Pentecost is a powerful concept and experience for us as Christian believers to have. Pentecost is a Jewish feast that celebrates the in-gathering of the wheat. It is a feast about harvest, about fruitfulness. It also, however, became synonymous with the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses.
For us as Christians, it is the day we celebrate the birth of the church as was recorded in Acts 2. It is the commemoration of the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the believers who were gathered together and were waiting for the gift of the Holy Spirit per Jesus’ instructions. Jesus had been taken up into Heaven. His mission had been accomplished. The disciples were told to wait in Jerusalem for next steps, for a new assignment, for a new experience.
We read in Acts 2:1-4-1 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.
As this was happening, crowds of people, who were gathered in Jerusalem for the Jewish festival, heard this supernatural speech and heard the disciples and those gathered with them, 120 people, who began speaking the Word of God in several different languages that were spoken to the multitude in the streets. These were languages they had never learned, languages they had never studied. So, God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, gifted them to do something supernatural. The were empowered to communicate in a way they had never communicated before. The empowering gave them a boldness to be a witness for the Resurrected Jesus. They were transformed, supernaturally transformed. That is the power of Pentecost. It has the power to radically transform us.
That Pentecost Day, the believers received something that Jesus had promised they would receive. He had told them in Acts 1:8 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.” What Jesus had promised to them, He delivered on Pentecost.
Are you waiting for a move of God in your life?
Waiting can be difficult, can’t it? I married on my 29th birthday and Thom was almost 31 when we tied the knot. Waiting to meet the right person wasn’t easy. You know what they say, “Sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince.” Well. It’s true. But meeting and marrying my sweetheart was worth the wait.
Once I found out I was expecting our children, waiting nine months to meet them was like an eternity, and the waiting time with filled with complications during both pregnancies.
This past Spring, I had a health issue that required a biopsy. I didn’t share the news publicly because I didn’t have anything to share until the biopsy came back. Everything came back just fine, but waiting for results was tough.
120 believers had been in the Upper Room praying and waiting. They were waiting for what Jesus had promised. For ten days they gathered and prayed and waited. 10 days is a long time to pray and wait and hang out with the same 120 people, especially when everything had changed for them with Jesus having departed from their midst. Those believers saw Jesus ascend into Heaven. He said the Holy Spirit would be coming to take His place. I’m not sure they knew exactly what they were waiting on, but they knew the instruction was that they should wait. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, the message of Jesus couldn’t have gone out in power on the Day of Pentecost. It was the power of the Spirit that provided the convincing evidence to those gathered in Jerusalem that what they were hearing was from God and it resulted in mass conversion.
Often times we are guilty of getting ahead of God, of not waiting on His timing or not waiting on His empowering, and then we wind up doing only what we can do which is imperfect and limited rather than experiencing what God can do which is unlimited and perfect. There was a reason God wanted there to be a ten-day gap between Jesus’ ascension and Pentecost. God wanted Jewish believers to be able to connect the Pentecost celebration with the new thing God wanted to do. While people were celebrating the tradition of the Law that was given to Moses, He wanted to call their attention away from the traditional celebration of the Law to new Life in the Spirit. That day there was a distinct transition from Law to Grace. There was a change in the way people would relate with God forever, and God wanted that event, the birth of the church, to coincide with the Pentecost festival. The wind of the Spirit, the power of Pentecost will bring change to our lives and the lives of the people around us.
Had the Spirit been poured out any sooner or any later, the significance of the transition from Law to Grace would have been lost. The Law had been given to Moses in a dramatic way with thunder, lightning and thick clouds being present and 3000 people died as the result of worshiping a golden calf while Moses was up on the mountain receiving the Law from God. The Spirit of Grace, the Holy Spirit, was poured out on God’s people in a dramatic way with the sound of a mighty rushing wind and the speaking of multiple languages all at once, and 3000 people were saved in that one event! An army of missional believers was birthed and the church was enlivened to carry out the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations. God wanted to send a clear message that there was a transition from Law to Grace and the shift required a waiting period in order for everything to line up.
Somebody here needs a personal Pentecost. You need to receive supernatural power. You have a great need for spiritual change in your life. You need to move from Law to Grace. You are constantly living in a state of unworthiness, feeling like you can’t be perfect enough for God to love you, feeling like you have to jump through spiritual hoop after spiritual hoop to get God’s attention or to prove yourself in some way. You are trapped in a works righteousness or performance mindset. God wants to free you from your self-effort and religious attempts to impress Him and others. He wants you to relax in the grip of His grace today. He wants to pour out His Holy Spirit on you so that you can just start to move with power and confidence in the ways He has lined up for you. It isn’t about your stressing and striving, but it is about God’s empowering and leading in your life.
Maybe you need a personal Pentecost because you have a great assignment in front, like the disciples did, one that requires boldness and Holy Spirit power. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you when it is time to step out. God is at work in the waiting. He is lining things up for maximum impact. He will always do what He has promised. Wait on Him, and I guarantee the result will be worth the wait. If you are waiting on God to move in your life, and you are prayerfully seeking Him, you won’t be disappointed.
The second question I would ask you today is:
Are you withered and washed out spiritually?
Turn to Ezekiel chapter 37. I want to read 14 verses so tell you neighbor to stay awake. Thank you.
Ezekiel 37:1-14 1 The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.” 4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 5 This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.'” 7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. 9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.'”10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet–a vast army. 11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.'”
This was a vision Ezekiel had. God took him in a vision to a graveyard. John got to have a vision of Heaven and then wrote about it in Revelation. Ezekiel got to take a trip to a cemetery. I’d rather get the Heavenly vision, but how many of you know that sometimes in order to see what we need to see we have to see and acknowledge some difficult things? This was the case with Ezekiel.
It wasn’t a pretty sight. The dry, dismembered bones represented the nation of Israel. They were dislocated from God and were dislocated from their homeland. They had been carried off into exile by the King of Babylon. Here they were, the people of God, slain like an army in a wasteland. Back in that time, it was considered humiliating for a person’s body to decompose without being buried. The whole scene spoke of defeat. It spoke of decay. It wasn’t pretty or pleasant, but in order to get God’s take on the situation, Ezekiel had to see and acknowledge how things really were. And the big question was voiced in verse 3: “Can these bones live again?” Only God knew.
God promised that the bones would come together. God promised that new life would enter the bones. God promised the nation of Israel would be restored and would be spiritually alive again. And we know, God always keeps His promises.
And so we have another Breath of God or wind of the Holy Spirit experience. As Ezekiel prophesied to the scattered bones there was a rattling sound. I’ll call it the sound of Pentecost, as the bones came together. They were reconnected to each other, and they were covered with flesh. The bones came together and stood up as a vast army as the breath of God entered them. Verse 14 tells us without a doubt that what was accomplished in this vision was a work of the Holy Spirit: I will put my Spirit in you and you will live.
Are you in a valley of dry bones this morning? Do you feel spiritually dehydrated? Are you disconnected from the breath of God in a way that gives you spiritual life and vitality? Do you need God to show you just how bad things have gotten with your spiritual health this morning? Do you feel like you are lacking spiritual vitality? God wants to pour out His Spirit on you this morning! Life without the Spirit is a defeated life. Life without the Spirit is a decaying existence. Life without the Spirit is a life dislocated from your God-given purpose and destiny. Life without the Spirit is a life of exile. God wants to bring you back to Him!
Even when the bones came back together, even when they had a body, they didn’t have life until they experienced the breath of God. Listen, you can look put together. You can appear from the outside that everything is good, but without the Spirit of God breathing on you, you are just a dead man walking. You are just going through the motions, but you don’t have true life. As Jesus accused the religious leaders of His day of being “White washed tombs but on the inside being full of dead men’s bones,” (Matthew 23:27) we may have the appearance of being rightly connected to God but actually we are spiritually disconnected and dead.
There are lots of reasons why our spiritual selves become dry. There are lots of reasons why we find ourselves lives in exile, away from God’s people, away from God’s presence. Israel sure had theirs. It always seemed to involve worshiping things other than God, putting things in their lives in the place that God was meant to occupy, wanting to do things their way rather than God’s way.
Sometimes for us it is more subtle than that. We don’t intentionally seek to sin or look to the things of the world to lure us away from God. We just get a bit lazy with our church attendance. We just start letting multiple days pass without praying. We just get out of the habit of reading the Bible. And when we start to slip in those areas, the things of the world start to slip into our lives. The things of the world start to look shinier. They start to seem more enticing or more exciting. We find excuses to justify why we have moved away from God and toward other pursuits. We just gravitate towards other priorities. Before you know it, we are out of spiritual breath and become exhausted by the sin that once seemed so energizing.
Maybe that’s not how it seems your valley of dry bones has come about. Maybe physical and emotional exhaustion have taken you down spiritually. Maybe you have become jaded because of pain and heartache you have endured. If God loves you so much, why would He allow you to suffer? Maybe as you have asked that question, you have stiff-armed God to keep Him from getting close enough to answer in a way that would bring understanding and healing. Instead, it just put a wall between you and Him and between you and other people. Maybe it has just been a series of events that have caused you to doubt and then drift. It happens. “Can these dry bones live again?”
Here is what I know: Pentecost means dry bones can live again. God hasn’t run out of breath, and you are here today because He wants to breathe new life into your parched and tired soul.
Your old life can be put together in ways that make it better than it ever was. You can encounter God in new ways because the Holy Spirit would possess you fully which will take you to places in Christ you have never known and only dreamed were possible. You don’t have to die in the Valley of Dry Bones! You can live again!
Pentecost means new life is possible.
New life came to the House of Israel in that vision and in the years that followed. They actually got to return home. They got to rebuild. There was a re-connection with God and a time of joy and rejoicing. Those who were converted on the Day of Pentecost were saved from sin and were saved to enjoy a brand-new life in Jesus. 2 Corinthians 5:17-Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
Finally, I would submit to you that:
Pentecost means God has a plan for the church to be an army who will preach the Gospel and occupy the land in the name of the Lord.
I don’t know how long it takes to develop an army, but I know in one vision, 3000 soldiers were raised from the dead and in one Pentecost moment in Jerusalem, 3000 soldiers for the Lord were born. God always had a plan to use Israel, not just to love Israel, not just to Shepherd Israel, but to use Israel as a light, as a symbol for the rest of the world to see what a love-relationship with God looked like. Since the day of Pentecost and the birth of the church, that baton was handed to the church. You and I have been commissioned to carry the torch, but we can’t do it without being baptized in the Holy Spirit. We can’t do it without the breath of God.
Every person who calls themselves a Christian is in active duty. We are to be on the front lines for Jesus. God’s plan to reveal His love to the world was Jesus. God’s plan to reveal what Jesus has done is the church. We have the awesome privilege and responsibility to go to this “valley of dry bones” in Putnam and surrounding counties and to prophesy to people about the Word and works of God. Are you living to bring Pentecost to those around you?
Two different stories. One army was brought back to life. One was given life for the first time. Both had a purpose in the plan of God to change the world. Pentecost happened for Ezekiel and Israel in a graveyard. Pentecost happened for the early church in the streets of Jerusalem. Listen, the Holy Spirit is everywhere and can work anywhere people are willing to wait for the Lord and want Him to be at work in Him.
Don’t live defeated. Don’t live disconnected from God and your purpose. Don’t live spiritually dead. Don’t live in your own power and operate on your own timing. Don’t live without courage or conviction. Pentecost means God is in the restoration business. Pentecost means God is in the resuscitation business. Pentecost means God is in the recreating business. And He wants to be at work in you.
Pentecost is certainly the day when you and I can claim the life-giving power of the Spirit. It is certainly a day when we can claim the healing power of the Holy Spirit.
The wind of the Spirit can restore you spiritually. The breath of the Spirit of God can give you the ability to forgive those who have hurt you. The wind of the Spirit can revive your life in the wake of circumstances that have knocked the spiritual breath out of you. That is what Pentecost means.