5/23/99, Pentecost Sunday, Year A
Is this another Money Sunday? a young man asked some years ago, when he first heard the word Pente-cost. (I must have pronounced it Penny-Cost) He made a good point, really. This is one Sunday that is Totally Free! It is a day to recall how much God wants to Give His Gift of Himself to us--- and it Costs nothing; not even a Pente.
The thrust of Pentecost is receiving, not giving. God does not spend money so He does not need ours; however, we really need what He wants to give to us. Although His Church does spend money and needs money, I hope you never feel that our objective is to get anything from you. Our mission is to enable you to want to return unto the Lord a tithe from the great abundance that He has placed into your life. We give out of gratitude.
But maybe it does cost something in the stuff that we want to give up after receiving the Holy Spirit. When He becomes first place, everything else naturally falls into its secondary space. Grace is free, but sometimes free-stuff can be costly.
Marriage did not come with the warning label that your would be giving up whatever your single life would have been. Even though we have no idea what bachelorhood would have been, we did willingly renounce that life for marriage. This same thing is true, to a lesser extent, of employment. When we accept a job we are willingly becoming a Company Man or Woman. We are giving our time in exchange for money; but more than that, we give our loyalty to that company. We need income and the employer meets that need. In a similar way, we need the Holy Spirit.
Let anyone who is thirsty (in need) come to me... (John 7: 37). We come to Him as we are drawn, and as we are made aware of our need--- our Thirstiness.
Biblical theology observes the fact that we are all spiritually famished, and can only have our thirst quenched at the Spring of Living Water. Like the woman at the well we were seeking for things that did not satisfy, but then we heard the Saviors calling, draw from the well that never shall run dry: Then, once we take a drink we cannot stop. We are addicted and we want more.
America wants more! The world wants more!
Notice how so many students and parents from Heritage High School have gathered in the churches. Ebenezer Methodist and Heritage Heights Baptist have been prominent in world media coverage this week of yet another shooting incident. Suddenly many of us have been made aware of our thirst for answers divine. We have problems that are far deeper than gun control and security measures. Humanity is restless until we rest in Him.
Heritage High is our problem. We have members living nearby, our church owns property there, our own David Ogletree lives in what has been referred to in the media as an upscale suburban neighborhood. However, the fact is that every home without God is a barren desert wasteland; whether the surrounding property values are upscale or no scale.
Our text is saying that when we realize our need and receive, then thirdly: Out of our hearts shall flow rivers of living water (v.38). We are not meant to be mere storage vessels of living water, The plan is for the river to run through us out to others. Each of us is called to become a means of grace to somebody. Far too long we have focused on what we can get and not upon how God can use us. The real thrill of victory is experienced in playing the game.
Remember how the initial sounds made by the believers on the Day of Pentecost were used to witness to all of those present. Beyond their ability to speak, God magnified their tongues to speak the languages of everyone present as a foretaste of the future world evangelization of the Good News. In this kind of reversal of the confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel, we hear God using understandable voices to communicate.
God needs our availability much more that our ability. He takes the weak and makes us strong. Oftentimes the weakest later become the strongest. Sometimes beautiful and talented people tend to wear out their own ability after a short time. But, the weaker sister and brother who knows their need to rely upon the Holy Spirit are the ones who matter the most in the long haul.
John Wesley was a wee little man. Martin Luther was overbearing. John Knox had little formal education. Oral Roberts had a lisp. Billy Graham was indecisive. E. Stanley Jones was uncommitted. J.B. Phillips was depressed. C.S. Lewis felt overwhelming guilt. Yet, common in all of these flawed lives is the fact that the Holy Spirit did make rivers of living waters flow. It is not human power, but His power that enables great things to happen. Its not what talents we bring, but our willingness to be used that is key. Pentecostal power is practical power to implement the Great Commission, and as a kind of sidebar, we find our purpose.
Faith begins as a tiny seed and grows to become a giant tree. The purpose of the tree is not for the tree to just stand there; but that it might give shade, provide beauty, bear fruit, leaves or flowere, and to contribute to the production of necessary oxygen. Our porpose in Gods sight is to produce results, not to just stand there, but to build up the Kingdom--- to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Some lives seem to count for nothing, ours is meant to count for everything.
When will we learn that the joy of life is in finding our calling and implementing it? Little lights need to shine brightly in the schools, within our families, and at work.
Lets allow the Spirits Rivers of Living Water to flow through Us to others!
a sermon synopsis
by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor