SUDDENLY – A DIFFERENT WORLD

Act 2:1,2 – When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.

God’s ways are not our ways. Isaiah said, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. Just when you think you have everything sorted out the Lord sends His Holy Ghost fast ball. It comes out of nowhere and your whole world literally shifts in a day. Parris and I have spent the last week ministering in Adelaide, Australia for David and Donna Hall. We have known them for many years and watched them labor from a rented facility with not much growth for years. Just like today’s verse says, their world has suddenly changed. In a matter of months they became pastors of several churches in several locations with facilities that have been paid off. Rather than struggling, now these churches are bursting with life as several hundred new people have come in in the last few months. One of the churches is in a town of 2800 people in the middle of farm country. That church has become a revival hub with people traveling from many miles away to this regional church. The church in Adelaide is teeming with life with hundreds of Christians lit up about the Lord and their new church. Things changed suddenly for Life-point Church in South Australia. Here is what Albert Barnes and Matthew Henry say about today’s verse.

BARNES

“It burst upon them at once. Though they were waiting for the descent of the Spirit, yet it is not probable that they expected it in this manner. As this was an important event, and one on which the welfare of the church depended, it was proper that the gift of the Holy Spirit should take place in some striking and sensible manner, so as to convince their own minds that the promise was fulfilled, and so as deeply to impress others with the greatness and importance of the event.”

HENRY

“That it came suddenly, did not rise gradually, as common winds do, but was at the height immediately. It came sooner than they expected, and startled even those that were now together waiting, and probably employed in some religious exercises.”

So maybe you feel like you are spinning in circles and getting nowhere fast. Don’t be surprised if you too get a sudden change. The Lord seems to like the shock value of His sudden visitations. They are often so sudden and powerful that their is no doubt that it came from the Lord.

SPIRITUAL BOND

And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

(Acts 2:42-45 NKJV)

When we first started our church in 1979 I found myself stuck on this passage for today’s devotion. I was mesmerized by the supernatural community that formed after that initial outpouring on the day of Pentecost. It amazed me that people from all the different countries mentioned in this chapter as being effected by the Pentecostal outpouring were able to become such a close knit spiritual family so quickly. It wasn’t their nation they were from or their age or even their gender, even their Jewishness did not come into play. The bond of love that they shared is seen in this passage. If I had to boil it down to one word I would say it was the word fellowship. In the greek New Testament it says koinenea. Koinenea is at the heart of the true union found in a truly spiritual congregation. This union is not based on being poor or rich, young or old, or even black or white. Let’s look at this word koinenea and discover their secret. This is how Dick Mills describes this word.

“fellowship, koinōnia: Sharing, unity, close association, partnership, participation, a society, a communion, a fellowship, contributory help, the brotherhood. Koinōnia is a unity brought about by the Holy Spirit. In koinonia the individual shares in common an intimate bond of fellowship with the rest of the Christian society. Koinōnia cements the believers to the Lord Jesus and to each other.”

This union that is at the very heart of the New Testament community is the work of the Holy Spirit. Our love for the Lord birthed in us by our conversion is what we share in common. The fruit of this is called fellowship. We love the same things now; things like the Bible, worship, sharing our faith, and the preaching of the Word of God. Our former relationships were shaped around natural or cultural things. Our fellowship was controlled by the things we loved then; things like certain types of music and alcoholic beverages. Often times our relationships came out of interests such as fishing, motorcycles, cars, or and endless list of other interests. Today all of that has changed. We have been born again, we have been captured by the love of God. Our love for Him is what produces this incredible koinenea in our community.

WINDOWS OF HEAVEN

Acts 2:2 – Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting.

Have you ever been in a place when it seemed that the windows of heaven seemed to be suddenly wide open? I am the first to say that Jesus opened the heavens for us by His death on the cross but it is apparent that there are special seasons when the windows of heaven fling open and the wind of God begin to blow. On the day of Pentecost this is apparently what happened. The disciples had been praying and waiting on the Promise of the Father (they didn’t have any idea what that was) when suddenly the wind of God begin to blow from heaven into the room where they had gathered. This was the first New Testament outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Thankfully it would prove not to be the last. Arthur Wallis describes the source of spiritual awakening in his comments from “THE DAY OF HIS POWER”.

“With the brevity and simplicity characteristic of Scripture, we are shown in four words the source of the outpouring: “There came from heaven . . .” (Acts 2:2)…. (revival) is spontaneous, because it is “not forced or suggested or caused by outside agency.” It is the result of a divine and not a human impulse. In language plain to all, it cannot be “worked up.” It is true that spiritual conditions must be met before revival can be expected, but fulfilled conditions do not provide the motive force of revival. At Pentecost it was “the windows of heaven,” not the windows of the Upper Room, that were opened. The source of the blessing was the heart of God, not the heart of man. It cannot be too strongly emphasized that such “seasons of refreshing” have always come “from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19). We may believe that during those ten days of waiting, there were revived hearts in that Upper Room, but there was no revival; there were empty vessels but no outpouring. When it came, it came direct from heaven and found in that waiting band a channel through which to flow.”

I remember when those windows opened in our church in August of 1994. Our church nor I have ever been the same. Another generation is now in that upper room phase; something unprecedented is about to blow into the room.

GALILEAN FISHERMAN OR A VOICE FROM HEAVEN

Acts 2:7 – They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans?

Peter was on fire that day, he was speaking like a man from another world. He was actually speaking a new language rather than the language of this earth. Many in the crowd that day didn’t get it. All they could hear was the Galilean twang in Peter’s voice. He had the smell of a fisherman (even though he had left his nets years before). All the crowd could see was an uneducated yahoo, what good could possibly come out of this.

But something was going on that these bystanders couldn’t quite get. Twice in this passage Peter is said to be speaking in what we would call elevated or supernatural speech. First it was the speaking in other tongues. To those with deaf ears, it sounded like the babbling of a drunken man. Paul called it the language of angels, I like to call it my heavenly language. This prayer language is supernatural and flows out of what Jesus called our innermost being. Paul said it was praying in the Spirit. To the natural man this language is foolish, to the spiritual it is the very power of God. After the mocking and accusations of drunkenness Peter stepped forward to give a word of explanation. This too was called elevated speech in the original language. Peter was speaking in the language of the people by the power of the Spirit. Acts 2:14-16 describes it, “But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. “For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel…”

Even though he spoke by the Spirit only a portion of the crowd could “hear” Peter’s message. Thousands heard the voice of heaven and were filled with the Spirit, many others could only hear the voice of a Galilean fisherman. Peter had been changed by the Baptism in the Spirit, he was now speaking the language of heaven. Things haven’t changed much today. Many are still offended by the language of the Spirit, to many others that language just makes them feel right at home.

THE DAY THE CONVERSATION CHANGED

Acts 2:22 – Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know —

“Can you please keep those kids quiet!” Peter was trying to grab just a few more minutes of shut eye before he was back on that boat again. He had been going out at night fishing for years on the Sea of Galilee, tonight would be like hundreds of other nights; or would it? He had memories of fishing with his dad, now it was more serious. Peter and his fishing partners had bills to pay and food to put on the table. He was hoping for a better night tonight, he couldn’t afford too many more like last night; fishing all night and no fish. Something just had to give.

Have you ever known a fisherman? If so you already know Peter. His conversation was about tides and bait and nets and boats. His words were predictable and understandable because he knew about fish. People talk about what they know. That was about to change for Peter. After another long night of no fish an unexpected interruption changed everything. An itinerant preacher wanted to borrow Peter’s boat, reluctantly Peter agreed. Maybe he thought it might change his luck. Was that ever an understatement. After the preaching was over Peter heard the words that would change his life and his conversation forever, “launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch”. Reluctantly Peter followed the instructions and what happened next was over the top. Fish began filling the nets, so many fish that the nets began to break and the boat began to sink. Somehow they got those fish to the shore and that’s when the conversation changed, “follow Me and I will make you a fisher of men”. It’s funny, you would think the fishermen would be talking fish stories after a catch like that. How could they? Jesus had stepped onto their boat.

Peter began to speak a new language that day. How could he just talk about fish after Jesus had disrupted everything? From that day Jesus was at the center of his conversation, how could he really talk about anything else?

That brings us to us. We all talk about the things we know. Motorcycle guys talk motorcycles, guitar guys talk guitars, and golfers talk golf. You catch the drift. What could change any of that? The conversation changes when Jesus steps onto your boat. Suddenly, guitars and boats and football games aren’t that important. The conversation has changed. From now on you will be fishing for men.

THE PURCHASE OF GOD

Acts 2:33-35 – “Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.

“For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND,

UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET.”’

What was it the Lord was after? Really; why did He become a man and endure the mess that He was welcomed with on earth? Obviously, He didn’t walk in blind; He knew exactly what He signed up for. He knew the resistance and hatred He would face and endure, He knew the hardships, but He also knew something else. He knew about the reward. He had enjoyed it from eternity with His Father. He wanted to taste this life as a man so that man too could experience this treasure of unspeakable delight. Heb.12:2 – “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

It’s this sitting down at the right hand of God that has captured my attention. Think about it, He is at the right hand of God as a man representing us. Paul said in Eph.2:4-6 – “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus”.

So how does all of this effect me in my down to earth here and now world? Actually, it is major. I am seated together with Christ and have access to the life and joy that Jesus has enjoyed with His Father from eternity. This is our heavenly inheritance and we taste the edge of it now through the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. This is what Jesus purchased for me. He purchased access into this heavenly intimacy with the Father and the Son. He has called me into this fellowship of the Holy Spirit purchased by His blood.

David saw this and prophesied about it 1000 years before Christ. Peter tasted it on the day of Pentecost and proclaimed “THIS IS THAT”. We can enjoy this blessing now, it is more than enough to sustain us and satisfy us in this journey called life.

EVIDENCE THAT THE END IS NEAR

Acts 2:17-9 – And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.

And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.

I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.

The ministry of Jesus and the apostles were filled with the power of signs and wonders. These miracles were God’s sign of authenticity, you really can’t fake the supernatural very effectively. If I am reading my Bible accurately and this passage accurately, it appears to me that the power of signs and wonders are connected to last days prophesy. In other words, as we get closer to the great day we will move into a more intense season of these portents of His power.

When with think of end time prophesy we immediately turn to wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, and pestilence. Now don’t get me wrong, those are definitely signs of the end of this age. Even now the media can’t seem to get enough of the volcano erupting in Hawaii. They are talking about flying boulders and catastrophic explosions. This makes me think about the soon return of our Lord.

If you pay close attention to today’s verse and remember the context you will see that this passage talks about a greater and much more important sign of the coming age. This whole passage is about the fulfillment of Bible prophesy by the Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The effect this outpouring had on the 120 disciples in the upper room and the large crowd that soon gathered was the beginning of the greatest of all last days Bible prophesy. Peter said that what they were seeing (speaking in tongues, excessive joy, prophetic utterances) was just the beginning of what would happen before Jesus returned to the earth.

Today, these words are being fulfilled all over the world. I expect more, not less, of His mighty outpourings. There will be multitudes baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues in the days ahead; prophesies, visions and dreams, and miracle signs and wonders. Some get nervous about Holy Spirit manifestations and say we need to stick to the Bible. Exactly! It is in the written word that we see these things coming upon us.

THE POWER OF THE WIND

Acts 2:1,2 – When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.

You ever really notice what this verse says, ‘violent rushing wind’? Robertson’s Word Pictures says it like this, ‘an echoing sound as of a mighty wind borne violently’. This wind was powerful and changed the world totally and permanently. Have you ever been in a violent wind? When I was about thirteen we experienced Hurricane Betsy in New Orleans. In the height of the storm (the winds were at about 125 MPH) our family heard of the danger of possible catastrophic flooding in Metairie. The flooding never happened but we literally ran for our lives in the height of the storm. When I think of a violent rushing wind that’s what I think of. I remember roofs being thrown off, windows breaking out, and metal girders on billboards being twisted like pretzels. The wind of a hurricane is a picture of the powerful wind of God. Here are some thoughts from Maclaren on the power of this wind.

“In this symbol there lies not only the thought of a life derived, kindred with the life bestowed, and free like the life which is given, but there lies also the idea of power. The wind which filled the house was not only mighty but ‘borne onward’—fitting type of the strong impulse by which in olden times ‘holy men spake as they were “borne onward”’ (the word is the same) ‘by the Holy Ghost.’ There are diversities of operations, but it is the same breath of God, which sometimes blows in the softest pianissimo that scarcely rustles the summer woods in the leafy month of June, and sometimes storms in wild tempest that dashes the seas against the rocks. So this mighty life giving Agent moves in gentleness and yet in power, and sometimes swells and rises almost to tempest, but is ever the impelling force of all that is strong and true and fair in Christian hearts and lives.”

If you are filled with the Spirit, the power of the Wind is at work in you, for you, and through you. We have been empowered by the very force that created all things. If that is true then hold on to your hat. I think the wind is beginning to blow.

LIFE GIVING WIND

Acts 2:1,2 – When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.

This was quite an astounding miracle. This wasn’t a gentle spring breeze, it was literally a violent rushing wind. It was a sign from heaven announcing a new age; this would be the age of the Holy Spirit being poured out on all mankind. I love this glimpse into the third person of the trinity, the blessed Holy Spirit. In this one picture of the Holy Spirit we catch a glimpse of Who He is and what He is like. This wind is the very breath of God. This is not an impersonal wind blast, this is the very breath of heaven bringing His kisses to all of us. Think about it, there is not anything much more personal than a kiss, God breathes His kisses on us, awakening us to life. Here are some thoughts from McClaren on today’s verse.

“We are carried hack to that grand vision of the prophet who saw the bones lying, very many and very dry, sapless and disintegrated, a heap dead and ready to rot. The question comes to him: ‘Son of man! Can these bones live?’ The only possible answer, if he consult experience, is, ‘O Lord God! Thou knowest.’ Then follows the great invocation: ‘Come from the four winds, O Breath! and breathe upon these slain that they may live.’ And the Breath comes and ‘they stand up, an exceeding great army.’ ‘It is the Spirit that quickeneth.’ The Scripture treats us all as dead, being separated from God, unless we are united to Him by faith in Jesus Christ. According to the saying of the Evangelist, ‘They which believe on Him receive’ the Spirit, and thereby receive the life which He gives, or, as our Lord Himself speaks, are ‘born of the Spirit.”

Ezekiel’s vision pictures man as literally dead men walking. We are dead in our sins until His wind begins to blow. His wind awakens us and breathes the very life of God into our souls. This is why Jesus came to earth, to love us back to life. So maybe you feel like a lifeless corpse just going through the motions of life. Don’t be dismayed, His breath is blowing life into your soul.

THE SUDDENLYS OF GOD

Acts 2:1,2 ¶ When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.

I have had sudden experiences with the Lord several times in my life. First was my salvation experience. In one sense you could say it took a long time; I had been on a search for the reality of God for about a year when I experienced my first “suddenly”. Christ came into my life on a summer night in 1973, suddenly everything in life began to change. Again in 1994 I had been praying for a visitation of the Spirit for a number of years. Suddenly the wind of God began to blow in our church. One day there was nothing and suddenly all of that changed. The very atmosphere became charged with God as He suddenly appeared in His house. Here is how Dick Mills describes this sudden aspect of our Christian life.

“Suddenly is a word ripe with possibilities of meaning. It has an air of spontaneity about it. In the Bible it is also translated: straightway, immediately, then and there, from that moment on, and in an instant. Suddenly is a word almost exclusive in concept to the Bible. There are not many places on the planet that offer changes that occur suddenly….. In 1890, A. B. Simpson, founder of the Missionary Alliance Church called his message, “The Four – Fold Gospel”. Aimee simple McPherson called it “The Foursquare Gospel”. Salvation is not an inch at a time incident. It very much has the suddenly factor involved in it. The Apostle Paul’s conversion showed us how instantaneous salvation is. Acts 9:3 states, “As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.” He fell to earth as Saul of Tarsus, and rose to his feet as Paul the Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. It happened that quickly.”

One of the foursquare doctrines that Sister Aimee preached was the sudden return of Jesus Christ. Paul said Jesus would appear in an atomic instant, in the twinkling of an eye. The signs of His soon appearing are all around us. Don’t be lulled to sleep by the apparent delay of His return, He will come suddenly, like a thief in the night. Make sure you are not sleeping because everything is about to change.