I preached my best sermon today yesterday.
I have discovered a method of preparing that helps me stay on track and finish each thought or point. Namely, I have figured out that by writing down my sermon as a blog post and then creating a detailed outline off of the post helps me think through each items without stumbling.
In the past, I have simply studied the material and then created a simple outline – which allowed for too much freedom on Sunday morning. Instead of flowing, the sermons would be a tad broken as my mind would jump two or three steps ahead of my mouth – leaving everyone else wondering what was happening.
This ‘new’ way helps keep my brain and mouth on the same page. 🙂 And it worked. Emily and I listened to the recording yesterday evening and it was sweet (BTW – does anyone know how to compress an audio file? I would love to post my sermons online but the files are way, way too big!).
The added bonus to writing everything out first is that I can simply copy and paste my notes into a blog post and upload it. Simple. Easy. And a huge success.
God is good. 🙂
Living In Expectation
Setting the Scene
Today we have the pleasure of looking at Peter’s sermon at Pentecost. It is 53 days after Jesus’ crucifixion; 50 days since He rose from the dead; and ten days since Jesus’ Ascension. During those ten days, the eleven disciples gathered together with 109 other believers in Jerusalem to await the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
This was huge. HUGE.
These believers were gathered together in a single room waiting for an event that has never been seen before on earth. Yes, there were prophecies hundreds of years old foretelling of this event – but you don’t go to into a bed of snakes and wait on the words of a four to six hundred year old prophecy. You go home for that. Besides, the prophecies of old talked about the outpouring of the Spirit in terms of the end of the world. It would be like us gathering together in a single room for ten days waiting for Jesus’ Second Coming!
Yet, there they were – hiding out in a town that had just killed their leader; waiting for God to fulfill His promise. All they had was the word of their Lord and Master – and for them, that was enough to risk death, imprisonment, loss of income (no jobs), and ridicule from their families. For ten days they prayed. For ten days they waited – sometimes praying all night long.
Then – out of the blue – some of them begin to laugh. Slowly at first – then more bolsters – gaining in volume and intensity. A presence they have never felt before descended upon them – strange, yet so familiar. A love and peace so amazing – so pure – so holy – so imamate that they can’t stop but sing out in praise for the King of Kings. As they lift up their voices, flames of fire appear over their heads; burning but not burning. Looking around, they jump for joy as the bush that would not burn was in their midst. Running outside they yelled and screamed and rejoiced for God had fulfilled His promise – His Spirit was being poured out!
Suddenly they hear voices. Turning away from each other, they are shocked to see that a crowd had gathered around them. Glancing at each other, they are bombarded with questions and comments in ten – no twenty – no hundreds of different languages. Scared of what might happen – that they might be killed or tossed into prison – they look for Peter. Where was he?! He would know what to do – maybe he could help… Oh there he is – laughing and speaking…was that German? Where did he learn German?!
Standing up Peter raised his voice:
Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17″ ‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
18Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
19I will show wonders in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ (Acts 2:14-21)
Standing in shock, the crowd stared at Peter. Was he serious? Could this really be the end of the world? Was the time near in which the Romans and the Gentiles would be judged? When Israel would take its rightful place on the world stage as the nation of God? Would God’s presence be returning to the Holy of Holies in the inter-most place of the Temple?
This could not be the work of the God of Gods – the Holy One of Israel. He does not behave like drunken men – laughing and falling over each other, talking in the tongues of pagans! Surely He would only speak Hebrew – the language of Moses, the law and the prophets. These people must be crazy! They must be drunk with wine as this can NOT be our God!!!
The End of the World
The message Peter gave 2000 years ago was one of epic proportions. He in effect claimed that the end of the world happening right before everyone’s eyes. This was why he quoted Joel 2:28-32.
And, he was right.
The world did come to an end. Only, it wasn’t quite the way anyone thought. A simple glance at Joel chapter 2 tells you about a great army lead by the Lord destroying pagan nations and delivering Israel from their oppression. God’s spirit was supposed to come after this battle – yet here was Peter standing in the streets claiming that the Spirit had come without a battle! Shoot, the Romans are still here – in fact, there they are now, wondering what was going on!
What was going on?
Why was Peter claiming that the end of the world had come?
To better understand this message, we need to look at the life and ministry of Jesus. Specifically we need to look at Mark 1:14-15: Following Jesus’ baptism and temptation, He….
….went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15″The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”
The message of Jesus of Nazareth was simple: The Kingdom of God had come. Turn and follow God as King.
This may sound strange to us as we do not use ‘kingdom’ language in our everyday lives. Shoot, we recently just celebrated our victory in rebelling against kings and kingdoms. We are an independent people. We are the ‘kings’ of our houses. We bow to no one.
Yet, here is Jesus. God incarnate saying that God’s rule and reign was breaking into the world today. No longer was satan the ruler of the world. God was here and He was destroying all the works of sin, death, heal and hades.
Some of you may be thinking that I’m mistaken – that I’m a tad nutty as there is still evil in the world today. And you would be right – I am nutty! =)
Seriously though, you are right. There is evil in the world. Satan is still out there trying to destroy all that God has made. He is trying to take us out.
But God is still King.
It is like the our presidential race. The president elect is decided in November, but they are unable to officially take office until Feb – four months later. That meant that there were in effect two presidents during that time. They both have to work together to make sure things worked correctly .
Or how about a football game where one team is winning 63 to 7. The team with 63 points is the winner – no doubt about it. Even so, the game is not over until all four quarters are completed. This means that the losing team can still hurt the winning team – either by injures or by points.
In this world, we have Jesus, the King of Kings, who is intimately involved in every area of life on this planet. There is nothing outside His rule! He is the ruler all week long – not just on Sunday mornings.
Then we have the counterfeit kingdom of satan who is trying to fool us into thinking that he has won the war. Yet, we know that Jesus has defended him.
This is what Peter was saying on Pentecost.
Jesus did come and defend the enemy. (remember the big battle the Jews were expecting before this prophecy happened) There wasn’t a big battle defending the Romans or the Gentiles – the enemy was satan, sin, death and evil. Peter was calling people back to the rule and reign of God. No longer was God’s Spirit “reserved” for the prophets, the kings, or priests. It was poured out on everyone – male and female. Young and old. Everyone could enter into the Kingdom of God. There were no restrictions anymore. You did not have to go to Temple and pay a priest to petition God for you. You could communicate directly with Him through His Spirit that He places inside you.
The world as they knew it had ended.
So what does this mean for us in 2010?
It means four amazing and awesome things. It means that:
1) We should expect God to speak to us. To give us dreams, prophecies and insight into this crazy life we are living. We should expect to carry out a dialogue with Him. If the Bible is true – and it is! It is God’s word! – then we should expect Him to talk to us and give us dreams and prophecies. Acts 2:17-18 says men and women, young and old. That covers everyone!!
2) We should expect to see signs and wonders. Acts 2: 19-20 says that He will show us signs and wonders. God is the God of the universe – physical and non-physical. We should expect Him to manipulate and change things.
3) We are in a battle. Jesus has won the victory – but the evil one hasn’t given up yet. He is out there trying to take us out. It is like World War Two. The Allies knew that if they ever got a beach head in Europe, the Nazis would lose. So they fought on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day and established a beach head. They had in essence won the war. Yet, between D-Day and VE-Day there were more deaths and destruction then every. That is how life is right now. We are living between the Ages – between the Age to Come and the Present Evil Age. We should expect God to move – yet we also recognize that sometimes bad things happen to good people. That not everyone we pray for gets healed. That sometimes life stinks.
4) We have the victory. At the same time, we know that Acts 2:21 says that if we call upon His name will be saved. The word ‘saved’ in Greek is “sozo” which means: To save, rescue, deliver, to heal. It is a healing of the whole person. Salvation means that we have overcome sin by the blood of Jesus. We can have victory over addictions, anger issues, relationship issues, health issues, wrong thoughts, you name it. We are no longer bound my sin. We have entered into Jesus’ death and resurrection. We are a new creation; we are being made into a new creation; we will be a new creation. It is all of the above.
We are an end time people. We are to live this way 24-7-365 days a year. Not just on Sunday during church – but Sunday through Saturday. When you walk out of this room, get into your cars and drive away, you need to expect God to speak to you. As you are driving your tractor – mowing hay – crushing rock – sitting in a cubical – as we talk to our family, our friends , our coworkers – each moment of each day, we need to listen for His voice.
We must expect it. Look forward to it. We are to constantly ask “what are you doing God? How can I join with You?” He is always there – the question is, Are we going to listen and join Him? We need to make room for Him to be King of our lives. If we have bowed our knees and gave Him our lives, then He is King over all. There is no such thing as a compartmental Christian. It is either all or nothing. He is King over our families, dreams, jobs, land, money, emotions, body, hobbies, etc.
And as King, He is personally and intimately involved in our lives. Let us live that way.