The Challenge of Pentecost
Given at the joint service in Nether Lochaber Parish Church on June 9th, by Malcolm Kinnear.
We are at the end of the season of prayer from ascension to Pentecost. We have heard the call to this, for a global wave of prayer in the shape of the movement, ‘Thy Kingdom Come’, a wave of prayer with a focus on evangelism, people coming to know Jesus. We are part of it: we are on the website map!
‘Light up the world in prayer’, the website says, calling us Christians to pray for others to know Jesus.
We are invited to focus our prayers on 5 individuals to come to know Jesus; praying people into the kingdom. I began this in earnest last week.
This weekend is an anniversary; not just D- Day but the Lewis Revival. An anniversary conference is happening this weekend in the Hebrides. That it should be on Pentecost weekend is very apt.
We think of the revivals as waves of the Spirit’s power. They happened sporadically – periodically – in Scotland at least from 1740s and at times now it seems the fire has died out.
Key to these is a sense of the presence of God; and that presence was felt in the whole island, even as people went about, and as a holy presence, convicting men of sin; and producing fervent praise; an appetite for God’s Word, for mission and service.
O for this again! Revive us again!
There are fires in South Turkey that never go out; they are fed by a source of gas that seeps us from the rocks below.
Though it may seem so the Spirit has not left the churches, His influence can be felt. And Jesus has given us a source of living water, the unending streams of grace and of his Spirit.
Pentecost says that something wonderful has happened.
God has come to his people in a new and powerful way.
The world and the church will not be the same.
A gift is released and given to ordinary believing people and it will mean that they can experience great and wonderful things of God’s kingdom.
The Spirit wants to pervade and invade our lives and our churches.
He wants to fill us and renew us and empower us; he wants us to have joy in worship and meaning – he wants us to know and share the reality of Jesus
Pentecost is about the mission and message of Jesus reaching the world
Hundreds signed up for Stornoway – showing there is a real desire to pray for God’s blessing and God’s presence, and for that to be manifested in a palpable way; revival can’t be demanded, it is in the gift of God who does send seasons of refreshing.
We can nonetheless pray for these, wait upon God, be ready for him, and be in the place where we will find him....come with open willing hearts....be where others are seeking the presence of God.
We know that God blesses us when we come together in unity.
The Spirit of God inspires worship and praise and prayer. Fervent prayer happens when the Spirit falls.
When the Spirit moves amongst groups of people there is an insatiable appetite for the things of God: and it is a welcome antidote to the prevailing wind of culture. The Wind of God blows in another direction.
The coming of the Holy Spirit is very much about mission. The whole world was there, representatively.
The Spirit is given first and foremost that people might believe and come to Christ.
Pentecost led to Peter’s first sermon. The Spirit gave him utterance. That was quite a transformation. The outcome was the communication of the message of who Jesus was and what Jesus can do for us, and as a result people believed and repented of their sins, and came to the Lord and confessed him as personal Saviour. There was a harvest of souls on that Jewish harvest festival.
Pentecost happened and there was an unexpected turn to it: the physical manifestations. But it didn’t just happen. So it was with revivals. If we want more of these we need to be united in prayer.
The Lewis revival happened because it was prayed and longed for; in home meetings; the two sisters; Peggy and Christina Smith, who prayed and one had a vision...and God gave promises to the aged sisters, "I will pour water on him that is thirsty and floods upon the dry ground (Isaiah 44:3)" and there others prayed too...
There were physical manifestations of the Spirit’s presence such as a whole house shaking as believers prayed.
The first Pentecost had physical manifestations and so it is when the Spirit falls.
Sometimes tongues is experienced like it was on that first Pentecost, in a language others may comprehend; at other times there is no interpretation and no one understands, but by the fruits we know it, for it often leads to a beautiful outpouring of praise and prayer to God that in our own language.
If God has blessed us with this gift we should use it; and if not, be willing to ask for it and willing to receive it.
I am grateful that learned it from people in wholeness Through Christ; and from an Episcopal minister from St Mungo’s Church Edinburgh.
The Spirit blows where He wills and is also free to bless us in different ways. Let’s not be overly prescriptive.
So let’s not get hung up on the mechanism. The focus and aim should be Christ’s kingdom, Jesus and who he is and what he can do. Our heart’s desire should be that people come to long for Jesus as personal Lord and Saviour; that men and women should believe.
That is why Thy Kingdom Come is so useful, inspiring people who will be intercessors, who will pray for others, and keep praying for individuals. Perhaps we can commit each day to praying for a set number of people, maybe three or four or five. Pray that they will come to know Jesus.
Mission is a shared commitment. The different churches have the same goal and wish for people, and it doesn’t matter which denomination they end up in, so long as we are united with Jesus in a personal committed relationship to him as our personal Saviour.
The disciples were of one accord. The Spirit when he comes also brings a unity: a wonderful harmony: and that is why it is right that we gather together expressing that.
The Spirit is given in abundance and in the measure that we are open to him.
Jesus was speaking of the Spirit when he said of those who believe in him, out of our belly shall flow rivers of living water. It means literally belly or stomach, but really means our inner spiritual being.
The gospel passage quotes Jesus at another festival, Tabernacles.
Throughout much of the festival, the thoughts of those present were directed to the desert wanderings of the children of God under Moses, with such incidents as Moses striking water. They heard prophetic texts, such as Zechariah, living waters shall flow out of Jerusalem’, and they filled a vase with water from a fountain that supplied the pool of Siloam.
Jesus offers himself as the River of Life; the source from which we can draw, the source that gives life to the world. Jesus is the fountain of living waters. We perhaps feel like broken cisterns that can hold little of it; but if we come to Jesus and open our hearts to the Spirit we will experience his quickening and refreshing power.
Jesus is Lord and our final and true destiny is in knowing him.
Jesus promised the gift of the Spirit and he can deliver.
Just as a river can spread irrigation and so spread life, so the Spirit is God’s overflowing source of blessing for believers; given by Jesus the River of Life; he brings the promised gift for the end times.
How we need a fresh Pentecost in our land, a fresh outpouring of God’s Spirit. We need to be hungry for it and prepared for it, and ready for what the Spirit brings. May we pray and worship with the urgency and fervency that the situation requires. The church faces challenging times, but the grace of God is able to meet our needs.
May we worship in the Spirit’s power, with praise and purity and love, and witness in the Spirit’s power in the confidence that God will abundantly bless.
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