Thursday, 12 June 2014

Sermon for the 8th June 2014 Acts 2:1-21 and John 20:19-23 Kim

Have you stayed in the Hilton Hotel, owned a Rolls Royce or dined with the Queen? I have stayed at the Hilton but that was paid for by my work, Rolls Royce and the Queen I haven’t, and I very much doubt I ever will. Some things in life are reserved for the select few, while the majority of us have to make do with more run-of-the mill facilities and occasions. The people of the Old Testament believed that this was true of the Spirit of God, convinced that it was a rare and special gift which only the privileged elite would experience. There was no way in the world they would be filled by that Spirit; such an honour went to those like Gideon, Samuel, Isaiah, Ezekiel and others of similar stature. For the rank and file, God would always be one step removed; access to him was to be mediated by priest and temple. The words of the prophet Joel, wonderful though they sounded, must have raised more than a few eyebrows when first spoken, for they revealed an entirely new relationship with God. Yet that is the relationship experienced by the Apostles on the so called day of Pentecost, and it is a gift offered to us in turn. God is not remote and detached, but can be experienced as a living reality within – encouraging, teaching, empowering, guiding – ever at work in our lives. There is no favouritism with God. One privilege is for us all to enjoy: the inner presence of the Holy Spirit – surely the greatest privilege there can be! For Jesus poured out his Spirit on both men and women, young and old, slave, and free, God pours His Spirit on us all. The Spirit redefined what it meant to be the people of God. Pentecost was and is an act of great inclusion. In a day when women were treated like property, God gave them the Spirit in equal measure. To older ones discarded and discounted, God gave the Spirit. To the young, often abused and neglected, God gave the Spirit. To the oppressed, enslaves, God gave the liberating Spirit. God was personally breaking down barriers welcoming those who too often get left out. And God does this today! Do we truly know this? And Jesus modelled for the disciples, as well as for us, what life can be like if we walk in the Spirit. Jesus and the Spirit are in relationship and in every part of Jesus’ ministry it was done in the power of the Spirit of God. Jesus and the Spirit worked together, Jesus was led by and clearly walked in the Spirit. Jesus arranged His life around the practices, experiences and relationships that would keep Him connected to the life and work of the Spirit. Jesus had an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit and He prayed, He read the Scripture and knew it by heart and He allow the Holy Spirit to guide, strengthen and sustain Him. Being human, how else would He have willingly gone to and endure the cross?! The good news is that we have all that too but do we truly know this? Do we actually ask the Holy Spirit for strength when we are up against it, to guide us, to give us the right words to say or do the right thing? We have the Holy Spirit in us, honest! He is there to help us. Having been given the Holy Spirit, the disciples have to walk in the Spirit and it should show daily, moment-by-moment holiness. And that goes for us too! Hmm…….. It can be like that if we consciously choose by faith to rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us in our thought, our words and deed. Failure to rely on the Holy Spirit’s guidance will result in us not living up to the calling and standing that salvation provides (John 3:3; Ephesians 4:1. Philippians 1:27). We can know that we are walking in the Spirit if our lives are showing the Fruit of the Spirit which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22,23). Are we producing fruit? Being filled with the Spirit is the same as allowing the word of Christ to richly dwell in us, to follow the Spirit’s leading, allowing Him to guide our steps and to conform our minds to His. So if we have received Christ by faith, by faith He asks us to walk in Him, until we are taken to heaven and will hear from the Master, “Well Done!” (Colossians 2:5; Matthew 25,23). So what is God waiting for? I believe God is waiting for the emergence of Spirit-led, Spirited-intoxicated, Spirit-empowered people, who know that in this life, the life and power of the kingdom of God. It has happened before, it can happen again. It happened yesterday and it can happen today. God wants every Christian to produce good fruit and has given us the Holy Spirit so that we can live a life like Jesus, a life of love and power. Another one of the Holy Spirit’s roles is that of gift-giver. 1 Corinthians 12 describes the spiritual gifts given to believers in order that we may function as the body of Christ on earth. All of us have been given gifts, none are better than others. All these gifts, both great and small, are given by the Spirit so that we may be His ambassadors to the world, showing forth His grace and glorifying Him. It is not easy walking in the Spirit today. We live in a fallen world, we are under constant pressures, demands, sin and evil are all around. But we are called to be in the world but not part of it. We don’t have to be involved in the sin of the world but in the world to help in the transformation of it – ‘thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ – we say it every Sunday at least. When the Spirit is at work in a follower of Christ, change happens! It can be slow and a gradual, or sudden and radical, but transformation always takes place. We need to recognise His presence and welcome His power to change us more and more into the image of Jesus and as we do so and become more dependent on the Holy Spirit; we will begin to see changes in the people we interact with because the love of God will flow from us to them. This will lead to a change in the home, workplace, estate or town where we live, it will be slow but sure, but if we don’t do our bit; nothing will change not even us. Remember the same Peter who denied Jesus three times is now Peter, boldly telling others about Jesus as Saviour. The Holy Spirit changed Peter’s attitude and actions. What has the Holy Spirit changed in you as you have allowed the Spirit to work in you? What more are you going to be able to do for the glory of God by allowing the Holy Spirit to come alongside? As you walk your way through your life this week, doing whatever you have to do, are you going to take God with you? Are you going to allow the Holy Spirit to be involved? Questions: 1. What does being filled with the Holy Spirit mean to you? 2. Having been given the Holy Spirit, we are to walk in the Spirit and it should show daily, moment-by-moment holiness! How are you doing? Are you producing Fruit? What Bible verses can we take comfort from with this? 3. What has the Holy Spirit changed in you as you have allowed the Spirit to work in you? 4. What more are you going to be able to do for the glory of God by allowing the Holy Spirit to come alongside?

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