FIRST LESSON: Romans 8:18-28
SECOND LESSON Acts 2:1-21
CHILDREN’S MESSAGE: “Pentecost Party
SERMON: “The Great Re-Charging”
Wouldn’t it be great if we never had to worry about putting gas in our cars? One of the last things I want to have happen is to run out of gas on the road, so I’m pretty good about getting to the gas station whenever the needle drops below a quarter. I read about a guy who was notorious for waiting until the needle was on empty before filling his gas tank. Finally one day his car died on him and he and his passenger had to take a walk to the nearest filling station. After they got a gallon of gas and put it in the car they drove back to the gas station and filled the tank. The station attendant who had “loaned” them a can to carry the gallon of gas asked the guy if he’d learned anything.
He said, “Yeah. I learned that I have a 15-gallon tank.”
There are hybrids that use a lot less gas, and I hear they’re working on electric cars that don’t need any gas, but even those have to be recharged. Running out of electricity isn’t any better than running out of gas.
Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to worry about batteries in flashlights, smoke alarms, remote controls, iPads, laptops and cell phones dying?
Today is Pentecost, the old Greek and Latin name for the Jewish harvest festival Shavuot, occurring 50 days after Passover, originally commemorating God giving the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai 50 days after the Exodus. For Christians the holy day is significant as a celebration of the day that God sent the Holy Spirit into a room full of the first followers of Christ. The book of Acts tells us that “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
What a recharge to the disciples! Later, the apostle Paul spoke of the high charge of this Spirit in his letter to the Romans. “We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now,” he observes (Romans 8:22).
They must have had moments of doubt and discouragement, even though they had seen the resurrected Lord. God was making all things new, but it was taking some time. Paul wrote that we still “groan inwardly” because God’s work in us has not yet been completed. We still wait for the day when we will gain the resurrection body of Jesus, one in which there is no more pain or crying, illness or dying. Those first disciples believed it was coming very soon, but we have 2,000 years of hindsight, and can’t help but wonder not only when, but if Christ will come and take us to be where he is.
Paul encourages us to wait patiently and reassures us, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit intercedes for us . . . the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” (vv. 26-27)
Where’s your spiritual gas gauge today?
Sometimes it seems that life doesn’t take us where we want to go.
A woman named Trudy Rosenfield left England in good spirits, looking forward to landing in sunny San Jose, California, after an all-day flight. Little did Ms. Rosenfield know that her travel agent had made a computer error in booking her flight. The travel agent had accidentally put the seventy-year-old woman on a flight to San Jose, Costa Rica.
Ms. Rosenfield fell asleep on the plane, blissfully unaware that she was headed for the wrong destination. When she never arrived at the California airport, her cousin, Alan, alerted the airline, which quickly discovered the problem. The airline sent a representative to meet Ms. Rosenfield’s plane. Imagine her surprise when she was greeted at her destination with the words, “Ma’am, you think you are in California, but you are actually in Costa Rica.” The airline arranged to fly Ms. Rosenfield back to California to meet her cousin.
Headed for California; arriving in Costa Rica. Doesn’t seem like a bad exchange. A person could do worse. But it does seem like a reflection of how life works out for many of us. Headed for living happily ever-after; arriving in divorce court.
Headed for a much-deserved retirement as a couple; sitting beside a grave as the minister reads the funeral meditation for your life’s partner.
Headed for a life of wonderful opportunities as a young person; flat on
your back in a hospital bed with nurses searching for a vein to receive an IV.
Headed for California; arriving in Costa Rica.
Then we come to the words of St. Paul, some of the most comforting words ever penned, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose . . .” (NIV)
Really? we ask. “In all things God works for the good . . . ?” Does God know my situation? I got on a plane to go to California, and here I am in Costa Rica. Or maybe worse, a hell hole in Calcutta. How can we say that God is working for my good? And yet this is a central teaching of our faith. God is always working to our best good.
Whatever challenges you or your loved ones face, God did not cause you pain to punish you for some misdeed. Whatever obstacles, sorrow or troubles you are dealing with, God’ s Spirit will lead you over, under around or through and bring you to the other side with faith strengthened and hope renewed.
The more skeptical among us may ask, so just what does hope do for me? I’m still in this mess and I’m not sure I can make it through. In Think on These Things John Maxwell wrote:
What Does Hope Do For Mankind?
Hope shines brightest when the hour is darkest.
Hope motivates when discouragement comes.
Hope energizes when the body is tired.
Hope sweetens while bitterness bites.
Hope sings when all melodies are gone.
Hope believes when evidence is eliminated.
Hope listens for answers when no one is talking.
Hope climbs over obstacles when no one is helping.
Hope endures hardship when no one is caring.
Hope smiles confidently when no one is laughing.
Hope reaches for answers when no one is asking.
Hope presses toward victory when no one is encouraging.
Hope dares to give when no one is sharing.
Hope brings the victory when no one is winning.
When you run out of gas, you might shout out in frustration: What is wrong with this car?
When you run into suffering or adversity, you might wonder: What is wrong with my life?
The answer is nothing. Nothing, that is, that cannot be improved by the re-charging power of God’s Spirit. You can strengthen your spiritual circuits by turning regularly to God in prayer. You can take your weakness, pain, sadness and conflicts to God, and the Holy Spirit will surely assist you. The Spirit will intercede for you according to the will of God, and shape you into the strong and loving and faithful person that God wants you to be.
Thanks be to God who comes to us and fills us with his highly-charged Spirit.
1-adapted from - "fill 'er up," Russell Hylton Blog, August 15, 2011, http://russellhylton.blogspot.com.