June 2nd, 2024 | Series: Pentecost – Life in the Spirit

This sermon discusses the role of the Holy Spirit in Christian life, emphasizing the importance of community, prayer, service, and gathering together as believers.

Sermon Resources
Sermon Content

Hello there. Hi. I feel like I have friends. My name is D’Andrea Jones and I’m on staff here at S. O. U. T. H. and today we are going to be wrapping up our short three week series on Pentecost. In week one, two weeks ago on Pentecost Sunday, Alex invited us to look at who the Holy Spirit was and we celebrated baptisms together.

And then last week he invited us to look at how the Holy Spirit works. And he invited us into the tension, if you remember, of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo, of immediate miraculous transformation by the Holy Spirit, and then the tension also that is a lifelong journey with Jesus and the transformation that slowly happens over time.

And today we’re going to be looking at what it looks like for the Holy Spirit to work through us towards others and through others towards us. I asked a few of you to share with me how you’ve either experienced the Holy Spirit or how the Holy Spirit has used you. And here’s a little bit of what I got back.

This is probably an obvious one, but I suspect it’s the Holy Spirit at work when someone says, God put this on my heart. For example, when someone or something pops into your mind, seemingly out of nowhere, and you feel motivated to pray for or reach out to that person. It’s often something small, but it can make a difference.

And then this. I do think that back in 2019, when I felt the need to choose a family motto of always choose love, it was the Spirit’s way of preparing me for the things to come over the next three years. Over and over again, I was reminded that love is what mattered, and it became so foundational in how I related to my own husband and kids during some really trying and confusing times.

It’s like I was compelled to name what matters and what I needed to fight for. And then this one, sleepless nights can bring about spirit led intercession. Instead of worrying, I ask who I need to pray for. If someone comes to mind or I have a dream of them, I ask for direction and how to pray. Sometimes I’m prompted to follow up with a text, checking in and connecting with that person.

The more I look for the Holy Spirit, the easier it is. to see him. Notice that each of these experiences lead to connection, support, discernment, and actions in life and specifically within relationships. We’re going to look at the text again that we did two weeks ago in Acts 2, but before we jump in, I want to invite you back to those 10 days between Jesus ascension and when the Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost.

Consider how the disciples and early Jesus followers might have felt and perhaps where their minds may have journeyed as they sat in the upper room together, waiting and praying. Peter’s journey specifically grabbed my attention, particularly because he’s going to be who stands and speaks in Acts 2.

We’ll read here soon. Peter had experienced moments of closeness and connection with Jesus. He got to participate in incredible ministry and miraculous healings. He would have heard Jesus share his poetic promises about sheep and the shepherd and knowing his voice. But a short time later, Peter, along with all the other disciples, would hear Jesus tell them of his impending betrayal and death just before he’s nailed to the cross.

If I were Peter in that upper room in those 10 days, I’d be trying to piece together the previous couple of months. I’d be wrestling with, is this really the life to the full that Jesus talked about? I might even be wondering if any of us would really know it when the Holy Spirit had arrived. I think relief to his racing mind and thoughts might come as he looked around the room and sat beside 119 other disciples and Jesus followers.

The time together praying and waiting and watching. At least the family that Jesus had gathered together We’re still together. Peter’s mind might wander to that early morning when Jesus said, Hey, let down the net on the other side. I can see him in that room as he’s processing all the things, smiling a little bit when he remembered the breakfast of fish and grilled bread that Jesus had waiting for them.

It must have felt like old times and maybe it rekindled this hope. Jesus was alive. And in fact. Maybe that new kingdom they’d been waiting to come to pass, they would see. I imagine Peter sitting in that room with those early followers, remembering the way that Jesus restored him after his denials. For every single embarrassing time, Peter had let Jesus down.

Jesus had spoken purpose and a future over his life. Feed my sheep. Take care of my sheep. Feed my sheep. My sheep. And then the commandment that he gave to everybody. Be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. And maybe in the midst of his scrolling thoughts two words might stand out to him.

Greater things. He would remember that Jesus told them when they were together that they would do greater things because of the Holy Spirit. Peter and the rest of the early believers and followers of Jesus would obey and wait for the Holy Spirit in that room. And it seems to me that being in that room together, praying constantly, would help them do just that.

But perhaps one of the greatest struggles might have been reconciling how to believe Jesus when he said that having the Holy Spirit in them Would be better than the living Jesus beside them. Let’s jump quickly into Acts two. If you have your Bible in front of you. I’m gonna start right off the top.

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent one 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.

Now there were, staying in Jerusalem, God fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one had heard their own voice. Language being spoken. 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?

Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt, and the parts of Libya near Cyrene, Visitors from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues. Amazed and perplexed, they ask one another, what does this mean?

Some, however, made fun of them and said, they’ve just had a little too much wine. Then Peter stood up with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd. Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you. Listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk, as you suppose.

It’s only nine in the morning. No, this is what was spoken about by the Prophet Joel. When he said, 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, and your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my spirit in those days.

And they will prophesy, I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs in the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord.

Fellow Israelites, listen to this. Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did among you through him as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge, and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.

But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death. Because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. Skipping ahead now to verse 32. God has raised this Jesus to life and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the father, the promised Holy Spirit, and has poured out what you now see and hear.

And then jumping to verse 36. Therefore, let all Israel be assured of this, God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah. When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, brothers, what shall we do? Peter replied, repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you’ll receive.

The gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and all who are far off. For all whom the Lord our God will call. With many other words, he warmed them and he pleaded with them, save yourselves from this corrupt generation. Those who accepted his message were baptized and about 3, 000 were added to their number that day.

Father God, as we dive in together,

Father your wisdom. Your will, Lord Jesus, your work and your word and Holy Spirit, your wisdom, your power, your peace today. Amen. You see this group of believers who were waiting and praying together in the upper room knew they were on the lookout for something extraordinary, the Holy Spirit. And I would suggest that the wind, the blowing violent, blowing wind and the tongues of fire and the declarations of praise in every single language that was represented there were not everyday occurrences.

This is extraordinary. And Peter and the other disciples know that it is. Their words are given power and authority and they stand as witnesses. together. But I want to know if you see what I see. There’s a theme. These Jesus followers are almost always together. Let’s look when Jesus promised the Holy Spirit, this is now before he was actually crucified, This is from John 14.

If you love me, keep my commands and I will ask the father and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever, the spirit of truth. But the world cannot accept him because it neither sees him nor knows him, but you know him for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans.

I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me because I live, you also will live. On that day, you will realize that I am in my father and you are in me. And I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.

Then Judas, not Judas is scary it said to the Lord, but Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world? Jesus replied, anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My father will love them and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching.

These words you hear are not my own. They belong to the father who sent me. All this I’ve spoken while still with you, but the advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace, I leave with you. My peace, I give you.

I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be sad. afraid. This promise is given to them when they’re together. Then, really quickly, just before Jesus ascended to heaven, he is now at this point in time he’s been raised from the dead. He has spent 40 days revealing himself to people, making appearances, over 500 that we can tell.

And now it’s just before he’s getting ready to ascend to heaven. Amen. This day between the day 40 and 50 and they’re having a meal, of course, they’re having a meal. Jesus enjoyed gathering around tables. This is from Acts 1, 4 through 8. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command.

Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Then they gathered around him and they asked him, Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom of Israel?

They are still looking at this point for this kingdom to come right then right now. And his answer to this question about his kingdom And what’s next is, it is not for you to know the times or the dates. The father is set by his own authority, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.

They were together again, when Jesus commanded them, wait for the Holy Spirit. And do you see the kingdom plan? It isn’t about their own. Cushy lives. It’s not about everything being perfect and in place. The Holy Spirit is to come to give power to be witnesses. So then, finally, when they obey Jesus, they are waiting on the Holy Spirit.

This is, they’re all up in the upper room together from Acts 1, 12 through 14. Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James, the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas, son of James.

They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary, the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. These men and women were together. We experienced the Holy Spirit When we gather together, gather when waiting and praying. And celebrating together might be better than doing it alone.

If you weren’t here a couple of weeks ago, when we celebrated the baptisms on Pentecost Sunday, I’m so sorry you missed it. It was really a beautiful time together. I’m not going to lie. Actually, when we were doing the baptisms, we do them right up here in the corner. And I elbowed my way. up here.

We had, it was like a mosh pit. I elbowed my way up here and I took some close up photos because one of the teens in our life group was being baptized by my husband and I just wanted to get the closeups, the good shots. And I after I did that, I texted the pictures to the group. And then all of us spilled that into the foyer out there and over into the breezeway and we had hamburgers and hot dogs and you brought food.

There were tables full of homemade dishes and desserts and all the good things. We were together and we made it a party. And I think it made Jesus smile. I was full of emotion, not just because we were together with great food and celebrating these decisions to follow Jesus. Yes, but because as I walked past table after table, I saw so many faces of people that I know who are in tough life places right now, maybe similar to how those followers of Jesus felt in the upper room.

Maybe the picture you imagined life would be, what it would look like, how the kids would turn out, it just isn’t coming to be. I saw us, and I know only a fraction of the stories, but I know enough. In spite of hard life stuff, we still came together. We sat side by side, and I saw us encourage each other, pray for each other, and share a life gathered.

Round tables. Sky Ani shares it this way when he says, sharing a meal is a bodily social, creative, and spiritual act, perhaps second only to sex in its power to form bonds. A church that ignores this power or uses it in a manner contrary to the gospel, does so to its own peril, but for Christians who recognize the formative power of the table, it can be used by God to shape their lives and community.

in unimaginably beautiful ways. So later that evening I get home, we clean up here. I put my feet up and I grabbed my phone for the first time. And our life group has been hearting pictures and all these sorts of things. And I got this text. I, oh and names are used with permission. Just so you all know

I love that we were all in town, all well and all there to share with. Share this with you, Bens. I love that. One of us who have seen Jack grow up was the one who baptized him. I felt as happy as I did or would if Jack was my own son. And when I realized that through my own happy tears, I felt a new wave of gratitude.

That family of God isn’t just a sweet christiany thing. We toss around. You are my family and it was a joy to celebrate with you today. Let me just cut to the chase about something. Our life group has amazing times. We have laughed until we have cried together, but we have also walked through hard things from cancer to job loss to depression, and we have experienced the Holy Spirit through each other’s words, through each other’s prayers, and then he’s used us in each other’s lives.

Now, I can hear some of you in the room right now because I keep saying the word together, and maybe you’re an introvert and you’re squirming right now. Okay, Andrea, great. I’m an introvert. You’re an extrovert. You love being with people, which I do. But you might be thinking this overwhelms me.

Or maybe actually you don’t have a problem being with groups and with people, but you’ve been hurt before. I get that, and I’m urging you to try again. We mess up, you’re gonna mess up. We’re human. We set unrealistic expectations for each other, but I promise you it’s worth another try. And please don’t hear me saying that gatherings of over 200 are where it has to happen, but we are human and we’re not wired physically, mentally, or spiritually to walk through this life alone.

And I think baby steps are okay. So even a coffee with a friend or a play date with a couple of other people at the park is a step. That’s why we have the circle signups out there. It’s to make space for you to come together and to get to know each other. And as Alex shared earlier, it’s why we’re doing summer nights at South starting this Wednesday.

We’re going to come and meet around tables. We’re going to have food. We’re going to pray for each other and we’re going to stand by each other. Another way that we experience the Holy Spirit is when we grow and serve. And I’m going to say the word.

We experience the Holy Spirit by saying yes to him at work through us here at South. Gathered hearts and minds will discover extraordinary opportunities that lead to growth. I’m going to dive really quick into the last six verses. We didn’t read them before in Acts two. They devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching and to fellowship and to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the Apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and they ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.

And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. See, the Holy Spirit was given to remind and teach these early believers to give them power and authority for the purpose of being a witness of Jesus and his gospel message to their community, their city, surrounding cities, and the world.

These things that they did together were to help them grow closer to God and to each other and to live lives that would invite those far away. closer to Jesus. The Holy Spirit also equipped them with spiritual gifts for the specific purpose of this work. That is gonna, that’s a whole other series you guys, but if you’re at all curious, and you don’t know what your spiritual gifts are there’s some reading in 1st Corinthians 12 through 14, Romans 4.

These gifts are not by the way, just given to people who are in full time ministry. They’re for every one of us. And if you’re not sure what your gifts are, I just really encourage you to touch base with one of our staff, or you can look up all kinds of tests and resources online. But I’m going to beat the together drum again.

These early followers gathered around Jesus. They lived in extremely close proximity for over three years and they had become a family. The invitation from Jesus wasn’t just to a one on one relationship, but was to a new family of believers headed in a new direction with a new purpose. Being part of a local church family might be that there’s places here at South or wherever you might call your church home.

That would benefit from your experiences, your time, and your unique giftings. That’s why you guys might see some Servant South forms. located on your chairs. Those are just some of the opportunities that we have here at South. And some of you, you already I’m going to say this. Some of you are already a little over committed here at South.

You need to make space for those who are not so committed to say yes. Because they’re going to be better and we’re going to be better when everybody says yes and serves. You guys, we don’t need volunteers for kids ministry and we don’t need volunteers for student ministry and we don’t need volunteers for the food bank.

We need this family, this body of South, in this season. To say yes to serving our family. To use our gifts to make an eternal difference here. Because the Holy Spirit will grow us as He uses us in the lives of others. I sat down about three weeks ago with Kathy, our kids ministry director, and she looked at me and she said, I don’t know how I’m going to do it.

But by faith, I’m opening another room. We’re exploding in kids ministry. That’s amazing. And we gotta open up another room. We gotta do a well. That’s a need. We could use another 15 or 20 individuals regular to help out with making coffee and donuts and welcoming and praying with people on Sunday mornings.

That’s a need. Take the list with you. Please don’t make any decisions. Go home and pray and listen.

Can you imagine what it would look like if every member, every person who calls this place home said yes to serving somewhere?

Another way that we might experience the Holy Spirit. Is by getting out there when we experience the Holy Spirit by saying yes to him At work through us out there gathered hearts and minds will discover again extraordinary opportunities That lead to growth if we take a look at what we saw in acts 2 again These this is verse 41 and 47 Those who accepted his message were baptized and about 3 000 were added to their number that day And then in verse 47 the lord added to their number daily Those who were being saved When the Holy Spirit leads and empowers, it is not without effect.

Specifically here, we see that they grew in number. Peter’s message, as I’ve already shared, has been given authority and empowered. And his preaching, along with the teaching of the other disciples, resulted in significant and immediate growth, and then that continuous and ongoing growth. But the early church quickly encounters some struggles.

In Acts 6, we learn that they are trying to care for the poor and the widows. And there was some unequal distribution of resources going on. So processes and people were put in place. To allow the early church to help serve the world around them, and they did this very well. Their numbers grew, the message of the gospel was taken to the ends of the earth as they knew it, just as Jesus had told them.

Joseph Hellermann says it like this, Because the early Christians lived out church as God intended it, the whole Roman Empire ultimately bowed its knee to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Millions were genuinely converted. So about a year and a half ago, our local outreach team began to imagine a new way to invite each other to show up in the world around us, practically, relationally, and spiritually.

We prayed together, and then we waited, and we listened. We began to dream about what it would look like to spark a neighbor loving movement here at South. We’re calling it to the TOGETHER teams, and here’s an example of a recent experience that came together in May.

Maybe not. Oop, video. Can you do that in the tech booth?

Our small group were talking about things that we could do to be Jesus with feet on and, and be able to help the community. We decided our small group would want to do this together. So we got together, we asked, who would be willing to volunteer. They could come help set up on a Friday.

Then they could come today and just read and welcome people and whatnot. My women’s Bible study, all those women came. We had family members come. We had kids come. We had some grandkids come. It was a whole community. of people that came together to make this work. We’ve done it four times and it’s just been amazing.

It’s, God is so good at providing the clothes that we need when we need it. At these events, we’ve had hundreds of people come. There’s about 60 to 70 that have come today, but there’s just so much energy. There’s 50 bags of clothes that we had to go through, some coming from Renewed Treasures, but a lot coming just from neighbors and just the community that are bringing the bags, probably a thousand dollars worth of clothes.

And really the whole idea was just to be welcoming, to let them know that God loves them, that we love them, that we see them, we know them, we want them to feel treasured, and we want to help. The most exciting thing about this is that it is really church members doing their own ministry. Even though we’re in the church today, there’s really no church staff here today.

It is our small group doing their own ministry here in the building. When I heard about the church launching the together teams, it was just perfect. It was exactly what we were looking to do. So I made the call to the church. We talked about the project. So we actually were able to get seed money to fund this.

And it was just, it was awesome. It was, we were able to just bring everything together, make it happen.

Yeah, so fun.

Can you guys imagine what it would look like if every single. One of us decided to coordinate and complete a Together Team project, maybe just once a year. And can you imagine our entire church family with eyes wide open, looking for opportunities to invite our friends and our family, whether they come here or not, to participate in a Together Team experience that would meet practical, relational, and spiritual needs?

If your curiosity is piqued even a little bit, please see the together team table. It’s over here and the outreach team is wearing blue shirts today. Perhaps you might say yes to what the Holy Spirit might want to do through a neighbor loving movement outside of South, out there. In the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit worked 40 specific miracles through the apostles.

And 39 of them were outside of the church. The apostles understood the church to be a movement birthed by the mighty rushing wind of the Spirit of God, not an institution, a place to go, or something to go sit through according to J. D. Greer. We’ve talked today what it looks like to experience the Holy Spirit as we gather, grow, and serve and go out there together.

And as hard as it is to process, Jesus was right when he said that we would do greater things and that it would be better to have the living Holy Spirit in each of us than the living Jesus walking beside one of us.

So family, please don’t settle for a half empowered relationship with a living God and a risen Savior who calls you his beloved. The Holy Spirit is in you if you follow Jesus. Maybe ask him to tune your ears and your eyes and your heart to where the Holy Spirit is at work in your life. Ask him to fill you anew and ask him to show you the width and the depth and the breath of his love and his power and his peace.

He will meet you right where you are right now. But maybe you’re here and you can’t even think about gathering with other people or growing by serving together or going and doing a neighbor loving project because the walls of life feel a little bit like they’re closing in on you. God’s shoulders are big enough for that.

And maybe at one time your relationship with Jesus was new and it was fresh and it almost felt electric. But you’ve wandered or you’re doubting or you’re just weary. Maybe. God’s shoulders are big enough for that. Or perhaps you’re here and you’ve been pulling the thread on stepping into a relationship with Jesus.

We’re just not quite sure yet. If any of these resonate with you, I wonder if you’re brave enough, if you might pray a simple prayer. My flower child mother prayed back in 1969. See, she was driving on the I 5, I believe it was, from San Diego, from LA to San Diego. She had been invited to a weekend of meetings at a church and she was discounting enthusiastically why it was all wrong.

She pulled off the interstate into a scenic overlook and the ocean waves were crashing in. She couldn’t see the waves because it was 5 a. m. and it was still dark and the fog was there, but she heard them and she felt the breeze on her face and she very quietly said, if you’re real God, make yourself real to me, prove it, please.

Because I think I really need you. And then these are her words as she shared what happened next. Instantly tears streamed down my face. A peace I couldn’t explain came over me. And everything just changed. I had met God, and I knew He loved and cared for me and watched over my entire life. Sometimes I think it’s simple prayers like that, and our relationship with Jesus, and these cries of our heart that are our foundation.

And that foundation ultimately is you. brings us back to this table. This is Jesus table, and we’re invited to take it together. Again from Sky Jothani, he says,

Jesus was offering himself as a sacrifice for the world’s sins and through his death, opening a way for us to be united with God and one another. For that reason, this meal has always been central to the Christian life, and any exploration of the church must consider Christ’s table, its meaning, its place in our worship, and how it forms our life with God and one another.

If you’re a follower of Jesus, this table is for you. Today, though, we’re going to take the elements together. So go ahead and please feel like you can go ahead and come up, take the bread and the wine, and then take them back to your seats. And we’ll go ahead and partake together.