Mike Gerhardt, 10-20-19, Pentecost. Read Acts 2:1-4. Pictures are said to be worth a thousand words. One picture shows only the disciples but remember, there were 120 men AND women receiving the holy spirit. Fire has represented God many times from fire coming down from heaven to consume Abrahams's sacrifice; to Moses speaking to the burning bush, to the Israelites witnessing the mountain of God on fire, God sometimes uses fire to be a sign of His presence. Different people have different experiences when the Holy Spirit comes upon them. I would argue that we have amongst us pilot light Christians as well as full flame Christians. In my apartment in Bellville NJ, I had a stubborn gas stove that had a pilot light that would frequently go out. I was lighting it to make a gourmet meal when the phone rang. It was my friend saying they would be a little late (by the way that is when the phone was corded and you had to go to the phone to answer it) Well, of course, I left the oven gas on and went back to lighting it. Need I say more. That night I entertained without a head full of singed hair. I have heard someone describe a believer as really on fire for the Lord. John the Baptist may have been described that way. Jesus would baptize his followers with the Holy Spirit and with fire. We are to have the fire of God in us. They were longing. Pentecost, 120 in the upper room. Acts 1:5 Jesus: John baptized with water, but in a few days, you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Not many days turned into ten. They were patient. But the baptism of the Holy Spirit wasn't just for the 120, it was for all who believed. Let's look at the Samaritans. They were receptive. Acts 8:14-17 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because… had not yet come on any of them… Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. Samaritans and the Jews hated each other. Instead of starting a separate sect, God sent Peter and John to Samaria. They were then connected as a family with believers in Jerusalem. They were to become one in the Spirit. Let's look at Saul. He was hostile. Ananias is told by God to go to Saul. Ananias reminds God in Acts 9:13: Lord I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints (can you send someone else). Acts 9:17-19: Then Ananias went to Saul placed his hands on him and said, Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Scales fell from his eyes, was baptized and immediately he was changed. Paul met some of John's disciples. They were uninformed. Acts 19:1-7 He asked: Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? They said no. He told them to believe in Jesus and baptized them with water and then laid hands on them. Then the Holy Spirit came upon them and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. Gentiles were filled. They were unlikely. Cornelius a Gentile had a vision where God told him to send men to get Peter who also had a vision of unclean foods like pork, snake, and buzzards. God said: Kill and eat. Peter said: Surely not, LORD, 3 times! Three men showed up from Cornelius. The next day Peter and some Jewish Christians visited. Cornelius was God-fearing but it does not say he knew Jesus as Savior. It dawns on Peter that God does not show favoritism but will accept people from every nation. Read Acts 10:44-46 While speaking, the Holy Spirit arrived. Peter didn't even get to the invitation. The circumcised believers were astonished that the Spirit was given to uncircumcised Gentiles. They experienced something when the Holy Spirit came upon them. Now, this experience is not shared by everyone who trusted Jesus or filled with the Holy Spirit. Some had a manifestation, some did not. Yet witnesses recognized a change. God wants us to experience Him. Baptism in the Spirit is the initial filling of the Spirit. Baptism or filling can be interchangeable terms in some churches. In Ephesians 5:18 filling of the Spirit is likened to being drunk with wine just as the crowd said in Acts 2:13. If you've never been drunk with wine, then you don't know the feeling of being controlled by a substance. Do you have an Uncle Joe who may drink to much at a family gathering or a wedding? How do you know when he has had too much? You notice a change in behavior. When God the Father overwhelms you with God the Holy Spirit, you feel His presence and His love like never before, and your behavior changes. When you first heard your child say I love you, how did that make you feel? I hope you are not completely stoic. Most humans react with an emotional high. If I proposed to Janet stoically by saying: there are at least 10 intellectual reasons for us to marry, she would have responded there's only one intellectual response: no way. Young couples experience many emotional highs: he makes me weak in the knees, she makes my head swirl, my palms sweat when I am around her, he makes me giggle and smile from ear to ear. Is it drugs, alcohol or is it love? People immersed in the Holy Spirit were released in praise. They were freed indeed to worship God. Peter, just like at Pentecost, suggested that Cornelius and family be water baptized. As you will discover, God does not have a step by step, check off this and that conversion program. Each individual trusts Jesus to save them and becomes transform according to God, not according to manmade list. No one laid hands on Cornelius and his family yet they received the Holy Spirit. In Acts 11, Peter had a lot of explaining to those who questioned whether Gentiles could even be redeemed. The hindrances to being filled with the Holy Spirit are Doubt. Luke 11:9-13 So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you… Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? … If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him. Fear. What if the Holy Spirit moves me to start dancing in church, putting my hands up in worship or start shouting praise the Lord? What if the Spirit of God overwhelms me to speak to my neighbor about Jesus, gives me the passion to give away my money to the needed or to invite someone to live in my house who is homeless? Trust God to move you to do His will. Inadequacy. Why me? There was a mountain village where a nobleman wanted to serve the townspeople. He decided to build a church. When the people gathered, they marveled at its beauty, but someone asked, where are the lamps? How will the church be lighted? He pointed out brackets in the wall, gave each family a lamp to be hung in its place. Each time you are here, that area will be lighted and each time you are not here, that area will be dark. Whenever you are unable to come, some part of God’s house will be dark. Each believer is important; each one brings their light, their prayers, their love, and their compassion to be shared with others in the Holy Spirit. Worship can be a time for us to rekindle the fire of the Holy Spirit so that our faith is seen lived out in the world. We don’t need to be jumping up and down or rolling in the aisle, but we do need to give the Holy Spirit control of our lives. Pentecost is when the Holy Spirit came down to men and women with tongues of fire, empowering them to not only preach the gospel but to live out their new life for others. Just as a leaf is carried along by the wind on a fall day, so we are carried along by the Holy Spirit. The result was 3000 came to Jesus. Which will be the next scene we will look at in our series.
For now, ask yourself, what does the Holy Spirit mean to me?