Damariscotta Baptist Church
Monday, September 24, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

01/24/16 Sermon - Pente 'Cost'

“Pente ‘cost’”

Acts 2:1-21

 

So far in the book of Acts, we have read that Jesus told the disciples to go back to Jerusalem and wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit then He ascended into heaven. The disciples did as He said and while they are waiting they decided that having 11 of them was odd, so they chose Matthias to take Judas’ place. And there they were, a group of about 120 people, hanging out in a room, some believe they were in the same room where they shared the last supper with Jesus, waiting for…………..who knew what?

I can imagine what might have been going through their minds. Let’s see, they have just spent the past three years roaming around Palestine and its vicinity performing amazing miracles, convinced that their Messiah had come to overcome the tyranny of the Roman government.

Only to be defeated by the Romans by having their Messiah executed for treason and blasphemy. Within three days of that event, they experienced the one and only person known, to this day, to rise from the dead, come and eat, drink and sleep with them for forty days.

They have just seen Jesus ascend into heaven and now they were waiting, againfor a “gift”?

Could this be the time, when God will finally end their struggles?

When they will be given the power to overcome their oppressors and live “happy ever after”?

We all know that only happens in fairy tales.

But maybe that’s how it feels for those people who have given up their day jobs to follow this itinerant preacher.

Have they been living a fairy tale?

Could any of them be thinking, okay, this has been a wild three years, I’ve had an interesting experience, one I can tell my grandchildren, now it’s time for me to get back to life and go back to normal?

Could they be sitting around, waiting and thinking, “haven’t we been through enough?

This gift of the Holy Spirit, must be the answer to our problems. God has said He sees our predicament, maybe now He will fix things?

Unfortunately our English translations underplay what occurred in the room when the Holy Spirit arrived.

Those in and those out of the room, experienced something that was fear-inducing, adrenaline-pumping, wind tossing, fire stabbing, smoke engulfing, and mind blowing.

The sound was so loud and confusing, that Jews from outside the room ran to inspect what had happened. What they saw and heard confused them. There were people from many nations, and each one heard words from God, in their own language. It was cacophonies of everyone present speaking in the native tongue of someone on the planet.

The only human explanation was they must be drunk.

Now if you think about it, that was not the best conclusion to make. When people get drunk they usually don’t become more literate, they usually become less literate and begin slurring their words, not speaking in languages they have never heard before.

But Peter comes forth with a better explanation and through the power of the Holy Spirit and began explaining what was really happening. He reminded them of what time it was, and being nine in the morning, they could hardly be drunk. He proclaimed the experience as a fulfillment of a prophecy of Joel. Remember, the group that has come to investigate, we are told, was Jewish. They would have been quite familiar with Joel’s prophecy. What Peter said, even he doesn’t quite comprehend, until later. Peter explained that Joel explicitly declared the Spirit of God would be poured out upon ALL people. Prophecies would come from sons and daughters, young men would have visions, old men would dream dreams, and he repeated that the Holy Spirit would be poured out, on God’s servants, men and women alike.

In fact, everyone who called on the name of the LORD would be saved.

Not a very Jewish thing to claim.

Every good Jew knew that only learned men were to be doing the work of God.

There God goes again, turning everything humans thought to be true, upside-down. We can’t be too tough on them,  isn’t this how we view things most often?

Through our human perspective?

It’s the very coming of the Holy Spirit, which assists us in letting go of our human perspective and helps us begin seeing things from His perspective.

And contrary to our desires, and perhaps the desires of the those waiting in that room, the Holy Spirit doesn’t come to solve our problems, but in some ways, creates more.

When we recognize the Holy Spirit is the representation of Jesus, the crucified and resurrected God, and we are called to join Him.

Why do we do so with the idea that things are going to get better? Before they get worse?

Because the Holy Spirit’s responsibility is not to fix everything, but to come alongside, the Greek word is “paraclete” to embolden us, council us, to assist us in being witnesses of what we know about God, and share that witness with others.

Did you catch that?

I am going to read to you from Acts 1:8, Jesus is speaking, just before He ascends into heaven….

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Once the Holy Spirit arrives, there is no turning back to normalcy.

There is another misnomer I believe most Christians have associated with the presence of the Holy Spirit, and that is the presence of the Holy Spirit prevents failure.

If something goes awry, then God must not be in it. Right?

Well, I am convinced that the Holy Spirit encourages us to find fulfillment and victory in and through our failures.

Somehow we have convinced ourselves that in order to prove that God is in the plans we have and the lives we lead, we must be without problems or setbacks.

The idea that failure is not an option with God, is paralyzing and debilitating, and not Biblically sound.

Reality is, that failure is not only an option, it is inevitable.

Today’s world is success-obsessed and is as far away from God’s plan for us as it can be.

God is interested in our being faithful, and allowing Him to create, sustain and redeem the people in the world around us.

We are called to partner in God’s work, wherever we discern it, and follow Christ’s example.

And what was His example?

The cross.

And the cross teaches us that success doesn’t always look like success and that victory comes in many ways.

When we remember that faithfulness is the goal and success is in the eyes of God, we have the freedom to let go of ourselves and let God.

It’s when we allow the world to be our guide that gets us in trouble.

David Brooks, a New York Times, columnist wrote an article to graduates in 2011 encouraging them to look past the American obsession with self-fulfillment and instead reach out in service to others. He challenged them to see a problem outside and around them and step out to do something about it. “Most successful young people,” he wrote, “don’t look inside and then plan a life. They look outside and find a problem, which summons their life… Most people don’t form a self and then lead a life. They are called to a problem, and the self is constructed gradually by their calling.”

I believe this not only has to do with young graduates, it also rings true for God’s Church. As a congregation, we will discover who we are in Christ, when we are doing what Christ has given us to do, and that is to follow His example, by giving ourselves away.

Pente “cost”, the coming of the Holy Spirit, costs us something, the cost of normalcy and trying to be perfect, and the cost of doing things for ourselves and by ourselves.

The Holy Spirit is here, to come alongside, and encourage us along the way. In fact, with the Holy Spirit, we can’t help but do it.