Today is Pentecost Sunday, the day we celebrate and recognize the giving of the Holy Spirit 50 days after Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead. This is also the birth of the Church as the Spirit would send those first missionaries out to share the Good News of Jesus Christ; proclaiming a peace that surpasses all understanding. This is a day about God making a name for us; a name sealed forever in the Book of Life.
Below, is the opening paragraph to the sermon I will be preaching this morning. If you want to watch the rest, I invite you to visit our church website (link on the right hand side of this page) or go to YouTube and search for “Living Word Lutheran Church, Puyallup, WA). The sermon should be posted later today or early in the week. The sermon text is based in Acts 2:1-21, but I will be starting in Genesis 11:1-9 as I reference the Tower of Babel.
To God be the glory!!!
John 14:27, Jesus says, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. And this fear thing is what people in this world are trying to deal with. They do this through many means, but mainly, through making a name for themselves. Through unity of purpose and thought; through being connected to a group or community of people, many hope to find intimacy, but what they find is a tower that has fallen into a heap of rumble. The only true peace and intimacy that will last, not just through this life, but for all eternity, is what we have with God through Jesus Christ as Paul tells us in Romans 5. It is a peace and intimacy, a purpose and belonging that is only made known through the Helper, the Advocate, the Holy Spirit. Pentecost is that moment and manifestation for the believer.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” [Acts 1:8 ESV]
Witnesses don’t share their opinions.
Witnesses don’t share their theories.
Witnesses don’t speculate.
Witnesses don’t guess.
Witnesses tell the truth.
the whole truth,
and nothing but the truth.
So helped by the Holy Spirit.
And YOU, Christian, are called to be a witness for Jesus.
You’ve been subpoenaed by Jesus.
But here’s the thing…
The Holy Spirit will give you power to witness.
Jesus doesn’t send you empty-handed.
Jesus sends you equipped.
Jesus sends you.
Jesus goes WITH you.
You are not alone.
Don’t be afraid of the Truth.
Proclaim the Truth boldly and if the world hates you, then so be it.
Jesus loves you.
You are witnesses.
So go and give them Jesus.
The following is the Liturgy of Repentance for Lenten worship tonight. The text is Acts 9:1-19; the call and conversion of Saul/Paul. May God use you to bring glory to His most holy name…
Father, You are holy, and thus Your Church is holy.
It is precious to You, for Jesus, Your Son, is the bridegroom.
So precious is his bride, Jesus died for her salvation.
As the Church, we are forever connected to You through Jesus.
We are one with him.
But Your precious Church is under persecution.
Attacked by Satan.
Denounced by the world.
Threatened by governments.
Assaulted by those who hate You.
And even ambushed…by those from within?
Oh God, how can this be?
How can members from within be culpable?
Is it I, Lord?
Holy Father, as You shine Your light on me, it is clear.
It IS I.
I have sinned.
Granted, I haven’t dragged people to jail because of the Name,
but I haven’t always spoken well of my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Show me my faults.
Use me to bring glory to Your holy name, but first…
Oh Lord, my God, hear my cry: I repent…
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
through Jesus Christ
You have called me to be Your witness
to the ends of the earth.
And why not, for…
I have seen your glory,
I have heard the truth,
I have tasted that You are good,
my sins have been forgiven,
I have been given hope,
I have been redeemed.
This is joyous news, so…
May the Good News of Jesus,
that has transformed me, now,
always be upon my lips.
Reveal to me opportunities to witness to the resurrection
that those who see and hear
may be drawn to You.
May I never hold back.
May I never seek self-glorification.
May I never twist the truth.
May I never judge.
For I am called to be a witness,
to all the world;
to all people.
All worship, praise, honor and glory
be unto You,
through Christ Jesus my Lord,
The Pastor -|—
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. [Acts 2:42, ESV]
And isn’t this what the church should be about:
Diving into and learning scripture,
Spending time with other believers,
Worshiping and communing together and
It seems to make sense to me. Sure there are other things about being a church, for example, it’s not about being with believers ONLY, but sharing the Word of Jesus with nonbelievers.
This verse in Acts 2 lays out a church on fire for Jesus.
This is a church wanting to be closer to Jesus.
This is a church who is excited about the hope they have.
This is a church that looks to the needs of others.
This is a church who gets it.
This is not a magical formula for success, but rather the activities that flow from the assembly out of their faith in the crucified and risen Jesus Christ. When a church lives out Acts 2:42, the church is doing the very thing that should come naturally, like breathing. If these activities are laborious then something is wrong. You can’t force anything of those activities and you can’t fake it. You are either verse 42 or not. If your church is not, then go back to the beginning: Devote yourself to scripture.
To having any real and lasting hope; for the church to make an impact in the world; for the church to be a beacon of light in a dark world, verse 42 needs to be present. Because believe it or not, people need and want to be part of verse 42.
Only God can make a difference. Only God will bring the increase: And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. [Acts 2:47]
Let’s be an Act 2:42 church that glorifies God almighty for the sake of the world.
The Pastor -|—
Praise be to God!
But this verse is not hocus pocus.
It’s not a magical incantation.
The name of Jesus is not some name to be used to get what you want.
This verse is an act of worship; an act of submission. Notice that it does not say, “calling on the name of Jesus” but rather “Lord”. It is definitely referring to Jesus but instead uses the title that describes Jesus’ relationship to you.
To call on a lord is to recognize their authority over you. You aren’t going to call on a lord if you don’t think they can save you. But in this case, calling on THE Lord, Jesus, is something one does because they already know Jesus can and has saved them through faith. A person is not going to do this willy nilly because they want to save their butts from the eternal flames, but one does this out of love for the one who forgives sin through amazing grace.
But also, one doesn’t not submit to a lord if they still want freedom over their own life. You don’t submit to a lord if you’re too proud to admit you need help. You don’t submit to a lord if you want your cake and eat it too. But the fact of the matter is we need help and with Jesus you get something better than the proverbial cake. With Jesus you get THE Lord of lords who takes great joy in saving your life.
Praise be to God!
So go on, call on Jesus, submit to him and praise his Holy name.
Father God, you’re an awesome God. Thank you for sending Jesus to be Lord of my life to save me from myself. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
The Pastor -|—
But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” [Acts 7:55-56]
Stephen knew he was in trouble. He knew his life was in danger. Stephen knew that he was not getting out of this crowd alive. But he was unfazed. Filled with the Holy Spirit, he sees the reason for his faith. And I can about imagine the peace he felt, even as the people dragged him out of the city to stone him.
The reason I was drawn to this text this morning was because of a prayer request I received yesterday from a friend. He sent a group text to a few of us; asking how we should be praying for those Christians that ISIS recently captured. This has been weighing on him and wanted to know how to pray. So I sent the above text and wondered if we should be praying that those Christians see what Stephen saw and thus be strengthened and encouraged. Someone else then chimed in and suggested that we pray that the faith of those persecuted Christians have an impact on their captors.
But is there more?
I’m not sure what those Christians truly need since I can’t begin to imagine what it is like for them. I can’t imagine what I would pray for if I were in that situation or how my faith would hold up. But I like that text from Acts so I am going to pray for those Christians using that text and then pray that their faith impacts their captors and then fall in Romans 8:26…
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
…and then turn it over to God.
I don’t and can’t know what they truly need, but God does. So let’s allow the Holy Spirit to take our groanings and sighs and cries and carry them to the Lord. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to intercede for us. Let’s give it up to God and say, “May your will be done”
The Pastor -|—