Many of us have mixed feelings when it comes to birthdays. Some go out of their way to celebrate while others go out of their way to avoid and forget. This month we celebrate the birth of the church which began on the day of Pentecost. Here is one birthday that is truly worth celebrating.
In the gospel of Luke ch24 we read that before Jesus ascended to the Father He commissioned His disciples to proclaim the gospel to all nations but first gave them this command: ’stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (v49). Once the day of Pentecost had arrived the Spirit of God fell in power upon this unique group of Jews and Gentiles, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, filling them with the power of God to accomplish this great calling.
There’s much we can learn from this account. Firstly, the church was born in power. Jesus didn't say to His disciples. Wait in the city until you get you get it all together, until you’ve completed both the beginning and advanced diplomas of church growth strategy 101 or at least until you’ve learned the top 10 of modern pop worship choruses. Rather He said wait until you have received power. So often the greatest hindrance to the advance of the glory of God is the church trying to do the work of God without the power of God. We desperately need His power. Only the power of God can save, only the power of God can transform lives, only the power of God can convict us of our sin. May we never arrive at a place where we forget that as the Church we are in desperate need of His power to accomplish His work.
Secondly the Church was birthed in His personal presence.
This wasn't just an encounter with an abstract manifestation of His Glory but an encounter with the personal presence of Holy Spirit. We worship a God who himself marks his people with the empowering reality of who He is. He is a personal God.
Finally the Church was birthed in wonder. I always wonder what the disciples were expecting as they waited. Certainly they seemed as amazed as everybody else when all of a sudden there was a mighty rushing wind, tongues of fire and people acting like they were overcome with wine. This wasn't a calm, quiet, polite, prayer meeting. It was so wild and loud that people came rushing from all around to see what all the commotion was about! In fact whenever the Holy Spirit moves in scripture there is a sense of wonder. Anything can happen. Buildings are shaken, chains fall off, people get saved, great awe comes upon everyone, signs, wonders and miracles take place and pretty soon even shadows become dangerous. The church was born with this sense of wild wonder. Do we live with that same sense today of excitement and expectancy to see what God might do in our midst today?
There’s a prayer that is one of our foundational calls as a church and it is one that I have been reminded of many times recently, its found inthe book of Acts:
‘And now Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.’ (Acts 4:29-30)
I believe this is a season of praying ‘bold prayers’ and I want to encourage us to join this month to declare this prayer together. May these be days of His power, His presence and wild wonder!!