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October 20, 2017

The Mission of Pentecost

by Matt Fray

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,

Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians--we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God." And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" But others mocking said, "They are filled with new wine."

Acts 2:5-13 (https://pcpc.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=eba67192d3a27da52e93fefb8&id=ad52221ea3&e=82a9a8f891)

John Calvin, one of the leading voices of the Protestant Reformation, is perceived by some to have been a cranky, impersonal, and dull pastor. While Calvin was likely cranky (due to chronic ailments and cultural critics), he was hardly impersonal or dull. We would be hard-pressed to find a pastor more committed to the personal pastoral care of those in his congregation and community. And in the words of the great Princeton professor B.B. Warfield, John Calvin was “the theologian of the Holy Spirit.” Where the Roman Catholic Church prized the institutional influence and power of the church, Calvin reclaimed the personal influence and power of the Holy Spirit.

Consider Calvin’s description of Pentecost from his commentary on Acts: “If God could openly and visibly descend from Heaven, His majesty could scarce more manifestly appear than in this miracle.” For Calvin, Pentecost is the miraculous appearance of God’s majesty. While God’s majesty had appeared previously in earthly phenomena (like Israel’s guiding pillar of cloud and fire) and in the physical incarnation of the Son, those previous appearances were all temporary and localized. But at Pentecost, the gift of the Holy Spirit came to all believers globally for all time, including us today.

Both of my sons celebrated birthdays during the past week, and as I write this, I am across the table from some of their gifts. While they brought smiles and activity for a day or two, they now lie unused and forgotten. In fact, the suggestions for Christmas gifts have already begun! How similar are we with the gift of the Holy Spirit? Has the majesty of the miraculous presence of the Holy Spirit grown dull in our hearts? Has our sense of need for the Holy Spirit’s influence and power been usurped by a sense of need for other things which seem more influential or powerful? Are we more interested in the tangible gifts of the Holy Spirit than in His mysterious, personal presence in us?

Ironically, it is the Holy Spirit alone who can revive our wonder, dependence, and gratitude! May we be a people praying for God to restore these things to us by His Spirit, and may we be a people eager to extend the gift of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ the Son to our world.

Holy Spirit, living Breath of God, breathe new life into my willing soul.
Bring the presence of the risen Lord to renew my heart and make me whole.
Cause Your Word to come alive in me; give me faith for what I cannot see;
Give me passion for Your purity; Holy Spirit, breathe new life in me.
- “Holy Spirit,” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

 

About the Author

Matt Fray
Assistant Pastor of Spiritual Formation
Park Cities Presbyterian Church

Matt grew up in South Florida and first sensed a call to pastoral ministry while a high school student at Park Cities Presbyterian Church (PCA), in Dallas. After graduating from St. Mark’s, Covenant College, and Westminster Seminary in California, he spent four years serving as the assistant pastor of a PCA church in Savannah, GA. In 2014, he returned to serve at PCPC as the Assistant Pastor of Spiritual Formation.

Matt and his wife Erin have three children: Lydia, Hudson, and Samuel.

 

Date: 10-18-2017

ST. THOMAS, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Nineteen Kentucky Baptists arrived in St. Thomas on Sunday afternoon to face some “extremely challenging” working conditions on the tiny Caribbean island, devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The disaster relief team of 13 males and six females, who will be serving through Oct. 29, are partnering with nine Southern Baptist churches in the Virgin Islands. The disaster relief team of 13 males and six females, who will be serving through Oct. 29, are partnering with nine Southern Baptist churches in the Virgin Islands.

The disaster relief team of 13 males and six females, who will be serving through Oct. 29, are partnering with nine Southern Baptist churches in the Virgin Islands. They will be feeding those affected by the storms and doing chainsaw and flood clean-up.

“This is an extremely challenging deployment as the team is staying at Bluewater Bible College with no electricity, running water and phone service,” said Coy Webb, director of Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief. “We are also battling difficulties getting resources on the island to support the team, such as a mobile kitchen and food supply containers,” he added.

Karen Smith, the “Blue Hat” (leader) of the Kentucky team, reported that the group was having difficulty communicating with the U.S. mainland. “Phone service is almost non-existent on island, and even texts are spotty,” she said.

Communications services and the power grid likely will be out for some time as the island’s infrastructure was destroyed.

Smith and two other Kentucky Baptists met with a Colonel for the National Guard, which is working to clear roads so food and supplies can reach people in need.

“Trees and poles down everywhere. Looks like a war zone,” Smith texted to Webb. The National Guard is open to allowing team to borrow a generator, but there is no diesel on the island, she said. 
“Fuel is major issue on the island,” she added.

Team members hope to lead workshops in food safety and mass food preparation and chainsaw training for volunteers from local Baptist churches there, so disaster relief work can continue after the group returns to Kentucky.

Local churches have been asked to provide meals with disaster relief support to schools when they reopen, which is expected to be sometime this week. Food is desperately needed on island as supplies are very limited and many people lack resources to purchase food at this time, Smith reported.

Team leaders are praying that food containers and a Southern Baptist Disaster Relief kitchen from Alabama Baptists will arrive soon, so they can begin feeding people. “The team is ready to provide 2,000 meals per day, but needs food and cooking equipment,” Smith said. “We cannot stress enough that the need is urgent.”

This is not the first Kentucky DR team to serve outside the continental United States or on an international deployment. Volunteers have worked in Sub-Sahara Africa, Greece and Iraq, according to Webb. But this is proving to be one of the most challenging.

“It’s an extremely fluid response, but the team is offering help, healing and hope as they remind those on the island that God cares about them and they are not forgotten,” said Webb, who is unsure at this time if additional teams from Kentucky will be sent to St. Thomas.

By Todd Deaton
The Western Recorder

 

October 13, 2017

The Power of Pentecost

by Mark Fulmer

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and restedOr And tongues as of fire appeared to them, distributed among them, and rested on each one of them.

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Acts 2:1-4 (https://pcpc.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=eba67192d3a27da52e93fefb8&id=b3b0885308&e=82a9a8f891)

It wasn’t even a complete sentence. Just a phrase, it would have been easy to miss. Who could blame them? In the last two months, they had shown up in Jerusalem at festival time, and the whole city turned out to meet them. But palm branches and the adoring shouts of Hosanna had given way to venomous cries for crucifixion. And in a kangaroo court in the middle of the night, their master had been condemned by his own people. Rome reluctantly complied. Keeping the peace was well worth the trouble of an afternoon execution of one innocent man.

Then for forty days, He kept showing up—alive! They had heard it from the women first, then seen it with their own eyes. Jesus had been raised from the dead. And He did what He had been doing from the beginning. He met with them, and He taught them about the Kingdom of God. Now it was time for Him to go.

That’s when He said it. Wedged between the commandment to stay put and the prophesy of their future witness, Jesus told them, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”

And they were waiting. Together. Then suddenly, the Holy Spirit rushed in. The power had come, and it was impossible to ignore. Luke tells us of the Spirit’s arrival in a few short sentences packed with truth for all of those who believe in the Lord Jesus.

Holy Spirit power was received by the believers. They didn’t engender it in themselves or think up something new. It was a gift of grace from God Almighty.

Holy Spirit power was undeniably demonstrated. The power was audible and visible. This was not a moment of God’s “still small voice,” but a moment of God’s creative and resurrecting power making dead souls alive!

Holy Spirit power was observed. People from all over the world saw the change. The believers were different. They were empowered to continue the mission of Christ. They had become the church. The power of Pentecost had been poured out.

Dear friends, the same thing happens to us when our souls are made alive by Jesus. We receive His Spirit in us, by grace alone. And it changes us. That change is demonstrated in ways that can be seen and heard. And a watching world notices. The Spirit of God in us is observed by a world that desperately needs to see Jesus.

“Let all the house of Israel know for certain the God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified”(Acts 2:36).

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About the Author

Mark Fulmer
Elder
Park Cities Presbyterian Church

Mark Fulmer is an elder at Park Cities Presbyterian Church, and along with Steve Vanderhill, teaches the New Creations Sunday School class.

 


God's Holy Fire from Heartlight

God's Holy Fire is a daily devotional about the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
  • Character in the Neighborhood of the Spirit

    We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way:... in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love;...

    2 Corinthians 6:3-6 NIV

    Key Thought

    "May I see your ID please?" We are asked this question in various ways throughout our lives. Underneath this request is a deeper question: "Can you prove who you are?" While we can list qualities and characteristics that reflect our true selves, the ultimate ID that matters is that the Holy Spirit lives within us. The Spirit is our mark of true identity (Romans 8:9). And when the Spirit is present, the qualities and characteristics of our lives will reflect the identity of Jesus in us (Galatians 5:22-23; 2 Corinthians 3:18).

    Today's Prayer

    O Father, conform me to the character and compassion of your Son Jesus, to your glory, and by the power of the Holy Spirit. I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.


    Ⓒ 1996-2017 Heartlight, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in part or whole for commercial use without written consent. The Thoughts and Prayer for God's Holy Fire are written by Phil Ware.

    Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

    Scripture quotations marked MESSAGE are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

  • Open Our Ears to the Spirit's Promise

    [In his revelation to John, Jesus said,]  "Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it."

    Revelation 2:17 NIV

    Key Thought

    The Spirit speaks to Jesus' churches and to Jesus' kingdom people. The Spirit reminds us that no matter how difficult our challenges may be, we will be sustained, shown as innocent, proven victorious, and given a new name. In a world of disease, destruction, decay, and death, the Holy Spirit assures us of everlasting life and eternal victory and new beginnings. This assurance is especially important when we face trials, temptations, and persecutions. And living in a broken world, we know these difficulties will come to all of us at one time or another. So isn't it powerful that the Spirit promises us a better future and lives in us to guarantee that better future?!

    Today's Prayer

    Almighty God, my Abba Father, thank you for your promises! Thank you for the Living Promise, the Holy Spirit, who dwells within me. I want to hear the Spirit's voice of hope and respond with faithfulness as I await the unfolding glory that is guaranteed by the Spirit's presence. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.


    Ⓒ 1996-2017 Heartlight, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in part or whole for commercial use without written consent. The Thoughts and Prayer for God's Holy Fire are written by Phil Ware.

    Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

    Scripture quotations marked MESSAGE are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.