Hi, it’s Mick here and welcome to Friday’s podcast. The weekend beckons – you may well be working, travelling or busy with the family but I do so hope you can find some space over these next days to rest from your normal routine and find refreshment. For those who can, I look forward to seeing you at a Gathering on Sunday morning. So, Podcast number five in this first week of the new term as we begin our journey through Acts; the story of the beginning of the church.
Today’s reading is Acts 2: 1-4, the story of the coming of the Holy Spirit on these first believers and the birth of this new community of love, the church. Four of the most well known and powerful verses in the Bible – and here they are.
… When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. …
Here’s our focus verse for today, v4: all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit
Lots of imagery here! Rushing winds, tongues of fire … the church is born!
Luke, the writer, is trying to describe what in some ways is indescribable. How do you describe a birth? Imagine describing the birth of a baby to someone. Yes, you can state the facts – the people present, the equipment needed, the birthing pool (if one was available!), the NCT breathing exercises adopted (or not!), the arrival of baby, the aftercare of mum, the exhaustion of dad!, the phone calls to friends and relatives, the list goes on …
However, these ‘facts’ just don’t capture the real heart of what’s going on at a birth, do they? The emotion, the anxiety, the energy, the pain(!), the noise, the mess and finally the miracle of the baby – it’s so hard to describe isn’t it! You often hear people say at times like this ‘it’s hard to fully describe what was happening – it was just so amazing!’ Well, that is a great description of what Luke is trying to say in these four verses in our reading!
The key truth is captured in v4, our verse for today: ‘all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit’. This is for you and me; the experience of the day of Pentecost is not just a historic event which happened in the past but a present reality for you and me. Later in this chapter we hear Luke recalling the prophet Joel; ‘I will pour out my Spirit on all’ people’ (2v.17–21) – that means you and me today, right now!
What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit? Last term’s Grow Project modules on ‘Encounter’ enables us to experience this truth for ourselves. Do revisit those modules if you can over these next weeks. Quite simply, the experience of the Holy Spirit is an experience of God’s love for you. It enables us to know and feel that we are loved. It’s no good me telling my wife Tricia that I love her unless that love is demonstrated not just in words but in actions. Love needs to be experienced. The filling of the Holy Spirit enables us to say with St Paul ‘the Son of God… who loved me and gave himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20). The American church leader Rick Warren says, this ‘to feel loved by God… is the starting point for every ministry, every revival, every renewal, every great awakening.
‘all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit’ The filling of the Holy Spirit brings many things: a new power from on high, a new passion for our faith, a new prayer on our lips, a new sense of praise in our hearts for Jesus and a new unity for believers to spread the good news of God. But always remember, it starts with love!
If you want deep spiritual foundations of love in your life here’s what you do. First, commit your life afresh to Jesus, thank him for all he means to you and all he has done in your life. Second, now ask the Holy Spirit to fill you afresh in this moment and every moment of every day. Third, be filled with the Holy Spirit. Finally, believe Jesus has done this – now step into your day and see what happens! Tom takes up the Acts story next week; it’s going to be a great term at STC. God bless.
Lord Jesus, thank you for your worldwide church. Thank you that after 2000 years it’s still here worshipping you and serving the world. Thank you for our church here at STC. My spiritual family. Bless us with your presence; fill me today with your Holy Spirit that I may know your love and serve you. Thank you Lord that you are the Sure Foundation in my life. Hallelujah! Amen.
READING: Acts 2:1-4
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.