May 31st, 2020
On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone
who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said,;Out of the believers, heart shall flow rivers of living water.'” Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
Sermon: Wind at their back
Wind is a major issue in sprinting races like the 100m and 200m dash. Not only are these races run
completely or primarily in one direction, but the margin for victory is also very narrow, perhaps measured in hundredths of second. A mild wind, helping or restricting the athletes, could be a significant factor in their finishing times. This is particularly important when establishing a world record for an event. How can we compare a runner who ran the race with the wind at his back with another competitor who ran the same race against the wind?
On May 31, 2008, Usain Bolt ran a 100 meter event in a time of 9.72 seconds with a +1.7m/s wind,
officially breaking the 100 meter world record. He had a slight tail wind. On June 29, 2008, Tyson Gay ran a 100 meter event in a time of 9.68 seconds with +4.1m/s wind. Despite having a faster absolute time, he did not receive the world record, because officials ruled that the wind gave him an unfair advantage.
On the Day of Pentecost, Jesus’ disciples experience three unusual effects. Acts 2:1-4 reads: “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” Did you hear the two remarkable effects? First, the sound like the rush of a violent wind. Second, divided tongues of fire appeared among them and rested on each one of them. Did you hear the third remarkable effect? Each disciples was filled with the Holy Spirit and they began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit enabled them.
Jewish officials could have claimed that Jesus’ followers had an unfair advantage over the Sadducees
and Pharisees in the Temple courts. They were forced to compete as if one hand was tied behind their backs.
The sounds of the rushing wind, the tongues of fire, and the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit had not come to the Temple, but only to Jesus’ followers. Did the wind at their backs give Jesus’ disciples an unfair advantage?
Did they have greater influence over the crowds of people in Jerusalem? Let’s see what we can find.
Jesus’ followers were largely blue-collared workers, who did not enjoy the benefits of higher
education. They had not studied under Gamaliel, the renowned scholar in the Hebrew Temple. Jesus’
followers were ordinary men—fishermen, carpenters, masons, and other construction workers. Most of them had never studied the Torah in their local synagogue with a Jewish Rabbi. I suspect many of them were functionally illiterate. They could neither read nor write. But somehow, they spoke in many foreign languages. Everyone who heard them speak understood in his or her native tongue. 3,000 were baptized that very day!
Do we share these same advantages as members of Christ’s church? Absolutely! We receive the same
sounds of a rushing wind, the flames which touch our lives, and the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit in our hearts. The growth of the Christian church from a dozen disciples to two billion modern-day believers confirms that God’s Spirit is alive and kicking. We must simply accept the gifts of the Holy Spirit and apply them in our ministries. Do you need a few reminders? According to Paul’s letters to the churches in Rome, Ephesus, and Corinth, there are twenty individual gifts of the Holy Spirit.
The Gift of Administration: Organizing people and resources for greater efficiency, effectiveness, and success. Our Church Council is filled with sound administrators, who manage our church administratively.
The Gift of Apostleship: That gift which compels us to reach out to groups and individuals and invite them into a greater relationship with God and our church. Every one of us can exercise this precious gift!
The Gift of Compassion: This gift moves us to demonstrate God’s love to people in need. We compassionately help feed hungry children, adopt children overseas, feed families over the holidays, provide after school snacks to local children, and open our doors to feed visitors and guests to our church.
The Gift of Discernment: With spiritual growth in Christian Bible studies, classes, and sermons, we will all develop greater understanding, wisdom, and spiritual maturity. This is called spiritual discernment.
The Gift of Evangelism: With this gift, we willingly share our faith in Christ with everyone we meet. People who are touched by our testimony accept our invitations to join us in worship, classes, missions, and fellowship.
The Gift of Exhortation: With this unique gift, we offer wise counseling, encouragement, and empowerment to individuals who are struggling with marital problems, financial difficulties, addictions, and broken relationships.
The Gift of Faith: Utilizing this gift, we offer hope in God’s promise of forgiveness and salvation to a broken and sinful world. We share that we place our faith and hope in Christ Jesus, who died so that we might receive everlasting life.
The Gift of Healing: We cannot eliminate suffering and disease among people we meet. But we can offer our prayers, our physical presence in friendship, and our prayers so that God’s will can be done in their lives.
The Gift of Giving: We discover new and different ways to share our resources with families in need. This could include: groceries, gas for their car, rent assistance, transportation, meals, and prayer.
The Gift of Helping: Gifts of our moral support, behind the scenes efforts, and financial assistance can help immeasurably when someone has suffered physical, emotional, or spiritual pain. Be a friend in Jesus.
The Gift of Interpretation of Tongues: Those Christians with this gift can offer a bridge across cultural, generational, or spiritual divides which separate us. Interpreting a speaker who speaks in tongues is valuable.
The Gift of Knowledge: Through our efforts, the Bible can come alive as people gain understanding and begin to see themselves in Biblical stories about trials and tribulations which are common in our lives today.
The Gift of Miracles: Those who are gifted with miracles never doubt the presence of God in their lives. This power enables others to see the same God who is working in our lives can work in their lives as well.
The Gift of Prophecy: Disciples with this gift are able to pour out God’s Word to others in small, bite-size pieces. With each serving, greater spiritual wisdom and understanding is made possible through our efforts.
The Gift of Servanthood: Sometimes, we can become the hands and feet of Jesus, serving others just as he served his followers. Often, a silent, suffering servant can work miracles!
The Gift of Shepherding: Both pastors and laity can shepherd, mentor, and guide new believers as they develop their faith and understanding about what it means to be a Christian.
The Gift of Teaching: This unique gift allows a disciple to transfer concepts, ideas, and scriptures by
transforming students into stronger Christians by teaching them what Jesus said, did, and taught his disciples.
The Gift of Tongues: This unique gift allows a Christian to speak in a foreign language and convey concepts they may have never formally studied. Speaking in tongues without an interpreter is merely a clanging cymbal.
The Gift of Wisdom: The gift of wisdom enables a person to provide deeper meaning and understanding from scriptural passages so that listeners will gain greater knowledge, faith, and understanding in everyday situations.
With these spiritual gifts, you will be a more effective Christian, transforming lives, increasing faith, and making disciples for Jesus Christ. With the help of God’s Holy Spirit, you will have his wind at your back.