Thought for Sunday 31st May 2020 from Pastor Gordon Hamilton

 31 May 2020 |

Read Acts 2:1-41I

I am writing this a week before you will be reading these notes, so I know I am not up to the minute with the latest on the Covid19 Coronavirus situation. I am presuming we are still in lockdown but I am sure things will have changed since I have written this. I’m not going to guess what will happen but I do believe that I will still be able to sing Robin Mark’s song, ‘He lowers us to raise us, so we can sing His praises, whatever is His way all is well, He makes us rich and poor, so we might trust Him more, whatever is His way all is well. All my changes come from Him, He who never changes, and I’m held firm in the grasp of the rock of all the ages, all is well, with my soul, He is God in control, I know not all his plans but I know I’m in His hands. He clothes now then strips us, yet with His word equips us. Whatever is His way all is well, and though our seasons change, we still exalt His name. Whatever is His way all is well, all is well, with my soul, He is God in control.’

No, I don’t know how the disciples were feeling, they had been in a sort of lockdown for 9 days rather than the 9 weeks it is for us. As we have just read in the first 4 verses is chapter 2, something quite extraordinary happened, ‘a sound like the blowing of a violent wind… and what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.’ The strange thing is that there is no report of what those disciples felt, only what those God-fearing Jews who were in the area said. They said they heard this sound, and a crowd gathered and they all heard the disciples speaking in their own language. Verse 4 tells us; ‘All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.’ Not the language of the disciples but the language of those listening, and they came from various places, they were Parthians, Medes, Elamites, (read 9-11a). Whether the disciples were speaking those different languages or whether the listeners were allowed, by God, to understand what was being said, I don’t know. I have heard people speak in tongues but have never known what language it was. Verse 4 says the disciples were enabled to speak in other tongues. All we know is that the listeners were amazed and perplexed and wondered what it meant. The implication from verse 5 is that the listeners were all ‘God-fearing Jews.’ Some thought the disciples may have been drinking. There will always be those who try and make light of what they see and hear, and will say that as good ‘God-fearing Jews’ they should be more serious, this was the time of the Festival of Pentecost, 50 days after Passover, was a further time of remembering and giving thanks for the harvest (Leviticus 23:15-21). 

The term ‘Pentecost’ is derived from the Greek word for 50th. Let’s get back to Acts 2:14f just over 50 days before this event, Peter was asked by a girl; ‘You are not one of his disciples are you?’ I’m sure we know the story, three times he is questioned and three times he denies being a follower of Jesus. Here in 2:14 we see Peter standing up and not only defending his fellow disciples but preaching the first Christian sermon. Peter was an unschooled fisherman, no PhD, no Diploma, no A levels, no prepared notes to preach, but he was filled with the Holy Spirit and God used Peter mightily. I would even be so bold as to say that God spoke through Peter and later Peter may have sat down and said, ‘How did that happen?’ Peter even quoted from the prophet Joel, read Joel 2:28-32, so although Peter wasn’t a learned man, he had been brought up on the Old Testament and although he wouldn’t have said ‘in Joel 2:28-32 it says…’ because the bible wasn’t broken down into chapters and verses, but Peter knew what it said, and the experience they had received that morning revealed to him this was what the prophet Joel had been talking about. This also meant that Peter had been given a new power to speak out about Jesus. Peter stood up and spoke to these Jews who had come from far and near to celebrate the feast of Pentecost. They would have known, as the other disciples did, the Old Testament. They’d made their way to Jerusalem from Mesopotamia, Cappadocia, Libya, Egypt and more, they had come to fulfil what they believed, to be their religious duty. And because they came God used Peter to reveal the truth about Jesus. And if God can use Peter, then he can use you to reveal the truth about Jesus also. You don’t have to be a trained preacher; you just have to be willing to be used by God. 

I remember a song from going to Sunday school many years ago; ‘I will make you fishers of men if you follow me.’ If you have been going to church or chapel then you will know something of what the bible talks about, you will know something about Jesus, so share what you know and don’t try and share what you don’t know, allow God to speak through you, he can and he does. I love this poem: ‘Not merely in the words you say, not only in your deeds confessed, but in the most unconscious way is Christ expressed. Is it the calm and peaceful smile? A holy light upon your brow? Oh no! I felt his presence while you laughed just now. For me ’twas not the truth you taught, to you so clear, to me so dim, but when you came to me, you brought a sense of Him. And from your eyes He beckons me, and from your heart His love is shed, till I lose sight of you and see the Christ instead.’ Peter preached what the bible said, not what he felt those listening needed to hear. When they responded; ‘What should we do?’ Peter knew instinctively; ‘Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ And Peter goes on to say, read Acts 2:39… That means the promise is for us as well. Acts 8:37 says; ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may be baptised.’ The result of Peter’s preaching at Pentecost was that; ‘About 3,000 were added to their number that day.’ Verse 47 says; ‘The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.’ 

I understand that many more people have been attending ‘virtual Church’ than used to attend church or chapel prior to this lockdown, I  pray that it will mean many more will be able to respond positively to the question; ‘Do you believe with all your heart, that Jesus Christ is Lord of your life?.’ That is what the gospel of Jesus is all about, confessing him as your Saviour and trusting him for you salvation. Amen.

I pray we can sing this hymn from the hearts

I am trusting Thee, Lord Jesus; trusting only Thee!

Trusting Thee for full salvation, great and free.

I am trusting Thee for pardon, at Thy feet I bow.

For Thy grace and tender mercy, trusting now.

I am trusting Thee for cleansing in the crimson flood.

Trusting Thee to make me holy, by Thy blood.

I am trusting Thee for power, Thine can never fail.

Words which Thou Thyself shalt give me must prevail.

I am trusting Thee to guide me, Thou alone shalt lead.

Every day and hour supplying all my need.

I am trusting Thee, Lord Jesus; never let me fall.

I am trusting Thee for ever, and for all.