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May 06, 2018

EPIC #9 - The Gift of the Holy Spirit, Making God's Story Personal

Passage: Acts 2:1-21

Preacher: John Huizinga

Series: The Grand Story of God

Category: EPIC

Keywords: holy spirit, pentecost, temple, witnesses

Summary:

EPIC SUNDAY #9, Pentecost. The next chapter in the Grand Story of God is the Gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. We read part of the story from Acts 2. The Jewish Pentecost festival was a thanksgiving celebration for harvest. On Pentecost the Spirit sent the church out onto the streets with the saving message of Jesus.

Detail:

Where does God live?

If you look around the world

you might figure that God lives in

the grand and glorious wonders of nature.

John Muir – the one credited with doing so much

toward the establishment of national parks said:

Oh, these vast, calm, measureless mountain days, inciting at once to work and rest!

Days in whose light everything seems equally divine, opening a thousand windows to show us God.

And the poet Emily Dickinson wrote:

SOME keep the Sabbath going to church;

I keep it staying at home,

With a bobolink for a chorister,

And an orchard for a dome.

They are saying

God lives in nature’s wonder and beauty.

 

Where does God live?

And some would point

to famous religious places like:

The Dome of the Rock

The ancient ruins at Luxor

Maybe an exclusive temple like

the Mormon temple in Salt Lake City

that only certain people can go into,

those folks believe it’s too holy for just anyone

like you or me.

 

Some say God lives up in heaven.

That God is far away, removed from everyday life.

God might show up in big moments

or I can call on God when I need him,

but mostly God is not involved in my life.

 

Others conclude that God doesn’t live anywhere

because there is no God.

We are alone in the universe.

 

Yet we all have those moments that say otherwise.

When we see something beautiful and wondrous

we recognize the hand of God.

When deliverance comes in the form of healing

or restoration we say thank you God.

In great tragedies we cry, where is God?

 

God the Holy Spirit chose a place to dwell.

It wasn’t far removed from life and suffering.

It wasn’t in exclusive places of beauty

reserved only for the few.

The Spirit came and rested

on each one of the disciples,

on the church gathered together in Jesus’ name.

Acts 2:1-4

1When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

 

Where is God’s temple?

Those who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Those who follow the way and Word of God –

by faith in Jesus YOU are God’s temple.

God chooses to live in you and me of all places!

Doubting Thomas.

Peter, who denied Jesus

and was forgiven by the risen Lord.

John and James, sons of Thunder

known by their neighbors for their anger

yet beloved by Jesus

and changed into passionate lovers of God

and the LORD’s rule and reign.

God chose these as holy temples –

the place where God lives.

 

Does that surprise you?

I’m surprised.

Because if I compare myself

to the grandeur of the mountains

or the glory of the ancient temple ruins

I’m thinking why would God live in me?

Surely there are better creations

for God to take up residence

than in the likes of me!

Most times I don’t feel so holy.

You’re telling me that the cross of Jesus

changes me that much:

From sinner to something holy!

 

Jesus truly is the Master Carpenter,

and by the love of God sacrificed for our sins

we aren’t merely fixed up a little

and given a fresh coat of paint,

but renovated and restored into holy temples

where God lives!

 

YES! Look at what the Bible says:

Ephesians 2:21-22 –

21In him [Jesus] the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

 

1 Corinthians 3:16-17  

16Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? 17If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.

 

This whole year we’ve been journeying

through the grand story of God.

From creation through the fall into sin

to deliverance and redemption.

We’ve said that this grand story of God

is our story too.

We know our secular age teaches us

that life is about writing our own story.

We feel the pressure to be true to our own selves.

But the grand story of God is an invitation

to a better life, a full life.

And scriptures make us wonder:

Wouldn’t it make sense to learn from the only one

who lived perfectly?

Who promised fullness?

Who both created life and lived it?

The invitation from God

is to find yourself in God’s story.

That there is a place for you

in these final chapters of redemption

and restoration right now.

 

Pentecost makes this invitation a personal reality.

The Holy Spirit brings the presence of God

right into our hearts and lives

as the tongues of fire come and rest

on each of the disciples gathered together.

 

The story is shared to say

by faith this is your story, too.

It’s not just for Peter and the Eleven;

all who call on the Lord will be saved, he testifies.

Just look at all the obstacles that were in place

as this day of Pentecost began.

Look at all the barriers to God the Spirit overcame:

the people hear the message in their language,

so barriers and divisions of race are judged

and removed by the Holy Spirit.

The barriers of gender and age are removed

as the words of the prophet Joel are fulfilled:

17 “‘In the last days, God says,

    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.

Your sons and daughters will prophesy,

    your young men will see visions,

    your old men will dream dreams.

18 Even on my servants, both men and women,

    I will pour out my Spirit in those days,

    and they will prophesy.

Sons and daughters . . .

both men and women . . .

young and old . . .

And the greatest barrier of all,

our sin and the guilt and shame that result,

that ultimate separation from the holiness of God

is removed:

21 And everyone who calls

    on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

Jesus is Lord over it all even sin and death

 

So in this time of separation,

people bewildered, amazed, and perplexed

when it comes to life and God,

God the Holy Spirit brings the temple to the people:

Where does God lead you when you’re lost?

Back to the place where God lives.

And God lives in Peter of all people,

In the disciples of all people,

where 2 or 3 gather in the name of Jesus as church,

in believers like you and me of all people.

Here, the temple of God gets pushed out

onto the streets of the lost and brings the good news.

God finds the lost with the news of Jesus:

‘and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord

will be saved.’

 

On that Pentecost Sunday something has happened.

The people know something supernatural has

taken place within the realm of the natural.

They wonder where God is.

Peter says WE are the witnesses.

God’s people are the temple –

the place people go to

when they’ve come to the end of their rope

and God alone is their hope.

 

Look, says Peter,

we have the great King David’s tomb right here.

And maybe these tourists

have stopped along the way to see the site.

But, he says, you can’t go to Jesus’ tomb,

because it’s empty,

he’s not buried, he’s alive.

Risen.

‘And we are witnesses of that fact’

vs 32 – confesses Peter.

It’s time for a new life with God.

 

So people of God, do you see your task?

Your place in the kingdom as a result of Pentecost?

You are temples of the Holy Spirt of God.

And just as on that first Pentecost

those looking to know where God is

went to Peter and the disciples for grace and truth,

so now the Spirit pushes you and me

out and into the neighborhood as witnesses.

 

Later on in Acts 2 we read - 36"Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."

 37When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?"

 38Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call."

 

Brothers, Peter, disciples, believers –

you who are the temple of God –

what shall we do?

 

And by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit Peter was ready with the answer that is Jesus:

Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus

for the forgiveness of your sins . . .

Find your life and identity in Jesus.

 

So about three thousand were saved that day,

having been drawn by the presence of the Holy Spirit to God’s temples,

to be found by Jesus.

 

Are we getting a sense of why it matters so much, this day of Pentecost,

and the resting of the Spirit among us

as a family of believers

and in our hearts and lives as followers of Jesus?

 

When your neighbor gets that call from the doctor that no one wants, and hears the word cancer,

and for the first time is confronted with his mortality and the truth that he has a shelf life

and the clock is ticking,

and that it is appointed to human beings once to die and after that to face judgment,

where do you think he will go?

He’s not gonna fly to some ancient temple ruins

to look for God.

She’s not gonna email the Dali Lama.

He’s not even gonna walk to the local church

on the corner.

She’s gonna ask you about it all.

He’s gonna want to know what it is

about your relationship with Jesus

that helps someone like him face death.

Because in Christ you’re the temple of God.

 

When a child goes to Sunday School for the first time,

when a teenager comes to the youth group

feeling she can’t talk to her parents

but needs someone to talk to,

when a young adult goes off to find life on his own

at college or in the work force

and wonders how to find his place

with a faith on his own now too,

what each needs is to come to the temple

of the LORD Jesus.

We’re to bring that loving, witnessing

presence of Christ to one another.

 

Now it sounds a bit threatening.

It’s too much to put on me.

That’s too big a responsibility, you counter.

But that’s what the disciples thought too . . .

Until the Spirit came.

Remember, Jesus said to them,

fearful, questioning, afraid:

‘You will receive power when the Spirit comes on you to be my witnesses here and to the ends of the earth . . .’

Peter says,

Acts 2:17-18

17" 'In the last days, God says,
      I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
   Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
      your young men will see visions,
      your old men will dream dreams.
 18Even on my servants, both men and women,
      I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
      and they will prophesy.

 

The Spirit is poured out  . . . even on you.

Making you to be the witness,

The blessing,

That Jesus died to make you to be.

 

For your life isn’t your own anymore.

It belongs to Jesus.

He bought you with the price of his blood.

Salvation means in part being remade

for his purposes, not your own.

Listen to 1 Corinthians 6 -

19Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

 

So let’s celebrate this Pentecost Sunday

by going out witnessing to the presence of God.

It’s a tough time to be doing so.

Many have never thought much of Jesus

and that’s true today too.

Many look at Christians in judgment

as a way to explain things.

But many are also broken, fearful,

without God and without salvation.

A fellow pastor

ministering in a broken neighborhood writes:

Here, the needs are deep, crippling, overwhelming. But beyond addiction, abuse,

mental illness and deep loneliness,

the ultimate need is for Jesus.

Not just the Jesus who loves people in this world, showing the great heart of the Father,

but the Jesus who saves from sin

and guarantees eternal healing.

The Jesus we embrace by faith.

We give the hours of our days

to showing people the love of Jesus,

but at the end of those days

we must point towards Him

and call people to believe.

Showing the Gospel leads to sharing the Gospel.

 

Here, that balance is hard, harder than I thought. Some show Jesus but never share Him;

others share Jesus, but don’t much show Him.

Do you show Jesus but never share him?

Do you assume you share Jesus

but you never really show him by your life?

YOU are his witness. You ARE his witness.

Of all the places God could have chosen to live,

he chose you.

It’s not a status thing, but it is a salvation issue.

 

Long ago Peter stood before the world and said,

. . . let me explain this to you;

listen carefully to what I say

And what he told them was Jesus:

What it was about his faith in Jesus

that the world couldn’t live without.

The Spirit led him so.

 

And the Spirit is leading you:

In your joy and sorrow,

Your success and limits,

Your loves and losses,

To say to your friend or classmate

or family member or neighbor,

Let me tell you,

THIS is what Jesus means to me,

THIS is what he has accomplished for me,

THIS is what we do in response:

And by your testimony the Spirit prompts one to call on the name of the Lord and be saved.

It’s our hope and prayer that every day,

somewhere in this city,

where you and I are led to follow Christ,

every day is Pentecost,

and because we are temples in the name of the Lord,

the Spirit is leading someone into your life

so that you may share and show Jesus.