Old Sermons and Resources

June 8, 2014 Pentecost Message

(The Scripture used for this message was Acts 2)
Today we are celebrating Pentecost; traditionally Pentecost is the remembrance of the coming of the Holy Spirit following the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. Pentecost is also the celebration of the giving of the Mosaic Law as we read from the book of Numbers.
Today we will consider the topic of the Holy Spirit and how the coming of the Holy Spirit and the reality of how the presence of the Spirit should impact our lives.
Some times things are not as they appear; such was the case on that first Pentecost Morning. As many faithful Jews congregated; God moved in a mighty way as he had not moved before. In sending the promised Holy Spirit, God shook the lives of every one there and for many of us many years later.
On the day of Pentecost there were many Jews who saw the wondrous happenings around them and understood, they saw God’s new view of the world through the eyes of the Holy Spirit.  There were also many there who did not accept or refused to accept the world around them in any other way, than the way it had always been. How many times have we heard; “But that’s the way it’s always been.”
We must remember that Pentecost in the Jewish tradition was commemoration of the giving of God’s Law at Sinai. It was also a Jewish celebration the first fruits, a harvest festival. Likewise this experience of the disciples was only the first fruit of the outpouring of the Spirit, and we must consider, “What will the outpouring of the Spirit look like in our day as we get closer and closer to the Lord’s return?”
Some may compare the gift of the Holy Spirit to that of being rich beyond imagination and not being aware of it. In West Texas during the Depression, Mr. Ira Yates was like many other ranchers and farmers. He had a lot of land, and a lot of debt.
Mr. Yates wasn’t able to make enough on his ranching operation to pay the principal and interest on the mortgage, so he was in danger of losing his ranch.
With little money for clothes or food, his family (like many others) had to live on a government subsidy.
Day after day, as he grazed his sheep over those rolling West Texas hills, he was no doubt greatly troubled about how he would pay his bills.
Then a seismographic crew from an oil company came into the area and told him there might be oil on his land. They asked permission to drill a wildcat well, and he signed a lease contract.

At 1,115 feet they struck a huge oil reserve. The first well came in at 80,000 barrels a day.
Years after the discovery, a government test of one of the wells showed it still had the potential flow of 125,000 barrels of oil a day. Mr. Yates owned it all. The day he purchased the land he had received the oil and mineral rights. Yet, he’d been living on relief. He was a multimillionaire living in poverty. The problem? He didn’t know the oil was there even though he owned it.

It is fair to say that we, at times, are a lot like Mr. Yates. We are heirs of a vast treasure and yet we live in spiritual poverty. We are entitled to the gifts of the Holy Spirit and his energizing power, and yet we live unaware of our birthright. We gather today to remember how rich we are. Remember as Christ-followers we are co heirs with Jesus, and dearly loved children of God.
So maybe to help us understand this most important event we will look at several symbols of Pentecost in detail to hopefully discover a deeper meaning.

I. Instructive Symbols: Wind and Fire
Daily we hear of the devastation caused by the wildfires in our western states. Lives have been lost and entire villages have been destroyed because of these fires powered by the Santa Anna winds. Just last summer 16 firefighters lost their lives as the wind quickly turned the fire and blocked any chance of escape. Fire combined with wind can be devastating. Likewise, by allowing the Holy Spirit to rule in our lives, he can destroy a life of sin and lead us to a fuller life of fellowship with our Heavenly Father.
As we consider our text we see God’s power displayed both in the symbols of wind and fire. 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.”
Who were the people that heard and experienced that wondrous day in Jerusalem? We read that there were “God fearing Jews of every nation under heaven.”
If we were to look at a map of the area at that time, we would notice that these men and women came literally from every direction around Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost.
We must remember that many of those who were together that day had already experienced salvation through the resurrected Christ. In other words they were already believers in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
This outpouring of the Spirit was not for salvation, but for empowering the disciples and others for service, they needed to be spiritually empowered for the task that Jesus had committed to them and this spiritual strength came through the filling of the Spirit.
Some of the symbols used in reference to Pentecost include:
In the New and Old Testaments, wind is an indicator of divine presence. In fact the word “wind” and “spirit” are the same word in both Hebrew and Greek. And so, when Jesus is talking to Nicodemus he says:

John 3:5-8; Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.  Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

We know that the wind comes in different forms: gentle puff of air that cools us on a hot summer’s day; stirring breeze that revives us when we are hot and bothered; a blustery gale; or a hurricane, tornado or whirlwind.  Well, when the move of the Spirit is like the gentle puff of wind, it is the Spirit who comes to comfort us when we are struggling. The stirring breeze is like the Spirit coming to call us to action, it wakes us up and we set the sails ready to move. When the Spirit comes like a gale, all we can do is prostrate ourselves and when he comes like a hurricane, tornado or a whirlwind, he splits the rocks that block the work of God in our lives and he blows apart the things we have created.

Fire is, likewise, an indicator of divine presence: remember Moses and the burning bush, Elijah and the prophets of Baal? No less than 8 times do we read in the Scripture, “Our God is a consuming fire.” A quick check online finds at least 2 popular Christian songs with the same title and a number of old hymns using a sililar though.
The poet William Blake wrote a poem about Pentecost. Part of the poem says:

Unless the eye catches fire, God will not be seen.
Unless the ear catches fire, God will not be heard.
Unless the tongue catches fire, God will not be named.
Unless the heart catches fire, God will not be loved.
Unless the mind catches fire, God will not be known.

Why fire? Well, fire brings light. The Holy Spirit came upon them as tongues of fire to show that they would walk in the light.

But the fire also brings heat and those who are filled with the Spirit are to burn with love, they are to be passionate about calling people to repentance, they burn with self-sacrifice and the desire to reach others with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We read that these were also tongues of fire. The Holy Spirit gave the disciples his inspiration; they spoke as the Holy Spirit gave them the ability. The church that was born on that day would be a speaking church, speaking the word in the power of the Holy Spirit. It was to be this word, infused with the Holy Spirit’s power that would burn up the dross and consume the sin in people’s lives for centuries to come.
To this day the Holy Spirit calls the church to this type of preaching. In many churches today the message is much more like motivational speaking than preaching. It does not confront that which God calls sin and does not call people to faith in Christ, but seeks only to empower and inspire without challenge and conviction of sin. The fact is we are a sinful people who direly need a Savior – Jesus is the only who can save us. We need to repent of our sins and live a Spirit filled life for Christ.
So, in the wind and the fire we see two powerful symbols that speak of the power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those that love the Lord. When they are together the effect can be terrifying. As the Spirit moves we see results.
Filled with the Spirit: At Pentecost, the first thing that we note is that they were filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was not given in small measure; he was poured out upon them in great quantity. They were filled because they had been empty and, once they were filled, they were not empty any more. Peter who denied even knowing Jesus boldly stood before the people including those who had nailed Jesus to the cross and preached repentance and baptism.
These men and women were not filled with their own agendas, their own ways of doing things, their own plans, schemes and ideas; they were filled to overflowing with the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. A lesson we would well to learn.
Speaking in tongues: The second thing that happened is that they began to speak in languages that could be understood by all the people. I believe that this is the Holy Spirit’s way with people: he will speak to us in words that we can understand.
The topic of speaking in tongues can be a long and confusing discussion, and probably a topic. But in this setting God either enabled the disciples to speak so that the crowd from many places could understand Peter’s preaching or God enabled those who heard to understand what Peter was preaching in their own language. Either way the miracle of speaking in tongues was for the understanding of God’s Word, as Peter and the others preached the Word.

What powerful words that were that were preached that day, the words had fire in them and the hearts of those who heard were like dry tinder. The words spoken set people’s hearts on fire and they were further fanned by the wind of the Holy Spirit until a mighty blaze broke out in that place.
But what about us? How can we find those same words today? How do our hearts become like dry tinder ready to catch fire for our Lord Jesus Christ? How can we spread that burning desire for Christ to our community around us?
III. Issue of their Preaching
What were the issues that Peter preached about on that day? Peter preached; “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved…’ “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.
And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”
Peter’s message was 5 – fold:
Repent and be baptized - faith begins when we realize we are all sinners and we need a Savior. Baptism is that act of publically declaring Jesus as your Lord and Savior.
Salvation is found in no one else than Jesus – There is only one way to salvation – that is through Jesus.
You must be born again – Your old sinful life is gone and you are a new person in Christ with a new life.
Your sins will be forgiven – God is in the forgiving business. Corrie ten Boom stressed the point; “God’s forgiveness is like he took your sins and cast them into the deepest part of the ocean where they are forgotten and then posted a “No Fishing sign so that could never be brought back up.  
Receive the Holy Spirit – Start living the power filled life God has promised his Children.
So what does all this mean to us today? Jesus promised the gift of the Holy Spirit. Through our message today, we can see that the Spirit that visited and indwelled the disciples that day is the same Spirit that indwells each and every one of us. May we learn to allow God’s Spirit to freely move and empower us as we bring others to know and love Christ?

This was our Father's Day message

1 Peter 1:3-5
On Mother’s Day our message was titled “My Mother’s Version” so it is only fitting that on Father’s Day we consider “Our Father’s Version”. In our text, Peter offers praise to our Heavenly Father. Over the next couple verses we get a picture of the qualities of God as our Father, qualities we would do well to imitate.
God who is perfect is willing to extend mercy to us. Did you ever think about how much God must love us? Paul wants his readers to consider God’s patience and mercy – reading from Romans 9:22-24 “God has every right to exercise his judgment and his power.” What if God decided to exercise his wrath on his children? Where would we be? As earthly fathers, is there a lesson to consider in that question? Many times our children may do something that upsets us and we react harshly, what if God reacted to us as, we, at times react to our children? Paul continues: “But he also has the right to be very patient with those who are the objects of his judgment and are fit only for destruction. He also has the right to pour out the riches of his glory upon those he prepared to be the objects of his mercy – even upon us, whom he selected, both from the Jews and from the Gentiles.”
If God our Heavenly Father chooses to show mercy and patience to us, his delinquent children, how much more should we as earthly fathers be willing to extend it to our children?
A FATHER GIVES LIFE, God has blessed us all with life through our fathers. Regardless of a person's relationship with their father, we should be thankful for our fathers for giving us life.
How many fathers here have had the honor of seeing their son or daughter being born? I’ll never forget September 28 & 29, 1979. I had been working for the Turnpike for a little over 2 years. I had been sent on a road trip to the west side of Pittsburgh. Betty Sue was expecting our first son but wasn’t due until October 8. As we went on the road I felt somewhat uneasy about the trip. Now this of course was before cell phones so to communicate with Betty Sue we stopped at a travel plaza and I called her on a pay phone. She said she was okay but there was something in her voice that said different. We made a quick trip from Pittsburgh to back to our station at Everett and shortly after getting home from work we were on the way to the hospital. At 8:37 AM on a Saturday morning, Betty Sue and I were introduced to our first son Jeremy and our lives were forever blessed.
Then we were blessed again on May 11, 1983. I had taken Betty Sue to a regular doctor’s appointment  our second child was not due for another 3 weeks or so, Jeremy, who was 3, and I went for a walk and suddenly a nurse from the doctors comes running up the street, and screaming; “Are you Tim Laird?” I said; “yes”, she said, “your wife is having a baby”, I replied “yeah I know” she said “no you don’t, she is having it right now” we rushed to the hospital and at 7:27 PM our second son Douglas was born. These are wonderful memories which we will cherish forever.
But even more is the life our heavenly Father provided through his Son Jesus Christ. Through His death and resurrection, we have a hope of eternal life, we are Born Again.
Have you ever been asked if you were a “born again Christian”; what does it mean to be born again? Just as your father gave you life, God, through Jesus gives you new life. You see we are born into a life of sin. No matter how “good” you think you are, no matter how often you go to church or read the Bible, until you confess your sins and ask for forgiveness, you are lost in sin. The Word says ‘All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.” But because of our Heavenly Father’s love for us he has provided a way for us to be reconciled to Him and that way is Jesus. When we confess our sins and ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior we start a new life and all the sins of the past are forgiven and in God’s eyes forgotten. This called grace – God’s grace, and it is a free gift. Simply put God, our Heavenly Father gives us new life in Christ Jesus.
A FATHER GIVES HOPE, Did you even notice that when things seem the darkest, many times it is your father that brings light to the situation? I specifically remember one night when I was a teenager, some of my friends and I were out (doing things we shouldn’t have been) and my car got crashed into a tree, I called my father in the middle of the night and he came to my rescue, I’ll never forget the calmness in his voice and his kindness. He just had a way of taking control of a bad situation and turning it around, at least until we got home, and then I got a severe talking to (which I more than deserved.) That was just one of the many times that my dad gave me hope and understanding.
Our Heavenly Father gives hope for life eternal. Peter calls this a “living hope” which means it’s not just for some time in the future but this a hope for the here and now as well.
To the readers of Peter’s letters this hope was important, because they were constantly under persecution from the Roman government and the Jewish leaders. Peter was reminding these Christians to stand strong because their Heavenly Father has not forgotten them – nor has God forgotten his children today. The same truth that provided hope for these early Christians also provides hope for us. That hope is that Jesus will return to take his followers home to be with him for eternity.
We not only have hope for the future, but this living hope is for now, God provides hope through the Holy Spirit for living a Christ-like life beginning right now. Peter writes in his second letter; “His divine power has given us everything we need for a life of godliness through our knowledge of him, who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
Through God’s Word, we have our Father’s promises, and we know that they are true and reliable. As fathers, we have a responsibility to our children and to our God to pass this living hope on through the ages so that our children will also know the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
There will be times when a Father reaches out to his child and helps them experience a second chance. Giving children the ability to fail but get up and go again is key to living a successful life. In our lives this is about as close to experiencing a sense of resurrection as we can get barring the return of Jesus Christ. I love the commercial for the jewelry store when the little boy goes in to the store and picks out a very expensive ring one that he could not afford. He then starts to get some coins out of his pants pocket; the clerk looks a little confused but doesn’t say anything. She looks up and the little boy’s father is standing in the doorway with his credit card in hand to pay for the cost of the ring.
I guess the story for us is very much the same; sin has separated us from God. The price for redemption was so high that there was no way man could ever pay the price. Our Heavenly Father stepped in and paid the price for us with his own perfect Son; as a one time for all sacrifice. Then God defeated death and gave us the right to eternal life through the resurrection of Jesus.   
This resurrection truth gives us all the assurance we need to know that one day we will be with our Lord, Savior and King.
A FATHER LEAVES AN INHERITANCE; In many families the Father leaves a type of inheritance of something valuable. For some it may be an amount of money, for others it may a wealth of knowledge – such as a business or hobby. My dad enjoyed hunting among other things. And still others may leave a tradition – such as a strong belief in God that may help the children come into a faith walk with Jesus of their own.
But in verse 4 of our text Peter writes, (Because of Jesus victory over sin and death we are brought) – Into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you,” Paul explains from Romans 8:17; “Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
I think it is important here to realize that all earthly inheritances will fade away but that which comes from God can never be taken away from us it is stored in heaven until the time when Jesus returns and takes us to be with him in the Father’s house. Praise be to God our Father.
A FATHER PROTECTS, as children, many of us faced many kinds of fears. Do you remember the monsters under your bed, or in your closet? Many times it was our fathers who came into our rooms looked under the bed and opened the closet doors just to assured us that there was nothing there. As adults, I know there was many times that I just wished my dad was here to give me that same assurance when things sometimes go awry. A good father protects his children from those things that will corrupt and destroy.
In the final verse of our text Peter writes concerning our hope inheritance in Christ; “…who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”Peter’s use of the word "kept" is a word that means to guard and protect. Our Heavenly Father watches over us with all HIs power. And as the Word says; “If God be for us, who can be against us.”  
CONCLUSION — we have seen several qualities of God our heavenly Father. Qualities that, we as earthly fathers, would do well to imitate as a quick review:
Just as Peter begins our text by saying "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord and Jesus Christ.”
Let us now remember and thank God for our dads. But also let us acknowledge those who may not have a good relationship with their father and encourage them that we all have loving Heavenly Father is present at all times through the Holy Spirit to love them and give them all these things, and much, much more.
Thank – you God for Fathers.
But most of all thank – you God for being our heavenly father that never fails us.