Friday, April 12, 2013

Power to Change

Scriptural Reading: Acts 2:1-13
Devotional Reading: John 15:1-7

What is your reaction when a storm occurs that terrifies you in your surroundings as you know them? The rain and hail is pounding, trees are uprooted and flying, the power goes out in your home and various neighborhoods, and there seems to be complete darkness everywhere. You search for lanterns and candles to bring temporary light because darkness can create fear if we allow it. Put your ever loving trust in Jesus. He is the “…light of the world…” (John 8:12b KJV) and if we follow Him we would never be in darkness.

The mission of the Energy Department is to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions. Currently, the United States is researching various energy sources. They include fossil energy sources (coal, oil, and natural gas), electricity, renewable energy sources (solar, water, biomass, geothermal, and wind energy), and nuclear energy. The energy generated by any of the sources of the Energy Department are not life saving. These sources do not have the power that lead a person to the alternative of eternal life in the name of Jesus Christ.

The Almighty Father promised to send power from on high in order the disciples on a vast mission which had been given them by Christ. (Isa 44:3; Ezek 36:27; Joel 2:28 KJV) They were now tarrying in Jerusalem to await the anointing of the Holy Spirit. This lesson is a study of the coming of the Holy Spirit. It is the fourth lesson of a six-part study under Resurrection Hope.

In accordance with Acts 2:1, “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.” (KJV) Jesus Christ was crucified on the Day of the Passover and is known as the perfect Lamb. He walked the earth for forty days after His Resurrection (Acts 1:3 KJV) and then ascended into heaven. The disciples and followers were left to tarry in Jerusalem. They did not know when the promised power would descend or what to expect. However, they were now rejoicing that Christ had risen. Any disputes they had previously were gone. They were all on one accord. In Acts 1:15 (KJV), it is noted there were at least “…an hundred and twenty” in the place. We do not know in which place they were gathered, probably the temple. Pentecost is a Greek word which represents one of the three great feasts celebrated by the Jews. It was known as both the Feast of Weeks (Exo 34:22; Num 28:26 KJV) or Feast of Harvest (Lev 23:16-17 KJV). Pentecost began on the 50th day after the Passover. The Jews were to bring the first fruits of their harvest to God. This was a very special Pentecost. God was pouring out His Holy Spirit as He had promised. The Holy Spirit would be the first fruit offerings of the believers’ inheritance.

Acts 2:2 acknowledges, “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.” (KJV) Jesus ascended into the heavens amongst the clouds. We were left in the darkness as to what lies beyond the clouds. He promised to pray to the Almighty Father to send a Comforter that might abide with the believers forever. (John 14:16 KJV) The person of the Holy Spirit arrived to get rid of the clouds in our minds and bring light into the world. He would be of Comfort to those stumbling in darkness. The sound of the Holy Spirit’s arrival was sudden. It came from heaven in the form of the sound of a sudden rushing mighty wind. There was no build-up in the sound of any winds to cause the disciples and followers to expect the arrival of the Holy Spirit. God fulfilled His promise by sending the Holy Spirit. Breath or wind is a symbol of the Spirit of God. John 3:8 declares “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. (See also Ezek 37:9, 14) It came in the form of the sound of a rushing mighty wind as this represents strength to battle Satan through the mighty forces of God. The Holy Spirit filled the room and the entire house where they were sitting.

Acts 2:3-4 begins to illustrate what happened when the Holy Spirit came to dwell within the believers on that special day of Pentecost. “And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (KJV) They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire. It was not fire. It simply seemed to be fire. In Exodus 3:2-3 the appearance of what seemed to be fire was considered to be the emblem and presence of the Lord. (KJV) After seeing cloven/divided tongues like as fire, each of the believers was indwelt with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues. The tongues were known languages to the many people from across the world. The fact is that they naturally spoke Aramaic with a Galilean accent. Now they were speaking supernaturally in various languages to speak on God’s deeds of power “as the Holy Spirit gave them utterance”. The tongues and languages were divided, but they were on one accord in their mission. They were more spiritual than they had ever been, with a hope for heaven and eternity, and the comforts of the Holy Spirit. Not only did the Holy Spirit take up residence in them (John 14:17 KJV), they were filled with the Holy Spirit as well. We are indwelt by God’s Spirit the moment we are saved, but to be filled with the Spirit we must study the Word, spend time in meditation and prayer, and obey the Lord.

The coming of the Holy Spirit on that special day of Pentecost was the beginning of the church. That small body of believers received the power from on high to continue in their faith in Christ Jesus. The Gospel message was preached. Acts 2:38 declares “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (KJV) You will note that Peter did not state that speaking in tongues was an automatic gift of the Holy Ghost. He was telling people how to become believers/converts in the body in Christ Jesus. (Mark 16:16; Rom 10:9 KJV) Peter had more power to make this declaration through the Holy Spirit. It was all part of God’s plan of redemption for man to become saved and reconciled to Him through His Son, Christ Jesus.

God’s wonders never cease to amaze me. As one of my Sunday school teachers loves to say, “God plans His work and works His plans.” God’s manner of introducing the Holy Spirit to the World was part of this special day of Pentecost celebrated in Jerusalem. Acts 2:5-6 states “And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.” (KJV) In the city at the time were many Jews by birth and religion, to include proselytes (admitted to the Jewish church). They were devout in their religious devotion toward God and would travel from every nation all over the earth to attend the religious ceremonies in Jerusalem. These devout men probably had attended the Passover and were awaiting the day of Pentecost. When they heard the sound of the rustling mighty wind, they were put on notice that something different was happening. The sound attracted the crowd. Then they heard the rumor of something remarkable. It was confusing and hard to believe that the Galileans were speaking every language known to them. Even though each of them felt curious, everyone felt the presence of God.

As they were overwhelmed with curiosity and doubt Acts 2:7-8 demonstrates, “And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?” (KJV) They could not believe what they were hearing. The disciples and followers were unlearned men and women. 1 Cor 1:27a states: “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise…” (KJV) The listening recipients did not readily accept this power from God. They questioned the messengers. How is it we understand what you are saying about God? It did not make a difference that everyone allegedly worshipped the same true God.

Fifteen different groups are mentioned as hearing about God’s power and His wonders as the Holy Spirit gave the disciples and followers of Christ utterance. The message was heard by representatives recorded by Acts 2:9-11, which states, “Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.” (KJV) The travelers came from the northeast (Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamia), Judea (same language, but their Galilean dialect betrayed at Matt 26:73 KJV), from the west and northwest (Cappadocia, Pontus, and Asia, Phyrgia, Pamphylia, and Rome), and from the southern regions (Egypt, Libya, the island of Crete, Cyrene, and parts of the Arabian desert). Jews and proselytes came to Jerusalem for this special Pentecost. The day of Pentecost was a reversal of what God did at the Tower of Babel. (Gen 11:1-9 KJV) He scattered the people across the earth who worked in one accord for the purpose of making themselves a name by attempting to build a city to reach heaven. God confused their language into many languages. On the day of Pentecost, He brought the scattered people together to witness how they could once again understand the confused languages.

Acts 2:12-13 exhibits further reactions of the hearers, “And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.” (KJV) They were amazed and yet they were hesitant. The listeners were excited, and yet they were in doubt. They did not comprehend what was happening on this special day. Some of them knew it had to be from God, but they were anxious because they were not able to explain it. Then some of the listeners, possibly some of the Pharisees, scribes, and chief priests mockingly offered an explanation regarding the recipients of the Holy Spirit who had been talking in tongues. The mockers felt the disciples and followers were full of new wine and were drunk. Even if that was so, how would that explain the sound of the mighty rushing wind heard all over the city? Those unbelieving listeners were grasping for straws. We know they had not had new wine because Peter, standing up with the eleven, immediately defends their receipt of the gift of tongues with the coming of the Holy Spirit in the third hour of the day. (Acts 2:15-16 KJV) He then proceeded to preach a repentance sermon to the multitude and three thousand souls were saved on that day. (Acts 2:17-41 KJV)

Peter received the power to make a difference in the kingdom of God when he was touched by the Holy Spirit. Have you sensed a power in your calling to make a positive difference in the kingdom of God? The Holy Spirit will give you the power to change.


Written by Deborah C Davis

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