Prepare for Worship: Notes for Services on January 11, 2015

The Spirit and the Promise

Corey Widmer on Acts 2: 1-13

The Story Continues, Week 2:  The Spirit is Poured Out

Last week we looked at the way Jesus first called ordinary, unworthy people into his story, and then began to transform them in order to send them out into his world.  But how could they accomplish that, especially without Jesus right there with them as they had expected?  

After Jesus called them to continue his mission, he ascended into heaven and gave his disciples a gift--a gift that would leave them changed forever. The gift was the Holy Spirit; the same gift Jesus gives today to all who name him Lord and savior.  But what exactly does this mean? What’s this all about? At least in this text, the gift of the Holy Spirit provides two new things to God’s people:

1.     A New Experience of God’s presence

2.     A New Power for God’s mission

One  question we should be asking ourselves and each other is, "Do we actually need the Spirit to do what we're doing in God's name, or can we do it by relying on our own strengths and talents?" If we can proceed with even wonderful works of mercy on our own, we may need to ask if these are the things God wants us to be doing, and if we might need to re-connect with the Spirit for both guidance and power in ministry. As we prepare to come before the Lord together this week and meditate on this important part of the Gospel story, consider how you are sensing God's presence in your own life, and how God is empowering you to do the work Jesus entrusted to his church.  

Why Study Acts Now?

Today, Third Church is entering into a completely new and exciting chapter of our long story, even as we are in continuity with all that has come before. We are in a new denomination, one that is eager to empower congregations for creative works of mission. We are in a metropolitan city that is growing and changing in dynamic ways, and one in which God is clearly at work to advance his Kingdom and to bring healing and reconciliation. We are in a cultural moment in which growing secularity is requiring the North American church to restore its original identity as a missionary community. Who knows what the next chapter will hold?

There is One who does. As we dream and envision what lies ahead together, we take our cues from the One who reigns and writes the story of history. We want to follow Him and His ways, not our own creative ideas.

For that reason we’ll be spending the first five weeks of the year studying some key passages together in the book of Acts. The book of Acts is not just an interesting narrative on the ancient church – it is our story, the story that we are a part of and that the Spirit of God continues to write for us today, both as a community and as individuals.  We listen deeply to the story of the church so we know how to live as faithful followers of Jesus in this new time and place. 

Acts 2: 1-13 -

The Coming of the Holy Spirit

1When *the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like*a mighty rushing wind, and *it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3And divided tongues *as of fire appeared to them and rested* on each one of them. 4And they were all*filled with the Holy Spirit and began *to speak in other tongues*as the Spirit gave them utterance.

5Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6And *at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7And *they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking *Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9Parthians and *Medes and *Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11both Jews and *proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12And *all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13But others *mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

“If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.”

--A. W. Tozer