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The Inauguration of the Church

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05/31/2009 The Inauguration of the Church Knox 16 PC

321/499/400/399 Psalm 104:24-34 Acts 2:1-21 John 15:26-27

OOPS! The Supreme Court of Puerto Rico ruled, after a fourteen-year delay, that churches cannot produce noise that will annoy neighbours and that they must limit the volume of sound. A dispute had erupted over the noise produced by the Pentecostal Church of God in San Juan. Traditional Christmas masses were nearly cancelled in a Catholic church in San Juan when a neighbour reportedly complained that the music would disturb his early-morning sleep. Catholic and Protestant leaders alike are sounding off against the new regulations.  
  UGH! There will always be people in history who will deny the work of the Holy Spirit. Peters says look, it's only nine o'clock in the morning. They haven't had time to get drunk. They were all Galileans. They had little education. They were from the lower classes. These are the ones whom God raised up to declare the mighty works of the living God.
In Job 9:10 it says. He does great things past finding out, yes, wonders without number. Job was about to experience even more of God's Spirit coming upon him in the days ahead.  
  The Psalmist says in psalm 40:5. Many, O Lord my God, are your wonderful works which you have done; and your thoughts toward us to not be recounted to you in order, if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered. And in psalm 96:3. Declare his glory among the nations, his wonders among all peoples. God makes a promise; God keeps a promise. God has set the table for this to happen.
They waited for ten days. Can you imagine what those ten days must have been like? They had been through so much. The emotional toll of the events of the crucifixion, their guilt at having fled, and for Peter, his denial, the amazing resurrection appearances - all this must have drained them. They must have wondered what would happen next. It was Pentecost, a harvest festival traditionally associated with the giving of the law on Sinai, and Jerusalem was full of foreigners from all over the Mediterranean. From the very beginning Pentecost was to be characterized by social inclusiveness.  
  AHA! The sheer power of the outpouring of the Spirit must have driven the disciples into the streets - or the temple courtyard shouting out in everyone's native tongue the wonderful things that God had done. Then Peter, whose Galilean accent had led to his downfall only seven weeks earlier, took control of a crowd of about 3,000 and proclaimed the fulfilment of Joel's prophecy, linking it to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
WHEE! God's call and the gift of the Spirit had no boundaries and no barriers. Now, as then, the Spirit empowers, equips, convicts and transforms. There is one thing which is predictable about the living God, whom we serve. God will always do the unpredictable.  
  The small handful of disciples spent their time in fruitful prayer and study in the days following Easter. They had met the living Lord, something very unpredictable. He was raised from the dead! And then he ascended into heaven as they watched him. Angels told them he would come that way again, but for now you're going to wait to receive power from on high.
The Holy Spirit came with great force as a mighty and tempestuous wind through the house in which they were situated. Tongues of fire rested upon each man and woman in that group. And they began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.  
  People are totally amazed because these people are speaking in their native language. God has set the table by bringing in devout Jews from all across the world. The list of various countries here is quite extensive and probably only representative of a fraction of the nations that would have been represented there at Pentecost. Yet, each one was hearing the Gospel presented in their own native tongue.
It would be like a group of people going into United Nations and speaking to everybody in that edifice in their own native tongue without ever having learned that tongue someplace else. But, the naysayers have an excuse as to why this is taking place. These people are drunk. That is why we are hearing all of this stuff.  
  Some years before his death, former Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson of Canada remarked that the United Nations was drowning in its own rhetoric and suffocating in its own documentation. Recently, the U. N. recorded its proceedings on 773,086, 990 page units. The cost of their publication was $29 million. It was estimated that Peking’s entry into the World Body would cost an additional $5 million a year to have all the UN proceedings printed in Chinese, a right on which the Nationalist Chinese did not insist.
Pentecost, a religious observance that has roots in the OT and continues to be observed in both Judaism and Christianity. In the Hebrew OT, the customary name for the observance is the Feast of Weeks. It is regarded as the second of three obligatory observances, coming between Passover and Tabernacles. In Exod. 23:16, it is called ‘the feast of harvest, of the first fruits of your labour, of what you sow in the field.’ In Exod. 34:22, the Feast of Weeks is further defined as ‘the first fruits of wheat harvest.’  
  These phrases indicate that the Feast of Weeks was originally an agricultural festival, an occasion on which the community was expected to show gratitude to God for the first fruits, i.e., the early harvest. Josephus calculated the date of Pentecost as the fiftieth day after the first day of Passover, and, in time, this manner of calculation became standard. According to OT regulations, one was not allowed to work on the day of Pentecost. The sacrifice of various animals and of bread made from newly harvested grain was required.
In a tradition rich with symbolism they recognized the Hand that had given them the "first-fruits." Many centuries later, the Lord chose this day to celebrate a new kind of harvest. Fifty days after Passover week the Holy Spirit fell upon a small company of believers and then moved through the city of Jerusalem, bringing in another kind of crop. Those first-fruits were men and women and children added to the church.  
  The Spirit provides us the ability to receive salvation and to live out salvation. God has inaugurated a new era. If we take a look at the significance of the inauguration of a President in United States we can draw some analogies. The inauguration of President Obama kick-started a new era of hopefulness in a sea of despair. How much more does the inauguration of the new age in Jesus Christ bring in new hope in the midst of a dark, destructive and depressing world to cause us to live in hope.
God sends his Holy Spirit to inaugurate his new time in history. He is living out in the power of his Spirit what he has declared through the prophet Joel.  
  Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. The problem we have here in the church today is that we are not dreaming dreams. Yet God is saying this is the reality I am bringing to you in the giving out of my Holy Spirit.
Even upon the slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. The least of these people will prophesy and bring forth God's word for the world today.  
  The work of the Holy Spirit he is not finished. Peter, in his first sermon makes reference that what you have seen here and witnessed is what it was predictable long ago by the prophet Joel. If we are to continue on as the Church of Jesus Christ here in this place, we will need to rely on the empowering work of the Holy Spirit.
A minister was discussing electricity with an electrician. “Is it true,” asked the minister, “that electricity cannot get into you unless it can get out of you?” “That’s absolutely right,” answered the electrician.  
  The church in the late 50s was in a great deal of deep darkness. There was a tremendous separation of Protestant and Catholic. And then God raised up a new Pope named John XXIII. In his book, the Amazing John XXIII, author Fred Ladenius describes Pope John XXIII's death in this way.
We were in the room together. The Pope was laid out on his bed. He had been declared dead by the doctors. The appropriate smoke was sent up the stack to inform the people. The Pope was very well-known for his quotation of the words of Jesus Christ in the Latin as follows. May they all be one as you and I are one that the world may believe that you sent me, says Jesus.  
  At a particular moment in time while these dignitaries were all around his bed the Pope was raised to life and spoke these very words about unity. Then he laid down and remained dead. Fred was at best an atheist in the hierarchy of the Vatican. He had watched this Pope do numerous things. The most audacious thing was to invite the Protestants to the Vatican two Council to discuss major issues.
They were to receive front seats in the Vatican two Council and they were to be listened to. Fred, the man who was not a believer before he met Pope John XXIII, became a vital leader in the charismatic renewal of the Catholic Church. This ministry extended out into all denominations. The Spirit of God moved in a powerful way to bring the church on the path of unity, Protestants and Catholics. God is very predictable. He will always do the unpredictable. Let the world say that this cannot be done and then watch God do it.  
  YEAH! At the death of the Pope it was Pentecost. The sky around Vatican City turned blood red. This was very unusual having never taken place before. And then a white dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit, flew around the Vatican three times, in the name of the Father, in the name of the Son, and in the name of the Holy Spirit.
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