Acts 2: 1 - 8

Dr. William S. Epps, Senior Pastor

Sunday, June 5, 2022
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 their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: 'Aren't all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs--we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!' Acts 2:1-11 New International Version
Today is considered Pentecost Sunday. The historical and biblical origins of what we know as Pentecost can be found in Exodus 23:14-19, Leviticus 23:15-16 and Deuteronomy 16:10 as one of three significant Jewish festivals. Passover, Feast of Tabernacles and Pentecost. Pentecost is the Greek name of the Feast of Weeks, a prominent feast on the Jewish calendar that celebrated God giving them the Ten Commandments 50 days after the Exodus. God instructed the people to celebrate the Festival of Weeks, which was held 7 full weeks (49 days) plus one day equaling 50 days.  Also called the Feast of Harvest, this was when the Jews would present offerings of the first fruits of their spring crops.  
Pentecost was the event that occurred 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus; it was only 10 days after the ascension of Jesus to the Father in heaven. The disciples did what they were instructed to do and they waited in the upper room for power from on high; power in the person of the Holy Spirit. Once the power came, that small band of people who formed the first church turned the world right side up. Christ is the most controversial figure of history. We keep calendars based upon, before and after his time on earth. 
God’s Holy Spirit is unseen but is the center in this passage. The Greek word “pneuma” is used interchangeably for wind and spirit. The persons in the upper room needed to be empowered…they had lost Jesus on the cross, found him again after the resurrection, and then lost him in the clouds.

They needed a fresh wind like the bones in Ezekiel’s valley [3].  Do you recall Ezekiel’s vision – God showed him a great valley filled with dry bones, very dry bones! God said to speak to the bones; Ezekiel did, and they came back together. Then God’s Spirit entered them and they walked and spoke!
Consider what it means to have power from on high to empower you to action.
Monday, June 6, 2022
Daniel Gilbert in his book, Stumbling on Happiness, reminds us that memories are about the past, perception is about the present and imagination is about the future.  We plan our future by looking at our present as we reflect on the past. Memories remind us of past victories.  The present indicates the challenges of making what we want of life. Imagination is about envisioning what you want to be and making it a reality. 
Langston Hughes has a poem that gets at that reality entitled, I Dream a World.
I dream a world where man / No other man will scorn, / Where love will bless the earth / And peace its paths adorn / I dream a world where all will know sweet freedom's way, / Where greed no longer saps the soul / Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white, / Whatever race you be, / Will share the bounties of the earth / And every man is free, / Where wretchedness will hang its head / And joy, like a pearl, / Attends the needs of all mankind- / Of such I dream, my world!
Pentecost gets at this notion that present reality is not an indication of future possibilities. Perception of present reality can be eclipsed by the imagination of what the future can be. In the second chapter of Acts, the story of Pentecost is about an “extraordinary disturbance.” Whenever you see a crowd, you look for a disturbance of some kind. Here is a crowd of people in Jerusalem. The crowd is comprised of those who are passionate and convicted about conveying their belief about Jesus. They were amazingly effective. People listened to them. Were moved by them and amazed by what they heard from them about the wondrous works of God in Christ.
The very nature of the Spirit defies our attempts to control or explain it.
One thing can be stated unequivocally, the Spirit gives life because the Spirit 
energizes, refreshes, and stimulates
In the account of the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2, the Spirit gives new life to a
dispirited group of disciples and the church is born.
Consider what it means to be energized, refreshed, and stimulated with new life to witness to what you believe.  
Tuesday, June 7, 2022
Our very lives derive from and depend on God, whom we properly address as Father. In John, it is the Spirit who is an Advocate whose presence will continue to make new life possible for the disciples in the absence of Jesus’ physical presence. Isn’t that the way life unfolds for us? In the absence of the physical presence of one on whom we rely, we face the present reality with the imagination of an extraordinary disturbance that produces possibilities of a future that inspires and invigorates with new life.   
Consider a few of the implications of this passage for us. 
 The Pentecost story is about the life-giving power and presence of the Spirit as a gift. The exuberant account in Acts 2 makes it clear that the gift of the Spirit shatters all reasonable expectationsOnly God could be responsible for such a marvel. In John, it is stated repeatedly that the Spirit is given or sent, either by the Father, (John 14:16, 26) or by Jesus himself, (John 15:26; 16:7). The people of God and the whole creation live by grace with this gift of the Spirit. 
To be sure, everyone will not acknowledge God’s grace. To live by the Spirit is to live in some sense at odds with the world, (John 14:17); the sneers from the crowd in Acts 2:13 serve to instruct us that life in the Spirit will meet opposition. But life in the Spirit is life as God intends. It is to know a peace that the world cannot give, (John 14:27). In a world devoid of wonder, the Spirit may begin to open us to experience the presence of mystery and the mystery of Presence. 
New life – sudden, unmerited, irresistible new life! That is the reality the Pentecost narrative broadcasts and the text transmits the story in the most expansive way imaginable.  All the stops on this great literary organ are employed: a heavenly sound like a rushing wind, descending fire, and patterns of transformed speech. 
It is not accidental, of course that the birth of the church, this great harvest of people, should occur during the festival of Pentecost. The Feast of Pentecost, or Weeks, as it is known in the Old Testament, marked the end of the celebration of the spring harvest, a liturgical cycle that began at Passover and during which devout Israelite families praised God for God’s grace and bounty. It should be noted that while they were acknowledging and celebrating what they have already received, God gives more. Pentecost is the moment when birthing occurs. Twice in connection with Jesus’ ascension the coming of the Spirit has been promised: You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, (Acts 1:8). That promise is now realized in a manner far surpassing expectations of even the most faithful disciples. New life for the church! New life for individuals in the church! New life through the Spirit of God! That is the meaning of Pentecost. God knows we need new life to dispel disinformation, new life to reinvigorate love, new life to overcome hate, new life to be One with the Lord as Jesus and the Lord are one in purpose, principle and practice). 
Consider what it means that the feast of Pentecost is an expression of praise for God’s grace and bounty.
Wednesday, June 8, 2022
No one present is excluded from God’s grace. Unlike other important moments in the history of God’s mighty acts of salvation – The Transfiguration in Mark 9:2-13, is an example where only a choice few are witnesses to the work of God’s Spirit – everyone is included at Pentecost. This is an inclusive moment. In order to make that clear the list of places named traces a wide sweep through the Greco-Roman world, Parthians, Medes, Elamites, residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia (fri jee uh) and Pamphylia, Egypt and parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene and visitors from Rome, both Jews, and proselytes (pra suh lites), Cretans and Arabians.   
The Pentecost story is about people being drawn together in a kind of unity that empowered them to resist what would distract, destroy, and divide them. 
There are things that draw people together. Danger drives people together. People who are frightened seek safety in numbers. Devotion draws people together. Commitment causes people to gather together. Determination knits people together. People who have a common cause, interest, purpose or similar agenda are drawn together.
Christians are drawn together by their common devotion to Christ Jesus. We are told that they were all together on one accord. The main thing that they had in common was that they loved Jesus. They were all there – they overcame their differences for the simple reason that they loved Jesus. Christians have been drawn together ever since. Even now congregations are drawn together each week – despite their differences because of Jesus. There is something about Christ that draws people together.  
They were united in fellowship. They were filled with the Holy Spirit. They understood each other. There is a universal language which everyone understands regardless of dialect, ethnicity, and/or syntax which is basic to existence in community. The language of affection and admiration, compassion and commitment, devotion and determination, faith and fortitude, grace and guilt, love and loyalty, sacrifice and service are all universal. The essence of the life of Christ dealt with life with which everyone could and can identify.
Those first Christians were drawn and held together by life’s common denominators as we are. The Christian faith began and is sustained by the common devotion, experience and language that express our common life from God through Jesus Christ our Lord. The list of the people is intended to cover every nation.
The early church was a community centered around the worship of God and Jesus Christ. They were a community where the bonds of fellowship were real, a community where they looked out for each other. They were a community where the glory of God is revealed to the nations in a way that makes others want to become God’s people too. 
We too should become a community centered around our worship of God and Jesus. We should be a community that cares for one another in practical ways that lifts the weak as we share resources. We too should be a community in which the glory of God is seen bringing people together.  
Consider what it means to become part of a community centered on worship of God in Christ. 
Thursday, June 9, 2022
The Pentecost story reminds us that there is something besides what we see.   
Simon Peter the fisherman became a disciple and has now become an apostle. Something we call the Spirit – is free not bound, flexible not fixed, creative not cruel, personal not impersonal – and invades the lives of people.  The Spirit breaks into our world in an incredibly wonderful way. Into a degenerate Roman world where there seemed to be no hope for any good future comes a mighty rushing wind and flames of fire, and a directive from on high. All the things that seemed fixed changed and a free, life-renewing Spirit invaded this world from the outside. 
We know that nothing can change the world but some intrusion by a power greater than anything the world itself contains.  It is the church’s responsibility to be open to the intrusion of the Spirit to empower, equip and enable the people of God to witness to the work of God in the world.  
There is a mystery to spirituality. Jesus told Nicodemus, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)
Breathe on me, Breath of God, / Fill me with your Holy Spirit, / I want to love what you love. / I want to do what you would do. / I want to be a representative of you! / Breathe on me, Breath of God, / Create in me a pure and clean heart! / Teach me to do your will Lord, / Teach me to stand firm and persevere.
Consider what it means that there is more to life than we can see or sense to be. 
Friday, June 10, 2022
The Pentecost story reminds us that not everyone responds in a positive way who is exposed to the Spirit.    
However, everyone does not respond to the winds and fires of new life, at least not in a positive way. Some mocked, (Acts 2:13), and in their unwillingness to believe the freshness of God’s initiatives, some reacted with stale words, (I Samuel 1:14), as they confused the Spirit–induced joy with alcohol-induced inebriation. Perhaps it was the very extravagant expression of the Spirit’s presence that drove them to conclude that this cannot be what it seems to be!  Yet, what it seemed to be is precisely what it was, God’s Spirit unleashed! New life – sudden, unmerited and irresistible new life!
The prophet Joel’s words are recalled,”And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call. (Joel 2:28-32)
Consider what it means that not everybody responds positively to the empowerment of the Spirit. 
Saturday, June 11, 2022
There is a story about a general under the emperor Cyrus. While he was away, his wife was accused of treason and sentenced to die. The general returned before the sentence was carried out. He pleaded with Cyrus to let him die in his wife’s place. Cyrus was touched. "Love like that must not be spoiled by death," Cyrus said. He pardoned the wife.

And as they left the palace, the husband said, "Did you notice how kindly the king looked at us when he gave you a free pardon?" She said, "No. I had no eyes for the king. I saw only the man who was willing to die for me."

That is our legacy if we will have it. If we are ready to keep our eyes on Jesus, pattern our lives after Jesus, being ready to give ourselves to this community in the name of Jesus, we will not only stay together, we will become the body of Christ to this community. Let the church say, Amen!
You thought I was worth saving / So you came and changed my life
You thought I was worth keeping / so you cleaned me up inside
You thought I was to die for / so you sacrificed your life
So I could be free / So I could be whole / So I could tell everyone I know

Hallelujah / Glory to God who changed my life / Forever / Because I am free
Because I am whole / And I will tell everyone I know

You thought I was worth saving / So you came and changed my life
You thought I was worth keeping / so you cleaned me up inside
You thought I was to die for / so you sacrificed your life
So I could be free / So I could be whole / So I could tell everyone I know / (Anton Thomas)

Breathe on me, Breath of God, / Breathe on every single part of me. / I want to be totally committed to you / I want to let love rule my life / With every fiber of my being always brightly shining for God! / Breathe on me, Breath of God, / Breathe eternal life into me, / Help me live for you here on earth,
And praise you for eternity.
Consider what it means that Jesus died for you as a sacrifice and became your savior.  
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