(304) 757-9222 connect@tvcog.org

Today we are observing Pentecost Sunday, the day the Holy Spirit was poured out on those who were in the Upper Room in Jerusalem who had been waiting as Jesus had instructed, for the promised Holy Spirit.  Pentecost also known as the Feast of Weeks is one of the three main Jewish Feasts.  It was a celebration of the harvest that came fifty days after Passover.  For Christians, it is the celebration of the coming of the Spirit 50 days after Easter.
Craig Gobel shared something with our worship team during rehearsal that I wanted to make sure you knew as it pertained to this celebration.  Fifty days after the first Passover in Egypt, during which the Israelites were freed from Egyptian slavery, the Law was given to the nation of Israel at Mount Sinai, written upon tablets of stone. Fifty days after the final Passover was sacrificed through Jesus’ death, the Law was given to the “Israel of God,” on Pentecost written upon their hearts by the Spirit of God.
II Corinthians 3:3 says, “You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”
Isn’t that thrilling?  The law had been given to Moses.  Something from without would be observed.  Now, through the coming of the Spirit, something from within would control and move us.  We would learn to obey God because the Spirit of God would direct our hearts and minds.  Isn’t that awesome?
Craig, as I researched your comment, I found out something else that amazed me.  On the day that the Law was given, 3,000 died for worshipping the golden calf, signifying the covenant of the law that brought death (Exodus 32:28). On the day the Spirit was given, 3,000 were added into Christ and received life (Acts. 2:41), signifying the covenant of the Spirit that brought life. 
Hear now the Word of the Lord:
Acts 1:4-8 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 6 So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 2:1-12 1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. 5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs–we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” 13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
Silent Prayer
Have you seen the TV show, “Hoarders?”  It is a show where a team of therapists and organization specialists go into a home to help someone who has collected and filled their home with stuff, whether valuable stuff or trash-they help people get rid of all of the stuff that has stifled their life.  Mainly their relationships are stalled and stifled because no one wants to go into the environment they have created due to the debris and clutter.  I’m not a hoarder, but I wish someone would come up with a TV show called “Dust Bunnies” or “Closet Cleaners,” because I’d sign up for that one.  But I digress!
Spiritually speaking, I think perhaps we are sometimes in danger of becoming hoarders of spiritual experiences and in particular, we are in danger of becoming hoarders of the Holy Spirit.  Instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to flow through us to reach others, we collect spiritual experiences through Christian TV, Christian music, church services, Christian books, concerts, retreats, and conferences and we sort of stuff ourselves full of the Spirit of God without realizing that the reason we are supposed to get full is in order that we might get emptied.  We are supposed to get full and then empty all of that fullness into the lives of others so that we can get full and be emptied again.  However, it’s often like we’re at this spiritual buffet, sampling this aspect and that aspect of the Spirit.  We get full of good stuff for sure, but if we never empty it out into the world, we become full and sleepy rather than full and energized to allow God’s Spirit to flow through us into the world around us.
In my opinion, we don’t have a filling problem.  We have an emptying issue.  Did you ever consider that it is possible to become spiritually selfish?  Let me challenge you with what I have come to know is true.  Experiencing the presence of God in the worship event or through some exciting presentation of a sermon or conference or through intercessory prayer as someone lays their hands on us-that’s all wonderful. 
It is wonderful to receive the comfort and healing and enabling the Spirit brings to our lives.  I wouldn’t want to live without it. However, it pales in comparison to the experience you can have with the Spirit as you allow the Spirit to flow through you, emptying you out as God’s love and mercy and healing and grace are spilled out through your life to the people around you.  It is a different level of ministry in the Holy Spirit when you become a channel through which He flows than it is to be a reservoir which He fills. 
Now don’t get me wrong.  You have to be filled before He can flow through you for sure.  But, the process of engaging with the Spirit where you allow the Holy Spirit to flow through you as the Spirit of Christ in order to transform lives around you is the purpose for which the Holy Spirit will fill you.  He doesn’t fill you in order to make you spiritually full and fat.  He fills you in order to flow through you so that the ministry of Christ continues to change lives.  In other words, God doesn’t want you to sit and soak it all in but to soak it in, in order that He might flow through you to saturate the rest of the world with the same kind of joy, healing, power, and comfort that you have received.
What did Acts 1:8 say?  “You will receive power to be my witnesses.”  When the tongues of fire rested on those who were there, an enabling came to them that had nothing to do with what they had studied in school or learned at home or through any life experience. An enabling came to them by the Holy Spirit so that the Word of God would flow through them to saturate the ears of the crowd that had gathered from various parts of the world at that time.  The empowering was so that God’s Spirit would flow through them to accomplish His work.  We are to partner with the Holy Spirit so that we can do the ministry of Christ which is according to the will of the Father.
We see this demonstrated in the life of Jesus.  The Bible tells us that Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit.  Luke 4:14 is just one Scripture that affirms this truth.  In Luke 4:18-19 Jesus explains why He is full of the Holy Spirit.  He says, “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me To
1.    Preach the gospel to the poor
2.    He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted
3.    To proclaim liberty to the captives
4.    And recovery of sight to the blind
5.    To set at liberty those who are oppressed
6.    To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”
He has been filled or anointed in order to do something.  The power of God will flow through Him to bring the Good News of the Gospel to people, to heal them in the deepest places of their broken hearts, to set people free from the law, from self-imposed and satanic bondages, to bring freedom to those who need to know they can succeed and don’t have to live as victims of their life’s circumstances and to let them know that God’s timing is perfect in that in time God does bring blessing and victory to those who trust in Him. 
Jesus showed us what it was like to lead a Spirit-filled life and allow the power of God to flow through a person to bring change to those he encountered.  Jesus was in the power of the Spirit while in the flesh, but he was confined to one place and one time.  Though it was an amazing and prolific ministry, it was a limited ministry.  However, after demonstrating what the Spirit-filled life was like where ultimate victory, even victory of death, was on display, He ascended in power to the Father and sent the Holy Spirit to all who would receive it.  That way, God’s power, in multiplied ways could be at work in multiplied places in and through all who would believe and receive the Spirit.
What Jesus accomplished was amazing and He said “Greater works will you do because I will go to my Father.”  John 14:12 The verses that follow in chapter 14 talk about how those greater works will be accomplished.  The Holy Spirit will live in us-John 14:17. It would no longer be one person, filled with the Holy Spirit, doing God’s work on earth, but millions of people who would receive the Spirit of God who would spread across the globe to accomplish the work of Christ!  Wow!  We aren’t filled to soak, but we’re soaked to saturate the world with the transforming power of Jesus.
In the power of the Spirit, let’s saturate the world with the Gospel!  Jesus came to preach the gospel to the poor with the poor being those who realized they needed help, those who realized they couldn’t save themselves, those who were seeking salvation.
Matthew 5:3 says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The term poor here is the Greek word, “ptochos” which carries the implication of being a beggar.  We are to be conduits for the Spirit of God to those who are seeking salvation, to those who recognize they are poor in spirit and need God’s help.
When the Word of God was preached in the multitude of languages on the day of Pentecost, the Gospel was received with power by over 3000 people that day.  Not everyone will be saved.  Not everyone is willing to admit they need to be.  Not everyone who heard on the day of Pentecost was saved.  Some mocked the disciples saying “They must be drunk.”  But for those who are open to the Spirit of God, when that Spirit is flowing through our lives as we share the Gospel, it will become irresistible and life changing.
In the power of the Spirit, let’s saturate the world with healing and restoration.
Acts 10:38 “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” 
Jesus didn’t act on His own authority or in His own power, though He had every right to because just as He was fully human, He was also fully divine. However, Philippians tells us that He emptied Himself of the power and authority He could have relied on and instead was filled with the Holy Spirit’s power and obedient to the Father’s work.  And God’s work and will is that people are healed and restored. 
The world is broken.  Period.  Part of our opportunity as the Spirit-filled people of God is to allow words and acts of healing and restoration to flow through us to people who are healed when they find out God cares.  They are healed when they understand there is a remedy for sin.  They are healed when someone takes time to disciple them and show them the way.  They are healed in their minds when we teach them the Truth of God’s Word.  They are healed in their bodies when we pray for them and they get well.  It’s nothing we do or could do, but it is what the Spirit of God does through us when we allow Him to flow through our lives.
Peter and John were walking in the temple courts one day after being filled with the Holy Spirit.  There was a beggar sitting there who asked them for money. Peter and John, because they were filled with the Holy Spirit, they were able to bring healing to the crippled man. 
Peter and John didn’t have money to give and it’s a good thing for him that they didn’t.  Money would have gotten the man through another day a healing enabled by the Holy Spirit would transform His entire future.  Listen, when we operate in the power of the Spirit we are able to bring newness to people’s lives that enables them long term. 
In the power of the Spirit let’s saturate the world with freedom!
People are in bondage to all kinds of things whether physical and sexual addictions, hang-ups, to other people, to money, to negative thinking, to people’s expectations or whatever.  The Holy Spirit wants to soak us in Christ’s freedom so we can saturate the world with it. 
The world is tired of relationships with strings attached.  The world is tired of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” because somebody always has a hidden agenda.  The beauty of a freeing relationship with Jesus is that He hides nothing, has no hidden agenda and is as up front as you can get.  He doesn’t want you to be a slave to anything or anyone.  He wants to set you free so that you can love and serve Him in the kind of relationship that will empower and bless you not squelch and squash you.
Let’s show the world that John 8:36 is absolutely true, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”
In the power of the Spirit, let’s open some blind eyes. 
Let’s demonstrate that a holy life is possible, that God is real and that there is peace you can really experience!  Let’s show people that it’s possible to keep the faith in hard times, to live in harmony with one another and to do good works rather than be selfish.  Let’s demonstrate that we can bless instead of curse and that we can seek to give rather than gain. 
In the power of the Spirit, let’s show the world that the time to accept all God offers is now.
The “acceptable year of the Lord” that Jesus proclaimed was tied to the concept of the year of Jubilee.  In this Old Testament practice, during the year of Jubilee all debts were canceled.  Slaves were free.  Jesus came to cancel all the debts that sin had racked up against us and to proclaim our forever freedom from sin and its penalty! 
We receive this healing and good news and freedom into our lives so that in the power of the Spirit we can saturate the world with the same.  That’s why I love the symbolism of the Holy Spirit as tongues of fire.  A fire spreads.  It doesn’t stay contained unless you do something to contain it.  We’re told not to quench the Holy Spirit.  I Thess. 5:19 says “19 Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.”  We’re not told to create wildfire or to try to start a fire, but we are told not to put out the Spirit’s fire. 
One thing I absolutely cherish is the presence of God.  I don’t want to be here if God isn’t here.  I can’t do this unless the Holy Spirit is going to prepare me and flow through me.  We dare not take for granted the special way the Holy Spirit is present each week in this place.  We also need to stay open to the Spirit and seek the Spirit in order to ensure that we don’t assume what the Spirit will do or ever try to box the Spirit in.  Like a fire spreads where it will, the Spirit will lead us where we need to be.  We just need to follow.
Paul was referring to the Holy Spirit when he told his protégé Timothy in II Timothy 1:6 to “Fan into flame the gift of God that was in him.” What he was saying was “Live in the power of the Spirit. Serve in the power of the Spirit. Pay attention to the Holy Spirit that is in you and allow the Spirit to flow through you.” 
It is the Holy Spirit who gives gifts to Christians not just for the benefit of the Christians.  The Holy Spirit gives gifts to Christians in order that as the Spirit flows through the person in the expression of that gift, other people get the benefit of being touched by the Spirit of God. I Cor. 12 4There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.  7Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
God fills us in order to flow through us to benefit others.  Everyone gets blessed through the life of a Spirit-filled Christian who allows the Spirit to flow through them. We’re told in I Peter 4:10 “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”  As we exercise the gifts God has given us, the Spirit flows through us and God’s grace is channeled to the world around us.
What could happen if everyone in this room would make a commitment to daily acknowledge the Holy Spirit and seek to submit to the Holy Spirit and be used by the Holy Spirit?  In Acts 2, the Spirit flowed through those who had been together in unity, seeking to receive the Spirit, and 3000 people were saved that day.  All kinds of miracles were taking place. 
Why did such dramatic spiritual phenomenon take place back then?  I believe it was because those who were being used were focused on life in the Spirit.  They waited for the Spirit.  They wanted the Spirit.  They submitted to the Spirit. When the Spirit was poured out on them, they didn’t say, “Well, thanks but no thanks. We’d rather not speak in the language of the Medes.”  They didn’t say, “We’d rather have power to heal than preach.”  They didn’t say, “We’d rather not be used in such a public way.”  They simply yielded. 
I believe the Spirit came in power that day because the people who were soaked with the Spirit wanted to not only be soaked, but they were willing to saturate their spheres of influence with the transforming power of the Spirit.
People without the Spirit of God have nothing to offer the world.  People who are filled with the Spirit of God have everything to offer the world.  We need to start fanning into flame the gift of the Holy Spirit that is in each one of us because what the world needs is the transforming power of God.  We aren’t incapacitated.  We aren’t without resources.  What the world needs, we have if we will allow God to use us.
I remember being a kid and waking up to the Easter basket filled with candy that the bunny had left for me.  One year in particular there was a giant chocolate bunny there.  Was I ever excited!  I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into that bad boy.  How disappointed I was, however, when I bit into it and it was hollow.  Nothing but air.  It looked good on the outside, but it lacked any substance on the inside. 
Listen, we don’t have to be like the hollow Easter bunnies.  We can be full of the Spirit of God, full of substance, full of power and grace and healing.  We don’t have to just look good on the outside and be full of nothing but air.  We can be filled and soak with the presence of the Almighty God and be squeezed out in order to saturate the world with what they are craving and longing for.
Jesus told the woman at the well she could receive living water in John 4.  Brothers and sisters, living water flows.  It isn’t stagnate.  We aren’t to be a repository or a receptacle for the Holy Spirit, but a channel a conduit through which the Spirit can flow.
John 7:37 Jesus says, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, as[c] the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” 39By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.
The Spirit of God is to flow through us. 
Yes, you need the Spirit of God in order to be transformed into the image of Christ.  Yes, you need the Spirit of God to know the will of God.  Yes, you need the Spirit of God in order to understand the Bible.  Yes, you need the Spirit of God to have victory over temptation.  Just as badly as you need the Spirit of God for all of those reasons, so does the world, and unless God’s Spirit is flowing through you to reach them they may never experience it. 
God never intended to gift us in order for us to serve ourselves, but others.  The fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 isn’t intended for you and me to look like a pretty fruit tree, but it is given to believers in order that others may “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”
Ephesians 5:18 says “Be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Yes, soak it all in.  Be filled, but be filled for the purpose of being emptied into the lives of the people around you.

%d bloggers like this: