Pentecost – what a day, what an event!
Before Jesus went back to heaven he said that he was going to send One just like himself, One who would be in us and remain with us. Now sat down at the right hand of the Father he sends the Spirit, and my, how he came! I’m not sure they new what to expect, but when he came it was evident, a mighty rushing wind, tongues of fire, speaking in other tongues… church had never been like this!
Throughout the book of Acts the Spirit turns up again and again, in similar and different ways, and as the story unfolds you get the sense of a real dynamic at work – God present speaking, guiding and empowering…..
We need to remember, they didn’t have the Bible as we have it, they didn’t have the structures we have, they didn’t have the programs we have, they didn’t have the technology we have…. but what a church, and what a missional impact.
Today in the church at large we have the Word (in multiple versions), various structures, an endless array of programs, and a powerful array of technology.
As a young person I sat in chapel and wondered about the disconnect between what I saw and experienced and what I saw in the Bible – something was missing. Then I encountered Pentecostals. Well this was different, and they still believed in and experienced the Spirit in ways I had never known – but was it really for today? were they of the devil?
Over time a hunger grew…. then one day God met me, the Spirit came, he filled me and I spoke in tongues (even tough I was still struggling to believe in all these things due to the cessationist theology I was brought up with). The Christian life took on a new and powerful spiritual dimension – what I believed, became real and powerful, suddenly I was energised and enabled to witness like I had never done – God was present with me.
This shy and retiring guy felt the call of God, and the Spirit enabled. The guy who wouldn’t speak unless he was spoken to, suddenly found himself empowered to lead worship, preach the Word, go out door to door…. all because He had come. The Spirit made the difference.
Then over the years I found that I backed off due to the abuse of the gifts and some of what was being said and done in the name of the Spirit. I found myself becoming sceptical even cynical, and my experience began to dry up. At one point I felt like going back to straightforward evangelicalism, only to come under the conviction that I would be denying what I knew to be part of God’s Word. I couldn’t do it. God had to get me through, and he did. Abuse and mis-use should not lead to no-use.
I wonder where you are today, maybe you’ve seen some stuff that turned you off, maybe seen or been on the end of the abuse of gifts and today you are in a backwater?
Are you reliant on an intellectual knowledge of the Word?
Are you reliant on your own personality, abilities and or strength?
Are you reliant on your own ability to make music, turn up the sound, create an atmosphere?
Are you still doing it like you did yesterday, afraid to listen to the fresh wind of the Spirit?
Are you dependent on the structures of your church, the way you’ve always done it, afraid to listen to the Spirit?
Don’t settle for false fire, don’t settle for no fire and don’t settle smouldering embers.
It’s time to open up again to the fresh wind of the Spirit, don’t allow the enemy to rob you of what God wants to give you – why don’t you stop and take time to open up to God, to welcome afresh the gift of Spirit.