Tuesday, January 29
The Day of Pentecost
When the day of Pentecost had arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying. 3 And tongues, like flames of fire that were divided, appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different languages, as the Spirit gave them ability for speech.
5 There were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 When this sound occurred, a crowd came together and was confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 And they were astounded and amazed, saying, "Look, aren't all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 How is it that each of us can hear in our own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites; those who live in Mesopotamia, in Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs-- we hear them speaking the magnificent acts of God in our own languages." 12 They were all astounded and perplexed, saying to one another, "What could this be?" 13 (Act 2:1-12 CSB)
Years ago I was on a mission trip where our main task was helping lead vacation Bible school. One lesson was about Pentecost, and we performed a short skit, for which we cut out construction paper flames and glued them to construction paper headbands. They looked like the (very politically incorrect) headdresses we made in elementary school at Thanksgiving time more than actual fire, and I’m certain that our depiction was not at all like that actual first Pentecost.
I would love to know what it was like, though. I hope God has some divine video-recording system, because the image Luke attempts to describe defies language. A rushing wind. Flames of fire. People speaking in every language. Our attempts at recreating the scene often end up like that VBS skit—simplistic and a bit silly, falling far short of Luke’s point: when the Spirit shows up, it is like wind and fire. Powerful and untamable phenomena that take over and change the course of human history.
The Spirit filled every single person who had gathered for prayer that historic day. Peter emphasizes that reality as he addresses the crowd: the outpouring they were experiencing was the fulfillment of prophetic promise, and it was non-discriminatory. Male and female, young and old, rich and poor. The Spirit was no longer the particular gifting for a particular person for a particular task. Through Jesus, the Spirit was the sure and certain possession of all who believed in the Messiah. What the crowds witnessed that day was the beginning of a new reality where this kind of wild, forceful, and history-changing behavior would be typical of God’s people.
The Spirit’s presence attracted every person in the vicinity, and those people had one of two reactions: repentance or insults. While their interpretations of the event differed drastically, neither group could deny something was happening; when the Spirit shows up and fills devout Jesus-followers, people notice. The Spirit transforms ordinary people into untamable forces, doing extraordinary feats for the kingdom, and this power is the birthright of every child of God.
What kind of reactions have you received from other people on account of living as a follower of Christ? Have you ever been accused of being drunk? When the Spirit is present, there are still only 3 groups of people: those filled, those attracted, and those who think you’re drunk. If we’re not drawing any response—both positive and negative—we must question whether we are allowing ourselves to be filled with God’s powerful Spirit. What extraordinary feats might God be wanting to empower you to do?
Almighty God, Your Holy Spirit is as powerful and untamable as rushing wind and flames of fire. May I never cease to be in awe of Your power. That power is also my birthright as Your child, so may I not ignore, quench or despise this incredible gift. Fill me and every member of Your Church with this power. Whether we are met with accusations or repentance, may we always strive to live as Spirit-filled people.
Pick Four More Activities
Listen and Worship.
Pray a Psalm.
Read a Book.
Retell the Gospel to Yourself.
Take Some Notes on Today's Devotional.
Pray for Yourself, Your Family, Your Church, and the Lost.
Memorize a Verse.
List Five Things You're Thankful For.