The Day of Pentecost (Festival of Weeks)

Repentance is not a single event but rather a point of crisis along with a continuing relationship choice. Repentance is part of a Christian’s regular spiritual life and routine. When you repent of something, regardless of what it may be, you turn away from it and choose another, better path.

Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 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. 5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?
11 b, we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

Our lives in Christ are important to God, which is why He sent His Son to take the punishment for our sins and die on the cross so that we might be able to receive forgiveness through Jesus. The only requirement on our part..that we have to do is to repent and ask for the forgiveness that has been provided. Now, some might say that they don’t feel compelled to repent of anything in their life so why should they? In that instance, either you are not ready or it isn’t the time yet for your spirit to be called. Which doesn’t mean that you are not wanted by God, He is just waiting until the time, His time, is right. He alone knows when that may be, although you can still pray and ask Him into your life. You will not be refused.

God never will turn away a sinner who asks from their heart and truly repents of things that they know that they have done. It is not a one-time event in your life, just as changing the oil filter on your car isn’t a onetime maintenance item either. We are all sinners and we do it on a daily basis. Nobody is exempt from this fact, even Jesus was tempted but He didn’t sin. What can we do about those temptations? Are we able to control them and ourselves? In many instances, no we are not able to do this with our own strength. But God provided us with the same Spirit that was given to Peter and the disciples that day, which will enable us to resist temptation.

Many people think that He didn’t sin because He was God in the flesh, but it was because He yielded His will to God each and every day..every minute. This is what we are supposed to do, but many think that once they have given their life to Christ, they don’t have to do anything else. If you don’t do anything else, your life won’t really change at all from what it was before you accepted Christ.

Then you will be counted among the hypocrites because you didn’t allow the Holy Spirit which you received to really change your life. This is why there are so many who are not in church, they know the Truth, they may have accepted Christ but they have not followed through with Bible study, daily prayer asking for strength to get through the day, etc. The spiritual fire that some have and many do not and the reasons for the difference is found in that, follow through. The gospel could be preached simply by saying “Believe in Jesus who was sent to die for your sins and ask Him to come into your heart and cleanse you from your unrighteousness”. One sentence, but without prayer and study of scripture allowing you to get to know God, what will change in your life?

William Blake wrote a poem about Pentecost and a few lines from that poem read:

Unless the eye catch fire, God will not be seen.
Unless the ear catch fire, God will not be heard.
Unless the tongue catch fire, God will not be named.
Unless the Heart catch fire, God will not be loved.
Unless the mind catch fire, God will not be known.

We are to be on fire for our Lord because He came down to us. We are to be on fire for God because a part of Him resides within each person who has accepted Jesus as Savior. If we are not on fire for God, why not? Do you not realize that the Creator of the universe came to earth specifically for each person here? Not only here in this church building, but all people are the ones that He came for, whether they know Him or not at this moment or even whether they care that He loves them, he still came.

I have seen a book called “gods at war” and it is written by a pastor who teaches a study based on it. The problem is that there are no gods at war, there is only one God, all these others are inventions of men. These man-made gods cannot fight with the One True God. They have no power because they are man’s imaginings of the “god” that he wishes to be the true god.

Even many people who are in church do this. You may hear people say that “My god would never condemn someone to hell”; in fact, it is not God that condemns people to that place but we ourselves.

Getting back to the day of Pentecost, those who heard the sermon in their own language wondered what they must do when confronted with the truth of Jesus. Peter answered them and said that they must repent of their ways and be baptized. We can do no less than this.

Are you content in your life? Are you satisfied that you are in a right relationship with our Father in heaven? Many people are and the truth of it will condemn them. They are like the Pharisees, they see no need to repent because their religion and their practice of it feels just fine. As time and our lives will show that one day every person will bow before the King of Kings and we will all be shown the truth of our life. What kind of truth will your life show you?

 

Religion may not be good for you!

In Paul’s day and in our own time, people keep traditions alive and you hear “that’s the way it has always been done”, as proof of their Christian lives and their beliefs as well as the “proof” of their conversion. We see people in church as well as on the street that we know as “church people”, meaning that they are in church every time that there is something going on there. It could also mean that they volunteer in church to drive the bus or to help in the nursery or any number of duties. These people feel sanctified and saved because of their deeds or their work for the church and they may be, but what about the Person that they are serving? Are they working for Jesus or themselves?

In Paul’s day there were many who were “religious”, all of the priests, the Pharisees and Sadducees were religious and yet Jesus condemned them. They were convinced that they were right and everyone else was wrong and they would not listen to any “new” teaching. They were stuck in the past with all of their laws and rules and they had hardened their hearts against anything new.

Do you know people like that? I do, but what can you or I do about it? We can’t change them because they don’t listen or won’t listen just as those in Jesus’ time wouldn’t. So what can we do? Love them, and pray for them daily.

In reference to the title of today’s sermon, there will be many people in hell who are or were religious while they were here and they were that way their whole life. They were convinced that their way was right and that they were doing things right, so what happened? They weren’t shown the error of their ways? Maybe or maybe they just didn’t listen or really hear sermons which they attended. When your ears are closed to Christ and His way of living, your heart is too. So how do you get people like that to listen? By prayer and fasting. Even Jesus said that some problems can only be solved by prayer and fasting.

I am not speaking of fasting for forty days or even two weeks, but if there is someone that you love who hasn’t given their lives and their hearts to Jesus then pray for them and fast for one day! Drink water and juice during that time and pray.

Their life will be impacted and yours will too! God listens closely to those who combine fasting with prayer. The answer may not come immediately after the fast is over, but you can be sure that your prayer was heard!

When Paul wrote most of his letters to the different churches, he was usually in prison at the time. What does that say about his ministry? It says that it was effective for one thing because he was getting someone’s attention! He was striving for the prize, but what was that prize? The prize that Paul was striving for was to be more like Jesus and if it meant that he was stoned or imprisoned for the teaching that he was doing then so be it! The prize that Paul was seeking was also to be considered worthy of being a “good and faithful servant” to his Lord, which is something that we should also be striving for.

To live for Christ and with Him in your daily life is a conscious decision that has to be made daily. It doesn’t automatically happen when you accept Him as your savior. Many people think that once you have accepted Him into your heart, you have done your part. That is not where your part in your new life ends but where it begins! You have to decide every day to take Christ with you everywhere you go! And if you wouldn’t take Jesus there in person, then you shouldn’t be there either!

That is a radical concept for many people to accept even Christians who have been in church most of their lives. You can get up and have a bad day and from that point you may un-invite Christ or decide not to ask Him to be with you that day. Of course He will still be there but you may not know it because you choose not to recognize Him. We are supposed to know and come to know Him daily because of Who He is and what He did for us and yet we sometimes choose not to allow Him to be a presence in our daily life.

Why would you decide such a thing? The Creator of everything wants a relationship with you and everyone else in the world, doesn’t that sound cool?! We are enamored with all sorts of celebrities and sports figures and would enjoy spending time with them so why not be just as excited when the Creator wants to be in your life and share it with you? The disciples had that relationship for about three years and yet they didn’t fully comprehend it until He ascended to the Father. We have the Bible, God’s Word, to tell us all that we need to know about Him and about the Father and we have the Holy Spirit to guide us daily in our walk with Him, what more could you ask for?

Our world and the one who influences people everyday tries to tell us that the things of this world, right now are more important than anything we could have with Jesus in our lives. Money, power, and possessions are all temporary because when our life is over those things won’t mean anything. Some of them may have sentimental value to our family but other than that, nothing in this world makes the trip past death’s door only your soul and spirit do that.

The way that many people see being a Christian is that we live with lots of rules and regulations about what we can and cannot do. That is not the way this works! Following Christ and keeping our eyes on Him, spiritually and physically is the requirement that we should live with every day. It is not hard to follow Christ, once you get the hang of it. The hard part is the tug of war between your old self and the new one that now lives in your heart.

Until your faith in Christ can keep your new self in place and kick the old one out, you will be in turmoil because you can’t serve them both. It is a decision that you have to make every day. Get up with Christ on your mind, not what am I going to do today? But Who am I going to be with today? Am I going to go back to doing the things that I did before I met Jesus? Or am I going to read the Bible a few minutes and pray for strength and guidance from Him to carry me through the day?

We are living this life to get ready for the next but you have to make sure that you are going to have a life, a real life, after this one. Many people think that there is no life after this one and the Bible says just the opposite from beginning to end. Give yourself a chance to experience that life because the alternative is eternal separation from loved ones who are in heaven and from the love of God too. The only chance that you have to make this decision is during this life, now. Once this life ends, there are no “second chances”. Ask Jesus into your life, follow Him every day, learn about Him and the love that He has for you during the time that you have now.

The universe shows us every day the power and majesty of God so we are without excuse when someone asks if there is a God. Isn’t it wonderful that the Creator of everything wants to know you and have a relationship with you? Don’t you want to know Him too? All you have to do is ask Him into your life and your heart and you will have that relationship.