Catching Fire

“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.” — C.S. Lewis

PRAYER: (from the Lectionary)

“Almighty God, on this day You opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of Your Holy Spirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel , that it may reach to the ends of the earth, through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, AMEN.”

SCRIPTURE: (from the Lectionary)

Acts 2:1-21

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…

PRAYER FOCUS: The Gift of the Holy Spirit

When you hear the word power, what image comes to mind? Is it the power of a machine, perhaps a mighty engine—like the motor in your favorite sports car? What about the power of a jet engine, one with a flame-spitting afterburner? Or the power from a nuclear reactor—producing enough electricity for an entire city? Maybe you imagine power as a muscle, grown through exertion and strengthened by practice.

Whatever form it takes, power gives you the ability to do something.

The four Gospels reveal to us that the disciples of Jesus were ordinary folks selected for an extraordinary mission. And yet even after three years of training in miracles and practical discipleship, they were totally inadequate for the kind of work Jesus had called them to. Their failures were a source of frustration for their Master.

Jesus had commanded them to go—to preach the good news in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). He had promised them that they would receive power. But they would have to wait for it.

Everything changed at Pentecost. Before that day, Simon Peter couldn’t stand up for his faith when challenged. He ran away from his testimony—along with the rest of them. But after receiving the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter stood and boldly preached the Gospel and 3,000 people were saved. Within the next thirty years, these unlikely Disciples would carry the Gospel to Rome and on to Spain, to Persia and on to India, to Egypt and Ethiopia. From farm to farm, from village to village, town to town, it spread like a wildfire across the whole known world.

Peter, the other Disciples, and the Spirit-filled believers of the early Church witnessed before multitudes in spite of threats and actual physical harm (Acts 4:5-12; 5:29-33). They witnessed before kings and other dignitaries (Acts 24-26). It seemed that no one and nothing could stop the testimony of Christians who had been empowered by the Holy Spirit.

This amazing, supernatural, power was given for a purpose. They were still inadequate in their own strength. Only the power of the Holy Spirit enabled them to use the right words and expressions in just the right ways. The tongues of flame on Pentecost were symbolic of both the fire in their own hearts, and the fires they would start in the souls of men they were sent out to reach.

So, why are so many Christians—and so many churches—setting so few fires? Perhaps because they are bogged down somewhere between Calvary and Pentecost. They’ve been to Calvary for pardon, but they haven’t been to Pentecost for power.

It’s Monday Morning. Pentecost is Sunday. Is your heart already ablaze, or do you need to catch fire again?

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