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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pentecost - are you ready for ignition?

36"All Israel, then, know this: There's no longer room for doubt—God made him Master and Messiah, this Jesus whom you killed on a cross."  37Cut to the quick, those who were there listening asked Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers! Brothers! So now what do we do?"  38-39Peter said, "Change your life. Turn to God and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is targeted to you and your children, but also to all who are far away—whomever, in fact, our Master God invites."  40He went on in this vein for a long time, urging them over and over, "Get out while you can; get out of this sick and stupid culture!"  41-42That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.
(Acts 2:36-42)

Pentecost has an effect on the lives of those who experience it - both first-hand as one internally touched by it, and those that are affected by the display of what they see and hear in a life that has been transformed by the power of God. When the one who ignites life-transforming change within us is at work - others notice.  As we examine our passage today, we find that Peter is concluding his message to the onlookers and over-hearers of the events of that Pentecost day. The onlookers recognized some of those in the upper room and wondered at the transformation they observed.  Those that were simply overhearing the wind, the speaking in other languages, and the exuberant praise were curious enough to stick around to see what Peter had to say about it.  Now, they had heard exactly what God had had to say about it and it "stung them" to the core - bringing conviction and ultimately repentance to a great multitude of onlookers and over-hearers.

Wherever the power of the Holy Spirit is, there will be signs that follow.  If the  Holy Spirit resides in us, there should be signs that follow!  The work of the Holy Spirit that day is repeated time and time again in our own lives and then in the lives of others we come into contact with.  His work is first of all to bring conviction of sin - not just an awareness that it exists, but deep, purposeful conviction.  It is more than being convinced that we are sinners, but a desire to do something about it.  Conviction of this type leads to confession of the sin - just like these onlookers asked "hey....what do we do now?"  Nothing gratifies God more than to have one of his kids ask, "Lord, what do I do now?"  When our hearts are seeking this answer, he knows we are open to the transforming work he is eagerly waiting to begin.

Where the Holy Spirit is given access, there is also an opportunity to get purposeful clarity as to the steps to take.  God is not a God of confusion - he delights in making a man's path straight (not only showing us the path to take, but outlining the steps we should take along that path).  These onlookers received absolutely immediate and understandable direction about what it was that God expected - Repent, be baptized and get involved in the local church!  First, God asked them to have a different mindset about the one they had crucified (or at least watched be crucified).  He wanted them to see Jesus as Messiah, not merely a great teacher or prophet.  The first step we always take in receiving a break-through in our lives is to get what we think or understand about Christ RIGHT!

The Holy Spirit has the ultimate goal of giving us revelation of who Jesus is, what he desires, and how to get to the place he desires for us to be as a member of his family.  We call this revelation - the unveiling of what had been hidden to our understanding.  The instruction given to these believers to be baptized and then to involve themselves in a local church was simply a call to "get over" the old life and pursue a new one.  Baptism symbolizes us taking both the mindful and spiritual steps of saying "good-bye" to the old way of living - renouncing the old life - and determining in mind, body and spirit to live as Christ would have us to live.  Getting established in a congregation of other believers builds accountability into our lives and helps keep us on the path of growth.

The response of those who took to heart what Peter shared that day was to devote themselves - commit themselves - to the passionate and purposeful pursuit of the revelation of Jesus within their lives.  That is ultimately what God desires of each of us - to be on fire for him, pursuing him with passion, and to desire more and more of him to be manifest in us.  How do we know if this is our pursuit?  Remember this:  Where there is fire, there is evidence of fire!  Even when fire has passed over, moved on from where it was once focused, there is evidence that fire had touched that spot.  We see evidence of the Holy Spirit's work in our lives - in our love for the Word of God growing, in our desire to love others in fresh ways (like without focus on the differences, but on the similarities), and in the desire to commune with him in prayer and worship.

Pentecost is a starting point - not the ultimate goal.  What is ignited in our hearts by the infilling of the Holy Spirit is just the beginning.  As we continue to be filled, our lives continue to become displays of his power.  Are you ready for the igniting power of Christ in your life?