Discerning His Presence

(audio sermon by Gary Sampson)

The Bible describes God’s Spirit as being like wind, fire, weight, water, oil, and new wine. Many believers today can testify to experiencing God’s Presence in these ways. But what do these different manifestations of the Spirit mean? What do they tell us? Taking a look at the Pentecost experience, this sermon attempts shed some light on this, and encourages us to follow what the Spirit is doing.

Speakers notes follow –

Discerning His Presence

Acts 2: 1-18

Ever been where God moved like a mighty wind? Faith Convention of about 8000 – clattering sound grew – saw rows collapsing – Spirit like wind or wave

1.When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.

Pentecost means ‘50th Day’ from Passover – two festivals so close Passover crowd stayed – Jesus followers gathered too – he ascended ten days ago – said ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised’ – what did they expect?

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

Note – it wasn’t wind, but ‘like’ wind – sound of it filled the house

3.They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them

Note – not tongues of fire, but what seemed to be – one fire divides and rests on each – similar to the candlestick in the temple – one shaft separates into seven – number of completion – I imagine it as 120 sparks showering like a firework – but with rushing sound

4.All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them

What seemed to be wind+fire was the Spirit – what Jesus promised – the fire went in – filled + enabled to speak – unlearnt languages

Jenny had never heard of tongues – but she spoke – like here explanation came after

5.Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven – gathered for Pentecost

Did this include Aborigines, Eskimos, Aztecs – no VS 9 tells us where they’re from – Parthians, Medes, Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia (minor), Phrygia , Pamphylia, Egypt, Libya, Rome, also Cretans and (close) Arabs – ie the Roman world

‘Every nation under heaven’ is hyperbole – exaggerating to make a point – the point is that the Spirit is for every nation (Aborigine, Eskimo, Aztec, Masai, Kikuyu, Luo) under heaven – but Jew in Roman world first

6.When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken’

The sound of 120 people speaking at once drew a crowd like hotel guests gathering on our worship night – looking in windows – standing at door – and if Kenyans are speaking Norwegian, Japanese, Danish, Korean – bewildered

Why does God get Galileans to speak these world languages – reversing BabelGod divided the people of Babel in Mesopotamia (again known world) by confusing their languages now God creating one people out of whole world by enabling them to speak each others languages – Jesus + Spirit the solution

7.Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?

You’re in Jerusalem, hear Galilean speaking Swahili – how? –  would have to interpret to speaker – tongues of men need no heavenly interpretation – tongues of angels do

12.Amazed.. they asked ..“What does this mean?”

Good question – never happened before + humanly impossible!

13.Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”

14-17.’Peter stood up’ and said ‘let me explain..These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:“‘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.

  1. Not just a few prophets as in 0T all believers prophesy, have visions + dreams – 120 out of 120 got filled – no man of God! Get it!

Prophecy is speaking under inspiration – tongues part of that – all now capable of ministry of priest + prophet – hear + speak Gods word – what the outpouring means! – So are you?

New situation – never before Spirit on all – needed explaining – had to get used to ways + nature of the Spirit – us too – highlight some:

Spirit comes like wind – Speaking of the Spirit, Jesus said ‘The wind blows wherever it pleases, you hear the sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going’ (Jn 3. 8)

– Like wind the Spirit is invisible – hear or see effects only – hear prophecy or tongue – see shake, trembling eyelids – see what He’s doing – minister

Spirit is like fire – here are tongues of fire – Moses saw a fire that didn’t burn bush – it called and equipped him – pillar of fire led Israel – Jesus baptises with the Holy Spirit + fire

Fire is passion, purity, judgement, power – in a sense same thing

We feel the fire – well up as compassion, holy anger, authoritative word – drives out demon, rebukes sin, purges sickness, sets captive free

Mimi felt heat – I said ‘probably healing’ (correcting disorder in body) – she said ‘oh I prayed for that’

Hot hand – lay it on someone – fire in belly – speak it out – many of you get these – its a call to act!

Liquid allusions vs 17 ‘Pour’ out His Spirit:

Spirit is like water – woman at well – Jesus give her ‘living water‘- ‘whoever drinks the water I give will never thirst, it will become in them a spring of water (Jn 4.14) – makes us an oasis for others!

Spirit is like oil anoint king, priest, prophet – Messiah/Christ – anointed one – anointed with Spirit – ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor – recovery of sight to the blind’ (Lk 4.18)

Spirit is like winenew wine into new wine skins – meant when Spirit poured out need new structures – old traditions can stifle

Jesus turned OC washing water into NC wine – Covenant no longer on tablets of stone but written on our hearts by the Spirit – external water becomes internal wine – empowering

Another important word is ‘rest’ – tongues of fire came to rest on each – sometimes the Spirit rests like a weight – Hebrew for ‘glory‘ is ‘kabod‘ – lit ‘weight‘ – weight/value of God

Spirit is like weight – talking anointing – like Jesus’ cloak thrown over your shoulders – Elijah threw his mantel, cloak over Elisha before going to heaven – giving him his anointing – Jesus’ cloak on us weighs us with power – to act!

Reason l’m teaching this – become aware when God is in the room – some people thinking so hard they aren’t aware atmosphere has changed – their bodies feeling something

Do you feel the weight on your shoulders + arms, the fire in your heart + hands, the trembling eyelids + shaking hands, the filling, the well rising within?

Need to point these out before we talk about how we get words of knowledge, prophesy, tongues – because its the Spirit’s presence that brings these things on – we need to recognise his presence and learn to follow

Knowing He is like weight, wind, fire, water, wine – helps us know what He’s doing so we can work with Him and people are helped

At Pentecost there was wind blowing, fire resting, Spirit pouring, inspired speaking – shall we ask for some of that?

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