May 15, 2016
Text: Acts 2:1-21in
Breath of GodIn the night in which He was betrayed, Jesus sat down with the disciples and told them that Hesoon would be leaving them. As fear and anxiety began to pour over them, it felt like their breath had been knocked out of them.I think I am safe to say that all of us at one time or another, have been gripped with fear of the unknown. Fear can take your breath away- drain the life out of you if you let it. But it was then that Jesus gently reassured them- “do not be afraid- Peace I leave with you- my peace I give to you. The Father is sending you an Advocate – the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of truth and who will remind you of everything I have said.The Holy Spirit came- and is with us today. Today, some 2,000 years later, we have gathered here to remember the words of Jesus and celebrate the birth of the church. Pray.A lot had happened since that night that Jesus told them not to be afraid. They had watched Jesus die on a cross and laid in a tomb and as they watched, they tried their best to not be afraid. And whey went to the tomb three days later an angel asked them why they were looking for the living among the dead- he is alive- just as he said he would be. For the next 70 days, they basked in the presence of their risen Lord as Jesus appeared to the disciples and many others- until one day, they heard him give the command to go preach the gospel to the ends of the earth- and then they watched him ascend into heaven.Forty days later as they were gathered together in prayer- the promised Holy Spirit came. But He did not come quietly, but came like a mighty wind with tongues of fire appearing and resting on their heads and they began to speak in other languages as the spirit gave the ability. The Holy Spirit- the third person of the Trinity had come with power- power to change lives-and the church- the one body of Christ- was born.Today, when we hear the word, “Pentecost”, we think of the coming of the Holy Spirit as weshould. But when the bible says that “when the day of Pentecost had come”- it was referring tothe Jewish festival of first fruits. No other festival other than the Passover brought more peoplefrom all over the world to Jerusalem than did the Day of Pentecost did- and Jerusalem wasbustling with people from many countries and many languages.All that noise got the attention of the crowds in the street- and when they heard them speaking in their own languages- they thought they must be drunk. But Peter stood up to explain that that wasn’t the case- and having gotten their attention- he proceeded to tell them all about Jesus – who He was and what he had done for them. And after hearing the good news of the gospel- the bible says that they were: “cut to the heart”- and they asked Peter what they should do? Peter had a ready answer saying: “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus.As a result, 3,000 people repented and were baptized that day. Peter had not play on their emotions or tried to manipulate them in any way. He simply spoke with boldness the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit.The Holy Spirit speaks truth to our hearts even when we don’t want to hear it. Billy Grahamcalled the Holy Spirit- “the hound of heaven”- relentlessly hounding us until we cannot ignorehim anymore. Jesus Himself said that we can’t see the wind or where it comes from- but we cansee it’ effects- changing, transforming lives from the inside out.Martin Luther’s life was changed forever one night in his room as he read Eph 2:8-9 that says:“for by grace you have been saved through faith- it is not your own doing- it is a gift of God lestanyone should boast.” His eyes of understanding were opened- and he was overcome with joyand peace.Later, writing in the small catechism of the third article, Luther said that the Holy Spirit calls,gathers, and enlightens us who believe- and in the same way calls, gathers and enlightens thewhole church. But He has given us a free will to choose whether we listen and hear his call, obeyhis commands, or learn and submit to His truth.When we listen- we hear of God’s love for sinners, but hatred of our sin; we hear of his grace and mercy for repentant sinners, and that our sins have been paid in full by Jesus on the cross. When we honor God with our obedience, it is a response of our love for him; and when we seek his wisdom and guidance, it is a sign of our trust.The Holy Spirit cannot be tamed to serve our purposes- it is us who need to submit to His calling and purpose. There is only one Spirit. We need to remember that when people respond to the message of the gospel- it is the working of the Holy Spirit- not us. There is only one savior- and it is not us- and there is only one Holy Spirit who calls and changes lives- and it is not us. We are only to be obedient and place ourselves as instruments in God’s hands to do His work.Living in the world today, it would seem things have been turned upside down. Wrong has become right, and right has become wrong. It seems our nation and the world has become dead to the things of God and we wonder if it could ever become alive again.God gave the prophet Ezekiel a vision of Israel- a nation that had turned from God. And thevision God gave him was that of a valley full of bones- dry bones that had been without life for along time. And looking at those bleached, dry bones, God asked him a question- do you thinkthese bones can come live? What would you say? What would you say of America? Ezekielanswered: “I don’t know- but you do.” Then prophesy to them- God told him- tell these dead, dry bones that God will breathe life into them once more and come alive.And so Ezekiel obeyed God- and something amazing began to happen. The lifeless bones beganto come together and sinews and flesh began to grow on them and then skin, until they looked
like people- but they were still without life. But then God breathed into them his breath of life,and they stood- alive and strong.We can listen to the nightly news and wonder what is going to happen and become disheartened. It is like the world- and even the church at large has become like a valley of dry bones and we wonder if they can ever come alive again. The answer is an emphatic “yes”! Thank God it is not up to our own strength or reasoning that will do it- but the life and breath of God. At the same time though- he has told us to prophesy- to speak the truth to those dead bones and pray for God to breathe life.The truth of our sin is the same today-and the truth and power of the gospel is the same todayand forever also. The answer to our questions are still the same today. Can these dry bones live?Yes. God desires that all come to the knowledge of His saving grace. What should I do? Repentand believe and go make disciples.In the gospel this morning- Jesus gave us a promise-an incredible promise-and that is, becauseof the Holy Spirit in us, we who believe and trust in Jesus will do the things Jesus did- and infact, will do even greater things! Do not be afraid- Jesus said- Peace I leave with you! “We didnot receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but a spirit of adoption” the apostle Paulreminded us.We live in the most exciting time of history. Think of it- we live on the Easter side of the grave.We know Jesus has risen from the dead and has defeated sin, death, and the power of the devilonce and for all. Not only that, but we live on this side of Pentecost and have received theoutpouring of His Spirit of power and understanding and new life. Jesus’ return is getting closereach day. It is time to go and boldly tell others. Pray.