Follow the Teacher (Holy Spirit)!
The Holy Spirit is our Teacher and Guide.
“And when you are brought to trial in the synagogues and before rulers and authorities, don’t worry about what to say in your defense, for the Holy Spirit will teach you what needs to be said even as you are standing there.” (Luke 12.11-12)
“But when the Father sends the Counselor as my representative–and by the Counselor I mean the Holy Spirit–he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I myself have told you.” (John 14.26; see also 1 John 2.27b)
>> Be bold and courageous!
Compare the disciples on the pages of the four Gospels with the same disciples on the pages of the book of Acts. In the Gospels, the disciples are uncertain, immature, and timid. But in Acts, they’re bold and courageous.
For example, one day the disciples were called in and threatened to stop proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. Instead of being depressed and discouraged, they were grateful for the opportunity to suffer for their Savior. I especially love the end of their prayer: “And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give your servants great boldness in their preaching. Send your healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” (Acts 4.29-30)
What happened in response? “After this prayer, the building where they were meeting shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. And they preached God’s message with boldness.” (Acts 4.31)
>> Transform your community!
God has called and empowered us to transform our community for Jesus Christ! That was Jesus’ mission, and it’s ours too …
“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, because the LORD has appointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to announce that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the LORD’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair. For the LORD has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory.” (Isaiah 61.1-3)
>> Care for the poor!
Pentecost is about harvest. And with harvest, there’s also a connection with helping the poor.
“When you harvest your crops, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. It is the same with your grape crop–do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners who live among you, for I, the LORD, am your God. (Leviticus 19.9-10; see also Leviticus 23.22)
“And all the believers met together constantly and shared everything they had. They sold their possessions and shared the proceeds with those in need.” (Acts 2.44-45)
>> Be the church!
I imagine when most of us think of the word “church,” we tend to envision a church building. But in reality, the church is not a building; the church is a people. Paul wrote, “Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3.16)
Praying the Scriptures:
“Show me the path where I should walk, O Lord; point out the right road for me to follow.” (Psalm 25.4)
“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.” (Psalm 143.10)