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Power and Presence for today, and forever

A good and holy God keeps his promises.


Whilst getting to know the 12 disciples a little as they learned from Jesus in the gospel of Mark, I'm not sure we would call them a brilliant, disciplined crew, that is--

until they saw the resurrected Lord

until he told them to go back to Jerusalem and wait

until they watched him go up into the clouds, returning to Heaven...

and then, well, they were! They did what Jesus told them to do. And then, well God did what Jesus told them he would do! And they became what Jesus always knew they could become.


What happened next changed everything for Christ followers from that day forward. First, a simple prayer: "Lord, open our hearts and minds to understand your Word this day. Amen" From the book of Acts, author Luke writes, "When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphilia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism) Cretans and Arabs--we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!"1


My goodness, what an occasion! Welcome, Holy Spirit, and thank you, Father, for keeping your promise of sending the Comforter to inhabit the people of God! What an amazing picture Luke paints of this historic event, describing the wind, and what looked like tongues of fire resting on each individual's head. Bizarre, yet imaginable.

Ever the stickler for details, Luke pinpoints this day in history: forty days after Jesus rose from the grave, he ascended into Heaven; and 10 days after that, the Holy Spirit came to the believers gathered together as Jesus had instructed them.


So the Holy Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost, (Pentecost comes from the Greek word meaning fiftieth--so, 50 days after Passover), one of three annual Jewish festivals2. Pentecost required Jews to travel to Jerusalem with gifts and offerings to present to God. The timing is remarkable because the feast is what brought Jews from "the ends of the earth" together in Jerusalem, to be present at the same time, and hear the gospel in their own native tongue. [if this is your first time learning of this event and its ripple effects, take the time to reread please]

Luke describes the 'sound like the blowing of a violent wind filled the house'--how do you describe what that sounds like? Things moving... particles vibrating in the air, wind has a lot of energy--a lot of power. Wind was a symbol the people understood as the activity of the Spirit and also symbolized the coming of new life.

As tongues of fire rested on each person, he or she was filled with the Holy Spirit, and began speaking in tongues. Please note - this is not the same thing referred to in our day as 'speaking in tongues.' Luke uses the Greek word xenoglossia here, meaning 'speaking in an unlearned language;' whereas the word glossolalia3 is used for 'speaking in tongues' one of the various gifts the Spirit imparts to believers, listed in 1 Corinthians 12. Can you imagine this electrically-charged scene?


Now get this: when the people started speaking in other languages, a crowd of Jewish pilgrims, was just outside and they heard their native tongues spoken. Remember, they had traveled from near and far to observe the Feast of Pentecost. It was God's way of drawing them to himself, as they heard the people telling the great things God had done in their own languages! Nothing short of remarkable. Somehow they knew that the speakers were Galileans, though they were shocked by the clarity with which their languages and dialects were uttered. (Galileans were looked at as less-refined, backward, and even peculiar because of their dialect) Yet, these were the messengers of God's goodness to all of these travelers who would hear the Gospel and then take it back to the towns and regions from which they had come. Incredible. Yes, in short order, missionaries would go out from Jerusalem--men like Paul, Barnabas, John Mark, and Silas--but for now, from one central place, the Holy Spirit infused the faithful with the unique, simultaneous message that would change the listeners forever. Those hearing the message of the gospel in their native tongues would return to their towns and regions as emissaries for the greatest story ever told.

While many of the Jews heard, believed, and began figuring out what it meant to them, there were some who scoffed and accused them of being drunk.4 It seems that what folks don't understand about the ways and work of God, they often dismiss; and rather than digging for truth, they mock those who believe.

Two thousand years later, what are we to take from that momentous day?

~God keeps his promises.

~God's timing is perfect. While you and I may grow tired of waiting for an answer or to see a change, our perspective is totally different than that of our infinite, all-knowing, all-powerful, holy God.

~As the Holy Spirit came to each believer that day, so he comes to each believer today.

~Believers need never be without God's presence again . . .

So when Jesus told the disciples that it was for their good that he go, because then the Holy Spirit would come, they have just seen his coming. Jesus told them that while he had been with them, the Spirit would be in them. Promise fulfilled... lives radically altered. With the person of the Holy Spirit present in our lives, we are never without the presence of God himself.


Come, Holy Spirit, light a fire in us today! For those who have grown weary or complacent, fan the flames. We want more than words on a page, we want you.



Would be lost without God's presence and power,

Christine


1 - Acts 2.1-11

2 - also called the "Feast of Weeks" because it was seven weeks after Passover

4 - Acts 2.13


Christine DiGiacomo www.pastorwoman.net


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