“Peace and Wonder”
Numbers 11: 24-30; I Corinthians 12: 4-13; John 7: 37-39
Pearl: Cultivating the peace and wonder of the Holy Spirit.
Function: To move worshippers to find the peace and wonder of the life-giving Spirit in the ordinary.
Pentecost is the recollection of amazing, dramatic experiences of the Holy Spirit’s coming upon the followers of Jesus after his ascension.
1. There was a sound like the rushing wind.
2. There was the appearance of flames upon people’s heads!
a. I finally saw something that reminded me of this last weekend at the newly re-opened fountain show at Longwood Gardens. When it was dark we watched the show which combined music, fountains, and lights. To everyone’s amazement spouts of water were shot into the air and at the top of the pillars of water were plumes of flame! I don’t know how they do it but it reminded me of the “tongues of flame” which rested on the followers of Jesus on that Day of Pentecost.
3. Then they all started speaking in various languages, enabled by the Holy Spirit.
None can deny what an amazingly, spectacular day of events transpired. The Spirit of God dazzled and amazed everyone! But that was the Day of Pentecost! That is not how the Spirit usually moves and works.
My task today is to encourage you to find the peace and wonder of the Holy Spirit, the Holy, most often in the ordinary. Don’t look for God so much in the dramatic and the spectacular; look for God in the ordinary!
Pentecost was the signature event, full of the dramatic and the spectacular, to signal the beginning of the Messianic age. This is the age within which we continue to live. On that day God’s Spirit was unleashed upon his people, the church. So what does it mean that the Spirit was “unleashed upon the church?”
1. A clue is found in Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church. Paul wrote of the “varieties” of empowerments distributed among believers. He wrote of the varieties of gifts distributed among them.
2. So the Spirit creatively empowers in diverse varieties of ways.
a. I Corinthians 12 highlights some of the ways but by no means is this a comprehensive catalogue of the empowerments of God’s Spirit.
b. The Spirit within every believer manifests God’s spirit in unique ways in the unique people that you are.
i. If you like to whistle, that can be a manifestation of God’s life-giving Spirit to you and beyond you, for the good of the whole.
ii. If you are very detail-oriented, that is the Spirit which misses nothing within you to be used in all kinds of vital ways for the good of the whole.
iii. If you love to spend time with children, you can help to raise them and nurture them with the love of Jesus for the good of the whole.
c. Think about yourself, and the ways in which you are uniquely you and you will find the Holy Spirit of God empowering you in that way!
3. The catalogue of the “varieties” of the manifestations of the Spirit is expanding all of the time!
We turn to what I will call the “economy of the Spirit.” The economy of the Spirit of God is an economy of overflow!
1. Back in the ancient history of God’s people when Moses lived he went to God in the tent of meeting in the way that only Moses went. There he met with God face to face. While he was in the tent one time 70 elders stood by around the tent. While he was in there the Spirit of God came upon all of those 70 elders. They all prophesied in a dramatic manifestation of the Spirit from the overflow of God’s presence which could not be contained in that tent.
2. Later on two gentlemen, Eldad and Medad, experienced some of the “overflow” of the Spirit and they too prophesied. A youngster saw Eldad and Medad doing this and he ran directly to Joshua to rat them out. Joshua was incensed as well and he took it straight to Moses. Moses reacted in a wonderful way: “Would that all of God’s people were prophets and the Lord would put his Spirit on them!”
3. Eldad and Medad caught some of the “overflow” of the Spirit. This is very characteristic of God’s Holy Spirit. There is a never-ending abundance!
4. Jesus spoke of a similar economy of “overflow.” He said, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water’” (John 7: 37, 38).
a. The Spirit unleashed the Messianic age which is marked by an economy of “overflow” and not “lack.” One need not guard the Spirit of God. There is abundant “variety” and “overflow.”
Being that this is the case, you can find the peace and wonder of the Spirit of God most often in the most ordinary of ways and means.
People think of the Holy Spirit most often as being manifested in dramatic and spectacular phenomena.
1. This reminds me of a young man who wanted to win his beloved’s affections back to him. Listen up young men and women for some lessons in love from your Pastor.
a. He sought advice from his friends on what he should do to win her back. He was told to come up with some “grand gesture.” So he did. He came up with something right out of any romance story. Sadly, it did not work.
b. Here is the lesson for young lovers: you win each other’s affections most powerfully in the very most ordinary of ways day in and day out. As you honor each other in small and simple ways, this is how you win the affections of your beloved. Grand gestures are sometimes precious, but you really win the heart of another by every day honoring, respecting, praising, protecting, treasuring, and caring.
2. It is in the ordinary that you should expect to encounter the wonder and the magic and the power of life, given and sustained by the Spirit of God.
a. In the wake of another terrible act of violence in London I think of the words of Mr. Rogers. He often spoke of how when he was a boy and he saw things on television or heard things on the radio that made him scared, his mother would tell him, “Look for the helpers.”
b. In those many, many uncommon hero/helpers you find the peace of God and you wonder at the goodness of God’s Spirit present, accounted for, and moving in the most ordinary of ways!
The Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, consists of the most simple of elements. The main symbol for the Gospel of God is a common Table. It is at an ordinary table…through a small, ordinary, morsel of bread and a little sip of wine…that the peace and wonder of the gospel comes to you.
1. Speaking of the ordinary, how was Jesus recognized by his followers after he rose from the dead? He walked along that Emmaus road with a couple of disciples and he explained to them how the scriptures about the Messiah were actually fulfilled in his death on the cross. He explained how the Savior rose from the dead just as he had told them. He explained all of this and they did not recognize him.
2. It was at the table when the familiar way of the Lord was recognized. It was in the most ordinary of human experience that their eyes were opened.
Find the peace and the wonder of the deep river of life in the very simple and in the very ordinary every single day of your life.