Message for Sunday 9 June 2019: “Spectacular Spirit”

Welcome to magnificent Pentecost, illustrated by today’s lectionary in Acts 2: 1-21. You’re invited to celebrate the core of spirit, which is God’s essence. Emphasizing spirituality is crucial because God is spirit. You are created in God’s image, and as such you can connect with the Almighty on a fundamental level.

Jesus promised that shortly after his departure he would send the marvelous Holy Spirit. Jesus reassured his struggling followers because he didn’t want them to be powerless. Amid persecution from both Jewish and Roman authorities, the early Christians faced horrendous opposition. To keep the young church alive, Jesus realized that his disciples needed help. This explains why he connected them to God’s spiritual power.

Strange events occurred on Pentecost: Flames of fire appeared and people spoke foreign languages without prior knowledge. The astonished witnesses to all this were gathered in a wonderful awakening. Peter, Jesus’ closest friend, stood up and explained that even greater things would happen, such as prophecies and diverse signs and wonders. What a scene!

Are you confused and perplexed about all the spirit talk and miraculous claims? If so, then you’re not alone. There is much controversy about the role and presence of the Holy Spirit. Christians are divided more than ever about these issues. Some argue that we should expect the same miracles as described in Acts. In this perspective, God’s Spirit is ready to similarly perform great feats today. The claim is that exercising spiritual power requires an equally strong faith, which seems to be rare hence the reason that miracles are not as widespread as they could and should be.

What about people of faith who challenge claims of dramatic miracles?  This camp often suggests that the age of intense miracles is long over, if it ever existed, and that God uses other, more subtle means to empower believers. The argument is that conditions were “special” long ago and God doesn’t need to continue performing parlor tricks. The danger in this latter position is that it ignores or diminishes the Holy Spirit. On the other side, placing too much emphasis on miracles in the Bible can distract from more legitimate priorities.

There’s no doubt that God’s Spirit is within you, me, and other believers. It’s worth exploring the wondrous things that can happen when you open yourself to spirit fulfillment. Widen the gaze of your understanding and resist ignoring fulfillment by God’s Spirit. Many believers resist spiritual empowerment because it isn’t aligned with their personality or worship style. In this case, God may be inviting these persons to broaden their perceptions. Don’t allow how you were raised and indoctrinated into Christianity to determine what God can do; God exceeds timid expectations. To realize your full potential, you’re invited to grow in a challenging new direction.

As an awakened Christian, choose to let God do great things in you and through you. Overcome resistance. Advance and keep your faith alive by claiming God’s promises (rather than relegating them as irrelevant or as ancient fiction). You will strengthen your spirit when you embrace the promise of God’s marvelous presence. Never give-up on moving-up. Set goals that promote God’s kingdom and that challenge you to become a more compassionate disciple of the Lord.

What’s the point of perpetuating a dry, withering religion that is dull and goes nowhere? Demonstrate to the world that faith can be more relevant and exciting. The world is watching you and so is God. Better it is to do whatever you can to demonstrate that God is alive and not trapped in dead doctrines. Celebrate Pentecost by yearning for and embracing God’s Holy Spirit. Great power and joy await your life-changing decision.     –Reverend Larry Hoxey

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