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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pentecost - are you ready?

1-4 When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.
(Acts 2:1-4)

As we begin to explore the happenings on that first New Testament Pentecost day, we will see that the disciples were gathered together in one place.  There is something that happens when God's people gather together.  By the very experience of being together in on accord - no emphasis on differences, no focus on the inadequacies of each other, but simply being content to gather in his name, united in their worship - there is a door opened to heaven like no other time.  

Without warning, an event began to transpire that would result in the transformation of his disciples like no other - the infilling of the Holy Spirit.  The Old Testament is full of descriptions of time when the Holy Spirit "came upon" an individual and they were able to prophesy of the future events in the lives of God's people or do something out of the normal.  Now, we see the transition of the Holy Spirit simply "coming upon" a few to the fulfillment of Jesus' promise that he would send another to "indwell" them - to be their guide, comforter, etc.

There were three manifestations that day - a sound, a sight, and a speaking - all served to not only get the attention of the disciples gathered, but also the onlookers as far away as those in the streets!  The mighty wind, the cloven tongues of fire, and the various filling of the disciples with the ability to speak forth in what we hear referred to as "differing tongues" was reaching beyond the walls of their little upper room.  If we recall the words of Christ just before he ascended to heaven, he had asked these disciples to remain in Jerusalem - because he was sending something (really someone) that would help them in their calling to be disciples to the nations.  That someone was the Holy Spirit.

Wind and fire in the Old Testament are symbols commonly used to describe the Holy Spirit.  Wind also was symbolic of the breath of God.  Fire often referred to that which produced God's holiness by "burning up the chaff - in other words, it had a purifying effect.  The Bible is rich in symbolism - God "tying" a symbol to a certain action or characteristic of his character.  He does this because he knows we could never fully comprehend his holiness without some connection to the things we see, feel, and can generally interpret with out senses.

The Holy Spirit spread through their ranks - like a wildfire.  This is an example of symbolism - as one was touched, others began to be touched - just like a small fire begins to spread out as it reaches new "kindling".  These were readied hearts - they were just waiting for the spark to catch them on fire!  God has wonderful things in store for those who are first of all obedient - these disciples were waiting as they were told.  He opens countless blessings to those who are yielded - their hearts were in one accord.  His touch in the lives of his disciples has a multiplying effect - those near and those at a distance were impacted by this infilling experience.

We are given the Holy Spirit to indwell us - be there every day of our lives as our comforter, guide, teacher - at the point of our welcoming Christ into our lives as Lord and Savior.  There is a separate experience when we yield to the Lord, fully surrendering, bringing our hearts into one accord with his, and asking for the infilling of the Holy Spirit.  We hear this referred to as the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  This experience transforms like none other.  It is more than "speaking in tongues" or some "feel good" experience.  It is an empowering, "cementing" experience that places us on a journey with Christ that is powerful and purposeful.

If you have not experienced "Pentecost" in your own walk with Christ - perhaps today is the day.  God is waiting - are you ready?