Did you all watch the royal wedding yesterday? With the appropriate oohs and ahs and isn’t she gorgeous?
I wonder how many gifts they received from all over the world? Do you think they sent any gifts back? ‘Sorry don’t want it.’
(Found out afterwards they gave all to charity!)
Have you ever been offered a free gift and then you rejected the gift? Do you know how the giver reacted to your rejection? Hurt? Surprise? Anger? Disbelief?
Even worse you accept the gift and lock it away in a cupboard – where it remains for years – probably never to be used in your lifetime!
Perhaps you hand it over to a charity and hope like – uhm – anything the giver will never ask you about it. Even worse they won’t see someone else using it.
Unwanted or unused gifts can – and often do – result in awkward moments.
Let me ask you about a gift I know you have received. A gift made available nearly 2000 years ago.
Jesus came to earth in human form and suffered abuse, assault and rejection before dying gruesomely on the cross. He rose again from the dead to take our sins upon His shoulders and to defend us in front of our Father God. As Jesus rose up to sit with His Father He promised us a gift.
So today we celebrate Pentecost. A gift to you from Jesus Christ. The gift of the Holy Spirit.
What have you done with this special gift from Jesus Christ?
Have you accepted the Holy Spirit? If so are you one with Him and is the Holy Spirit in you?
Have you accepted the gift of the Holy Spirit? Do you use this gift – or have you locked it away – probably never to be used in your lifetime?
Several Sundays back the gospel reading was about the vine. Jesus said “For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.”
You cannot be fruitful unless you remain in Me.
A vine branch cannot be fruitful if it separates from the vine. We cannot be fruitful if we separate from Jesus.
Jesus has not invited us to be spectators. Christianity is not a spectator sport. He wants us involved and active and filled with the Holy Spirit. Connected to the main vine. Connected to Jesus Christ.
If we look at the church of the Apostles in Acts it was different and it was inviting. People loved what they saw and they wanted some of it. Their numbers grew every day.
Why? Because the people in the church were not only filled with the Holy Spirit but they were also empowered by Him
Acts 1:8 (NLT) “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere….”
John 14: 26 “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.”
When we are one with the Holy Spirit our knowledge and understanding of His Word will blossom. The Holy Spirit is going to teach us. Guide us. Encourage us. The Holy Spirit participates in the growth of the church encouraging and helping believers.
After Saul’s persecution of the Christians had ceased we read in Acts 9:31 “Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.”
“Encouraged by the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers.”
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12: 7 A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.
Everyone is given a spiritual gift.
The church in Acts transformed the community. It was not exclusive to the members of the church. It served the community.
The member’s concentration (their focus) was on being one with God and for His Holy Spirit to be in them, individually, empowering them to be His light in this world.
Logically the church is a gift – not to Christians – but to the whole world.
Many Christians view church attendance, a daily prayer and a bible reading as being one with the Holy Spirit. Some even suggest it implies being born again. Abiding in God is not like reporting for work – ensure my time card is stamped – then do my fifteen or thirty minutes with God – mustn’t forget to tell God about my shopping list – now let’s get out into the world. How can that be even remotely considered a genuine attempt to abide in Him?
After reading a book can we claim to know the person who wrote the book? How can we imagine a close and loving relationship with anyone – let alone God – if we spend fifteen to thirty minutes with Him from time to time? Bruce Wilkinson challenges us to break away from dutiful activities to invest in a living, flourishing relationship with God.
He goes on to say that the break through, to abiding in Him, demands I must deepen the quality of my devoted time with God. Notice the word devoted time and not devotional time. Time – ‘devoted’ to building a relationship. Time – ‘devoted’ to learning a little more every day. Time – ‘devoted’ indicates actually wanting to spend more time with Him.
It was good enough for King David so it is good enough for me.
Psalm 27:4 “The one thing I ask of the Lord— the thing I seek most— is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.”
I want to establish my relationship with Jesus to those heights. I want to wake up knowing my God, I want to converse with my God throughout the day and for His light to shine through me so others may be illuminated. I want to live in the house of my Lord.
I am ashamed to say I allow circumstances of this world to separate me from Him.
“Christian workers fail because they place their desire for their own holiness above their desire to know God. God cannot deliver me while my interest is merely in my own character.” That was Oswald Chambers.
Bruce Wilkinson affirms, I am aware that many of God’s people live their lives ignorant of the promise of abiding in Him. The joy of abiding in Him. The power of abiding in Him.
That is quite frightening! Many of God’s people, in spite of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and in spite of the gift of the Holy Spirit, live their lives ignorant of the miracle and the marvel of the Holy Spirit abiding in them.
Psalm 42:1 tells me “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God.”
Really? Does it? Does my soul really pant for God? If this is a deep need in my relationship with God then why don’t I pursue it?
Abide in me. Abide – remain faithful. Continue to remain.
In Acts 3 Peter heals the cripple at the gates called ‘Beautiful’. Verse 16 Peter tells me – “By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.”
It is the name of Jesus and the faith that comes through Him (that is the Holy Spirit) that has completely cured the cripple. Peter’s faith not the cripple – Peter believed in the name of Jesus and was one with the Holy Spirit. As a result God used Peter to heal him completely. .. . . because Peter believed in the name of Jesus and welcomed the faith that comes through Him.
The gift of the Holy Spirit is here – now – available to everyone. Jesus says “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find.” Jesus also said “whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these.”
All through the Holy Spirit abiding in me.
Do you seriously not want to accept this gift?