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October 20, 2017

The Mission of Pentecost

by Matt Fray

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,

Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians--we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God." And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" But others mocking said, "They are filled with new wine."

Acts 2:5-13 (https://pcpc.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=eba67192d3a27da52e93fefb8&id=ad52221ea3&e=82a9a8f891)

John Calvin, one of the leading voices of the Protestant Reformation, is perceived by some to have been a cranky, impersonal, and dull pastor. While Calvin was likely cranky (due to chronic ailments and cultural critics), he was hardly impersonal or dull. We would be hard-pressed to find a pastor more committed to the personal pastoral care of those in his congregation and community. And in the words of the great Princeton professor B.B. Warfield, John Calvin was “the theologian of the Holy Spirit.” Where the Roman Catholic Church prized the institutional influence and power of the church, Calvin reclaimed the personal influence and power of the Holy Spirit.

Consider Calvin’s description of Pentecost from his commentary on Acts: “If God could openly and visibly descend from Heaven, His majesty could scarce more manifestly appear than in this miracle.” For Calvin, Pentecost is the miraculous appearance of God’s majesty. While God’s majesty had appeared previously in earthly phenomena (like Israel’s guiding pillar of cloud and fire) and in the physical incarnation of the Son, those previous appearances were all temporary and localized. But at Pentecost, the gift of the Holy Spirit came to all believers globally for all time, including us today.

Both of my sons celebrated birthdays during the past week, and as I write this, I am across the table from some of their gifts. While they brought smiles and activity for a day or two, they now lie unused and forgotten. In fact, the suggestions for Christmas gifts have already begun! How similar are we with the gift of the Holy Spirit? Has the majesty of the miraculous presence of the Holy Spirit grown dull in our hearts? Has our sense of need for the Holy Spirit’s influence and power been usurped by a sense of need for other things which seem more influential or powerful? Are we more interested in the tangible gifts of the Holy Spirit than in His mysterious, personal presence in us?

Ironically, it is the Holy Spirit alone who can revive our wonder, dependence, and gratitude! May we be a people praying for God to restore these things to us by His Spirit, and may we be a people eager to extend the gift of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ the Son to our world.

Holy Spirit, living Breath of God, breathe new life into my willing soul.
Bring the presence of the risen Lord to renew my heart and make me whole.
Cause Your Word to come alive in me; give me faith for what I cannot see;
Give me passion for Your purity; Holy Spirit, breathe new life in me.
- “Holy Spirit,” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

 

About the Author

Matt Fray
Assistant Pastor of Spiritual Formation
Park Cities Presbyterian Church

Matt grew up in South Florida and first sensed a call to pastoral ministry while a high school student at Park Cities Presbyterian Church (PCA), in Dallas. After graduating from St. Mark’s, Covenant College, and Westminster Seminary in California, he spent four years serving as the assistant pastor of a PCA church in Savannah, GA. In 2014, he returned to serve at PCPC as the Assistant Pastor of Spiritual Formation.

Matt and his wife Erin have three children: Lydia, Hudson, and Samuel.

 

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God's Holy Fire from Heartlight

God's Holy Fire is a daily devotional about the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
  • Pray in the Spirit

    Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

    Ephesians 6:18 NLT

    Key Thought

    "Pray in the Spirit...!" Paul is asking believers to pray consciously recognizing that the Spirit given them when they came to Christ (Ephesians 1:13) gives them direct access to God. That access allows them to pray what is on their hearts (Ephesians 2:18; cf. Romans 8:26-27) and to ask for knowledge, power, and boldness for others (Ephesians 1:17; Ephesians 3:16; Ephesians 6:18-20). In other words, the Spirit lives inside us and empowers our prayers, interceding directly to the heart of God and enabling our prayers to have powerful results! Our prayers are so much more than the words we say. We pray, consciously, alertly, and persistently, speaking to the Creator of the universe, assured we are heard, knowing that God will respond with power and grace in the lives of those for whom we pray!

    Today's Prayer

    O Father, thank you for your incredible gift of the Holy Spirit who makes my prayers much more than my words. Thank you that I can pray in the Spirit, speaking to you spirit to Spirit, knowing that I am heard and understood and that the Spirit conforms my prayers to your will. Thank you that such intentional praying brings powerful blessings for those for whom I pray. In Jesus' name. Amen.


    Ⓒ 1996-2018 Heartlight, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in part or whole for commercial use without written consent. The Thoughts and Prayer for God's Holy Fire are written by Phil Ware.

    Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

    Scripture quotations marked MESSAGE are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

  • Be Filled with the Spirit

    Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

    Ephesians 5:18-21 NIV

    Key Thought

    When people are drunk, we say they are "under the influence." When a person is a follower of Jesus, he or she should be under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Paul lists five ways that we fill ourselves with the Spirit. Four we would normally identify with community worship — speaking to one another in song, singing, making music in our hearts, and giving thanks to God. Paul adds a fifth way to turn the Spirit loose in our lives: submitting to one another as part of our worship of Jesus. I don't know about you, but there are times when I have not wanted to do each of these things. However, in doing them with a genuine desire to honor the Lord, I find myself blessed and empowered in ways I would never have expected. We shouldn't be surprised: The Bible tells us that when we do these things, God's Spirit fills us!

    Today's Prayer

    Loving Father, thank you for entering into me through the Holy Spirit. I am going to try to do all I can to worship you with my words and with my relationships, trusting that you will empower me with your Holy Spirit. Please help me see your presence and power in my life as I do these things in today's verses. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.


    Ⓒ 1996-2018 Heartlight, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in part or whole for commercial use without written consent. The Thoughts and Prayer for God's Holy Fire are written by Phil Ware.

    Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

    Scripture quotations marked MESSAGE are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.