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FOLLOW ME (John 1:43-51)

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Podcast: Follow Me

When we think of Epiphany (The revelation of Christ as The Son of God) we often overlook the obvious. Traditionally January 6 is considered the day of Epiphany. However, we see Epiphany in…The Nativity (Shepherds)…The Magi…The Baptism of Jesus (John the Baptist)…We also see it in the calling of the first few disciples in John’s gospel. John begins by telling us:

 

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples… When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”  John 1:35-36

 

John (the gospel writer) had already mentioned the significance of  Jesus who John testified: The Spirit came down from heaven and remained on him/he will baptize with the Holy Spirit…John had been preaching about someone who was coming to take away sin (permanently)…someone of God’s choosing..to take away those things that separate us from God. Now we are told about one of those Disciples of John-that listened to John and began following Jesus: 

Andrew, (Simon Peter’s brother), was one of the two who heard what John had said …    John 1:40 

Andrew—in Greek-Andro which is the Greek version of the Hebrew name Adam. Andrew was the first disciple named to follow Jesus (in a sense the first Christian). Andrew had his own  Epiphany…because John (the Baptist) pointed him toward Jesus. When we think of our relationship with Jesus, who have been the ones pointing us toward Jesus? In addition to Andrew’s Epiphany, John also tells us: 

The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah”  John 1:41 

What is the 1st thing we do when we have an Epiphany?…do we tell others? particularly those closest to us? It was obvious that Andrew & Simon were close (brothers). However, we don’t hear a lot about Andrew throughout the gospels..we do hear a lot about Simon Peter. It is similar to Albert McMakin. Albert had an Epiphany. He met Jesus through a revival in a small town in North Carolina. Albert had to tell his closest friend…who happened to be named Billy Graham. Not many people have ever heard of Albert McMakin , however because he shared his Epiphany with Billy Graham countless people have come to know Jesus. Thank God for the Andrews and the Albert McMakins in our lives. Then John tells us: 

Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “You are Simon, the son of John — but you will be called Cephas”(which means Peter ).  John 1:42

 Cephas (Aramaic) left untranslated…Peter ( & Andrew were from Galilee (as was Jesus)..Jesus addressed him in a way that any Galilean would understand. Jesus speaks into our lives the same way when he calls us. God speaks to us in a way we would uniquely understand. My  own personal calling would be defined by scholarly theologians as “providing a Hermeneutical Homiletic of Theology” if that is what God said to me I would probably not have answered that call. Instead Jesus has called me to “Present the Good News of Jesus as Revealed by the Holy Spirit.”  John goes on to tell us in this text that again the Next Day…Jesus went to Galilee (followed by these 3 Disciples)…then John continues: 

Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida.  John 1:43-44 

We learn the other of John the Baptist’s disciples was Philip (who was also from Galilee). The Good Part..the Fishing Village of Bethsaida (Waterfront Property). The important thing Jesus says specifically to Philip is…”Follow Me.” The only thing is…Hadn’t  Philip already “followed Him?” He left John the Baptist (to follow Jesus)…and now had followed Jesus back to Galilee. Here’s the problem. When we think of the concept of Following someone we think of walking behind…

However, we can better understand Jesus command after translating a very long compound Greek word which ultimately means… “accompany me /on the road /by being one with me” Like a parent with a young child. Hold my hand as we walk down this road together. Isn’t that what Christ calls each of us to do? So now Philip has his own Epiphany and John tells us: 

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about  whom the prophets also wrote–Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”    John 1:45 

Philip did the same as Andrew (and even the Shepherds before that) he found someone to share his Epiphany with. He knew Nathanael might be suspect so he invoked  the name of Moses…a type of celebrity endorsement. Now first we need to realize the name Nathanael is significant (it is NOT a Greek name)..it is Hebrew meaning-Gift of God. Having said that, Nathanael’s initial response to Philip’s Epiphany according to John is: 

“Nazareth!  Can anything good come from there?”     John 1:46 

Nazareth…not Lakefront  property…a primarily Gentile town …way off the beaten path…never mentioned in Hebrew Scripture)…besides the Messiah would have to come from Bethlehem…But Philip knew Nathanael needed to Encounter Christ.. before he could truly realize the significance of who He was..John tells us: 

Come and see,” said Philip. When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” John 1:46-47

How many of us have had our own Epiphanies by an Encounter/s that began by someone inviting us to “come and see” (with our spiritual eyes as well as our physical eyes). Jesus (being who he is) realized Nathanael as being about God’s word..Being discerning by challenging claims through scripture. A True Israelite. Then John tells us how Nathanael responded to this Encounter: 

Nathanael replied, “Teacher, you are the Son of God – the King of Israel!”   John 1: 49 

Three things Nathanael realized about Jesus. He was a teacher (Rabbi)…I now defer/submit to you (and your instruction)…He was the Son of God (a term generally ascribed only to David)…and as the “New David” Jesus would be the King of Israel (The Awaited Messiah). All based on his understanding of scripture (including the law & prophecy). So as we encounter Jesus in our lives. As we have our Epiphanies. Will we invite others to “Come & See”..how to “Follow Christ” (accompany HIM /on the road /by being one with HIM). The Apostle Paul taught: 

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus   Romans 15:4-5 

May we like Andrew, Simon Peter, Philip & Nathanael..Come & See and receive that Encouragement..That Hope.. and that Spirit of Unity…In Christ Jesus and Follow Him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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UNWRAPPING SPIRITUAL GIFTS: NON-PROPHET ORGANIZATION? (1 Corinthians 14)

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PODCAST: NON-PROPHET ORGANIZATION?

Looking at the 14th Chapter of The Apostle Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth, it picks up, right where the last 13th chapter leaves off (the greatest of these…) Paul says: 

Let love be your highest goal, but also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives…  1 Corinthians 14:1a 

A reminder that Agape/Unconditional Love for God & Others is Always our primary goal (what we are hoping to achieve)…yet we should all strive for special abilities (Gifts) that only the Holy Spirit can provide. Another reason why the Mission Statement of our congregation emphasizes Transformation (God’s part) & Sharing His (Agape) Love. Next we need to consider how is it that we facilitate & use the Spiritual Gifts given to us. Paul in explaining to this church in the consideration of these Spiritual Gifts-He emphasizes: 

especially the gift of prophecy. 1 Corinthians 14:1b 

We have seen in previous books that the gift of prophecy not necessarily what we might think in today’s vernacular (of predicting the future). It would have been understood from  the Greek culture of those who consulted with the Oracle…and brought “the word” back to the people. The early church adopted the same illustration, in our relationship to the one true God. So what does that mean to us in the Christian Church?  I would suggest that as Paul explained to the church in Rome how to more specifically use this particular gift. He tells them: 

God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out when you have faith that God is speaking through you.  Romans 12:6 

The Greek term means—”Unhide”  God’s truth-through his Word revealed to you. Requiring 1st that that you have a relationship with Him. This is a large part of what we do in Sharing God’s Love. We also see Paul explaining earlier in this  letter to the Corinthian Church the significance of this particular gift. He Writes: 

Now all of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it. Here is a list of some of the members that God has placed in the body of Christ: first are apostles, second are prophets…  1 Corinthians 12:27-28 

We remember-The Apostles (those sent out) & then The Prophets are those who are speaking for God (within the community of believers). We each have a sense of this by listening to God. Through prayer & relationship—primarily by & thru His Word. Biblically literate, prayerful, messengers are an important part of the body of believers. Some faith traditions believe this gift can only be realized by the Pastor. It is rather with us & me that I work (as a pastor) to equip each of you (community of believers) to accomplish this very thing—Remembering…each of you is necessary to the Body. Then Paul continues in comparing this gift to that of Tongues: 

For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit.  1 Corinthians 14:2 

Two things come to mind when I consider this passage. First, I am reminded of our daughter Becky as a teenager leaving messages on our home answering machine…(It was so fast and indistinguishable had to listen to message 3-4 times). Secondly, there are two types of tongues mentioned in scripture. A Prayer Language . It is often experienced by those who have never prayed/dialoged with God & then encounter the Holy Spirit (I have known many in this category). Then there are those who experience “prophetic utterances” (with interpretation required). The term for Tongues in the Greek work Glossa and generally used in the first instance (Prayer Language). A great example of this was at the conversion experience of the first Gentile (Cornelius) in Acts. Luke records: 

The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles, too. And there could be no doubt about it, for they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.  Acts 10:45-46 

This has been my experience with new Christians. Overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit. A way of praising God for setting them free-transforming their lives. Have you ever been so in Awe of God to be left Speechless? Paul instead insists to the Corinthians:

 

But one who prophesies is helping others grow in the Lord, encouraging and comforting them.  1 Corinthians 14:3 

Paul is pointing out that the gift of Tongues is for individual believers. However, the gift of Prophecy (as described in the Bible) is one that helps other grow. In a sense that is what I do on Sunday mornings. It is also what we do for each other in Sunday School & Wednesday Nights. We share what God has revealed to us through his Word—(not just our opinion or what we have heard from others). Even at times God can gives us A Word to Comfort others. Paul tells the Ephesian church that one of the key ways we share this Good News is through this gift that both  inviting & welcoming: 

You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household,  built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.   Ephesians 2:19-20 

Apostles & Prophets. Those going out..and those coming in—to share the Good News. That all are Loved “unconditionally” & accepted into the body. These two Gifts are the Foundation—what we are about. Transforming Our World by Sharing God’s Love. Paul uses a helpful illustration to emphasize his point concerning the gifts of Tongues & Prophecy. He continues by saying: 

Even musical instruments like the flute or the harp, though they are lifeless, are examples of the need for speaking in plain language. For no one will recognize the melody unless the notes are played clearly.    1 Corinthians 14:7 

I know from experience (as an instrumentalist) how important coordinating both the pitch & rhythm can be.  Speaking tongues (Prayer Language) not a problem. However,  in a biblical sense of Prophecy (speaking for God), we need to be In tune-with God’s Word. The Apostle Peter says in his epistle:  

You must understand that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophets themselves or because they wanted to prophesy. It was the Holy Spirit who moved the prophets to speak from God.  2 Peter 1:20 

Even the Prophets we find in the Hebrew Bible were filled with God’s Spirit to speak His truth NOT out of their own understanding or opinion. Paul uses yet another illustration to help these early believers: 

It’s the same for you. If you talk to people in a language they don’t understand, how will they know what you mean? You might as well be talking to an empty room.    1 Corinthians 14:9 

Here I believe Paul is going farther than just Tongues. There are so many words in what I would call “Christian-ese.” For those of us who grew up in the church these words/phrases are second nature/instinctive: Redeemed, Delivered, Saved, Washed in the Blood of The Lamb. When we consider the outside world (particularly young people) and how they see us as the Church. We need to heed Paul’s advice.  Paul is telling the Corinthians (and us) if we can’t speak their language-like speaking to an Empty Room. Finally Paul tells them: 

Since you are so eager to have spiritual gifts, ask God for those that will be of real help to the whole  church.   1 Corinthians 14:12 

How can we be a Real Help to The Church-utilizing the Gifts God has given us. Powerfully provided by the Holy Spirit…Put another way..Paul tells the Ephesian Church: 

He gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.   Ephesians 4:11-12 

Equipping God’s People…To Do His Work—To Build Up the Church—By the Grace of God. There’s A Place for You…All of You—For His Glory

SPIRITUAL GIFT SERIES: GIFTED & TALENTED (1 Corinthians 12)

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One thing we have discovered the past few weeks is how often Spiritual Gifts are mentioned in Scripture. Paul discusses them with the Roman Church, the Ephesian Church… and now the Corinthian Church. The same Holy Spirit that gives inspiration to the writers of God’s Word gives us abilities to glorify him in our lives here in our community and beyond. We see in this 1st letter to the Corinthian Church Paul explaining in a very basic way the gifts that the Holy Spirit brings. He ultimately shares with them/us, why this is so important as a (Doctrine of Spiritual Gifts). He later tells them:

 Since you are so eager to have spiritual gifts, ask God for those that will be of real help to the whole church.     1 Corinthians 14:2 

Paul wants them/us to know that the Spiritual Gifts are Real & important. They actually are sent to help the whole church. Local congregation and beyond. In fact when the Apostle Peter spoke of Spiritual Gifts he emphasized a different aspect that of Stewardship. He said: 

God has given gifts to each of you from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you.   1 Peter 4:10 

Stewardship-one of the most misunderstood words in all of Christendom & The Bible. Usually associates with Money…It is actually how we use ALL the gifts God has given us. Then how much we return to Him. When we join the church we asked 5 questions (in addition to accepting our baptism) will you support This Congregation with your PRAYERS…you PRESENCE… Your GIFTS (not just your Money), Your SERVICE & Your WITNESS. That is how we are grow as a church/a congregation. So God’s generosity can flow through you. Why we need to manage our Spiritual Gifts. 

Knowing our Spiritual Gifts allows us to know our specific place in ministry. Where God can use us most effectively. A couple of weeks ago we saw how Paul was encouraging the Roman church saying: 

God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out when you have faith that God is speaking through you. If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching.    Romans 12:6-7

When we are specifically gifted in a certain area it is not necessarily a grueling task. It is a labor of love. I recently completed a Spiritual Gifts Inventory which was strong in the gift of Pastoring/Shepherding…I tell people the most enjoyment in any career I have had—to get to see lives transformed-Everyday! 

Another thing we need to realize is the importance of determining God’s will for our lives. How we are specifically gifted. Paul also reminds the Roman Church (& us):

Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is. Romans 12:2

 

Let God transform your life…no matter how young or old you are. Becoming a pastor at my age…people here who are becoming teachers of God’s word… and those training to be certified speakers for the UMC. Then our prayer warriors who maybe the most important job in all of the church—God’s good, pleasing & perfect will. 

So we find in our text this morning Paul telling these Corinthians why it is so important to discover and use these Spiritual Gifts: 

A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church.   1 Corinthians 12:7 

Similar to what he said earlier “as a means of helping All” In Greek the word Symphero (where we get our word Symphony). Fruitfulness in all areas. In a Symphony Orchestra-All sections are important in fact every instrument is important as it played by someone uniquely gifted and blended with other instruments/sections under the leadership of one conductor. That is what we are as a congregation as a church.

 

In realizing our spiritual gifts we need to understand the Nature of these Spiritual Gifts. Paul shares in our text: 

Now there are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but it is the same Holy Spirit who is the source of them all.     1 Corinthians 12:4 

The understanding that is isn’t how great we are regardless of the gift we a have been given it is how Great God is & our ability to be used by God to work through us for his glory. Similar to how Jesus was part human part divine. We are all obviously human. The gifts we are given are divine as they are manifested through us. We also need to realize the difference between our Spiritual Gifts and our Human Talents. The Psalmist reminds us: 

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your  works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:13-14 

Fearfully & wonderfully made-everyone of you. Created in the image of God. To be used by Him and so he can communicate His word through us in our variety of gifts to proclaim His Love. Once we realize our specific giftedness..we need to work to put them to use and to ask God and other how to develop these gifts in concert with one another. Paul tells as he hands over his ministry: 

This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on You.    2 Timothy 1:6 

Why we continue to study his word. We gather together to strengthen each other. Encourage each other. Pray for each other. As we go out. Paul wants the Corinthian Church to know: 

There are different ways God works in our lives, but it is the same God who does the work through all of us.   1 Corinthians 12:6 

One of the most powerful things about these gifts is the variety and diversity of these gifts that we have been given. Even right here in our own congregation. When I think about the meal that awaits us in the next room [Message delivered on a 5th Sunday with a meal following the service]. The variety and diversity in all that great food. How much greater are the Gifts he has given us in and through His Holy Spirit. Finally Paul wants the Corinthian Church to know how do we come about obtaining these gifts. he tells them: 

It is the one and only Holy Spirit who distributes these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.  1 Corinthians 12:11 

It kind of reminds me of Angel Tree at Christmas. How generous this congregation is to so many families in our community. How grateful these recipients are who receive these gifts (especially the kids). So what about us? Are we excited to see what God has in store for us? Shouldn’t we be eager to receive these gifts from God as the people in our community accept gifts from us? So where do we go from here? Have you discovered your Spiritual Gift/s? Are waiting for God? Are You Open to His Spirit? The writers of Hebrews tell us: 

The message God delivered through angels has Always proved true…and God verified the message by signs and wonders and various miracles and by giving gifts of the Holy Spirit whenever he chose to do so. Hebrews 2:2,4 

We will continue to open these gifts that God has given to us as individuals and a congregation. We will continue learn together how we can put these gifts to work for the good of this congregation, this community & for The Glory of God.

BIRTHDAY (ACTS 2)

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PODCAST: BIRTHDAY

I am not one to get excited about Birthdays. When I am aware I am quick to wish someone a Happy Birthday. But, for me it means… another year. When it comes to the Birthday of the Church—much of the world could care less. We struggle with how to Celebrate the birth of the Christian Church? It actually becomes more an observance rather than a celebration. However, when we look at the 2nd chapter of Acts, it is something to be excited about. When we realize the Birthday Gift that was opened that Day is still relevant and alive today.

Even before those events—the people of Israel had been waiting for something big to happen for a long time. Many still remembered the Prophet Joel’s words:

You will know that I, the LORD your God, dwell in Zion…”In that day the mountains will drip new wine, and the hills will flow with milk; all the ravines of Judah will run with water. A fountain will flow out of the LORD’s house and will water the valley of acacias. Joel 3:17-18

Joel was clear with his vision of New Wine, Milk, Running Water..a Fountain. New Wine=New Life, Milk=Sustenance, Running Water, Fountains bringing Life in a very Arid Place. Something we can relate to with our drought. In the “Dry Times” we experience. We Need New Life.

We find in the first chapter of Acts, Jesus (following his resurrection) gathers his Disciple together for one last meeting and we are told by Luke:

He gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 1:4-5

The Disciples told to take action in a very puzzling way. Most of Jesus ministry and instruction usually began with Go…This time it was different in fact they had all kinds of questions…This time Jesus asked the Disciples to Wait…Does Anybody like to Wait? Like going to the doctor. You sign in and where do they initially send you? [The Waiting Room] Then you go to the smaller room and wait some more…Why they call us patients. The Disciples do as commanded and we find them obediently waiting. Luke tells us:

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Acts 2:1

When we hear All it doesn’t necessarily mean just the 12 Disciples it could have been many of the followers of Jesus. We just know they were together and waiting. Then it happened..Luke tells us:

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. Acts 2:2-3
A Sound (Violent Wind). Sounds Menacing (like a Hurricane)…actually in Greek-Sound (the word Ekko) that reverberates, Like a violent wind means the Powerful—Breathe of Life/God. How many of us have had times in our lives where we needed God to Breathe Life into us. They saw what seemed to be: Tongues of Fire/separating. Imagery (a visual) of Fire from God coming & available to ALL who would believe. Then we are told:

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Acts 2:4

All of Them (who waited & believed) -were filled. Filled means…not like a cup…rather to be “Controlled” which enabled them/us to do something they/we never dreamed they/we could/can. We have the same opportunity today through prayer and our Faith (as we are filled with the Holy Spirit). Luke tells us of the reaction of the people that Day of Pentecost:

Godly Jews from many nations…heard this sound…they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers. “How can this be?” they exclaimed. “We all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!”They stood there amazed and perplexed. “What can this mean?” Acts 2:5-7,11-12

They were amazed & perplexed…hearing about the Wonderful things God has done..in their own language. Are there people today who need to hear the wonderful things God has done in a language that they can understand? Something as simple as “Jesus Loves You”…”I Love You”… (Something everyone understands). Then later that Day of Pentecost we are told by Luke:

A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together constantly and shared everything they had. Acts 2:43-44

Sense of Awe (formerly translated Fear) The word becomes “Awe when it is in context of a relationship. As we are in relationship with God, Christ, And The Holy Spirit. Then we are told of Miracles, Signs & Wonders-(the ancient texts included all three languages of Aramaic, Hebrew & Greek)-to emphasize that this was something symbolizing God (His Unconditional Love & Grace). Miracles, Signs & Wonders today-Healing, Birth of a Child (from the Holy Spirit).Finally Luke tells us:

They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity — all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved. Acts 2:46-47

Worshipped Together, Met in Homes, Shared Meals—Great Joy & Generosity. Sounds like a church I would want to be a part of and we are told that The Lord added to their group-being saved.

This is again a reminder of what the Psalmist wished for as they prayed to God:

When you send your Spirit, new life is born to replenish all the living of the earth. May the glory of the LORD last forever! The LORD rejoices in all he has made! Psalm 104:30-31

I am reminded of those words penned by some “Not so Famous” songwriters—Patty & Mildred Hill of a very famous song-that goes:

Happy Birthday to You…Happy Birthday to You…Happy Birthday—Church of Jesus…Happy Birthday to You!

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHURCH

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Scripture (Acts 2:1-8)

Happy Birthday—to You

I don’t really like Birthdays…Particularly as I get older

We get attention and credit for making it through another year???

I think the person to celebrate on our Birthday is Our Mothers

She did all the work…

I also think it is cool that thinking of that this month

we got recognize our mothers 2 weeks ago…

Then last week we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the birth

of this congregation

& Today we celebrate the birthday of the Christian Church

In the Methodist Church we observe a liturgical calendar.

We recognize as the church the 7 weeks following Easter (49 days)

is called Eastertide. In the early church the only seasons celebrated was

Epiphany, Ash Wednesday—Lent (40 days)—Holy Week—Easter & Pentecost

Advent/Christmas was added later…then Eastertide to help the church realize the

significance Pentecost .

Historically the celebration of the Jews for their Spring Harvest was called Fest of Weeks which occurred 50 days after the Passover. It was important enough to be include in both the law and given as a reminder by Moses in Deuteronomy.

“Count off seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain. Then celebrate the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the blessings the LORD your God has given you.” Deuteronomy 16:10

Pentecost was both a harvest of people who had been planted in Jerusalem —

Some celebrating what God had blessed them with (literal harvest) and some

remembering what Christ had done through his ministry, sacrifice and resurrection. It was an occurrence that day of a something foretold by the prophet Joel.

“Then you will know that I, the LORD your God, dwell in Zion, my holy hill. Jerusalem will be holy. In that day The mountains will drip new wine, and the hills will Flow with milk; all the ravines of Judah will run with water. A fountain will flow out of the LORD’s house.”

Joel 3:17-18

That is where we find these people who encountered this special occurrence in our text this morning.

In the previous chapter Luke tells us: They were all together…the key word together: meaning to be permanently attached/bonded. Indicating that each piece of the puzzle was important.

It also says in some translations-They were together..

In One Accord.. Not referring to the kind of car Jesus’ Disciples drove…

One Accord…(GK-Thymos) with passion..by itself not a good term usually used in Paul’s letters referring to a passion for the world. It used here to describe a passion for God.

Another way of seeing this is how Paul instructs believers in the Roman church.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may

glorify the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Romans 15:5-6

Before they encountered the events of the day of Pentecost they were instructed by Jesus. Luke tells us..

Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you what he promised. Remember, I have told you about this before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be

baptized with the Holy Spirit. Acts 1: 4-5

So they waited…

We see that even before Pentecost many of the early believers had a sense of Unity. What changed that day was that same sense of unity that existed in that small group was immediately transformed into something much more expansive.

By looking at the long lasting effects of that Pentecost we see several key areas of how that Unity can and does exist today.

First they were United in Purpose-The Apostle Paul instructs the Philippian church:

Now, the important thing is that your way of life should be as the gospel of Christ requires, so that, whether or not I am able to go and see you, I will hear that you are standing firm

with one common purpose and that with only one desire you are fighting together for the faith of the gospel. Philippians 1:27

One Common Purpose/One Desire…Fighting Together for The Faith…

Paul also tells the Corinthian Church about the Purpose or Function for The Gifts of The Holy Spirit…He tells them…

A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church. 1 Corinth. 12:7

He also tells them…

Whatever you do, you must do all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31b

Ultimately, The Holy Spirit provides a consensus for how we are to function as The Church. Paul tells the church at Ephesus:

For Christ himself has made peace between us…by making us all one people. Now all of us…may come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has

done for us   Ephesians 2:14 & 18

Though Pentecost was a onetime event, The Holy Spirit indwelling in each of us gives us the power to be the church

Another important dimension of the unity that existed in the early church was that they were united in Prayer…Luke records

They all met together continually for prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus. Acts 1:14

Even before Pentecost they prayed for “Continually” The Apostle Paul picks up on this especially after Pentecost by teaching:

My friends, if someone is caught in any kind of wrongdoing, those of you who are spiritual should set him right; but you must do it in a gentle way. And keep an eye on yourselves,

so that you will not be tempted, too. Help carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will obey the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1-2

Help carry one another’s burdens..A powerful ministry of this congregation…

Fueled by the Pentecostal Power of The Holy Spirit.

Paul also taught the importance of having Fellowship through The Holy Spirit—especially through prayer.

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy

complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Philippians 2:1-2

United with Christ, Like-Minded, Having the same Love, One Spirit & Purpose

Then as we see in our text this morning they were United in Power

Luke records:

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 Acts 2:3-4a

Tongues of Fire…Tongues = Speech, Fire = God’s purifying presence

It came to rest on each of them. It is what God communicated to them in that encounter. What has The Holy Spirit communicated to us??? How have we encountered His purifying presence.

To the people who encountered The Holy Spirit that Day, Luke tells us:

“…we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Acts 2:11b

People who didn’t know Hebrew/Aramaic heard about God’s Unconditional Love and His Grace that Day for the first time in a way they could understand it.

People still need this today (ie. Food Pantry).

Another way they realized the unity that day was they believed the same things. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles Acts 2:42-43

They also found that they Loved the same things:

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the

favor of all the people. Acts 2:46-47

Then Finally after they had encountered Pentecost—They were United in Doing the work of The Holy Spirit

And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit… and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. Acts 2:4

Speaking in Tongues…Prayer language…Not in this case it served a specific purpose and was interpreted.

The Holy Spirit enables us to not only have the faith to believe but it empowers us to put it into action

But someone will say, “One person has faith, another has actions.” My answer is, “Show me how anyone can have faith without actions. I will show you my faith by my actions.”

James 2:18

Today right here in Splendora /East Montgomery County-Food Pantry, Hispanic Ministry, AA-upcoming VBS

Two other ministries possibly overlooked Prayer Ministry & Congregational Care

At all times make it your aim to do good to one another and to all people. Be joyful always, pray at all times, be thankful in all circumstances. 1 Thessalonians 5:15b-18

Praying for Healing (We have seen miracles), visiting & checking in on sick and shut in (Karl & crew)

Paul tells the Corinthian church about the gifts that are given by The Holy Spirit.

Now, concerning the gifts from the Holy Spirit. There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit gives them. There are different ways of serving, but the same Lord

is served. There are different abilities to perform service, but the same God gives ability to all for their particular service. The Spirit’s presence is shown in some way in each person

for the good of all. 1 Corinthians 12:1, 4-7

Different Gifts…Same Spirit, Different ways of serving…same Lord,

Different Abilities… Same God… For The Good of All

Today is our Birthday…A gift has been given to each of you as you encounter

The Holy Spirit…The greatest part of this day accepting that gift for God’s Glory and for the Good of All—AMEN