May 18, 2018 – Pentecost and the Holy Spirit, Share the Gospel! – John 16:1-11, Romans 8:18-30

Pentecost

(Jesus said to the disciples-) “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me.  But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.

 “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.  Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.  And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:  concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.  John 16:1-11 (ESV)

How could it be to the disciples’ advantage for Jesus to leave them? It seems strange that Jesus would have to leave them in order to send the Holy Spirit, yet was necessary for Him to return to the Father in order to prepare a place for those who believe in Him as He tells us earlier in John’s Gospel. (John 14:1-3)

The Holy Spirit leads people to faith in Jesus by hearing the Gospel (Romans 10:17). Jesus Himself foretells that the Gospel must be proclaimed throughout the earth before He returns to establish the Kingdom once and for all at the end of days as we learn in Matthew 24:9-14 and Mark 13:3-13.  We anticipate the day when we are no longer living in the “now, but not yet” and we are brought into the complete, fulfilled Kingdom of God.

(The apostle Paul writes-) For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.  Romans 8:18-30 (ESV)

On the day of Pentecost we celebrate the Holy Spirit. Everyone who belongs to Jesus has the gift of the Holy Spirit.  As we live out our vocations as mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, friends, employees, employers, and so on, we have opportunities to share the Gospel with those around us.  We serve others because God has named, claimed and equipped us to accomplish His purpose.  We respond to hearing the Good News by passing it along.

Lord, give us ears to hear the Good News. Give us hearts and hands and voices to pass the Good News along.

June 26, 2017- God Gives Us the Power- Psalm 118:22-23, Acts 2:36-39

cornerstone

The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.  Psalm 118:22-23 (NRSV)

pentecost

Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.  Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”  Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” – Acts 2:36-39 (NRSV)

In these two passages of Scripture are three key words. Rejected, Repent, and Receive.

In Psalm 118 the writer (likely either David, or his son Solomon) speaks of Jesus- one rejected by the world but who God raised up. As Jesus followers at times we are the world’s rejects- the nobodies, the forgotten, the weak, the poor.  Yet God chooses us. Rejected by the world, maybe, but chosen by God.  If the world rejects us, we are in good company. Jesus was rejected by the establishment. He was sold to the high priests for less than what it would cost in today’s money to fill up a Honda Accord. The stone the builders rejected, was indeed the Cornerstone.

Repentance is a concept that has been misunderstood and even at times broken down to a works-righteousness economy in which one has to make restitution for wrongs to be forgiven of them.  Some religious traditions have even boiled down the concept of repentance to a brownie points system that infers that so many “good” acts negate and wipe away so many “bad” acts.  In truth, we are only forgiven because God forgives us when we confess our sins to Him.  Repentance is not just a formula to follow. It is being sorry and remorseful and even making amends where it is possible, but true repentance entails a fundamental attitude and behavioral change.   To repent is to turn away from- to do a 180° away from sinful ways, and to go the opposite direction. We are not capable of true repentance apart from the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.  Only God can truly transform our minds and hearts to conform to His will and purpose.  The good news is that He chooses us and He has the power to take the Pharisee Saul and transform him into the apostle Paul.  God has a history of picking very unlikely people to do His most important and far reaching work.

The message of Pentecost- the day in which the Holy Spirit was set loose upon the world- is receive.  Receive the Holy Spirit and allow Him to equip us to be God’s every day heroes- people who comfort others, help others, encourage others and bring God’s kingdom about on earth. That doesn’t mean that believers will always get everything they want, but that God does provide what we need, and often He does this in the strangest and most surprising ways.  Just as the great theologian Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones once pointed out-

“You can’t always get what you want / You can try sometimes / You just might find / You get what you need” – “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” The Rolling Stones

The good thing is that God knows what we need is better for us sometimes than what we want, even when what is good for us is hard, and even when what is good for us hurts.  He is equipping us to be His heroes, and for the life beyond this life that is forever. His provision is always there for us- and He provides for others through us.