Welcome! I’m so glad each of you are here and that we are able to gather together, even at a distance.
I’m pastor Melody from the Empire UMC bringing you this morning’s message here on our facebook page. Be sure to hit the “like” button and “share” this recording so we can reach as many folks as we can.
These are some of the things that will be happening this week here at Emprire UMC. . .
Tuesday – 7p Safety Team Zoom Mtg.
Thursday – 2:30p Bible Study Zoom Mtg.
Friday – 1p Coffee Chat Zoom Mtg.
Let’s begin with prayer…
You are Spirit, O God, and those who worship you must worship in spirit and truth. Open our hearts to receive the promises of your word, and grant that we may surrender our will unto yours. For not to us, but to your name belong all glory and honor. Help us to share in these blessings as we gather now in our time of worship. Amen.
Our sermon for today is titled
Today we celebrate Pentecost which is the day on which the Christian church commemorates the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and other assembles in Jerusalem. It marks the beginning of the Christian church and the proclamation of its message throughout the world and is often referred to as the birthday of the church.
Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
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”.
The dynamics of Pentecost were wind, fire, and praise. Picture the disciples with expectation in the Upper Room…waiting, praying. Suddenly a wind began to stir the room, gently at first…then it grew stronger. The followers of Jesus looked up from their prayers. Now the wind was rushing with a rumble like thunder…the wind that had been an emblem of the Spirit for the Hebrew people throughout the generations.
When the Lord spoke to Ezekiel in the valley of the dry bones, He told him to “prophesy to the breath, prophesy son of man, and say to the breath, `Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live” (Ezekiel 37:9).
The dry bones symbolized the defeated, dejected people of Israel in exile in Ezekiel’s day. They needed the Spirit of life to come into them again just as we need to let God breathe into our lives.
Jesus used the image of the wind for the Spirit when He said to Nicodemus, “Do not marvel that I say to you, You must be born again. The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:7-8)
Now in the Upper Room the wind was blowing…rushing with irresistible force. The Lord gave outward signs of His presence in tangible ways so they would understand. He communicated in a way that would be identified immediately. And what the wind does when it blows like that…so also the Holy Spirit was doing in their souls…blowing out the cobwebs of fear and the layers of uncertainty.
The presence of the wind outwardly was soon an inward rushing of new thought…new emotion…a new will. The Lord’s people were being stirred up and brought back to life because He had come.
Jesus said to the disciples “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” but I wonder what kind of power they were expecting. Most often when we think of power we think of those who rule over us – either with or without our consent. But this power wasn’t a power to rule or lord it over others, instead the power received was a power to live for Christ & witness to Christ.
These men & women huddled together, locked away and terrified, were engulfed that first Pentecost by the Holy Spirit. Acts tells us that suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, that filled the entire house where they were & what seemed to be tongues as of fire rested on each one of them.
The Spirit came so that they could accomplish all that Jesus had called them to do when He sent them out at the end of Matthew’s gospel to be witness in all the world. It is very important to notice that all of them were filled with the Spirit, not just the leaders but all.
The power of this infilling is obvious; just compare the effect on these simple folk. Instead of being locked away they were shouting literally from the rooftops. Instead of being lost for words these ordinary people suddenly could speak words that convicted 3000 or more men, and heaven knows how many women & young people, so profoundly that they were born again.
How that is needed in today’s Church here as much as elsewhere – a passion for Jesus name and a passion to be witnesses to Jesus to our community and to our generation.
Pentecost gives us that voice and then pushes us over the edge to speak. The truth is that without God’s infilling we will never have the right words to share or the confidence to speak.
There was a man named, John Wimber, who was a product of the Jesus movement in the 60’s. He met Christ in a dramatic way, and began reading the New Testament, beginning with the Gospels and then on to the book of Acts. He was excited about what he was reading, but when he went to a church he was disillusioned.
The polite and tidy service was over exactly on time. Wimber looked at some of the people around him and said: “When are you gonna do the stuff?” “What stuff?” they wanted to know. He said, “You know. . . the stuff!”
He had been reading about the conversions, healings, deliverance and other miracles that took place in the early church recorded the book of Acts. But instead of signs and wonders, he saw no sign of anything that would make him wonder, except the deadness of the ritual he had just sat through.
The Gospel of Jesus, by its very nature, cannot & will not be confined to a cuddly, safe, insulated environment where we just huddle up and enjoy the love of God while others perish without. We can never just sit and enjoy our faith without being used personally for the good of the Kingdom. We have to move in His name. Move to be good news people who meet the needs of others & share our faith.
I read about a preacher who wanted to impact South Korea for Jesus Christ. And so he started a church in his friend’s living room. One of the parishioners was paralyzed. And so one Sunday, the pastor went over to her, laid hands on her and prayed fervently. And she was healed!
This got people in the community excited. And they started flocking to the new church in droves. Pretty soon, they outgrew the living room. So they put up a tent in the front lawn and had services out there. But soon enough, that got too crowded. And they built a church. By the mid 1960s, they had 3000 people.
But one day, as the pastor was baptizing several hundred people, he collapsed to the ground in exhaustion. He was rushed to the hospital where he had major surgery. And while he was sitting in bed reading the Bible, he came across a verse in Exodus 18:18 that moved his heart: It said this: “The work is too heavy for you. You cannot handle it alone. You will only wear yourself out.”
The next day, the pastor called the elders and deacons. And put each one in charge of a certain number of people. After the pastor did this, the church exploded with growth! Thousands of people gave their lives to Christ.
By 1972, there were 10,000 members. By 1979, there were 100,000; by 1984, 400,000; and today, there are almost 800,000 members of the Yoido Full Gospel Church making it the largest congregation on planet earth.
They support 85 missionaries from their own church. And they have planted new churches in 39 countries. This is truly one of the most incredible stories in church history.
Something equally incredible happened 2000 years ago. On the day of Pentecost a small group gathered for prayer. The power of the Holy Spirit was present. They praised the Lord. Peter preached the word. Thousands got saved. And the church was born.
Let God Breathe into your life. The more you know God, the more you will love him, and the more excited you will be about his kingdom.
The more you love him, the more you will want others to know him. The more you experience his presence and power, the more of it you want.
This is the way to live. We have been forgiven. We have inherited eternal life. We have experienced eternal love. We are holding nothing back because we have discovered life. We have found the pearl of great price, and it is worth more than everything else we have seen or possessed.
Like those folks so many years ago, we need to let God breathe into our life and let the Holy Spirit use his power to transform our lives and stir up our excitement so that we will share our faith with others.
Let us pray,
Lord, help us to be mindful that the Holy Spirit lives inside us and wants to possess more and more of us every day. Please help us learn how to surrender to the Spirit’s power and to yield to His sanctifying Presence.
We know that as we yield to Him, He will fill us full of every good thing we need to live a happy and successful life in this world. We want to begin today by opening ourselves to your Holy Spirit completely. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.
Thank you for joining me today. Join me again next Sunday and have a great week!
~ Pastor Melody
Here is a video link I encourage you to watch to go along with today’s sermon: