Our devotions continue to focus on living under the Holy Spirit, yielding to His work and ways. The goal is to immerse ourselves in God by submitting to His Spirit. God calls us to live by the Spirit, not the law (rules and regulations). Our primary teacher about God is God himself. Pray that He opens your heart to insights of His Word.
The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost
1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
Peter Addresses the Crowd
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 “‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21 And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25 David said about him:
“‘I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest in hope,
27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
you will not let your holy one see decay.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.’
29 “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
35 until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.”’
36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
The Fellowship of the Believers
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Read Acts 2:1-47.
In today's reading, people often focus on the baptism dynamic. Today we take note of the Holy Spirit. In this case, He’s received from Peter (really from God), a “gift” for the hearers and their children, for people near and far. You get the sense this Spirit is intended for everybody.
How does one receive this gift of the Holy Spirit? For those listening to Peter, it was by repentance for crucifying Jesus and getting baptized for the forgiveness of sins. For us today, it is still about repentance and baptism. Paul reminds us that faith comes by hearing the word (Romans 10:17) and that we cannot believe in Jesus as Lord without the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3). We also know that Spirit gives birth to spirit (John 3:6) and that God uses baptism to make people alive in Christ (Colossians 2:11-13). In these ways, the Spirit comes and creates life-giving faith. Of course the Spirit’s work is not done when we are “saved”! It has just begun. The work of the Spirit then leads us to repentance – daily. More on that tomorrow.
Father God, I pray that the gift of your Holy Spirit continues to change the direction of my life in ways that are pleasing to you and fruit-bearing. Enable me to help pass on the gift of this Holy Spirit to my children and those both far and near. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
• In Christ, I accept the message from the Holy Spirit about Jesus (and have been baptized). As happened at Pentecost, I too devote myself to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to Holy Communion and prayer. May the Spirit reach me, my children, and those near and far. Adapted Acts 2:42-47
1 “All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. 3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. 4 I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, 5 but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. 7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
Read John 16:1-11. Likely hard words to hear from Jesus as the disciples’ daily companion, yet they would later see his wisdom on the day of Pentecost and beyond. The Holy Spirit was going to direct the disciples in the path Jesus desired. If they were getting away from the intended path, He would remind them of what Jesus taught and encourage them to repent – i.e. change their direction. That is one of the major roles of the Spirit in our daily lives: Change us to become more like Jesus. It is for our good that the Spirit helps us daily through teaching, correction, and conviction as necessary. Let Him lead the way.
O Advocate – come advocate for me! Come Holy Spirit and direct my paths according to God’s Word, according to Jesus, God’s Word in the flesh. Amen.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
~ Apostle Paul
The Spirit of God intercedes for you with wordless groans. When do you let out wordless groans? Under great frustration? Annoyance? Disappointment? Intrigue? Heightened interest? Satisfaction? Many different emotions and thoughts can be expressed in such ways. It’s a whole other type of language! In fact it is one of the Holy Spirit’s prayer languages – one you can use yourself in prayer. Sometimes words just don’t cut it.
While this reading highlights God’s knowledge of our hearts, it also gives us a glimpse of His heart for us. For examples of Jesus doing something similar during his earthly ministry, check out Mark 7:34 and John 11:33 (esp. in the KJV). See his heart in action there and know that this same heart cares for you.
Father God, You know my heart; hear the groans of Your Spirit interceding for my spirit and mind, my heart and body, that in accord with Your will, I might be able to love You with all that I am.
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
In Acts 13, the Spirit directs the praying people to send out Barnabas and Saul (who later becomes the Apostle Paul). Being prayerful is not always about speaking but also about listening. Out of such listening came the missionary activity of Paul and Barnabas. Let’s review our lives of prayer:
Does your prayer life (individually and with others) include time to listen for directives from the Holy Spirit? Does your prayer life include fasting and worship?
Go to God in prayer, even practicing any omissions from the above list. Consider fasting a meal and praying instead. Have a plan to listen (and record any observations) and worship (music is a great help in this aspect). Consider meeting with other believers to pray and listen as a group.
Both James and Peter quote from the Old Testament and remind us that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5). That one statement is more than enough to cause us to see pride as a wicked, ugly thing. We cannot see it as a benign annoyance or a lovable flaw, but a trait of the sinful nature that must be put to death.
p. 20, The Prideful Soul’s Guide to Humility, Fontenot/Jones
Father God, I do not want to be opposed by You, but rather be the beneficiary of Your grace. Remove from me all forms of pride, ego and self-importance. I humbly seek out Your kindness and thank You for all grace given me on account of Jesus’ life and work on my behalf – before the cross, at the cross, and after the cross. Amen.
How are we empowered by God to want to follow Jesus? Jesus promised that he would not leave us alone but would send the Counselor, who would come alongside to help. This Counselor, known as the Holy Spirit, is free to work in us as we empty ourselves of known sin and seek to be continuously filled with his indwelling power (Discipleship Essentials, Ogden, p. 121).
Lord Jesus, thank You for the Holy Counselor. May I receive and implement His counsel daily.
Fill me with His indwelling power. In Jesus I pray. Amen.
This week's story is "The Holy Spirit Falls on the Disciples", in Acts 2:1-47. This is the story that was on Monday's devotion. This button will take you right to the story. When you're done, return to today for the devotion.
This story recounts the coming of the Holy Spirit. It's beautiful. It's enigmatic. In one sense it is ten days in the coming, the time the disciples have been waiting and praying since Jesus ascended into heaven. From another perspective it's been centuries in coming. Not only did Jesus talk about it this coming Spirit, but the prophet Joel mentioned this day during his ministry (Joel 2:28-32).
That is what Peter points out in the ‘sermon’ shared during this story. Be blessed by taking the time to read this part of God's scripture story. It is the word of God. May it get in you and continue to inform and shape you to the glory of God.
Jesus, let me remain in You and Your words remain in me. Amen.
“To the angel of the church in Sardis write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.
4 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. 6 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
“Dressed in white” and “worthy” (Revelation 3:4) are contrasted with “you are dead” based on “your deeds” (Revelation 3:1). As James 2:26 points out, faith without deeds is dead. The blessing here, that of Jesus acknowledging you before the Heavenly Father, comes not by deeds, but by faith. But don’t miss the point James makes: Deed are the evidence of faith.
[Pray about whatever God has put upon your heart.]