Sunday, 15 May 2016

Pentecost Sunday 2016 Acts 2:1-20

Introduction

The Pope was on a visit to New York. At the airport he was picked by a limousine. Looking at the beautiful car the Pope turned to the driver and said, "You know, I hardly ever get to drive. Would you please let me?"

The driver was hesistant and said, "I'm sorry, but I don't think I'm supposed to do that."


But the Pope persisted, "Please?" Eventually the driver said "Oh, all right, I can't really say no to the Pope."


So the Pope took the wheel, and put his foot on the pedal, 20, 30, 40, 50, eventually he gets up to 100 miles an hour in a 45 mph zone.  A policeman soon notices and pulls him over.
The policeman walks up and asks the Pope to roll down the window. Startled and surprised, the young officer asks the Pope to wait a minute. He goes back to his patrol car and radios the chief.


Cop: "Chief, I have a problem."


Chief: "What sort of problem?"


Cop: "Well, you see, I pulled over this guy for driving way over the speed limit but it's someone really important."


Chief: "Important like the mayor?"


Cop: "No, no, much more important than that."


Chief: "Important like the governor?"


Cop: "Wayyyyyy more important than that."


Chief: "Like the president?"


Cop: "More."


Chief: "Who's more important than the president?"


Cop: "I don't know, but he's got the Pope driving for him!"


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The question I want to ask today is who is in the driving seat of your life? Who’s in control of your life? You or God?

As Christians it should be God who is in control of our lives. And the way we do this is by surrendering our lives to God, but because I’m a back seat driver & like to be in control, the decision to surrender my life to God is one I have to make afresh every single day.
If we want God to be in the driving seat of our lives, then we need to be filled with his Holy Spirit. This isn’t a one of event, but something that needs to happen every single day. When Paul tells the Christians in Ephesus to be filled with the Holy Spirit (5:18) he uses the present continuous tense, in other words he is saying “Go on being filled over and over and over again.”

Today I want to talk about who is the Holy Spirit, what does the Holy Spirit do, and how we can be filled with the Holy Spirit.  And then I want to give people the opportunity to receive the Holy Spirit.

Because I believe that more than anything else, this is what God wants to do today. Just as He poured out his Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, so I believe God wants to pour out His Spirit on us today.

Who is the Holy Spirit?
  • Spirit of God
  • In Gospel reading Jesus says “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you for ever.”
  • Word the NIV translates as advocate in Greek is parakletos (John 14:16). It means ‘one called alongside’ – a Counsellor, Comforter or Helper.

Who is the Holy Spirit for?

  • The Holy Spirit is for all of us.
  • In our reading from Acts, Peter quoted from the prophet Joel who said ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.’ (Acts 2:17)
  • The Holy Spirit is given to everyone who turns to Christ, irrespective of sex, age, background, race, colour or rank. 
  • The Holy Spirit is the presence of God in us.
  • Every Christian has the Holy Spirit within them. Paul writes to the Corinthians “Do you not know your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.” (I Corinthians 3:16) 
  • When we give our lives to God, God’s spirit comes and dwells within us.
  • But there is a difference between having the Holy Spirit living within us, and being FILLED with the Holy Spirit. Just as there is a difference between having two glasses one containing a drop of water in it and one being filled to the brim.
  • God wants us to be FILLED with His spirit.

What does the Holy Spirit Do?

  • It’s through the Holy Spirit that we encounter & experience God’s presence in our lives. He helps us to worship & glorify God.
  • The Holy Spirit equips us for service, giving us special gifts. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
  • The Holy Spirit helps us to become more like Christ. Paul describes this as the Fruit of the Holy Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control.

How can we be filled with the Holy Spirit?

  • We ask for it!
  • Jesus said “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?  Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?  If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
  • God wants us to receive this gift.

But there can be some barriers to receiving the Holy Spirit.

  1. Sin – creates a barrier between ourselves & God, like a blocked drain pipe, the blockage first needs removing. This is called repentance - not only acknowledging the wrong we have done, but literally turning away from it. True repentance should result in a change of actions. 1 John 1: 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
  2. Fear – people fear what the Holy Spirit may do, but Jesus says just as it is unthinkable that we would give our children a snake if they asked for a fish, so God is a loving Father, he’s not going to give us anything bad. He wants the best for us.
  3. Inadequacy - If you’re anything like me, you may feel a sense of inadequacy, and so you think “If I ask I’m not going to receive, because God knows what I’m like, and I don’t deserve it.  I can understand why holy people would receive this gift, but I don’t think God would give the Holy Spirit to me.  What Jesus says is not how much more will your father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to really holy people who’ve been Christians for a very long time.  He says, “How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”