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When God Moves

Acts 2021  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  36:58
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What can we expect when God moves? Find out as we look together at Acts 2.

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Open your Bibles to Acts 2.
As you are turning there, let me ask you a serious question: Are you happy with where you are in your walk with God right now?
When you are really honest with yourself, are you seeing God move in the ways you would like him to, the ways you know he can?
Is there a part of you that longs for something more—not that God would give you something more or necessarily make life easier on you; more that you know there is something more to living the Christian life than you’re experiencing.
Most of us would probably say, “No, I know I’m not where I need to be. I know that there is more to seeing God work than I am seeing in my life right now; there is more peace, more comfort, more joy that only he can produce that I know should be happening in me.”
A few of us this morning might say, “I really am happy where I am.” If you say that this morning, there are two possibilities:
You are living to the fullest extent of who God is and what he has told you to do or
You need a better picture of what God can do. The God you think you’re serving is too small and insignificant to really mess up much of your life, and you need to see just how he can work.
Think about our church family. We talked about it some last time we were together as we looked at the mission in front of us, but do you think there is more God has in store for our church family as we seek to love him and others in our family, church, community, and world?
I believe that all the great things we are seeing God do are only hints of how he can work.
I long to see him do more of that here, don’t you?
Here in Acts 2, we see what happens when God shows up.
This is an incredible account of what God can do through his people.
If you aren’t familiar with this, though, it may seem confusing. Know that after we read it, we are going to take time to explain what is going on.
We won’t leave you like I was when I was a kid. This was one of the first Sunday School lessons I heard when we started going to church. For the longest time, I thought the reason we bowed our heads and closed our eyes when we prayed was so they wouldn’t catch fire!
That’s not the case, and we will explain what is going on in a few minutes.
Let’s be clear, right up front: what happens in this chapter is not supposed to be normal.
Keep in mind that some of the ways God moves in the book of Acts are unique, because this is a transition period as we move from how God pointed to Jesus’ sacrifice before his death and resurrection, and how God points us back to that and equips us to live in light of what he has done.
God was sending the Holy Spirit on his people at this time for a unique purpose, and the church was born, and things would never be the same.
However, as we look at the events of that day, we can draw out three basic aspects of what happens when God shows up.
The first thing we notice is:

1) People are prepared.

One of the principles we notice here is that the disciples were ready and waiting for whatever it was God was going to do next.
Remember what Jesus said in chapter 1? Flip the page back to Acts 1:4.
Jesus told his disciples to wait for the Father to send the Holy Spirit to them.
This is the people who have followed Jesus throughout his earthly ministry. As we mentioned last week, it is by his grace that he has saved them and called them; not because they were wise and strong and influential.
At this point, it’s probable that the disciples really had no idea what that would actually look like. They couldn’t have known how God would show up, but they knew he would, so they were gathering together to wait for the 10 days between when Jesus ascended and the day of the Jewish festival of Pentecost.
Remember, though, that they weren’t passively waiting, just twiddling their thumbs. Look back at 1:14…
They had been spending time together in prayer.
In fact, many have noticed that prayer precedes works of God throughout history.
“From the Day of Pentecost, there has not been one great spiritual awakening in any land which has not begun in a union of prayer, though only among two or three; no such outward, upward movement has continued after such prayer meetings have declined.” (A.T. Pierson) [1]
Before God works, he prompts his people to prepare their hearts through prayer.
When we looked at Acts 1, I mentioned to you that I want to see God move to expand his kingdom in our hearts and in the world around us in ways we may have never seen before.
I was honest with you that, in some respects, I don’t know what that will look like or mean for us as a church.
So, what do we do while we wait for God to show us? We pray, we make sure our hearts are ready and set apart for whatever God calls us to do.
As we saw last week, we make sure we are walking in his will by obeying the clear commands in his word, living holy, set-apart lives.
As we wait in prayerful obedience, God uses the waiting time to cultivate in us a hunger and an anticipation of what he is going to do. We don’t despair; instead, we look forward in hope.
How much time do you spend praying? Honestly, in all seriousness, how much time do you spend coming before God?
Remember that Jesus taught us to pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. He taught us to pray for God to move for his glory here.
Are you praying that way? When is the last time you woke up in the morning and said, “God, I want to see you do what only you can do today.” “God, I want you to work in me and in my family and in my job so you can get the glory for it!”
Did you wake up this morning and say, “Oh yeah…it’s Sunday; I have to go to church,” or did you pray something like, “God, as your people get together this morning, would you do a work among us that would honor you completely?”
If we want to see God move in our lives and in our families and in our church, we have to be prepared.
What happened, though when his people were all there together, ready and waiting for God to move?

2) God moves like only he can.

As the disciples (and likely several others) were there, ready and waiting, God showed up!
Look at how it’s described. Keep in mind that Luke is describing a spiritual event, so he’s having to do the best he can to describe what happened:
“sound like that of a violent rushing wind” –
It’s interesting to note that the word “spirit” is closely related to the words “breath” and “wind”.
So here, God the Father is breathing on his people in the person of the Holy Spirit, and he manifests it through a sound like a violent rushing wind.
Not only that, but you have a visual manifestation that looks like tongues of fire. Again, this shouldn’t be a surprise!
In Exodus, God’s presence leads the Israelites through a pillar of fire at night.
In 1 Kings 18, God consumes Elijah’s sacrifice with fire from heaven.
In Malachi 3:2, God is referred to as a refining fire who purges the sin of his people.
Then, it gets even more exciting! As the tongues of fire came to rest on each person, they began to speak in different languages as God directed!
Can you even imagine? They had been praying together like this for about 10 days and actively waiting on God to move.
Suddenly, God shows up with wind and fire, and everybody starts speaking in different languages they didn’t know before!
By the way, these are known languages. We find that as we look in the next section here in a minute.
There is a unique note here: When the Father sent the Spirit to the believers to establish the church, the singular fire that represented the Spirit separated into tongues of fire resting on each one of them.
The same Holy Spirit was given to all of them, but every person in that room had an individual part to play in what God wanted to do through the whole group.
Did you notice that God was the author of all this? The noise came from heaven, the tongues of fire appeared, and they spoke as the Holy Spirit gave them the ability to speak.
Wow!
So, Sean, are you saying that you hope God is going to send a wind to blow those doors open, and then we’re going to have fire come in over our heads, and then we’re going to speak in tongues?
Remember, I mentioned that this was a specific time and place where God was doing something incredible.
It isn’t likely that God will do that again because after this transition period that we see throughout Acts, the rest of the New Testament makes it clear that the Holy Spirit comes into a person the moment they are saved. He doesn’t have to come that way again.
However, I believe that God can and does still move in ways that seem as incredible to us.
Many of us have been through Henry Blackaby’s study Experiencing God before.
Blackaby often speaks of “something only God can do.”
In fact, he gives a list of just a few of the things only God can do:
Draw people to Himself
Cause people to seek Him
Reveal spiritual truth
Convict the world of guilt about sin
Convict the world of righteousness
Convict the world of judgment
I would probably add one more this morning: bring us to a place of genuine worship of him.
So what will it look like when God shows up at Christiansburg Baptist Church? It will be a season where God is drawing people to himself, revealing truth to folks who have never understood his word and convicting them of sin.
It’s a time when people will get serious about how they live before God and will turn it all over to him.
It’s a time when we will have an insatiable thirst for God’s Word and it will overflow in hearts of praise, just like the disciples did that day.
Can you imagine what would happen if God showed up like that? If he convicted us of all our failures and our laziness and our immorality and our greed and our selfishness? Can you imagine how he can transform lives through the presence of the Holy Spirit?
There is certainly one result that would be clear. Just like on the day of Pentecost,

3) Other people notice.

Look with me at Acts 2:5-13...
As the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, they spilled out of the room where they were meeting and into the streets of Jerusalem, probably near the Temple where the crowds had gathered for the celebration of Pentecost.
The people heard the commotion and, just like they do today, rushed to see what was going on.
Verse 5 tells us that many of the people in Jerusalem had moved there after living scattered throughout the known world.
These folks would have spoken several languages: they would have known the language from their home region, and they would know Aramaic from being in Jerusalem.
So suddenly, when people start figuring out that these people are the ones who were following that Jesus guy, they become amazed when they hear their native tongue being spoken. Look at verses 6-8.
Luke goes on to list for us all the different nations represented, and each one hears his own language!
Verse 10 tells us that there are even folks in, visiting from Rome, and they hear it too!
What are they hearing, by the way? Look at verse 11
At this point, the disciples aren’t preaching, they are praising. They are declaring the mighty deeds of God!
The movement of God drew a crowd that day, and I believe it can draw a crowd today!
When your co-workers, who know how bad you hate your job, suddenly see you coming in with a fresh sense of purpose and direction in life because you are working for the glory of God, it’s going to draw a crowd.
When the people who know how depressed you have been about the status of your family see you overjoyed because those relationships have been restored by God’s grace, they are going to wonder what is going on.
When your buddies hear the change in your language and what you joke about, they are going to wonder what happened to you!
When God moves and convicts of sin and draws people to himself, it spreads like wildfire! Would to God that what he did here would be so incredible that we couldn’t contain it; that it would spill out into the streets of Christiansburg and Blacksburg and Radford and Shawsville so that we could declare the mighty deeds of God to the world around us and draw a crowd to what he is doing!
God has moved in this way before in places around the world. One of the most well-known movements of God was the 1904 Welsh Revival. Almost 70,000 people gave their lives to Christ in a matter of months. One author listed some of the outcomes of the revival this way:
“During the time of revival the police were left with virtually nothing to do and the courts were empty. Saloons and bars shut down for lack of business. Public drunkenness was almost non-existent. Old debts, many long forgotten, were paid off in full. Traveling theatrical agencies canceled their engagements, as everyone was in church! Profanity disappeared. It was said that horses everywhere were in complete confusion. They had become accustomed to responding to their master’s profane shouts and kicks and cursing, virtually of all of which had disappeared.” [2]
Remember, this is not for us or for our glory or for our names’ sake. The disciples weren’t out to create a scene; they were out to give glory to the God who had done what only he could do!
Did you notice something important though? There were two different kinds of reactions to what they saw and heard.
Look at verse 12…some people were amazed, and we see in 2:41 that at least 3000 of them got saved.
Now look at verse 13, though…some people thought they were crazy drunks.
When God moves in ways only he can, some folks will be drawn to him. Others, however, are going to be repelled.
Paul addresses that by explaining that when we are following Jesus, we smell like him!
Think about sitting around a warm campfire. You walk away smelling like smoke.
If you even walk by an Indian restaurant, you smell like curry!
If we spend time with Jesus, we smell like him to those around us.
2 Corinthians 2:14–16 CSB
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in Christ’s triumphal procession and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of him in every place. For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To some we are an aroma of death leading to death, but to others, an aroma of life leading to life. Who is adequate for these things?
Think of it like cilantro. How many of you in here love the smell and taste of cilantro? Okay, how many think cilantro tastes like stink bugs?
For some, it is the herb that gives that extra special flavor to a delicious burrito. For others, it is a death weed that ruins the flavor of whatever it touches.
When God starts to work in our lives, that will smell like life to some who recognize that they need Jesus and want peace with God.
For others, though, it smells like conviction and death to their way of life, and they hate the idea of surrendering their life to Jesus.
They may say things like:
“Are you really so weak that you’d try that Jesus stuff? I thought you were smarter than that.”
“It’s just a bunch of hype and emotionalism. It’ll wear off.”
People are going to notice when God gets a hold of you and your family; some will love it and others will hate it.
How are you going to respond?
I want to see God show up in ways only he can, don’t you?
If that’s the case, then we need to be a prepared people. We need to be on our face before God asking him to do what only he can do. We need to make sure there is no sin in our lives that would keep us from being used of God.
When he does decide to move, hang on because it’s a wild ride.
By the way, does this mean that God is going to blow the doors off this place and we are going to have to add services to accommodate everyone? Not necessarily, but I believe that God can work in our hearts to help us reflect him more.
I believe that as we surrender to His work, we can see more people giving their lives to Christ, getting baptized, and serving him.
In fact, if you are here this morning and not yet a follower of Jesus, I would encourage you to surrender to him this morning.
Endnotes
[1] “Prayer”. http://www.revival-library.org/index.php/resources-menu/revival-quotes/prayer. Accessed 28 January 2021.
[2] Storms, Sam. “10 Things You Should Know about the Welsh Revival of 1904-06”. https://www.samstorms.org/enjoying-god-blog/post/10-things-you-should-know-about-the-welsh-revival-of-1904-06. Accessed 3 February 2021.
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