The Day of Pentecost is celebrated in Russia and Ukraine one week later than in England. So, this year I had some extra time to hear and read messages from Christians across the world about the coming of the Holy Spirit so long ago and what that means for us today.
John the Baptist spoke prophetically about Jesus baptising people with the Holy Spirit and fire. The risen Lord Jesus reminded His disciples that Father God had promised this would happen. ‘He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now”’ (Acts 1:3-5).
Jesus spoke prophetically about what they would experience, saying, ‘“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth”’ (Acts 1:8).
They obeyed Jesus and all 120 of them waited and prayed together for ten days in Jerusalem. Then the most exciting experience suddenly happened. ‘And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance’ (Acts 2:2-4).
I have often marvelled at the first evidence of God’s presence being manifested that day as the sound of a wind and the image of flames of fire resting upon them. Soon after they were empowered to proclaim God’s Kingdom to the crowds gathered in Jerusalem, even speaking in other languages. Then Peter preached and led three thousand people into the Kingdom of God. But Peter also spoke prophetically about the promise of the Holy Spirit for future generations all over the world, a message for us today.
‘Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself”’ (Acts 2:37-39).
What about the fire? I know that we use fire to burn up rubbish we don’t want. Fire is also used to refine and purify precious metals like gold. Our verses for today talk of burning up the chaff and keeping the wheat. I can testify that in my own life the Lord started a process of refining and deep spiritual cleansing shortly after I was baptised with the Holy Spirit. It took me by surprise, as I didn’t even know there were things in my life that the Lord wanted to set me free from.
There is a song by Brian Doerksen which is really my prayer.
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