As I think about it, I don’t believe
I can recall the last time there was a double holiday weekend. The closest I
have seen in the past has been when our wedding anniversary falls on Labor Day
weekend. But tomorrow, as you know, Memorial Day, a day of sober remembrance of
those who gave their lives on the battlefield for us. But for the average
American, tomorrow is the first holiday of Summer, even though there is still
most of a month of Spring before Summer officially starts.
And if you haven’t realized it, seven
weeks have passed since we celebrated Easter. It has been seven weeks and a day
since the Passover. So by the Jewish calendar, today is the day that starts the
Jewish festival, Feast of weeks, a celebration of the harvest of the first
grains. It is a joyous celebration before the Lord, a celebration where what is
given to the Lord is not mandated, other than to give with joy and
thanksgiving. So I guess today’s holiday
is much like tomorrow’s.
Just as Jesus was the lamb for the
Passover, so today marked the birth of the church. Consider what the people
saw, what they heard. First it started with wind, not the actual movement of
air, but merely the sound of it. It was loud. It was heard through the streets
of Jerusalem to the point that people gathered to where the disciples were
staying. Then God’s presence was revealed in the tongues of fire descending
upon each them, enabling them to speak the Great News in different tongues so
that all who came to see heard the news proclaimed in his or her native tongue.
They started questioning it. Some
were amazed. A few scoffed, blaming alcohol. Yet from there, Peter had their
attention. He proclaimed Jesus as the long awaited Messiah. He demonstrated how
He fulfilled Scripture and how the people rejected him and had him killed.
God’s Son murdered by their hands. And they knew it. They asked what must be
Repent and be baptized for the
forgiveness of your sins and to receive the Holy Spirit. And with these and
many other words, Peter pleaded with the people to save themselves from this
corrupt generation. The response was phenomenal. Approximately 3,000 were baptized
and added that day.
Not only was this the start of the
church, but it was something totally new. It was a newness of attitude, a
newness of the heart. It was a new transformation. And look how it manifested
itself beginning at Acts 2.42 and following.
All the believers devoted themselves to
the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including
the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and
the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers
met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their
property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 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 fellowship those who were being saved.
So the question that we ponder this
morning is how do we recapture Pentecost? I am not so much talking about this
day as much as I am referring to what started this day. Our passage is weeks, months, even years past
this day. How do we recapture Pentecost?
1. Devotion to
Study and Worship
This past week, I had an interesting
discussion about faith, the Word. The quote this person left me with, “I don't
need some book to tell me how to live or know god. As if anyone has the right
to tell someone else that he knows god better (than me).” Needless to say, at that point our short
Yet it got me to thinking about what
this person said. Do I need some book? If I want to be able to do my taxes, I need
a book. As I restore my truck, I definitely need a book to tell me how. If I
want to practice medicine or law, I need a book. Well I would need lots of
books. Even philosophers and self-help gurus are always pushing their books so
that the reader can know how to live a better life.
Basically we study books, other
teachers if you will, until we've mastered the subject. But even then, living
for God, following Christ's example is so counterintuitive that mastery is
nearly impossible given every turn we're told that Self is most important thing
Yet another conversation is that if
we want to win “x”-religious person to Christ, we need to read that person’s
literature and fully understand where the person is coming from. This person
even used Paul in Athens where he saw the idol to the unknown god, just in case
they missed one in their pantheon of worships.
But Paul stated that in his ministry, he claimed to know nothing but
Jesus and Jesus crucified alone.
Just as a person who handles money
for a living doesn’t take time to know the counterfeits, but instead spends
time studying the real. This allows him or her to spot the fake money when it
appears. So we too, are to handle the Word, to know it so fully that when
something comes along that is fake, we can spot it and avoid it. This is why it
is so important to be devoted to the Word, to study.
As simple as I make it seem, I know
that it’s not as easy to do. This is why I need your help, this is why I come
to worship with you today, so that you might encourage me in my walk, just as I
might encourage you in your walk. And there is something about singing
together, praying together, reading the word that unites us. The more we invest
in one another, invest in the Word, the more we want to be around one another.
with One Another
We become concerned for one another.
We find ourselves spending time together. Yesterday, I was trying something new
at the Farmer’s Market, “An invitation to sit and talk.” A few were tempted to
sit with me. Mike and Cathy did. They were believers. And we encouraged one
another because we were able to unite around our common faith, and the
struggles we see within our community, within our culture. Before I knew it, an
hour had passed.
This is something that I enjoy each
Sunday, a time of fellowship with you. Now as for congregations in this
country, by comparison, we fellowship more than most. Some congregations have
lunch out each week. But we have a light lunch in. But what if we were to
increase that to meeting more often, perhaps if not for food, then perhaps for
talking about the Word. We don’t have the Temple to meet in anymore, but we do
have our buildings. We have our dining rooms. We have the place to make the
to being able to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters, and even to
others. Can you imagine a time that no one has any financial burdens, that all
their needs were met? Are all your needs met?
When we have
a changed attitude from being in the Word, being around one another, then what
we have takes a new values. God has entrusted me with this. How can I use my
blessings to bless someone else? We realize that we are merely stewards of what
the Lord has entrusted to us.
that the key to winning someone to the Lord is to show him or her that you
care. Often that might mean we meet their worldly needs before we can meet
their physical needs. And as part of the Church of Arizona, we will have that
opportunity soon enough.
week in the news, state lawmakers and the governor passed a new law concerning
public assistance. The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) will
be pared down to helping individuals/families for one year and then no more,
ever. With it estimated that 40% of Arizonans are on such assistance, once that
assistance runs dry, where will these people turn?
Once upon a
time, a person in need would turn to the Church for help. Then came the
Depression and government came alongside to assist the Church in meeting needs.
I am not sure when it happened that the government became a person’s first
place for help and the church became last, but now history is coming back
around that we will once again be in a position to help others.
And as we
become the hands and feet of Jesus, sharing God’s good news, love, and grace,
we might once again see God act in supernatural wonders. We will see the Church
of America, perhaps at least the Church of Bisbee start to grow. As we are
loyal to our calling, the God will bless us and add to us those who are being
saved. Let us see the fields ready for the harvest.