You get the Holy Spirit.

Pentecost 2017

Acts 2:1-21

You get the Holy Spirit. 

 

    The date was February 13th, 2004. The day before Valentine's day. A time of the year that many of us are looking around for something to give to the person that we love. That afternoon, across the country, on TV’s across the country, pop culture history happened. As Oprah Winfrey announced that each and every one of the audience members in here Studio were going to receive a brand new car! You Get a car and you get a car, and you get a car! 13 years later I think most people know that reference. I don’t think I have ever watched an episode of Oprah, but I know that reference. Everybody gets a carararrrrr! 

    The audience members were there for a reason, to see a taping of the Oprah show. But they never expected to receive that kind of a gift. 

    Today is the celebration of Pentecost. You thought you were just here for a church service. But no! Today is Pentecost. It’s a church holiday. As you can see, we have changed the colors up on the alter and the stole is now red, and this is a season of the church year that we will be in, all the way until Advent next year. It’s a huge section of our church year. But what is the season all about? It is about the Holy Spirit coming to you. 

 

You get the Holy Spirit. 

 

    Our lesson for today is from Acts 2:21ff And this is how our section starts off when the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Meaning the disciples. They were all gathered together. 10 days ago Jesus ascended into heaven. And they were following Jesus’ instructions to wait for the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem. And before we talk about what happened. on that Pentecost, it wasn’t just the disciples that were gathered together in Jerusalem. There were also people from all over the known world.  Parthians, Medes, and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs. Why? Because it was a Jewish holiday called the Feast of weeks.

    The feast of weeks is seven weeks after the Passover. Seven days in a week, seven weeks, a week of weeks. Unlike that old expression a month of Sunday, whatever that means, this actually meant 49 days. The Lord commands this holiday in 

Deuteronomy 16:9 Count off seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain. 10 Then celebrate the Festival of Weeks to the Lord your God by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the blessings the Lord your God has given you.

     So 49 days after the harvest begins there were supposed to have this festival. The Jews had basically two thanksgivings. They had one thanksgiving when they started to harvest their grain. This was called the Festival of Firstfruits or unleavened bread. Right when they started to get their crops they would give the first things that they could eat, to God. To us that might not seem like a big deal, because well, we don’t live in a farming society that we are waiting to eat until the crops are ready. If we are hungry we just go to grocery store, and if we are hugnrier we just go get some fast food that we can instantly eat. But for societies that were relying on that harvest to feed them, because their stockpile from last year was running out, this was a big deal. The first crops that were ripe, instead of eating them, and they were hungry, they sacrificed those things. They gave to God first and then they accepted all the gifts God has given them. So now, the day after the harvest starts, they should count 49 more days, and then have another celebration at the end of the harvest, to thank God for all that he had given them. To celebrate the wonderful gift of food that God had given to help them survive another year. That is why everyone is gathered together in Jerusalem. People from all over the world. They are there for something special. They are there for this thanksgiving harvest festival called Pentecost. And while they are there there is a sound like a violent wind. But there is no wind. There is just the sound of driving wind. We know that sound here in Nevada, wind so strong it sounds like rain. But there isn’t any wind. And what’s weird is the sound is coming from a house. It’s not just every where and anywhere, the sound filled a house. And then out of the house come a group of people with a little flame of fire on top of their head and they are all speaking in different languages.  This isn’t your typical feast of weeks celebration. This is something new and different. People gathered from all over the world, who spoke all different languages, were hearing their own language spoken by men who they were sure did not speak their language. You know why? Because the word of God was for them too. The word of God is for all people for all languages. You get the Holy Spirit and you get the Holy Spirit and you get the Holy Spirit. Everyone gets the Holy Spirit.     

     That day those people were gathered together for a celebration, it was something special. But I don’t think any of them expected that to happen.  The crowd came together in bewilderment, and they were utterly amazed. And as they came together Peter stood up and he tells the people that this is what they should have been expecting. This was prophecies about from Joel. The same God that all of those people were gathered together to thank on this feast of weeks celebration, also told them that this day was coming. That the Holy Spirit would be poured out and people would prophesy.     

    Prophecy just means to speak for God. The prophets in the old testament, they spoke for God, the disciples speaking here in many languages they are speaking for God, you too can speak for God.

    That quotation from Joel it ends with these words, and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. 

    We remember as a society that Oprah gave away a lot of cars. But many times we really don’t think about what that meant for the people that received the cars. In fact, Oprah didn’t think about it too much either. The cars that she gave away were worth about 28,000 each. And of course, with any large gift or prize, there are always taxes. As the story goes Oprah told her producers to gather in that audience people that could really use a car. And they were really excited to know that they were getting a car. It was an unexpected gift. And an amazing gift. People are jumping up and down and crying and loosing their mind because they got this amazing thing. But then, after the show, when they were informed that the taxes on the free car were going to be about $7,000, I wonder what their reaction was then? I mean $7,000 is a good deal, but not everyone has just an extra $7,000 to throw around for a new car, especially when you aren’t really budgeting for it. 

    I bet those people felt angry. Especially the ones that couldn’t afford the taxes. I bet they felt like someone had taken something from them.I bet they felt that they had been tricked into believing that there was something so great for everyone, but really it's only for people that could have already afforded it. 

    This is the message of Pentecost. God’s salvation is for you. God’s love is for you. The Holy Spirit is for you. All of you. Each and every one of you. Your sins are washed away for free. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. That’s it. Jesus is for everyone. 

    And if you had any doubts about that. Let’s look at where this speech is taking place. We are in Jerusalem 51 days after Jesus was crucified. This is the town that killed God. This is the town that had Jesus proclaim that he was God and then they killed him. I don’t know every sin that you have committed in your life. But if you really want to compare sins. If you hold  some guilt in your heart for something you have done and you wonder if God forgives you, none of you started a mob to try and kill Jesus. None of you conspired to make sure that Jesus would suffer and die. But for those sins, and every other sin that anyone of anytime anywhere committed, Jesus died on the cross and paid their full price. And he gives you the gift of eternal life. And to those people gathered together in that same town where Jesus was killed, to possibly some of the same people, Peter through the Holy Spirit announces that anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. It’s free. 

    There are no tax hidden taxes, there is no fine print there is free salvation. The Holy Spirit is the one who moves hearts to believe that message. The Holy Spirit is the one who creates faith in our hearts to believe that God has given me and your eternal life for free. The Holy Spirit is the one who keeps us in that faith until we are with Jesus forever in heaven. And even though there aren’t lounges of fire on my head and even though I am still speaking the same language I started speaking in this morning, the Holy Spirit is being poured out here. 

    It is Sunday School graduation today. In our 10:30 service the children will sing a song and then receive a diploma for completing another day of Sunday School. That hour that the spend in Sunday School isn’t just an hour of free child care, its an hour where the Holy Spirit works through the word of God to create and strengthen faith in the hearts of our children. This year we didn’t talk about Pentecost in Sunday school but we talked about a lot of Old Testament stories, Adam and Eve, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Deborah, and many others. All of those people had the same God. All of those people believed that their God loved them and would keep his promises to them. All of those people had the Holy Spirit given to them because they believed. The same God, has given the same Holy Spirit to all of us. He promises us many things. He promises comfort, strength, and most importantly forgiveness of sins so that we can have everlasting life. This is not just a message for children. It is a message for all of us. It is a message that we all need to be reminded of. Continue to bring your children to hear this message Sunday Mornings. Continue to bring yourself to hear this message this summer. The Holy Spirit only works through his word. Let us listen to him together. 

    The Children have the Holy Spirit. When they tell you about those Bible stories they are showing that they have faith in the one true God. Parents, thank you for bringing them. Thank you for not keeping your children away from the gifts of Joy and peace that God wants to give to us. The more we get into God’s word. The more we listen to what God has to say, the more the Holy Spirit works within us to trust in the promises that God has given to us. 

You get the Holy Spirit. You get it for free. You get forgiveness. You get everlasting life. You get joy. You get peace. You get more than we could ever think to ask for. Thanks be to God. Amen