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The Holy Spirit Comes [Part 2]
by Pastor Mike Fortune
August 21, 2010

PBS Back to School Vid: Shugufa in Afghanistan 
PowerPoint File 
 
The Holy Spirit comes when...

  1. We're listening [Acts 8:26-29; Psalm 5:3; Revelation 2:7]
  2. We share more about Jesus [Acts 8:30-35; Ephesians 2:6-7; Revelation 2:4]
  3. We treat where we are as the mission field [Acts 8:36-40; Romans 10:14-15; Romans 14:20]


On Wednesday this week, 60 students walked through our doors at Toledo Junior Academy. Which is an increase from last year’s enrollment and just about as many kids as we can squeeze in there—though we do have a few spots available still in 1st and 2nd grade so if you know any folks who want their children to receive a great Christian education, please refer them to TJA! I bet Shugufa would love to attend TJA. But as our video clip revealed, girls in Afghanistan rarely get the education they want and need. That is slowly changing, with the help of Greg Mortenson, an American mountain climber turned school builder whose story is told in the New York Times best seller, Three Cups of Tea. But it’s nowhere near the opportunities and support our children receive when they go back to school. So part of what I wanted them to see today, before they left for Kid Connect, is how blessed we are to even have a school. Much less one that teaches our children more about Jesus. Which is one of the things that occurs when the Holy Spirit comes.

Remember last week in part one, we took a sneak peak at Pentecost and the factors that contributed to the Holy Spirit coming like an echo into that upper room full of 120 followers of Jesus. One of the first things we noticed is that when they were in there, they prayed and kept praying together. We’ve been doing that on Wednesday nights. And starting September 8, you are welcome to join us! That’s the night we’re starting our new Community Book Discussion based on Sandra Wilson’s excellent little book Hurt People Hurt People. Just thinking about that title, if you get nothing else out of church today, should help some here today. Bring a tasty salad @ 6pm followed by discussion and prayer @ 6:30pm. Books will be available soon and only cost $10. So be sure to pick yours up soon. And if you can’t afford it, see me and we’ll work out a deal—or no deal. Just kidding. We’ll make sure you get a book if you want one while supplies last.

Later in Acts it would become obvious that the early church that prayed together would in fact stay together—even though they granted each other much liberty in a wide variety of non-essential things. And because they did, their unity in the main thing allowed them to continue to testify to the crucified, risen, and sure coming Savior in as many tongues as the Holy Spirit allowed—even though they were ridiculed and mocked for doing so.

Today, we’re going to continue that conversation about how the Holy Spirit comes by looking at another story in Acts to learn a few more things we can do as we go back to school and the mission fields where we are. Please turn in your Bibles to Acts 8 starting in verse 26. Acts 8:26-40 says, “26Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." 27So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian[d]eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. 29The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it." 30Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked. 31"How can I," he said, "unless someone explains it to me?" So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture: "He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 33In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth." 34The eunuch asked Philip, "Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?" 35Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. 36As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?" 38And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. 40Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.”

Point number one: The Holy Spirit comes when we’re listening. What does Acts 8:26 say? “Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip? “Go south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” Verse 29 adds, “The Spirit told Philip, ‘Go to that chariot and stay near it.’” Like I told you last time, I haven’t heard audible voices from God. But I have heard his still small voice. Like the echo in that upper room. And perhaps that’s what Philip heard too. Whichever it was, he heard it because he was listening. When I was in high school, I started listening. Out of desperation more than anything else. Because I finally found a problem I couldn’t solve. What am I supposed to do with my life? Perhaps you have that problem now. With the economy the way it is, people of all ages are suddenly asking that question. And it’s a good question to lay before the Lord since He’s the one bragging in the Bible about having plans for you to give you and a future in Jeremiah 29:11. He’s the one saying He can make your paths straight in Proverbs 3:5-6.

So ask Him to show or tell you what to do. And then listen for how He leads. One of my fave Psalms is Psalm 5:3 because in college, we would sing it in worship. It’s lyrics go like this: Give ear to my words O Lord / Consider my meditation / Hearken unto the voice of my cry / My King and my God / For unto Thee will I pray / My voice shalt Thou hear in the morning / O Lord, in the morning / Will I direct my prayer / Unto Thee and will look up.

Those lyrics are based on these words in Psalm 5:3. “3 In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” That’s what it means to “look up.” To wait in expectation. The Holy Spirit comes if we listen to what God says in the quiet of our hearts. And do what we can. This Ethiopian could read but couldn’t understand. So he goes to worship. He looks up to Thee. Then he pulls his chariot over and the side of the road and waits in expectation. And bam, God miraculously provides. How? Through us! By the body of Christ! We are the rusty tools God uses as Dave likes to say. The Spirit tells us, “Just go near that chariot and everything will fall into place.” Sometimes, as Heather knows, it really is about location, location, location. Too often, I think we wait in expectation without doing what we can. As if it’s impossible for us to pray, read, and go to worship. Wrong! Do that first. And then wait and see.

I suspect that more of us don’t hear God not because God isn’t talking, but because we aren’t listening. Philip was listening. And that’s how the Spirit moved him from “Come and See” to “Go and Be.” Ordinary Outreach requires a shift in thinking from “Come and See” to “Go and Be.” Be yourself and be near God and others God loves like crazy. If you do what you can, good things happen. That’s how it works. If we’re listening. Revelation 2:7, “7He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” And I can’t leave the rest of that verse just hanging there because Revelation 12:11 describes for you how we’re supposed to overcome. “11They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” We don’t save or sanctify ourselves. God does both. If we ask Him. And if we stay connected to Him. This will become clearer in point number two. Which is: The Holy Spirit comes when we share more about Jesus. Take a look at verse 35. “

Look at verse 35, “Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.” Did you know you can start anywhere in the Bible and end up with Jesus? It’s like that game 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Name a person and some people say that within six other names, you can trace something all the way back to the actor Kevin Bacon. I don’t know why Kevin Bacon gets his own game. But he does. But did you know you can do the same thing even faster with Jesus? Because Jesus said this book is all about Him [cf. John 5:39]! And if you think 40 authors over 1500 years writing centuries apart could create a cohesive story about anyone or anything without Holy Spirit intervention, you’re crazy! This book is proof that’s it’s possible for the Holy Spirit to come into the lives of men. That’s why 2 Peter 1:21 says, “Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

And rightly understood and used for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteouness, 2 Timothy 3:16 says reading this book can equip us for “every good work.” And isn’t the best work we can do is lead people to know Jesus? And after that, isn’t the best work we can do is lead people to know more about Jesus? If in the process they learn about the Sabbath or the Second Coming or where you go to church in Jerusalem or Toledo, fantastic, but if not, at least you’ve introduced or helped them better understand the only one whom knowing is life eternal amen [John 17:3]?

The prophet Isaiah predicted that one day, God's mountain would become "a house of prayer for all nations" [Isaiah 56:7] and that even foreigners and eunuchs [previously excluded according to Deuteronomy 23:1-3] would one day worship God together on the seventh day [Isaiah 56:3,6]. That reality was already beginning to take place in Jesus' day. We know this is true because Acts 8 reveals that this Ethiopian eunuch in Jerusalem had come to worship and afterward had pulled over in his chariot on his way home to read Isaiah and after learning more about Jesus [verse 35], asks Philip to be baptized.

This is significant because chariots in the Exodus were instruments of death [Exodus 15:4] whose occupants were seeking to prevent the children of Israel from worshiping God [Exodus 9:1]. But years later, chariots like this Ethiopian's become an instrument of life spreading the "everlasting Gospel" to "every nation, tribe, language, and people" in the far corners of the earth with the same invitation to worship Jesus that Adventists have shared with that Ethiopian ever since: "Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water" [Revelation 14:6-7].

This is an allusion in the last book of the Bible to Exodus 20:11 which itself is a plea to remember our Creator from the first book of the Bible. Why? Isaiah 58:13-14 says it's so humanity can delight in the presence and joy of the Lord [my translation]. In my experience, even children can begin to understand this. And when they do, it's obvious from their infectious laughter and joyful singing that they find it much easier than many of their parents or grandparents to long for the day when "we who are still alive and remain will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air" [1 Thessalonians 4:17]. For what it’s worth, helping humanity delight in the Lord of the Sabbath and His sure return is what the name Seventh-day Adventist means to me.

Ephesians 2:6-7, “6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” Rightly understood, it has always been about sharing more about Jesus. But like the church in Ephesus, the Seventh-day Adventist church often forgets this. Revelation 2:4, “4Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.”

The Holy Spirit comes when we listen. Point number one. And the Holy Spirit comes when we don’t forget to share our first love Jesus. This is point number two. And finally, the Holy Spirit comes when we treat where we are as the mission field. Look at verse 36 and following. “36As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?" 38And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. 40Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.”

Did you catch verse 39? “The Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away.” Apparently, that divine appointment had been met so Philip was picked up and miraculously placed in Caesarea. Wouldn’t it be cool if God did that today? What if He still does? That commute to Columbus on Route 23 infuriates me. When I drive down there for meetings, those stop lights nonstop for miles before you get there drive me crazy! But maybe that’s why God doesn’t pick me up and put me there. Maybe those stop lights are teaching me patience.

And if you haven’t been miraculously moved somewhere else, maybe it’s because you’re exactly where God wants you to be too! Maybe this is your mission field. Maybe God has a series of divine appointments waiting for you. But because we’re impatient. Or not listening. Or not doing what we can, we’re missing them! Imagine how much more full and exciting our lives would be if we started listening! Imagine how much more full and exciting the lives of others nearby would be if we started listening! Romans 10:14-15, “14How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news! Romans 15:20, “20It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else's foundation.”

Recently, I had the privilege to become re-acquainted with Don White. He teaches math at the University of Toledo. We first met at the Good Friday service Toledo First hosted for the community last Easter. Not long ago, he and his wife Betsy started listening to the Spirit’s call on their lives. They became convinced that the mission field is where they are too. And from that realization grew an ordinary outreach idea about being near people that since then has touched the lives of hundreds of college kids going back to school every fall. Take a look at this video.

We already heard from Nicole about Haven of Hope at the beginning. Which is one way we can continue to see where we are as the mission field. Now, at the end, we see one more way we can treat where we are as the mission field. Thank you for being here and for being near Don! Since you’re a math teacher, I fully expect you to give us some homework to do!!! Would you please warmly welcome my friend Don White to the pulpit as he talks about the Toledo International Hospitality Program? Orientations will take place in the UT International House 6th Floor Conference Room on:
Tuesday September 7 @ 7pm
Monday September 13 @ 7pm
Sunday September 19 @ 3pm

The Harvest Party will take place in the Student Union Auditorium on Saturday night October 9 @ 6pm. Which is the same weekend as Alumni Weekend @ TJA. So that should be easy to remember. Please consider filling out the paperwork for Haven of Hope and the Toledo International Hospitality Program after church in the foyer today while you hang around and enjoy Eat-n-Greet-Art. And don't forget the Holy Spirit comes when...

  1. We're listening [Acts 8:26-29; Psalm 5:3; Revelation 2:7]
  2. We share more about Jesus [Acts 8:30-35; Ephesians 2:6-7; Revelation 2:4]
  3. We treat where we are as the mission field [Acts 8:36-40; Romans 10:14-15; Romans 14:20]