ACTS 2. 1–21
1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 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. 3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7 Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” 12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”
14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
17 ‘In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show portents in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
20 The sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
The disciples did exactly as Jesus had asked them. They gathered together in one place, waited upon The Lord, and God showed up powerfully, filling their hearts with His Spirit and giving their mouths the ability to relay the Good News to the mixed crowd gathered in the streets below them. Their willingness to be available for God to use them is what enriched their lives and saved the lives of others.
As that crowd was minding their own business, the people of God, filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke of the work of God in Jesus Christ and each person heard that message in their own native language. God, in a single rush of wind, changed the hearts and lives of 3,000 people who weren’t expecting it, using a few willing followers who were expecting the unexpected.
Some of our youth had an experience this week that they weren’t expecting. 80 kids from across Hall and Jackson counties gathered together to work for others in Jesus’ name. Most of them knew what to expect but understood that the unexpected was around every corner. This was the case for my group on the first day.
As we visited our first client for the week, a 90 year old African American gentleman, we were expecting the usual: follow the list of chores, visit with the client, pray with them when we are done, and move on to the next work site. In our notes, we were informed that this first client was a “Pray-er.” Mr. Edmonds was a member of the Holiness Church in that area and had a very active faith and love for God. I opened our time together with prayer and we got to work. After several hours, we completed our duties and even worked in some great conversation with him. At the end, my co-leader asked him, “Mr. Edmonds, would you like to pray for our young people before we leave?” His face LIT-UP. He grinned a watermelon–smile, dropped his cane on the ground, pushed up to stand, grabbed our hands and said, “Oooooooooooo, LET US PRAY!”
What happened next was the very definition of “the unexpected.” He began his prayer like anyone of us would, but then something happened. His prayer changed, and his tone turned into a tune. He began to sing his prayer. It was like something out of the psalms, where his personal prayer turned into a prayer for everyone. His lovefor God and his love for us drew us in and made us part of the moment. It was holy and powerful, something I had never witnessed. The rhythm of his prayer moved all of us and as I peaked through my eye-lids to see how the kids were taking it, they were slowly swaying together as he prayed. They told me as we were getting into the van that they had never experienced a prayer like that. It was the topic of conversation the whole way home.
THIS is what the Holy Spirit does, bringing an unexpected expectation into the moments of our lives, empowering us beyond the average, beyond the everyday, beyond the status quo, and moving our hearts closer to God in ways that normal words or actions cannot.
Mr. Paul made himself available to God in that moment and the Spirit spoke powerfully through Him. Our youth made themselves available to God as they were prayed over and they received a blessing that deepened their understanding and inspired their faith.
The disciples, too, experienced an unexpected expectation, as they gathered in the upper room to receive power from God. And this is how we are challenged this morning, to live our lives expecting the unexpected movement of the Spirit. God is ready and willing to gift you with what you need, but are you truly willing to make room for God and give Him the space to work?
Learn to expect things from God by placing yourself in a position to receive. Like the disciples, gather yourself together and wait with expectation; like Mr. Edmonds, let your experiences and your life for God spill over into the lives of others; and like our youth this week, engage in selfless activities that position your heart to receive God.
We have plenty of opportunities for you to engage in prayer, in scripture, in mission, but you must gather yourself together and welcome the Holy Spirit, Who desires to work powerfully within you.