Come Holy Spirit
(Acts 1:4-8, 2:1-6; Romans 5:3-5) Warren Payne
From 1976 for about 13 years, our family lived in the Japanese city of Aomori. This city had the population of Christchurch at the time, 300,000, and was famous for at least four things.
- A very difficult Japanese dialect called Tsugaru Ben. Story - An American WW2 soldier visited a chicken farm. The farmer thought his chickens were going to be taken and eaten by the Americans. The farmer could not speak English. But in his local dialect called out, ‘no, no, don’t’, which in the local dialect, was ‘Mainee’ which sounded like “My Hen” in English. So the soldier understood the chickens were the farmers, and did not take the precious chickens! The words were not really understood, but the message was clear – Please don’t take my chickens!! The word in normal Japanese is ‘dame’ which is so different!
- The most snow of any city that size in the Northern Hemisphere.
- The most delicious apples in all Japan and the world’s biggest.
- An annual festival called Nebuta.
Each year beginning in July, the drums would start to beat at the end of our street. All year teams of men constructed the very large floats that would be paraded through the city every night during the first week of August. For that one week in summer the city was always crowded with over one million visitors.
The most widely known explanation is that the festival originated from flutes and drums. The Japanese Shogun used them to attract the attention of the enemy during a battle in the nearby area called Mutsu. Very much like the Trojan Horse story when the Greeks entered the city of Troy, by hiding inside a large replica of a horse and jumping out to attack.
Over 2000 years ago there was a Festival known by the Jews as ‘The Feast of Weeks’. This feast came 50 days after the Festival of the ‘Passover’. Jesus Christ was crucified at Passover time. The ‘Feast of Weeks’ is the second of the three ‘solemn feasts’ that all Jewish males were required to travel to Jerusalem to attend.
At the ‘Festival of the Weeks’ something very special happened that changed the world forever.
Today, we celebrate this event known as Pentecost. Pentecost means 50.
- It was the day the church of God was birthed by the Holy Spirit.
- Also the day the message of salvation through Jesus Christ, was first preached to a crowd of people from at least 16 nations of the world. There was no problem with translation that day!
Acts 2:6 – 8 Read.
Now let us have a Pentecost moment!
Please stand up and greet each other in your own language. Tell others something wonderful you know about God, and what He has done in your life. Chinese to Chinese speakers, Japanese to Japanese speakers, English to English speakers.
What was it that made this day so monumental in the history of the world?
There are many answers to this question. Here are just a few:
- It was a fulfilment of prophecy in the OT from the book of Joel. Acts 2:17 – 21
- It was what Jesus said many times would happen. Acts 1:4
- It was the means by which Jesus would fulfil His promise to be with us till the end of the age. Matthew 28: 20b
- The coming of the Holy Spirit would mean that people would be convicted of sin and unbelief. John 16: 8 (Story Mrs Suto – Three months after her baptism, a lady in our church in Japan visited us, and told us that she had decided to give up being a Christian. The reason was that she thought she was not a good Christian. When we asked about it, she said she is always doing wrong. She often told lies and she would feel really bad about it. We asked if it was different before she was a Christian. She said, before she believed, lying and other sins were normal and easy to do, but after becoming a Christian, even with the slightest lie, her conscience was touched she knew it was wrong so she thought she was not a good Christian. We explained that this was the work of the Holy Spirit so she was a Christian and God was helping her to live well.)
- The Holy Spirit's coming would mean that there was power available to tell others the wonderful news of the Gospel. Acts 1: 8
- The coming of the Holy Spirit meant He would reveal to us truth. John 16:13
- We are born again, become God's children and are led by the Holy Spirit. Romans 8: 14
There is so much we could say about the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
From the Bible we can learn much about the Holy Spirit. However, just like water, I can study about it but until I drink it, I do not really know how satisfying it is. We can study the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and have a PhD in the subject, but until our head knowledge becomes heart experience we have no real knowledge of the Holy Spirit.
Our heart experience must begin with a thirst for God and His truth.
Song “As the deer pants for the water so my soul longs after you”
The Bible teaches that ‘God is Spirit’ and that ‘God is love’. If this is so then I should be able to know God in my understanding and feel God in my spirit. I can't see God, but I should be able to experience His presence. If the coming of the Holy Spirit changed the lives of the early disciples and has continued to change lives to this day, what exactly is it that causes this to happen?
How does God do this?
- What power is it that so impacts a life, that a person is never the same again?
- What was it that God did, that meant that from a few weak, uneducated disciples the largest gathering of people, called the church was birthed?
- What power was it that enabled this miracle?
From John's Gospel comes part of the answer.
John 14:23 “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them”.
John 15:9 “I have loved you, even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.”
Do you understand what Jesus said?
Jesus said “that the love that His Heavenly Father had for Him would be in us”.
Pentecost was the out pouring of the Father’s love for Jesus by the Holy Spirit into the hearts of weak people like you and I.
Joel 2 is quoted by Peter in the first sermon after Pentecost and in Acts 2:18a he quotes Joel as saying “In those days I will pour out my Spirit” Like wind and fire, water is a symbol of the Holy Spirit used in the Bible.
(Pour water from a jug into a glass)
Romans 5:5 (Amplified version) “...for God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
When does God pour the Holy Spirit into the hearts of His people?
- The first answer is when we confess our sin, and need of Jesus, and accept Jesus Christ as our personal saviour. At that moment the Holy Spirit of God is given to us a gift. We are born again and have the gift of eternal life.
For the early Christians trials came mostly because they were Christians and witnessed to their new found faith.
(We know how dearly God loves us) According to verses 3b to 5d there is a process that happens in the lives of all who seek to follow Jesus.
- Firstly we are to rejoice when things go wrong! Why?
- Because we know trials help us develop endurance.
- Endurance develops strength of character.
- This character strengthens our confident hope of salvation
- This hope will not lead to disappointment. We will never be disappointed. Why?
6.Because we KNOW how dearly God loves us
- God has given us his Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
So how does this happen?
A story from Corrie ten Boon's experience may help us understand.
In 1947 Corrie ten Boon was speaking in a church in Munich when she saw a man who was a guard in the Nazi concentration camp she and her sister suffered in. She was there to speak about God’s forgiveness and love but when she saw this man she remembered being paraded naked in front of this guard, and how her lovely sister had died in the camp.
"You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk, he was saying. I was a guard there.
But since that time I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well...." His hand came out towards me, ... "Will you forgive me? he asked"
It could not have been many seconds that he stood there, hand held out, but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.
For I had to do it — I knew that. And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart.
But forgiveness is not an emotion — I knew that too.
Love and Forgiveness are acts of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. "Jesus, help me!" I prayed silently. "I can lift my hand, I can do that much. You supply the feeling."
As I put out my hand, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.
"I forgive you, brother!" I cried. "With all my heart!"
For a long moment we grasped each other's hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God's love so intensely as I did then.”
Pentecost was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. When we believe in Jesus then the Holy Spirit is in our lives. God is love, and that love is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. But to experience the power of God in a greater way, we often need to consciously decide to love and forgive others, as Christ loved us. Then we experience a fresh experience of the power of God's love in our lives. Because, God's Spirit indwells all who believe in him. we should be able to feel that love and exercise that love in a way that will change our world.
1 John 4:19 ‘We love because He first loved us’ This is the fact that we base our lives on.
The Holy Spirit is the channel of God’s love and we are to put it into practice by loving and forgiving as Jesus Christ did.
The fact is that God has given all Christians His love by the Holy Spirit. Our role is to exercise that love towards others, and in so doing trust God to continue to pour His love more and more into our hearts.
I know that there are some of you in this congregation who have experienced the peace and joy of forgiving and loving family members, after making the hard choice to forgive. If you know someone you need to forgive, please do it today, and you will be freed to enjoy a fresh outpouring of God’s love.
When we realize how great God’s love is, this is the work of the Holy Spirit.
He reveals his love to us. He even goes so far as to pour it into our hearts.
Love is not something he rations out in small amounts or guards closely to keep from running out. He rains it down in buckets, more than we can hold. God is wildly generous with his love.
When the rain pours we know it. We hear it. We feel it. The same goes for God's love. He has made it difficult not to miss. If we seek more of God's love we will find.
In times of trial, and weakness we are challenged to forgive and love as we know we should. It is then our lives are flooded with the love of God and results in great feelings of joy and praise to God.
My Story: My personal experience is that when I had a fresh experience of God's love poured out by the Holy Spirit, it moved my emotions and I wept with joy. The result was a new power to live and witness as I should. It was at a time when I was spiritually dry and needing God’s help. That night friends prayed for me, and early the next morning I was woken by the Holy Spirit with such a wonderful feeling of God’s love that I just found myself weeping for joy. My cold heart had been strangely warmed.
For a disciple of Jesus, love is a commitment to follow and obey.
Jesus commitment to you is to pour His love into your life, so you are able follow and obey Him.
It is by God's love that I love. There is nothing of myself, apart from an exercise of my will to love and forgive, to rejoice and trust God in times of trial.
Zechariah 4:6 “It is not by force, nor by human strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of heavens armies.”
How did Pentecost change our world?
How does the Holy Spirit change your life?
It all happens when you have your own personal Pentecost and God pours His love into your hearts by the Holy Spirit. When that happens we will never be the same again.
Don't try to work it all out, just trust and step out in faith, in whatever area of life you know you need to.
Are you having a difficult time? Then rejoice and trust.
Ask God for a fresh experience of His Holy Spirit.
Are you feeling spiritually dry? Are you thirsty for more of God? Ask God for His Holy Spirit to pour His love into your heart.
Today is Pentecost Sunday will it be for you a fresh Pentecost?