Sunday, 31 May 2020

Pentecost Celebration Day

Scripture: Acts 2 v 1 - 4:  "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  
3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.  
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."

Today is the Feast of Pentecost, it is a Jewish feast day first celebrated 50  days after the first Passover, when the Jews left Egypt to go into the Promised Land.  It is also the day God the Father sent God the Holy Spirit to empower the followers of Jesus.  Let us celebrate the day the true church began!

We can expect God to fulfil the promise Jesus gave in Acts 1 v 8:  "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."

An amazing testimony that will appeal to South Africans happened in the early weeks of The Asuza Street revival in Los Angeles in 1906.  The pastor, William J. Seymour, spoke a message in tongues, and it so happened that Dr. David du Plessis, a South African, later to be known as Mr. Pentecost, was in that meeting.

It was he who interpreted the tongues, which were spoken in a language he knew very well, Afrikaans!  It was he who brought the flame of revival back to South Africa, igniting powerful men of God like Rees Howells and Andrew Murray to inspire the revival that fell upon Pondoland and other parts of the country.  

Many South African black people have Biblical names because of parents or grandparents being saved in that revival. So the scripture above was a true prophetic word that would empower Christians to the uttermost parts of the Earth.

After the initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles, many thousands found salvation and received the gifts of the Spirit.  In the city of Corinth, Paul had to correct them as they were so excited about tongues that their entire meetings were conducted in tongues.  

Paul had to set some boundaries in 1 Corinthians 14, to limit the speaking a message in tongues to 3 people per meeting, as long as there was a person with the gift of interpreting tongues present.  Remember this is an interpretation and not a direct translation.  Some people get confused on this issue.

The Holy Spirit, or Holy Ghost, is a Person.  The third Person of the Trinity of God.  He is not an "it" or an influence on a meeting.  He is so pure that the only sin God will never forgive is blasphemy against Him.  This includes calling those who are baptized in the Holy Spirit and doing His righteous works, as followers of Satan.  As Jesus was when the Pharisees said He cast out demons by the power of Beelzebub.

The Holy Spirit is also known as the Paraclete, or One who comes alongside to help.  He is the Promise of the Father to us, to help us like Jesus taught His disciples.  He works with us and empowers us to meet the needs of those we reach out to.  If they are sick, He will send them the gifts of healing as we lay hands on them.

Sometimes the problem is a demonic manifestation.  My first meeting in a nearby town started in prayer.  During the prayer I felt a terrible pain in my head.  I knew someone in the room was suffering so I asked who might have a migraine headache.  The hostess said, I have a bad headache so I laid my hands on her and she was healed.  

She jumped around the room and shouted in great excitement.  I asked her why.  She said 25 years ago I went to a fortune teller and came home with that headache.  It has gone from me for the first time.  That was a demonic headache from opening a door to the occult realm through divination.  Praise God from Whom all mercy flows.

There was a wonderful pastor working for Jesus on the coast of South Africa.  He could not read not write being dyslexic, but he had the gift of the word of knowledge very strongly.  He would also talk to the Lord in short sentences in tongues and get immediate interpretation from the Holy Spirit.

Armed with these gifts he would stand before the congregation and call people forward and accurately minister to their deepest needs or fears, illnesses or oppression, and there would be much rejoicing in that place.

A pastor's wife, from California, told me that for six months she was in a coma in ICU.  During that time she would only be awake to lead dying people around her to Jesus and then she would slip back into coma.  She was about the business of her Father, empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is our Passover Lamb, whose Blood caused sin and spiritual death to be removed from us.  He goes before us to help us escape the troubles of the world and to make us examples for sinners to desire what we have.  We are born again into true freedom even in hard times, or places.  Leaving Earth for Heaven is not a tragedy.

That first outpouring of the Holy Spirit turned sombre, scared disciples into noisy and excited people.  They were speaking loudly in tongues so much that people in the street heard them and said that they must all be drunk, even though it was only 9 a.m.

But others who had come from far distances to celebrate the feast of Pentecost, said they could understand the words spoken in foreign languages, just as David du Plessis found in Asuza Street. These people are declaring the wonders and power of God.  That is definitely what speaking, praying, or singing in tongues does for us.  Worship in one accord, singing the high praises of God and receiving enlightenment from Him.

Pentecost is a time of rejoicing because ten days after the Ascension of Jesus, the Holy Spirit came down to fill the disciples with power the same as Jesus had when He was on Earth.  The same day a revived Peter, preached to the crowds who had gathered around them and 3000 repented and were saved. 

The crowd were also filled with the Holy Spirit.  Peter wrote in Acts 2 v 38 - 39 that if they repented and were baptized they would receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, 'the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all who are far off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.'

The promise is to all of us afar off people to be filled with the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues, and have the other gifts flowing in our lives and ministries.  We need to be in one Spirit to have unity in the Body.  What of those in churches where none of the above is mentioned or practised?  I was one of them who was a lifelong regular churchgoer but I only met Jesus and was born  again at age 25.

How my life changed!  It took another five years to discover I needed to be baptised and filled with the Holy Spirit but through sheer persistence Jesus got me there.  What a blessed journey it has been since then. Never a dull moment!  Very powerful things happen when we walk with God in the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is also known as Teacher, Friend, Helper, Comforter.   He has been on Earth for 2000 years building a church not made with hands.  The church is made up of people who follow the Lamb without compromise.  They are forgiven of sin, baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit and their names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.  

We don't go to church or attend church or belong to a church.  We are church.  We are the invisible Body of Christ.  We are the building blocks of His Body.  He says where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I in their midst.  That's church.

The Holy Spirit enhances our lives immeasurably and always exalts Jesus.  The  nine gifts He brings have depths and layers that He adds to those who use His gifts with wisdom and integrity.  So seek Him with all your heart and He will never disappoint you.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your promise to us that the Holy Spirit should come to followers of Jesus in all generations.  Please open the hearts of those who don't know Him to receive this wonderful experience and blessing.  In Jesus' name. Amen.