Happy New Year!!!
The book of Acts is such a timely devotional series for us as we transition into the new territories that God has planned for our community! I am actually floored by how things are coming together because I for one do not plan what books are being covered for our church but the fact that we are moving into our new 2018 vision of “Commissioned: To the ends of the earth,” with a new devotional series on the birth of the church and the acts of the Holy Spirit is not by chance!
I believe the LORD is giving us the blueprint of what He wants us to do, what He is going to do, and what we can expect in the year to come!
So let us start this new year off with great expectation!
V.1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.
Pentecost is one of the three major Jewish holidays that occur every year. This holiday required that all devout Jews or those practicing Judaism who are a male twenty-one years or older to come to Jerusalem to celebrate. This is a time where a lot of people from all over the world come to celebrate.
This is important because Jesus just told the disciples that they will have to go out to the nations to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is a huge task to undertake for such a handful of people because there are two things that are being huge roadblocks, travel and language. The disciples only have their two feet and some loose change but they are called to go to the ends of the earth?!?!
Lucky for them, that God knows their weaknesses and provides a nice helpful start by causing the “nations” to come to them where they are at. Now the question of language barrier is what’s left for them to deal with.
TAKE AWAY: When the LORD calls you to do something, He will provide the means for it to be a possibility. It is a possibility because it requires one last step for it to be reality, which is your trust through active obedience to the LORD.
2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested[a] on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Travel to the nations, check. Language barrier, check! The coming of the Holy Spirit in tongues of fire and rushing wind brings with it the ability for the disciples to spread the Good News. I want to point out that the word “suddenly” doesn’t necessarily mean that the disciples just so happened to stumble upon the Spirit of God while doing nothing.
In chapter one, the disciples obeyed the command of Jesus to stay put in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit drops. The disciples in the meantime didn’t simply wait and twiddle their thumbs but that they postured themselves to receive by dedicating themselves unto the word of God and prayer. When we want to see the move of God in our lives, community, and our world, we must posture ourselves to receive.
The giving of the gift of tongues was that God gave them the ability to speak in other languages. Now the gift of tongues and it’s uses has many explanations but to explain it for this particular story is that God gave them the ability to carry out His will. Some will say that when you are filled with the Holy Spirit that the sure sign is the speaking of tongues but I believe that is not true. There will be other moments in the Bible and even in Acts where the people of God get filled but they do not speak in tongues. In this moment, the speaking of tongues served the need for the disciples to carry out the will of Jesus Christ to the gathered nations. What I do notice however, is that a common sign of the Spirit of God filling His people is when there is worship of God and an increase hunger for His presence. How do you know that you encountered God and are being filled by Him, when there is an overwhelming sense and desire to worship , seek, and above all else love God.
TAKE AWAY: The filling of the Holy Spirit leads to the worship of God and carrying out His will.
12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”
Whenever there is a move of God, there will be a divided crowd. Even when Jesus was on earth, there were people who were for him, confused by him, or outright hated him. From today’s passage I see that whenever God moves there will be people who are amazed and curious that postures them to be opened for a powerful encounter. Yet, there will be those who are outright against or disrespectful of it.
Whether you understand or feel the movement of God does not necessarily mean that God is not in a certain situation or room. When you start seeing other people experience God in a service but feel absolutely nothing, you will be tempted to give up or be angry but I want to suggest to stay open by keep asking for Him to encounter you.
You may not experience something right away. You may not even understand right away. But if you keep yourself open and curious, the LORD sees your faith and will reward your faith for He encounters those who seek Him with their whole hearts!
TAKE AWAY: Be open to the LORD always and seek Him regardless of how you feel or what you may or may not understand!