Watercolor painting by E. J. Kirsch

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May 20, 2018

“The Work of the Holy Spirit” 5-20-18

Acts 2:1-11 & I Samuel 18:1-13
May 20, 2018 Pentecost

Today is Pentecost, which in Christianity is the day we honor and celebrate the presence and work of the Holy Spirit.
The definitive bible text on the Holy Spirit is Acts 2, the first 11 verses of which we read as our first lesson.  In that passage, we see that the Holy Spirit came with power on the apostles on that day, and we see the major or general work of the spirit, we see the aim of the Holy Spirit.
We see it not so much in the strange apparitions of the flames or tongues of fire that appeared over the heads of the apostles, but we see it in that weirdness that accompanied the flames: that each of those men were enabled to preach about Jesus in a language that they did not know, but that was a native language of some who were in Jerusalem that day.
We are told that this happened on the day of Pentecost, which was originally a Jewish holiday, which is today mostly called Shavuot.  It occurred on the 50th day after Passover, so it became known as the feast of weeks, occurring just after 49 days, or 7 weeks or a week of weeks after Passover.  In the days when many Jews spoke Greek, it came to be known as Pentecost, a Greek name.
For Jews, the feast of weeks had two meanings.  It was the day they celebrated the beginning of the Wheat Harvest, and it was the day they celebrated the Law being given by God to Moses on Mt Sinai.
But on the Pentecost that occurred 49 or 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus, or the 7th Sunday after the first Easter, The Holy Spirit came on the Apostles in a new way and they began to preach about Jesus in foreign languages.  At the end of that day, about 3,000 people were baptized upon profession of Faith in Jesus.
As I said earlier, this event displays for us the main work of the Holy Spirit: that it is to glorify God and especially to cause People to believe in Jesus.
But this involves many different duties for the Spirit, some of which started ages before Jesus was born.
If you look at the verse from I Samuel 16 that is printed on the bulletin cover, you will see that the Spirit is described as coming on or into David at the time of his being anointed to be king by Samuel and remaining on him from that day forward.
This means that the Spirit was with David as he faced Goliath, and in the passage which is our second reading.  At first glance, I Samuel 18 seems to contain only a series of events that occurred in the life of David after his victory over Goliath.
It is recorded that Jonathan, Saul’s firstborn son, and a favorite of the people, became a close friend of David.  As the firstborn son of the king, it was not in his best interest to be the best friend of one who was more popular than the king.
But Jonathan and David were drawn together by the Spirit.  It was also the Spirit of God that caused David to be favored and praised by the people.
And it was the Spirit in David that caused King Saul, who was at least partially led by an evil spirit, to hate David.
Today we see people like Andrew Brunson and Zhang Kai hated by people who will not follow and please God partially because their lives demonstrate that they are led by the Holy Spirit.
As the Spirit works to glorify Jesus and cause people to believe in Jesus, he first works in people to form friendships, to be attracted to people who have the spirit, or evil natures or spirits cause people to hate those who are led by the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes those who are directed by the Holy Spirit are recognized not only by those who love them, but also by those who hate them and fear them.
Sometimes when we don’t see or feel the Spirit of God working in our lives, it is because we are not looking broadly enough at what is happening in our lives or at the relationships we are forming.
The Holy Spirit of God was working in David a millennium before the Son of God came into the world as Jesus.  The Spirit was working in David to make him a fit ancestor of Jesus and to make him a worthy prototype of the Messiah.  We see the inspiration of the Spirit in the stories about David, and in the Psalms David wrote.
But even way back then, as the Spirit worked in the life of David, and Jonathan, He was engaged in bring glory to God and in causing people to believe in Jesus through what the Spirit had done in the life and writings of David.
When we do acknowledge that the Spirit is at work in our lives, we need to remember that goal of the Spirit, to bring people to faith in Jesus.
And that is why we celebrate the Lord’s Supper on Pentecost.  We honor the Death of Jesus on this day, because we would not have believed in Jesus or the forgiveness we gain from his death by ourselves or even by listening to the greatest sermons ever preached.  It was the Holy Spirit of God who gave us the faith to believe that Jesus died for us.  It was the Spirit who brought us to the Savior.
And now the Spirit works in us to bring others to Jesus.


Pastor David Horner
Faith Presbyterian Church
West Lafayette, IN 47906