Life Through the Spirit
Jim Cymbala was on a full ride basketball scholarship, captain of the team, won a conference championship and played in the NCCA. On track for a major in sociology and a successful career, when he met his wife Carol who was a gifted organist and pianist, even though she had never been formally trained.
After they married, they settled down in a Brooklyn apartment, both getting jobs in the hectic world of Manhattan. Carols father was a pastor and had peeked Jim’s desire for spiritual things. It was in 1971 when he asked him a profound question…“There is a church in need of a pastor, why don’t you think about quitting your job and stepping out on faith to see what God will do?”
Like many young couples they had plans, dreams and hopes for their future, having no idea what God was about to do through them.
The disciples not yet fully understanding all that had happened with Jesus...would surely underestimate what God was about to do through them...
Pentecost Sunday — Jewish festival (50 days after Passover — Feast of Weeks. The birth of the church; when Jesus gave his promised gift.
(S) — Life through the spirit.
Acts 2:17-21 (Joel) — “‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people…and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Traditionally, Jewish festivals were to commemorate events in the relationship between God and people, and to the Israelites who knew their pilgrimage story of oppression and redemption.
They were times of remembering and thankfulness for God’s blessing of his past and present work in their lives. For many it was normal gathering of celebration!
For the disciples…the fresh wind and fresh fire of God’s spirit would spark a movement that came to be called the birth of the church. Those who believed in Jesus’ resurrection and that he was the messiah sent of God for the salvation of the world.
The beginning of the church? The pouring out of the spirit of God in the hearts of people.
Is the spirit of God still active in the church today? Can the hearts of persons be transformed by the spirit of Jesus in the same way?
Book — Fresh Wind Fresh Fire
When Jim knew that God was calling him to this church in to in Brooklyn NY. he would quickly learn that the same fresh wind and fresh fire that moved in the hearts of people at Pentecost, would be needed to move in the ministry at this shabby two-story building in the middle of a downtown block on Atlantic Ave.
It could only hold fewer than 200 people, not that it needed the space. Carol was doing her best at the organ to create a worshipful atmosphere and Pastor Cymbala stayed attentive to preaching the word by hoping to move the 15 people, which was a good Sunday, to respond to the point of his message.”
He recalled a moment when someone shifted in a pew, probably out of weariness, wondering when the message would be done, and CRAACK…the pew split, dumping five into the floor, as gasps and a few groans filled the air.
When we trust in only our human effort and understanding, its hard to see the bigger picture, what God can do..
(S) — How the disciples must have felt, waiting all together in one place as Jesus had said, when...
2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
1. How does Luke describe it?
2. Who was filled with the spirit?
...everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
3. Where did it come from?
Life through the spirit, is God moving in the follower of Jesus, giving them the ability to do something they could never do on our own.
(S) — We get more clarity on that...
2:5-8 “At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem...They were completely amazed. “How can this be? These people are all from Galilee, and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages!”
Notice the tension here — Faithful Jews — Believers speaking as they were? How can this be?
John 1:45-46 “Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.” “Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” “Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied.”
This was their way of saying, those who are not like us being like us!
Pastor Cymabal asking, “can anything good come of this church?
Jesus always showed up in the most unexpected places to the most unexpecting people, breaking down barriers that separate people...
(S) — and so here does his spirit.
2:11-13 We all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!...But others in the crowd ridiculed them, saying, “They’re just drunk, that’s all!”
Notice what they were talking about…there testimony...
Do we stand amazed when we see God doing something Good?
(S) — Rainbow Pic
This was a day of tradition, The festival of weeks, — A time of thanksgiving for the first fruits of the wheat harvest. when the community of people faithful to God would come from places near and far to gather in celebration!
Deut. 16:9 seven weeks from the first time you put the sickle to the standing grain.
Festivals like this and others were considered a time of movement, when God instructed all males, to make a pilgrimage three times per year, to appear before the Lord at a designated place.
The Hebrew root word for feasts means (Châgag) to move or make a pilgrimage.
To observe a festival; by implication is to be giddy: to celebrate, dance, which came from the idea of leaping and dancing in sacred dances — Lord of the Dance
Summer is a season of festivals; a time of gathering and celebrating various things that are usually founded on tradition
The Psalmist paints a pretty good picture of festivals, saying those who were thought of to have too much festival.
107:27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards and were at their wits end.
Pastor Cymbala felt the same way...
He questioned often, why God called him to this place which seemed to have little hope of having any impact. Vagrants would wonder in, the offering plate was always short...The streets around were filled with desperate lives in need of saving.
Alcohol, drugs, prostitutes, and urban decay had made their permanent home there. He remembers one day sobbing at his desk saying, “why has God abandoned us?”
(S) — Its easy to write people off who don’t fit our image of what a Christian should be…or where the church should share the gospel?
2:14-16 Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd, “Listen carefully, all of you, fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem...16 what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel:”
This day was God’s plan all along — They only had to look again to His faithfulness — What had been spoken...
The disciples having experienced Jesus’ death during the feast of the Passover, came together not to celebrate, but out of necessity.
Acts 1:14 “They all met together and were constantly united in prayer
Prayer was there connection to their past remembrances of God’s saving work...
Pastor Cymbala recalled the foundational statement upon which this church had been started; by a few women who had dedicated their lives to prayer. It was “to establish a congregation in downtown Brooklyn that would touch people for his glory.”
I wonder if we were to be so bold as a church, relying more heavily and consistently on our prayers, becoming central to everything we do…how would the Holy Spirit work among the faithful…?
Catching the fire, that is how Pastor Cymbala identifies what happens next, and what became of the little church, called The Brooklyn Tabernacle church in New York. Answers to prayer became the norm, new people gradually joined, with talents and skills, unsaved relatives and total strangers began to show up.
They continued to focus vertically and spiritually on God, which helped them to see the horizontal needs of those around them.
Carol with her little training started the little choir with a grand total of nine voices, which none could read music. She herself had to figure out the songs in her head and simultaneously play and direct the choir. They grew to fifty, the band members were as untrained, the drummer and the bass player both learning on the job and they became known as the choir of the common people.
Peters speaks as he has never spoke before, now under the power of the Holy Spirit...and leaves the people wanting more...This movement of the Holy Spirit, led the people to respond; pleading with Peter, we want this saving spirit, “what then shall we do?
Acts 2:36 ““So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!” 37 His words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”
The word for festival, Châgag: they were called to begin their pilgrimage, with the spirit of the living Jesus in them. They were moved to do something. It’s not just about what the H.S. does through us, but what it causes us to do!
pierced their hearts
(S) — Leave you with two questions
What should I do?
What should I do?
Cause and effect — three thousand believers...The question every follower of Jesus should be asking…The Holy spirit is the movement of God in the believer....causing us to something...
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit
What does the Holy Spirit need to do in me?
What does the Holy Spirit need to do in me?
They knew the stories of God’s mighty power of deliverance — The winds that pushed the waters if the Nile back so their ancestors could cross while it devoured their enemy behind them. God who walked with them through the wilderness, guiding, protecting, providing, and supplying their ever need.
If you will lead my people to pray and call upon my name, I will supply all you need, you will never have a building large enough to contain the crowds. I will send the promised spirit as my response to your plea!
Form that moment he started a series of weekly prayer meetings, telling his tiny congregation, that of we continue to call upon the Lord, he has promised in his word to answer, to bring back the unsaved to himself and to pour out his spirit among us.
The church started hosting rallies for teen challenge, a ministry to drug addicts and gang members, quickly growing out of their location, each Sunday drawing 400 to 500, lines would form along the street, until eventually filled a rented theater that seated 1400.
The same power that raised Jesus from the grave would move in the hearts of people....
Ephesians 1:19-20 “I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.”
It’s easy for even the faithful to doubt the power of God to do something big. The problem — we trust God from our human understanding…weakness…
That was the spirit that broke through at Pentecost…the same spirit that moved in the hearts of people to start this church...
39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
The spirit still with us today; as we gather, in the lives of every believer...the fresh wind and fresh fire that invades the hearts of people and cause us to move…
Acts 17:28 'For in him we live and move and have our being.
Life through the spirit...
What should you do? What does the Holy Spirit need to do in you?