Power In The Holy Spirit- Audio Service - 12.06.22
with Revd. David Burrow
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Hello and welcome to this audio service by the Rossendale Methodist Circuit, what you'll hear shortly is a recording of a service that usually takes place at Longholme Methodist Church in Rawtenstall on Tuesday mornings at 10am, this is a live recording so do expect some background noise although we've tried to reduce this as much as we can, the hymns unfortunately have to be removed for copyright reasons but we've suggested some links to versions of the hymns below this video. Well good morning. Good morning. Lovely day today, it is. And we're in the time of celebrating Pentecost of course, Pentecost season if you like a celebration of harvest festival for the Jewish people (comment) thankyou, I'm glad you agree. This time of year back in Jesus's day the Jewish people would have travelled from the known world to Jerusalem to celebrate and offer their sacrifices to God in the temple. So what an opportunity to get together an opportunity to have a party and praise for God, like at a harvest, praise for God's creation and his provisions would have been uppermost in the minds of all those who have gathered to worship and they'd have been looking forward to the party as well of course, because when they brought those offerings to God, they got to have a feast and to celebrate, bit like Christmas for us, I suppose. We all get together and we all bring something and share and hopefully offer it to God before you all eat it up. Here's some words from Psalm 104 'Oh Lord how manifold are your works in wisdom you have made them all the earth is full of your creatures. Yonder is the sea great and wide, creeping things, innumerable are there, living things both small and great. There go the ships and the leviathan that you form to sport in it. These all look to you to give them their food in due season. When you give to them, they gather it up when you open your hand, they are filled with good things when you hide your face, they are dismayed, when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. When you send forth your spirit, they are created and you renew the face of the ground. May the glory of the Lord endure forever. May the Lord rejoice in his works, who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke. I will sing to the Lord as long as I live. I will sing praise to my God while I have being, may my meditation be pleasing to him that I rejoice in the Lord. Let sinners be consumed from the earth and let the wicked be no more. Bless the Lord, Oh my soul. Praise the Lord.' Amen. And that reading's often used at Pentecost because of that verse which says when you send forth your spirit, they are created and you renew the face of the ground, God's life giving spirit, the ruach as the Hebrew says the ruach, the breath. The wind of God is translated by us as the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit as I said, who gives life, gives life to all of God's creation, as God breathes his spirit. How great is God indeed. Let us pray. Oh Lord, our God, we do look upon all that you have made in awesome wonder. When we see the wonder and the beauty of your creation, we can do nothing but stand in awe and rejoice and celebrate and give you thanks for all you have made. But also we recognise our own shortcomings and our treatment of your creation. And Lord as your people gathered here today, we recognise that we could do better to care for all, for everything that you have made. And so we offer our prayer of confession recognising that too many times we have not cared enough. Sometimes can't even care less. So forgive us we pray and guide us as we seek to be good stewards of all that you have made. Well, we thank you for you have poured out of your spirit, breathed upon creation to bring such wonderful diversity of life and we pray that we can as a, as a human race, find ways and means to protect the wonder and the beauty of everything we see. We thank you that with you there is always hope. We thank you that through the cross of Jesus Christ through His death for us, you have given us that hope. That there is newness of life. That is resurrection. There is the promise of so much to come and so we thank you for the forgiveness which you have given to us. The joy of sins wiped away. The wonder of a new start. A new life lived in the power of your Holy Spirit. And we thank you that each day you make us more like Jesus through the cleansing fire of your spirit. We pray that even now you will continue to fill us to overflowing. So come Holy Spirit. Come and fill our worship come and fill our prayers and our praise. Come on fill our hearts and minds that we might be empowered to serve you to worship you and to serve others in love for we ask it in Jesus' precious name, Amen. So I'd like us to remind ourselves of everything that happened to believers on the day of Pentecost as the Holy Spirit was poured out in power. Don't forget that during the 10 days of waiting for Jesus' promise of the Holy Spirit to be fulfilled, as he had promised, the 120 believers who were gathered together had been worshipping God in the temple, praying together. They've chosen Mattias to replace Judas Iscariot, as it's prophesied. If you go back to the Psalms, you'll see there in Psalm 69, in Psalm 109, prophecies of all that was going to happen. So they've been busy and 10 days of worship and prayer praise prepared them very nicely for what happened next. So Acts chapter two and beginning of verse one. When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place, and suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting, divided tongues as a fire appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them ability. Now, there were devout Jews from every nation under the heaven, living in Jerusalem and at this sound, the crowd gathered and was bewildered because each one heard them speaking the native language of each, amazed and astonished they asked 'are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear each of us in our own native language?' Parthians, Medes and Elamites; the residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism) Cretans and Arabs in our own languages, we hear them speaking about God's deeds of power. All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, what does this mean? But others sneer and said, 'They are filled with new wine.' But Peter standing with the 11 raised his voice and address them. 'Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem. Let this be known to you and listen to what I say, indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose for it's only nine o'clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel. In the last days it will be God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy. And your young man shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreams, even upon my slaves, both men and women. In those days I will pour out my spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and smokiness, the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the Lord's great and glorious day that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord, shall be saved. Amen.
Photo by Konstantin Kleine via Unsplash That's just the first part of Peter's sermon. It gets really good later on. more of that next week. So around 750 to 800 years before Jesus was born, the prophet Joel prophesied. I will pour out my spirit on all flesh. Your sons and daughters will prophesy your old men shall dream dreams and your young men shall see visions, even on male and female slaves, in those days, I will pour out my spirit. This wonderful promise of God way back from time, a time before Jesus, was 750, 800 years before Jesus, had finally come true. The waiting was over. And what a blast. Yeah, quite literally. And this experience that these believers, that we're told that they are the believers, this experience that they have is for everyone. It's for everyone. It's for you and for me. The first time people came to pray for me to receive the Holy Spirit was when I was a student at Cliff Bible College back in 1987 to 88 and it was just wonderful to be prayed for in that way. And as they prayed for me these, I found myself being faced by God with the sin that was in my life. And you might think, oh, no, that's a bit awful. You know all your sins there all brought to mind. You think you'd feel condemned and judged wouldn't you as you see all laid out before you. But that's not what I felt at all. I didn't feel guilty, particularly. Because God gave me a vision of Jesus on this cross. And as I looked at Jesus on the cross, it was a silhouette crossing Jesus, silhouetted against the darkened sky, if that's possible. But I knew what was going on. All I felt was God's love for me. So in that moment, I knew that Jesus had died for me and It was such an amazing experience. I knew that in spite of my sin, God loves me and that Jesus had died for me. He really had. And so I cried tears of repentance. I also cried tears of joy as that power of the Holy Spirit filled me and cleansed me. And afterwards I couldn't stop talking about it. You know, sometimes people say Christian's like that, oh I wish they'd shut up. But you can't keep it in. When you've experienced God's love in that way and that power in that way. You cannot keep quiet about it, I even stood up in front of the whole college, which I'd never done before to tell them about it in the service that we had on the Tuesday evening. Previously, I listened to other people stand up and say stuff and thought that'll never be me. Little did I know, there I was sharing his testimony and witnessing to what God had done for me through the power of his Holy Spirit. It's a wonderful experience. So to experience the Holy Spirit is something we should all seek. And it's great when people ask you to pray for them to be filled with the Holy Spirit. I've done it many times in the churches across the circuit, people have come forward, asked to be prayed to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Now I've got to say it's not the same experience for everybody. Some people it's a very gentle experience. Some people like a gentleman I knew many years ago, he said you know I went to the front when they invite people to the front, he said and they prayed for me, people by the side of me were crying, some were laughing, some were falling over, all this was going on, and I felt nothing. Nothing, not a difference at all. So a year later, I was speaking to somebody about this experience, or lack of experience as it was. And this person said to him, well have a look just go back over your life, or this last year. Think about, ask yourself the question, have things changed? And as he thought about it, and started to talk about it, he recognised how lots of things had changed. And one of the most important things that had changed was that since that moment, he and his wife had started to pray together. And that had never happened before. And he identified lots of things in the way that the Holy Spirit had worked in his life to gently change him and that testimony was just as powerful as somebody, you know, saying wow, you know, it overwhelmed me. But that experience of the Holy Spirit is something that is there for all of us and we should all seek it. Now when I was was in Papua New Guinea I experienced several tropical storms and if you've ever experienced a tropical storm, you know there's nothing quite like it, the wind is amazing and the rain, well, one day I even went outside and had a shower in it, I kept my shorts on but, wash my hair but you know it was wonderful fresh, clean water belting down like spears quite literally. And when we were inside, you couldn't hear yourself think because my house and the school were roofed with corrugated iron it was like being inside a drum. All lessons were postponed until we could actually hear ourselves think because the students certainly couldn't hear me. It was such a racket. But when when it tells us here is the story of the coming of the Holy Spirit, it says it's like, the Holy Spirit's like a sound like a violent wind, like a tropical storm, that kind of violent wind and when that really really makes you sort of run for cover. This violent wind is, it's a symbol if you like of the mighty invisible power of God. They heard it, they could hear it but like the wind that you know, you don't know where it's coming from, you can see the effect it has, you don't know where it's going to but you hear it in the trees you hear it rattling the windowpanes you know, this old hat there's a song to sing isn't there, and you know it's there and these believers experienced the power, the invisible power of God in that wind, the Holy Spirit. This is a, an outside sign if you like, an outward sign of an inward change that was taking place in the lives of these believers. So the Holy Spirit wasn't just coming, blowing across them or over them or around them. The Holy Spirit was coming in them, into their lives. These disciples of Jesus were experienced something rather wonderful. And Paul writing to the church in Rome, spells it out for us, when he says in Romans chapter five, verse five, 'God's love.' excuse me, 'God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that's been given to us. When we experience the Holy Spirit in our lives, we are experiencing God's love for us.' And together with the apostle Paul, we can say as he told the church in Galatia, the Son of God loved me and gave himself for me. We can say that, as we experience this wonderful love of God. Rick Warren, I don't know if you've read any of his books wonderful Christian writer and author and speaker. He says this, 'to feel loved by God is the starting point for every ministry, every revival, every renewal, every great awakening.' So I guess when I was experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit in my life for the first time, that was the beginning of that call to the ministry that I began to feel had been renewed if you like, when we look back to all the great revivals in the church, in Christian history, there has been after prayer and seeking God's will and crying out to God, an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. John Wesley. He could understand as he sailed back from America with Moravians on the ship that was being threatened by a storm and was in danger of sinking, he couldn't understand how these Moravian Christians could sing songs of assurance and God's love, when they were faced with death. He said, 'are not afraid of dying?' 'No.' One way to get to heaven isn't it, but he didn't have that assurance. He knew all about he knew all the theology, he knew it in Greek he knew it in Latin he knew it in Hebrew, all in his head. But he didn't have that assurance of God's love. It was only when he went rather unwillingly to that room and to that meeting. That he you know, he heard the preface to Luthers commentary on Romans being read. And in that moment, he had that assurance of God's love for himself and he felt his heart strangely warmed. That knowledge went from head to heart and these, these first believers, the experienced of these first believers, as they received the power of the Holy Spirit, you know, just, they just experienced that love of God, and felt and understood what it meant to be a child of God. Luke also mentions fire of course, there's this violent wind, but there's something that was like fire not real fire was what seemed like tongues of fire appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. So again, we've got an outward sign of something that was happening within them, the fire of God cleanses and purifies and as I said, you know, when I was faced with this, and I knew to show my sin, the fire of God cleansed me. I'm not perfect, let's not get that one wrong. When Peter, awhen Jesus was washing the disciples feet, remember? Peter said, no, no, no, no, no, you can't do that. And Jesus, said well if I don't wash your feet, you've got no part of me. And Peter said, Well, all of me wash all of me, Jesus. said, no. You know, you are clean. But you need your feet washing. So that the trials of daily life if you like, the temptations of daily life, you know, we need to make sure that we ask God to forgive those daily sins. But in essence, we are clean. Because we believe because we recognise who Jesus is, as a son of God, God's Messiah, and the Holy Spirit is working on us to cleanse us thoroughly. So this fire is a cleansing purifying fire of God. One of the great teachings of Methodism from John Wesley is that of spiritual holiness. It's this process that happens within us as we are changed by the Holy Spirit over time, when we know how we experience God's love for us, you know, we have to be grateful. We must be grateful that although God loves us as we are, he loves us enough not to leave as as we are. We are changed as John, as Charles Wesley puts it so beautifully. We are changed from glory, into glory until in heaven, we take our place. The fire of God's love, of the holy spirit burns within us, you know as the prophets of the Old Testament experience, you know, they couldn't keep God's, even when the, Jeremiah being thrown into pits, being sent to Egypt, all the terrible things that happened to him, he still could not keep in him, the word of God, he had to share it had to speak it out. Peter and Paul are the same, they had to share it. You know, Paul faced with terrible persecution, imprisonment, and even death. Continued to share the Word of God, because the Holy Spirit within him gave him that power to share it and he couldn't keep it to himself. It has to be shared. And then of course, Luke mentions in Acts in the story of Pentecost mentions different languages. And that's an interesting one, isn't it? All these people gathered together these these people, these Jewish people from around the known world speaking all these different languages could all hear the message of God's love for them in their own language. These men were given the power to speak in the languages that they had not learned. And this is one of the gifts of the Spirit. If you've ever been in a meeting where somebody's spoken in a tongue as they call it, as it's called, then you'll have heard something rather special and rather beautiful. And when somebody translates it, they didn't know they could speak this other language, or maybe they can, but you know, it's even better because you all hear God's word. So somebody stands up and is given a language, a word from God in a language they don't understand. They speak it out and somebody there translated it for you. And that's an amazing thing to hear. But it is a wonderful experience. There are other kinds of tongue, of course, that are gifts from God, which are a private, a personal tongue which is just a language between you and God. And that's something rather special too and I know lots of Christians who have that particular gift. If you go back to Genesis chapter 11 you read there the story of the Tower of Babel. People all gathered on the plane and said, let's build that tower up to God. Let's show up to show everybody that we are supreme beings and we are God's, God said we're not having that and mixed up their languages. So they couldn't, they couldn't speak to one another. And so what had been a united people became a disunited people. Spread over all the earth, here we have people coming back together, and understanding the message, the good news of Jesus crucified, died and risen. As they listen to their story, in their own language, the Holy Spirit unites us. The Holy Spirit unites us and brings us back together. And in whatever denomination we might come from the Holy Spirit brings us together in worship and in obedience to God and in trust. So it's wonderful when that happens. One of the things that we hear here in the story of Pentecost is that some people said they've had too much wine. And, you know, when you start talking about Jesus, sometimes people say, well, you're a bit bonkers or you're mad, you believe all that rubbish. You know, you need your head testing, I'm sure you've heard them all. The thing is to give people the true explanation. Peter stands up and gives the people the true explanation, they've not been drinking. It's too early in the day. It's only nine o'clock in the morning. What you're seeing what you're hearing now is the work of God. It offers them the true explanation, and it begins this wonderful speech and reminds them that Joel, the prophet, you know, had foretold this, that this would happen and here they are. Witnesses to God at work, right there in the midst, and he quotes Joel, across the whole passage. It's incredible. He must have done that from memory so he obviously knew his Bible very well. And then he goes on to tell them about this Jesus, this Jesus of Nazareth a man attested to you by God with deeds of power wonders and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourself know. And then he tells them, this man that you handed over to death. Woah, what a challenge because I mean Peter was standing before the people, the crowds in that place where Jesus had been arrested and been taken to be crucified. And standing there as he was, he knew the risk that he was taking that he too would be taken, arrested and put in prison but he doesn't hold back. This time he doesn't deny knowing Jesus. He proclaims the good news of Jesus to the crowd and as we'll find out next week, 3000 people are brought into the church into the kingdom of God. So the power of God's Holy Spirit, seen through the moving of the wind despite a cleansing of the Holy Spirit, by the fire, and then this unity that we have in the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit, but right at the heart of it, the experience in the heart experience in the power of the presence of the Holy Spirit is to experience the love of God in your lives. And if you've never prayed for the Holy Spirit, to fill your life, do it today. Or ask somebody you know and trust to pray with you to receive the Holy Spirit. And it's a joy and a privilege to do just that. Amen. So we'll just spend a few moments in prayer and I'll leave a time of when I'm not speaking for you. And if you want to pray out loud, please do so even if it's just simply to name somebody or name a situation that you would like us to pray for. So let us pray. Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit. We thank you for the power that enables us to live lives following you in obedient service to you thank you for the cleansing of your Holy Spirit, it lives within us and cleanses us of all that sin and impurity that each day we're tempted to get involved in but we thank you for that process and for that ongoing cleansing, that each day makes us more like Jesus. And sometimes although it might seem there's two steps back before we take a step forward, we thank you that you do not give up on us that you are a faithful God. And you're always there. We thankyou for the uniting power of your Holy Spirit, calling your church to be one. Be one with a vision to build your kingdom to unite all peoples as the children of God. And so Lord, we pray for your kingdom to come by the power of your Holy Spirit. And we pray that your Holy Spirit would move over those parts of our world where there is so much suffering. That the Holy Spirit would bring order out of chaos as at creation, that the Holy Spirit would bring life and bring renewal and revival. We pray for the people of Ukraine, and once again we pray for peace, we pray for the leaders of Ukraine, we give you thanks for their courage and for their leadership and pray that they might know your presence that you will give them wisdom by the gift of your spirit and we pray for the leaders of Russia, especially president Putin, that you would change his heart and change his mind, by the power of your spirit I challenge him and bring him face to face with all that he has done, that he might repent and know the forgiveness that only you can give. And Lord God we pray for your church, we pray again and we cry out again for revival, that your Holy Spirit might bring that experience of your love for us and that knowing your love we might reach out to others in love and we pray that your church around the world might not only know your presence, experience your presence and know your Holy Spirit, be filled with your Holy Spirit but again reach out to others so that they too might come to know that wonderful love that you have for them, so Lord in the stillness, we bring our own prayers to you. Father we pray for all those people who have not come back to worship since we reopened after Covid, we pray especially for those who've found other things to do and we pray that they might after a time discover that the other things that they are doing do not offer the same fulfillment that worship of you does, Lord may they know that they are missed and help us to tell them and remind them, create in them we pray a desire for your presence, a desire for your love, create in them a thirst for you, a longing for you, to remind them again of all that they are missing, Lord as we pray for those who have out of choice not returned we remember again those who died during the pandemic and we remember their families and friends, Lord unable to celebrate the lives of their loved ones as we would have done, we pray that your presence would comfort and strengthen them as we remember that none of them are forgotten, that they continue to live in our hearts and we thankyou that they are resurrected and alive with you, and rejoice in your eternal presence, Lord we offer all our prayers in the name of Jesus Christ our risen Lord and savior, Amen. We join together in the Lord's prayer, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven, give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever, Amen. And let us share the grace together, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all evermore, Amen. Thankyou for listening and we hope you enjoyed the service, you can find us online on www.rossendalemethodistcircuit.co.uk and also on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, please do let us know what you thought of this service in the comments below and you can always contact us by email at email@example.com.