Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday, May 31, 2009 PENTECOST Acts 2:1-21

Judas said to Him, (not the one of Iscariot), "What has happened, that to us You are about to manifest Yourself, yet not to the world?" Jesus answered and said to him, "If ever anyone loves Me (with God's love) My words He will safe-guard; and My Father will love him, and to him We will come, and a dwelling alongside him We will make. The one not loving Me (with God's love), My words he does not safe-guard, and the word that you hear is not Mine, but of the One sending Me–the Father. These things I spoke to you remaining alongside you. But the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, which the Father will send in My name, That One will teach you all things and will remind you all things which I said to you. Peace I leave to you, My peace I give to you; not just as the world gives, I Myself give to you. May your heart not be disturbed, nor made timid.

Today, Pentecost Sunday, we celebrate the work of the third Person of the Triune God–the Holy Ghost. But His work perplexes us much more than that of the first two Persons. The Father's creation is all around us to behold and enjoy. The Son's blessings of forgiveness, life and salvation are evident at the cross where Jesus gave His life for us. But the work of the Spirit is less visible. Other than as a dove at Jesus' baptism, and as tongues of fire at Pentecost, the Spirit usually works behind the scenes.

This is by design, of course. The Holy Spirit prefers that all of your attention be focused on Jesus! Like the gaffer or key grip in a play or movie, the Holy Ghost knows He is not the star, so He does his important tasks behind the curtain, letting Christ Jesus have the spotlight, and get all the recognition. But as the credits roll out, there you see the names of all those whose vital jobs made the show possible. Today, the Festival of Pentecost, is the time to roll those credits and honor the Spirit's work.

You learned the two main jobs of the Holy Ghost back in confirmation class. First, his job is faith: to show Jesus to us by the Gospel, revealing Him as the only Savior in Whom we may believe. Then comes His second task of faithfulness: to well up your faith to overflowing, so that good works result as a blessing to family, friends and neighbors who need your help. In both these tasks, the Spirit is the chief worker at all times, yet He chooses to remain invisible in your heart as He accomplishes them.

It's about that time, confirmation age, when we first begin to question God as the disciple Judas did. What's the deal, that the Spirit would show Jesus to us and bring us to faith, while so many others do not end up believing? The first mistake you might make is to think that there was something special about you, that God would choose to bring you to faith, as opposed to other more worldly sinners . But don't be deceived. You are a poor miserable sinner, unworthy for God to choose you for faith.

So, if it's not that you are more *lovable* than others, why did the Spirit select you to be a believer in Jesus? It is purely by God's grace alone that you were elected! In His divine foreknowledge, God knew you would believe, and keep Jesus' words safe in your heart by the gift of faith. That's why you love others now with God's Own holy agape love. For this is the same love with which the Father has loved you in Christ Jesus, His Son, Whom He sent to the cross for your eternal salvation.

And once the Holy Ghost selected you to be a faith-filled believer in Christ Jesus, don't think He's done with you then. Far from it. His job is just getting started then, since He is sent by Jesus to teach you all things Jesus desires you to know. He does this in Sunday School and in Bible Classes, if only you stop resisting the Spirit as He works to gather you where Jesus' words of instruction are offered regularly here. Then, when that word of God dwells in you richly, it is readily recalled in your mind.

You are blessed this day to hear the Gospel message of God's love for you in Christ Jesus in your native tongue, without a Pentecost miracle needed. You are blessed to receive the gifts lifted up as the Pastor says "the peace of the Lord be with you", the body and blood of Jesus, given and shed at the cross for your forgiveness. You are blessed to be baptized in the Name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the same Spirit sent on Pentecost in Jesus' Name for the salvation of sin-sick souls.

Yes, by the power of the Holy Spirit this day, you are made into those who love Jesus with God's Own agape love. The Holy Ghost safe-guards Jesus' words in your heart and keeps that Gospel message as the firm foundation of your faith in Christ. And those words of Jesus have come true for you when He says, "We will come," (all three Persons of the Holy Trinity--Father, Son and Holy Ghost), "to make Our dwelling place in you" as you are now faith-filled believers by the Spirit's working.

Today's hymns from LSB:
#501 Come Down O Love Divine
#489 Hail Thee Festival Day (Pentecost stanza)


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