Pentecost: The Power of God in Your Life
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[Darris] You're in church, the temperature drops and a sudden gust of wind comes through the windows. Papers start flying everywhere. You see sparks and fire appearing in the room like flickering tongues of fire over the heads of everyone. You each look around in shock. No one has seen anything like this before.
People begin to speak in languages like French, German or Spanish. Suddenly there is a burst of excitement and wonder at this strange, yet miraculous event.
We find a similar scene described in the book of Acts. It is the Day of Pentecost, one of God's annual Holy Days. What does this event teach us about God's purpose for you? This event is a key to unlocking your understanding of the gospel of the Kingdom of God. Stay tuned to Beyond Today as we reveal the meaning of "Pentecost: The Power of God in Your Life."
[Announcer] Join our host, Darris McNeely and his guests, as they help you understand your future on Beyond Today !
[Darris] Change is something God wants us to do. But He doesn't expect us to do it alone. Neither does He expect us to rely on a lot of self-help ideas and techniques. God wants us to live successful positive lives and He promises us the help we need to transform our lives into the vibrant happy lives we desire but often find so elusive.
The dramatic events of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2, with tongues of fire descending on the congregation, lay out the way by which we can make changes - the most critical and lasting changes in our life. The kind of change that leads to eternal life in the Kingdom of God. Let's look at what Jesus said would create the change and how it worked in the life of one of His followers.
Jesus Christ promised His disciples the help that they would need to live transformed lives. He said, "…the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you" (John 14:26). On the night before His death Christ revealed the promise of the Holy Spirit.
And several times in clear language Jesus told His followers that His death, resurrection and ascension was necessary so that "the Helper" as He called it, would come to them (John 16:7). This Power, this Spirit, would be the means by which they could overcome the world just as He had overcome the world (John 16:33).
Serious events were happening that night. Religious leaders were plotting. The crowds following Jesus were agitating for change. And among His closest disciples, the stress was beginning to show. Christ encouraged them again. He said, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." And then, perhaps in the most profound statement of the night Christ told them that He was going away and coming back. He said, "I am going to the Father, for my Father is greater than I" (John 14:27-28).
One disciple listening on that very serious evening would be an example of the transformation that was coming. It was the apostle Peter. Peter would sink to the depths of despair and then recover and help lead the greatest beginning in history, the beginning of the Church Christ promised He would build. Peter would stand up in the crowd and deliver a powerfully eloquent sermon.
In Acts chapter 2 we see that Peter did do that. He stood up among the disciples and he delivered an inspired message to thousands who were astonished at the site of the disciples speaking in the many different languages. The Jews who were around and watching this, they thought the disciples were drunk. But Peter said, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only [9 o'clock in the morning]" (Acts 2:14-15).
That Peter gave this sermon is not surprising. He was after all, a leader among the disciples. He was always having something to say when other disciples would keep quiet. But a few weeks earlier, on the night Christ was arrested by the Roman authorities, Peter had acted in a very cowardly manner that would have caused any other man to probably collapse in depression and remorse.
This action, at the most critical moment of Christ's earthly life, would highlight the underperforming life that Peter had been living. It is a powerful lesson for you and for myself to learn. You see, God cares so much that we succeed that He carries us more than we might realize. And God carried Peter on that occasion.
Christ predicted Peter - who's also called Simon - He predicted that he would betray Him when the pressure got bad. A few hours before it happened Jesus said to him, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith [would] not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren." But, we find Peter replying to Christ, he said, "Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death." But Christ said to him with a note of finality, He said, "I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this [night] before you will deny [me] three times that you know me" (Luke 22:31-34).
Those are pretty strong words. And you know, what Christ predicted came to pass. After Christ's arrest and while He was being shuffled between the Jewish and the Roman authorities Peter, who was following close behind, did exactly as Christ predicted.
Around a fire in a courtyard at the high priest's home, Peter was sitting. There was a young girl there. She recognized him as one of Christ's followers. She said, "this man, this man was also with Him." Quickly, he said, "Woman, I do not know Him." (Luke 22:56-57)
A little while later another voice from the crowd around the fire said, "You're also one of them." And Peter vehemently denied that he was a follower of Jesus. He said, "Man, I am not!" (Luke 22:58)
About an hour passed. Jesus' interrogation continued on within the house probably in sight of Peter and the others. Another man saw Peter sitting there and he confidently pointed to Peter and he said, "Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean." (Luke 22:59-60)
One last time we see Peter rising up in denial and he shouted, "Man I do not know what you are saying!" And at that moment, from the inner rooms, Christ heard the crowing of the rooster, He turned. He looked at Peter. And in that look, at that moment, Peter's whole world fell apart. Can you imagine your Savior turning and looking at you like that? Peter was exposed for what he was. He was humiliated in the presence of the Man whose admiration and esteem meant more to him than anyone.
For more than three years Peter had sought the approval and the friendship of Christ. Peter labored to prove himself worthy of Christ's respect. But Peter had never quite seen his own weakness and vulnerable spot. And it took this experience to bring it out.
It says that Peter went out and he wept bitterly. Now later events would prove that this was going to be and was indeed a turning point in Peter's life. Peter would begin changing and in the end, he would be a different person. The power of the Holy Spirit could change his life.
The power that transformed Peter and the disciples is available to you today. It's the power Christ promised would come. You can have that power in your life as well.
You see, the story of how your life can be changed by closer contact with Jesus Christ is told in a free study aid that we are offering today on this program called: The Church Jesus Built . Jesus Christ is the head of the spiritual house that He is guiding today. You can be a part of that Church and what Christ is doing with each person He adds to the Church. But don't assume that you know all there is to know about this Church. This study aid will show you a path to personal transformation unlike any you can imagine. I'll tell you more about it later in the program - and you can order it anytime you like - right now or after the program.
Peter had denied Christ three times and he was devastated but not quite broken. How about you? Have you ever been discouraged because of the way that you are? Depressed because life has dealt you a bad hand and you can't overcome it? Or emotionally shattered and can't seem to find a way forward?
Sure you have. And even if you answer "no" to all those questions, don't think that you may never get to that point. We all may find ourselves where Peter was. The key to success is knowing how to find your way back.
Remember what Christ said to Peter? He said, "when you have returned to Me, strengthen the brethren." Peter did return to Christ. Christ encouraged Peter to "feed My sheep" (John 21:15-19). Peter finally got it! He saw himself as Christ saw him and came around to the point where he could strengthen people struggling with life - just like he was.
Peter stood with the 11 apostles and he called the audience to listen carefully to his words. The disciples who were speaking in other languages and excited about what was occurring, they were not drunk with too much alcohol. The scene there in Acts, in Jerusalem, was foretold by what the prophet Joel, who wrote that God would "pour out His Spirit on mankind" (Joel 2:28). The result would be inspired living by people of all ages. Men and women of all times would have opportunity to call on God in spirit and in truth. God's Spirit of love, peace and a sound mind would provide clear-minded thinking to enrich a life and help to create a life as God intended, a life fashioned and molded in the image of Christ.
Listening that morning the crowd was stunned to hear that the Jesus of Nazareth whom they had seen and heard was the One sent from God to show them not only the Father but how to live as His children. Those who had watched Christ teach the masses, heal the sick and the crippled, command evil spirits to leave the mentally tormented were now learning that they had seen God walking among them.
Peter's message that morning was full of hope.aa It was a message that God can restore the years that were lost. That's why Peter was inspired to quote from a prophet of Israel's past. The promise of the Holy Spirit is a promise from God to provide the help to recover from the ravages of sin and its destructive effects.
Christ's teaching and example revealed a way of life filled with joy. It showed how to live before God and among people. It showed the only way to build a solid relationship with God.
How about your life? Are you really ready to give up the way you have been living? Ready for a change? Are you at the point where you are ready to learn a new and a different way?
Peter's message worked the crowd to a point where so many were agitated. They were worried. They were thinking and they were realizing finally just how seriously flawed their lives really were. They were no different than you and I in coming to see that there was a gaping void in their lives that needed to be filled with joy and hope and meaning. Here was a message, and for the first time showed them a way forward out of the tiny little traps of a life they had.
For the first time they were hearing words that made sense. They were hanging on a positive message that could frame the remainder of their lives. But there came a moment on which they had all had to act and decide. It was similar to the moment Peter had when he denied knowing Christ and was struck by the turn of Christ's head and that penetrating gaze.
Peter came to the moment of truth and he said, "let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36).
When those words penetrated their minds "they were cut to the heart, and they said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?'" (Acts 2:37).
This was Christ looking at them, just as He did at Peter on the night that He was betrayed. Here is Christ looking at you with a look from which you cannot turn away. What will you do?
Peter had them in the palm of his hands. He said, "Repent… let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call" (Acts 2:38-39).
On this Holy Day, this festival called Pentecost, the Church began. God began to give His Holy Spirit of power to those willing to change and look into the eyes of Christ and admit, I am a sinner. This is the beginning of transformation that can produce the quality of life that represents the Kingdom of God.
God holds out to you a promise. It is the promise of a transforming power, the power of His Holy Spirit. You can receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, a transforming power that enables us to deal with all of the challenges of everyday life. That promise begins with a desire to change how we live. Can you do that? Can you change your habits? Can you and will you come to see that your life, no matter how honest, no matter how sincere, no matter how good, you're life is still insufficient. You see, we have all fallen short of the mark of righteousness - the true godly life - that Peter summoned people to live.
To receive this Spirit you must repent, which means to change and turn to a life based on God's law and the example of Jesus. It begins inside you, winning over the desires of self and personal interests that crowds out the life of God.
Here is your challenge. Christ is looking at you, just as He did with Peter, and in His eyes is the summons to follow Him, to become a disciple, one who wholeheartedly desires to walk in His footsteps and do what He taught and practiced. It is the opportunity to change your life. The opportunity to pull out of the rut that entangles you in a world that has missed this summons of Christ to a new life based on a tried and proven way that works. That way is based on God's eternal law.
Receiving this look from Christ requires a response. Peter melted in despair on that night and he ran. But he returned, and learned from the experience, and he went on to accomplish significant things by the power of the living resurrected Christ within him. Peter summoned others by his preaching to do the same. That message is before you right now. The challenge is to turn around and face Christ and meet His look. Turn toward God and let your eyes meet Him in willing obedience and surrender of your life to Him.
You can change and your life can be transformed by this power. It's the power of the Holy Spirit given on that Day of Pentecost . Christ said He would not leave His disciples without help, a comforter sent from the Father. And on the Day of Pentecost He dramatically fulfilled His promise. The Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and the Church of God began. To be a part of that Church you must begin to keep this festival.
Next up, we are going to discuss how to make changes in your life. Fellow Beyond Today host, Steve Myers will be joining me and he'll show you how we can make personal change in our modern world that is so filled with distraction. And we'll see how to really change our lives through the power of God's Spirit. But first, let me tell you about our free offer for today.
In this story of Pentecost we see the start of the Church of God. It was the beginning of the Church that exists today. Jesus Christ is the head of this Church. It is a spiritual body of believers and the fascinating story is told in this free study guide that we are offering today, The Church Jesus Built . You may think you know the story of this Church, but this booklet will take you on a study through the Scriptures to understand what the Bible says about the Church Jesus Christ heads today and how it can change your life. There is an entire chapter in this booklet on spiritual transformation ! It is going to help you a great deal.
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I'm joined now by my fellow Beyond Today host, Steve Myers. Steve, as we talk about one's life being transformed and changes, I know someone is asking the question that is, and saying that is pretty difficult. Why…
[Steve] It is really difficult.
[Darris] Why is it so difficult to change your life?
[Steve] Change is tough. You know, you have got your whole life experience and somehow you have got to look at it and say, you know, this is not working. And that's a tough thing to do because we often times want to blame maybe our parents. We want to blame our situation. We have challenges that we're faced, that we really don't see a way out. And to come to the point to say, this isn't working and I need to do something about it. It is, it's monumental! It is monumental to try to do that. You can look up Psychology Today , read all kinds of scientific articles. You can look at the psychologists and read about them and they say how difficult it is to do that. And so if you don't recognize you've got a problem, how are you going to change? It is just, it's just a difficult challenge.
[Darris] I know I have an article in my files that talks about change and it makes the point, and the reason I even put it in my files and kept it - it says that, most people don't make a change until some crisis hits them, something really, maybe a health emergency, and then they change. Otherwise, the good resolutions, it all just don't seem to make it.
[Steve] Yeah that was reminding me of what it says in Romans 8:13. It talks about living according to the flesh. You know if we, we just live by a physical perspective, He says here, we will die! But if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you'll live. So recognizing that need, that if I continue in this way, this is not the solution to my problems. I've got to change that and recognize that. That I need help and that help doesn't come from within automatically. That's something that's got to come from God.
[Darris] Which is why Christ said that He would send a comforter, a help, the Holy Spirit. He would not leave people alone. Don't be afraid. That's really the most important step. That's the most important plan. It takes God's Spirit but how do you get that Spirit?
[Steve] Yeah I think that's interesting because in any situation, let's say it's an addiction. You've got to recognize you've got a problem.
[Darris] Number one.
[Steve] Once you recognized you've got that problem, okay we do that spiritually - I need help. If I'm going to change and overcome, I need help. I need God's Holy Spirit. Well in order to get that, well if you're watching this today, God's probably working with you! And John 6:44 says, the Father has to draw you to Christ. Once that process begins and we recognize that need, God draws us and then we've got to do something about that calling. He calls us into His way. So that means, I've got to repent and be baptized. In fact, that's kind of the lesson that you were talking about on Pentecost.
[Darris] It is. That is what Peter said, repent is a word people don't always understand today. And it's a hard word to put your mind around especially a modern mind to understand what - repent from what? Repent of what? What does that mean? What do you think it means to a modern mind?
[Steve] Well if you go back to this section of Romans 8, it means changing from this physical perspective to try to put on a spiritual frame of mind. Paul said, I should have that mind of Christ. Well, where am I going to get the mind of Christ? Well, I need God's Spirit to change my perspective. And so I've got to change my thinking and that's essentially what repent is all about - changing my way of thinking, from my way to God's way. Galatians 2:20 says I have to be crucified with Christ and yet I am living, but Christ is doing the living within me!
[Darris] And the life I now live, I live by the life of the Son of God, Jesus Christ in me.
[Steve] And so in that sense I am putting away the physical and I am being transformed into thinking God's way and that's why I need the Holy Spirit. God's got to give me that Holy Spirit - I can't work it up. I have got to repent, and be baptized, have hands laid on me and have the gift of the Holy Spirit given to me.
[Darris] Probably for a religious-minded person watching our program, you're talking here in language that they may not relate to - the Holy Spirit being a power. Being something that God gives to us as a gift as we obey Him and as we repent. That's a different way than how people, most religious people will look at the Holy Spirit and yet it is God's power within us. What is really the role of God's Spirit then in our life today?
[Steve] You know, I believe once we've received God's Spirit , it is His power. It does change lives. It is what works in us and when we think about what it accomplishes, it gives us that opportunity to draw closer to God, to have a spiritual relationship with Him, that we can understand more about what His will is, what His purpose for us is. Helps us to understand this Word so we can read the Bible with a lot deeper understanding. And when we begin to do that, then we see the need to change. We see the shortcomings in our life and through God's Spirit that helps us to overcome. It helps us to change. It convicts us. It works with us. It helps us to see where we need to realign our lives to God's way.
And so it does all those amazing things that then turns it around from sin to be able to produce God's fruit in our life. So that we can have the fruit of the Spirit rather than living by just our physical outlook. And so those are amazing changes that God allows us to happen, or to happen in our lives because of His Spirit.
[Darris] One of the most encouraging parts of, I think, or descriptions the Bible offers is what Paul said to Timothy. Where he said, God has not given us the spirit of fear but of love and of power and of a sound mind. So, it's serious. It's important but it is available and it is something you need to think seriously about.
And so, remember the free offers that we've been offering today. You're going to want to get your own copy of our booklet, The Church Jesus Built as well as your free subscription to The Good News . You can call the toll free number on your screen. That is: 1-888-886-8632. 1-888-886-8632. Or, you can go online and order or read both online at BeyondToday.tv . And I you want to write to us please do so by sending any request or any other comment to us at the address that's on your screen [Beyond Today, PO BOX 541027, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45254, USA].
The Day of Pentecost pictures the only way you can really change your life. You need the power of God's Spirit working with you to be the type of person God wants you to be. Remember Peter: With the help of God's Spirit he went from being an underachieving disciple to being a bold apostle of Jesus Christ and a representative of the Kingdom of God. You too can experience this change in your life with the power of God's Holy Spirit through the miracle pictured by the Day of Pentecost.
I'll be right back after this:
[Narrator] "You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for generations to come" (Exodus 31:13).
The Sabbath is a key to the Kingdom of God. The New Testament book of Hebrews says, "There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God ."
Jesus and His followers kept the Sabbath and they still do today. God commands us to pause and reflect on His way of life. Take a break from the fast paced action of this world. Experience a rejuvenation of the mind and grow closer to Him. Join us as we explore the Sabbath and show how it is a key to the Kingdom of God.
The United Church of God is hosting free Kingdom of God Bible Seminars held around the world. Go to KOGSeminars.org to find one near you. Kingdom of God Bible Seminars - giving the message of hope for tomorrow - beginning today!
[Darris] Thanks for joining us. And don't forget our free offers and be sure and tell your family and friends about us. Tune in again next week for another edition of Beyond Today and join us in praying, "Thy Kingdom come." For Beyond Today I'm Darris McNeely. Thanks for watching.
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