The Festival of Pentecost
The Lord Declares: You Will Live!
Text: Ezekiel 37:1-14
The foot bone connected to the leg bone, the leg bone connected to the knee bone, the knee bone connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone connected to the back bone, the back bone connected to the neck bone, the neck bone connected to the head bone, Oh, hear the word of the Lord!
Ezekiel cried, “Dem dry bones!” Ezekiel cried, “Dem dry bones!” Ezekiel cried, “Dem dry bones!” Oh, hear the word of the Lord.
You’ve probably heard this popular children’s song before. Maybe you knew the anatomical lyrics before (The foot bone connected to the leg bone, etc.), but did you know the refrain and what the song is about? This old African-American spiritual is actually about the Old Testament lesson today, Ezekiel and the Valley of Dry Bones.
Many people have heard the song and some have heard about the story, but few understand it. Today we take a look at this incredible real-life story and hear an even more incredible declaration from the Lord: You Will Live. Read the rest of this entry
Text: Romans 8:26-27
Have you ever had one of those moments in life when you just can’t find the words to express how you feel?
The groom feels a lot more than happiness and expectant bliss when he first sees his bride.
The first time mother experiences something more than ecstatic joy and emotional love when she hears her baby cry for the first time.
The little boy who just walked by the casket of his grandfather, the little boy who just saw death for the first time, feels significantly more than words like confused and incredibly sad could explain.
The distraught father and mother who stand weeping by the side of a casket that is much too small for a full grown adult are feeling emotions that words like heartbroken, angry, and bitter cannot even begin to describe.
There just aren’t words in the English language to describe moments like these, and even if there were not many would be able to put them together in a way that would do justice to what we feel.
God tells us to come to him in every trouble. God tells us to pray continually. How do you pray when you can’t find the words? How do you communicate to God your overflowing thanks for the amazing blessings of this life? How do you put to words how you feel when God allows hardships to enter your life?
This week we celebrate Pentecost, the day the God sent his Spirit into his Church to create and sustain life giving faith in all believers. This week we celebrate the Holy Spirit who is able to help us out when our words fail us. What a comforting passage! Our words will fail us. There will be times in our lives when we don’t know what to say to God, good times and bad but the Holy Spirit knows what we are going through and he communicates for us.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we cannot thank you enough for all you have done for us. The blessings you have showered on us are without number. You have not left us to fend for ourselves on this world. You have provided a way out, a way to heaven through Jesus. Today we especially thank you for sending you Holy Spirit into our lives to create faith in our hearts. We thank you that you have given us an Intercessor who will speak on our behalf no matter how tongue tied we get. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Devotion Text: Acts 2:1-21
The story of the first Pentecost is a marvelous story that so many Christians misunderstand.
It is natural for us to focus on the special miracles God poured out to his church on that day; to contemplate on the great lengths God used to grow and protect the infant Christian church. But, in doing so, we often miss the forest while we look at the trees.
The story of Pentecost is not the fire, the speaking in different languages or the sound of wind from heaven. The story of Pentecost is the marvelous power God gives to his Word to change hearts and minds. It is the transfer of power–from Christ walking this earth as he preached the Gospel to sending the Holy Spirit to his disciples to empower them to do the same. The story of Pentecost is the fulfillment of a promise Christ made when he said, “Go and make disciples…and surely I will be with you always.”
Pentecost leaves us with a lot of questions. Does God give those gifts of faith to his church today? If not, why not? How exactly did the speaking in different languages work? Is this the same speaking in tongues that Paul references in his letters? What exactly is Peter talking bout in his sermon? Is it just about the last day or is it the end times in general? (Including right now!)
With all the questions that the account of Pentecost leaves us with, it also leaves us with one very important answer–“And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
That is the wonderful comfort to a world searching for it and a church commissioned to lead others to Christ. It is both the motto and the mission statement of the early Christian church and will be relevant to God’s church until he comes again to take us home to be with him. Until then, he will continually use and empower his people to grow his church with that life saving message.
Prayer: Christ Jesus, Lord of the Church, give your people the strength of Pentecost to preach your lifesaving message to all people of every walk of life. Protect your church until it is time for you to take us home. Comfort us with the power of your love and motivate us to share that message with others. Amen.
Text: Acts 2:1-21
Could this be the same person?
What happened to the man who walked on water but sank because he doubted? Didn’t he try to stop Jesus from dying? Wasn’t he the one who swore and called down curses upon himself while denying that he knew Jesus?
Could this be the same person?
How could it be that Peter suddenly understood everything Jesus had done? How could it be that Peter suddenly had courage? How could it be that Peter had risen from the depths of denier to the peak of preachers in only 53 days?
How could this be? It was the Holy Spirit!
Jesus promised that he would send the third person of the Holy Trinity, God the Holy Spirit, to fill the disciples with power and courage to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. On the day of Pentecost, we see just that happening. Peter stood up and delivered a powerful and courageous sermon to the Jews about who Jesus is and what he did. Such great understanding and such fearless witnessing was made possible by the work of the Holy Spirit.
So now today we quiver and quake when we consider the mission Jesus has sent us on: Go and make disciples of all nations! Yet we need not fear because the Holy Spirit has been promised to us as well. He is the one that gives us the powerful words to speak and fills us with courage and boldness to proclaim to others what Jesus has done.
Could you be like Peter? Could you be so bold? Could you witness like that?
You can . . . and you will! God the Holy Spirit is with you and and will bless you!
Prayer: Holy Spirit, Light Divine, shine upon this heart of mine! Fill me with courage to be your faithful witness to all the ends of the earth. Bless the words that I share with others, that they too might know the great things you, O God, have done. I pray in your name, O Comforter and Guide. Amen.
Text: Ezekiel 37:1-14
When Jesus was on this earth he often taught in stories. Stories have a way of making abstract ideas concrete in our minds. I could spend all day telling you the facts of the kingdom of heaven, how it is perfect and precious and loving but those terms will always remain abstract to a certain degree. Now if I say that the kingdom of heaven is like finding a buried treasure, if I begin to embellish that story by adding the details of the excitement felt when the treasure is first found, the lengths to which the finder will go to make the treasure legally his, then that story about the precious nature of heaven begins to resonate with people of differing ages, IQ’s and socioeconomic classes. Go ahead and read through the Bible, God has always had a knack for telling a good story. God’s stories are told for more than just entertainment, they are teaching stories. His stories are lessons for all people of all times, lessons that teach the real history of his loving plan to make this world whole again.
Read Ezekiel and you will read what I think are some of the most fascinating stories in the Old Testament. Ezekiel got to see some amazing things while he carried out his work as a prophet of the Living God and he recorded them so that we too could see and learn from the story of his life. The story from Ezekiel 37 is just one of those amazing stories; a valley of bones comes to life. Ezekiel watches as the inevitable effects of decay on a dead human body are reversed.
What’s the point of this God-given story? Right now we are dead in sin. Soon enough, because of our sin, we will all be dead in the ground. God promises that just as he took that valley of bones and put them back together, “I will put my Spirit in you and you will live.” At your conversion God sent his Spirit to put tendons, flesh and the breath of life on your dead spiritual bones. We are alive because of the love of God. We are spiritually alive and though our bodies may die God will make us whole on the last day and bring us to heaven.
A pretty cool story with a pretty cool application… In God we are made alive!
Prayer: Heavenly Father our sins have guaranteed that we will die, our bodies will decay and our souls ought to perish forever but your love has brought about a different end for us. Forgive us when we forget your tremendous love show to us in Jesus. Send your Holy Spirit into our hearts that we may be comforted in hope of the eternal heaven that awaits us. We will not remain in the grave but will spend all eternity proclaiming what you have done for us. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.