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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

FRESH AIR FROM THE SPIRIT

This blog post is part of the ChristianWriters.com blog chain. This month our theme is “fresh air.” See the links to the right and enjoy what my friends have to say about fresh air.
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This Sunday, June 12 marks the end of the Easter season on the Christian liturgical calendar.  Specifically, this Sunday, we celebrate Pentecost. Scripture tells us that Pentecost is the day Jesus’ disciples received the Holy Spirit. This supernatural event is recounted in Acts 2:

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

PENTECOST

The word Pentecost comes from the Greek word pentekoste meaning 50 days. Fifty comes from the root word “pent” for “five” as in pentagon, a geometric shape with five sides.

Easter Sunday marked Day One of the 40 days the risen Christ walked among us before taking his place in heaven. Fifty days after his resurrection, on Pentecost, he gifted his believers with the Holy Spirit.

The day we observe as Christian Pentecost was also celebrated before Jesus’ time by Jews as the Feast of the Harvest or Pentecost. For the 49 days after Passover, farmers set aside first fruits of their wheat harvest.

On the 50th day, they would make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem to present their offering  and to celebrate the receipt of the 10 Commandments and the Torah—the first five books of our Christian Old Testament, also known as the Pentateuch or Books of Moses. The Feast of the Harvest, the Jewish Pentecost, was one of the most important holy days in Judaism.  

Even after Paul’s conversion, return to Jerusalem for Pentecost was an important event in the lives of the Jewish people. Acts 20:16 tells us:

Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus to avoid spending time in the province of Asia, for he was in a hurry to reach Jerusalem, if possible, by the day of Pentecost.

COINCIDENCE?

Notice anything interesting about these two important Jewish holy days?

Jesus, the Lamb of God, was sacrificed during the celebration of Passover, when Jews sacrificed lambs to remember the preservation of the Hebrew people. Jesus’ sacrifice was for the eternal preservation of all mankind.

One of Jesus’ first instructions to his 12 disciples reported in Matthew 9: 37-38: “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

This was followed immediately by Jesus’ instructions to the disciples to drive out spirits and heal in His name. To harvest people for salvation.

The Jewish harvest celebration of Pentecost coincided with the arrival of the Holy Spirit to the early Christians, which promised empowerment of all believers for God’s spiritual harvest.

Does God do coincidences?

FRESH AIR

Take a look at Acts 2 again:

Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.

The followers of Jesus were inside a house and yet the house was filled up with sound from heaven. It got everyone’s attention. After that, they were filled with the Holy Spirit.

The gift of the Holy Spirit is given to all of us when we receive Christ into our hearts. I’ve not seen a flame over anyone’s heads when they marched down the aisle during altar call, though. Nor have I heard the sound of a mighty wind within a closed room.

But when I am still, I can almost hear the sound of God; sometimes as a gentle whisper; sometimes as a mighty storm. I am reminded that He is in control, and that He is working in and through me, by the Holy Spirit.

Just as He did more than 2000 years ago with the new Christians shut inside a house.

To the early Christians, holding on to a fragile new faith, the Holy Spirit flowing through the house and settling upon them, must have been the very breath of fresh air they needed. Whisking away doubts and literally filling them with the power of God.

The Holy Spirit in us is fresh air to the soul. When we are open to its presence, it can flow as a gentle whisper or a mighty wind. Let us open the windows of our heart and let it flow.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for your power. Jesus, thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit and for the power you instill in us. Remind us that you, Holy Spirit, as spirit, are fresh air to our souls, to our minds and to our faith. Use us, dear Lord, for your purpose. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Do you think it was a coincidence that the Holy Spirit was given to early Christians first on the day Jewish people celebrated both the harvest and the giving of the law? Do you even believe in coincidences when it comes to God?

8 comments:

Traci B said...

Wonderful post, Carol. I don't believe in coincidence; I firmly believe God timed the harvest of first believers for his Church to parallel the harvest of the nation of Israel from among the tares of Eqypt, just as He timed the giving of the Holy Spirit and the covenant of grace to parallel the giving of the law to Moses on Sinai.

Both events were attended by sound and light - thunder and flashes of lightning at Sinai (Exodux 19:16), and the sound of a mighty rushing wind and the appearance of tongues of flame at Pentecost (Acts 2:2-3). And because of both events, a people of God arose - in Exodus it was the nation of Israel as a nation and not just an extended family, and at Pentecost it was the Body of Christ, the Church.

No, God doesn't "do" coincidences. But He does plan all things well and execute them perfectly. :)

From Carol's Quill said...

@ Traci - Agreed! Our pastor calls them "coinci-Gods." When things are too much of a coincidence to be coincidental, ya can figue it's got God's fingerprints all over.

Jan Christiansen said...

Loved this phrase, Carol...

"But when I am still, I can almost hear the sound of God"

Reminds me that I should take time everyday to still myself enough to connect with God...no matter what's happening or how busy I am.

Thanks for the reminder!

From Carol's Quill said...

@Jan - yes, we "know" to be still; it's the "doing it" part that's hard. But worth it.

Victor Travison said...

This bit of Scripture knowledge first came my way from my pastor father during his lifetime; it's good to see it confirmed from a separate source. It's no accident that Easter coincided with sacrificing the lamb at Passover, while Pentecost aligns with the harvest. Celebrating the Jewish holidays may not be required, but surely God wants us to remember the meaning of these holidays, as it relates to our faith.

Good job! ;)

~ VT

From Carol's Quill said...

@ Victor - thanks. Not sure little ole' me is a "confirming source" but I do believe that God shows each person different angles on the same scripture at different times in life. BTW, I'm a preacher's kid, too.

Sheila said...

Isn't it amazing how much can be uncovered in God's word with just a little digging? I may have heard this over the years but had forgotten it. Thanks for sharing!

From Carol's Quill said...

@Sheila - yes, scripture is rich. Digging can uncover treasure!