Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Spirit of God

Act 4:23-37  As soon as Peter and John were set free, they returned to their group and told them what the chief priests and the elders had said. When the believers heard it, they all joined together in prayer to God: "Master and Creator of heaven, earth, and sea, and all that is in them!  By means of the Holy Spirit you spoke through our ancestor David, your servant, when he said, 'Why were the Gentiles furious; why did people make their useless plots?  The kings of the earth prepared themselves, and the rulers met together against the Lord and his Messiah.'  For indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together in this city with the Gentiles and the people of Israel against Jesus, your holy Servant, whom you made Messiah.  They gathered to do everything that you by your power and will had already decided would happen.  And now, Lord, take notice of the threats they have made, and allow us, your servants, to speak your message with all boldness.  Reach out your hand to heal, and grant that wonders and miracles may be performed through the name of your holy Servant Jesus."  When they finished praying, the place where they were meeting was shaken. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to proclaim God's message with boldness.  The group of believers was one in mind and heart. None of them said that any of their belongings were their own, but they all shared with one another everything they had.  With great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God poured rich blessings on them all.  There was no one in the group who was in need. Those who owned fields or houses would sell them, bring the money received from the sale,  and turn it over to the apostles; and the money was distributed according to the needs of the people.  And so it was that Joseph, a Levite born in Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means "One who Encourages"),  sold a field he owned, brought the money, and turned it over to the apostles.

This passage from Acts says that the sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit was boldness and generosity.  Why then do we tie ourselves in knots by chasing after speaking in tongues, ecstatic experience, exclusive wisdom and inner feelings of joy? The Spirit of God is not some personal possession, given to make us feel good, or to allow us to feel superior over those who do not “have our experience”. The Spirit of God is given so that we may be faithful in our service: a service that asks us to be bold, and to become generous.   

To Sing:
God’s Spirit is in my heart,
He has called me and set me apart.
This is what I have to do,
what I have to do.
He sent me to give the Good News to the poor,
Tell prisoners that they are prisoners no more,
Tell blind people that they can see,
And set the downtrodden free
And go tell everyone the news that the Kingdom of God has come,
And go tell everyone the news that the Kingdom of God has come

Author: Alan Date (1902-1979) & Hubert J. Richards (B 1921)


Third Sunday of Easter
The Lord is with us
Scripture reading taken from A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants p.154


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