Whenever I read through the Bible I’m always awestruck by the men and women that God used build the story of the Bible. The Bible is God’s message of salvation to all people! He used people like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph to build a nation that would produce Jesus, the savior of the world. Then he used people like Moses and Joshua to lead those people out of Egypt and into the promised land. He rose up great leaders like David and Solomon to govern the nation. This is just the Old Testament! The New Testament gives up people like the Apostle Paul, the twelve disciples and of course Jesus! Specifically when we look at the founders of the church. People like Peter, Paul and Timothy, and the many others who were martyred for their outspoken faith in Jesus Christ, I am humbled that I, we get to stand in their corner.
One thing I like to say is that the Bible includes many examples of ordinary people who got to experience an extraordinary God, and while that is very true, God’s influence of their lives made them extraordinary. Peter wasn’t an ordinary man when he stood up on Pentecost and quoted the prophet Joel, shared his faith in Jesus and 3,000 people committed their lives to Jesus that day. The Apostle Paul wasn’t an ordinary man when he traveled from city to city planting churches, being beaten for his teachings, and writing divinely inspired text that would ultimately fill out the majority of our New Testament. John wasn’t ordinary when he had a vision that would detail the book of Revelation and give us a glimpse into the final days and fulfillment of Christ’s return.
The truth is these were extraordinary actions. And they’re not specifically limited to the Bible. We’ve seen the extraordinary in our own lives. I will never forget one summer at youth camp, our students were locking in an intense flag football match when a student from a different youth group went down with a nasty ankle injury. Our students stood and watched as this young lady was helped off the field and we all saw her swollen and badly bruised ankle as the nurse attended to her. Then, that night in chapel, the speaker asked if anyone needed a healing. Obviously this girl could use a healing and so she and her friends went to the front and prayed. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever had an ankle injury, but it takes a good 1-2 months to come back from, and even then there are times when you feel the injury. I’ll never forget when our Youth Director brought this girl up on the platform after they had prayed for her and she walked up the steps without the crutches she came in with, jogged across the stage and jumped when she got to the end. It was one of those moments that you’re just completely awestruck at what you’ve just seen. This wasn’t one of those phony TV gimmicks, this was a girl from a youth group just down the road from ours. No smoke and mirrors, just God being God. And it was really cool.
We all left that service impacted by the unlimited possibilities of our God, and humbled by the fact that He used one of us to do it! Another amazing story about healing is the time a good friend of mine came to the altar one Sunday morning at church. He had lower back pain, and asked for prayer. I told him that I would be happy to pray with him, I also told him that the power of healing comes from the Holy Spirit. We agreed together to ask for prayer and before either one of us said a word, his back popped and realigned and my friend was healed! I still check in regularly with my friend and today he is still pain free and completely healed!
I can tell you with 100% absolute certainty that there is nothing special about me. I’m ordinary. But I can tell you that the Holy Spirit that is in me is extraordinary! The Holy Spirit can take anyone of us and make us extraordinary!
This series is going to take a look at the Book of Acts and pick up right where the Gospels left off. Jesus has just been resurrected and has ascended into heaven. We’ve been given the great commission, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” And now we come here; Acts 1:1-5,
In my former book [Luke], Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 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. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Jesus told them to wait.
They waited, for something like 40 days, being obedient to Christ, praying and worshipping. When Acts 2:1 says,
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues x as the Spirit enabled them.
This is what a lot of Bible teachers refer to as the birth of the church. The Holy Spirit fell on the disciples, not to make them look good, powerful, or anything else… The Holy Spirit empowered them to do ministry!
The Holy Spirit empowers us for ministry
Let’s take a look at the first example of ministry that we see immediately following the first baptisms of the Holy Spirit:
5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, d 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
The Holy Spirit is for all of us!
People from EVERY NATION I love that because that tells us that the Holy Spirit didn’t come for a specific group of people! If you need further evidence of this, look no further than Romans 10:12-13,
there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.