Tag Archive | Holy Spirit

The Two Gifts of Pentecost

This Sunday, June 4, is Pentecost.

We have just had a big holiday weekend here in the United States, so you may not feel eager for another “event.” But Pentecost does not require a lot of preparation, and it is too wonderful to miss!

Very simply, Pentecost is a day to thank God for the Scriptures and for the Spirit. God gave these marvelous gifts to guide,  strengthen, and comfort us.  Pentecost is sometimes called the birthday of the Church because, according to Acts 2, it was on the day of Pentecost that the Holy Spirit came like a rushing wind, appeared like flames of fire, and filled the believers.  (Read more about Pentecost HERE.)

Be sure to celebrate!

Your celebration can be as simple as sticking a birthday candle in a muffin and then taking time to thank God for His gifts. Or you can celebrate with a meal and use some of these ideas, below. (The following is an excerpt from Simple Celebrations.)

Here is a simple menu for a Pentecost meal:

  • barley soup
    You can easily add barley to vegetable soup or to beef-and-vegetable soup.Pentecost
  • bread
    Two loaves of braided bread are great because the ten strands can represent the Ten Commandments.
    Pentecost
  • honey
  • something prepared with oil
    You might try latkes, but anything that your group likes is fine.
  • birthday cake

How to Celebrate

Explain that Pentecost is a special celebration of two of God’s fantastic gifts to us: the Scriptures and the Spirit.

As you serve the barley soup, explain that Pentecost occurs seven weeks, or fifty days, after Passover. In Biblical history, this was the time of the spring harvest. Barley was a spring crop.

Explain that fifty days after the first Passover, when God brought the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt, God gave a wonderful gift to His people at Mount Sinai: the written Word of God. This was a covenant gift of the first—or “old”—covenant.

Serve the bread, and talk about how the Scriptures nourish us. Have someone read Matthew 4:4. Serve honey—or jam for children under 2—and talk about how the Scriptures are sweet to us. Read Psalm 119:103.

Pentecost

Light the candle as you discuss how the Scriptures are like light for us. Read Psalm 119:105. You may also want to read Psalm 19:7-11.

Serve the food that represents oil. Say that we are celebrating the amazing gift of the Holy Spirit, who was given to God’s people as a covenant gift of the new covenant. The old covenant was the covenant of earning God’s acceptance, but the new covenant is the covenant of receiving God’s acceptance and friendship.

Tell your group that just as the gift of the old covenant came fifty days after Passover and with loud noises and fire, so the gift of the new covenant came with loud noises and fire fifty days after Jesus became our Passover Lamb. On that day of Pentecost, the believers in Jerusalem received the Spirit of God. Scriptures you may want to read highlighting the Spirit are Romans 8:5-16 or John 14:16-17, 26.

Pentecost

At the end of your meal, celebrate Pentecost as the birthday of the Church! Read about it in Acts 2:1-4. With cake and candles, thank God for His Church, which is made up of all believers in Christ.

Have a joy-filled Pentecost!

Celebrating with you,
Tami

A Gift to Celebrate!

There is a birthday coming up soon that you will not want to miss!Pentecost

Did you know that “the birthday of the Church” is on May 24 this year? You may know the day better as “Pentecost” or as “the Feast of Weeks.” There are many things that I love about this holy-day, but if I had to pare it down to just one essential, I would say this:

Pentecost is a special day to thank God for the precious, powerful gift of His Spirit to every believer.

On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit came to God’s people like a mighty rushing wind. (See Acts 2.) The Spirit is not only God with us, but He is God within us! As we yield to God, His Spirit fills us just as the the beautiful glory of God filled the Old Testament tabernacle.

It is the weaving of the Spirit that allows us to abide in Christ as He abides in us. The Spirit guides us, challenges us, and comforts us. What a wonderful Gift to celebrate!

Like Pentecost, our marriages also have one essential: the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit is the Mighty Rushing Wind in our marriages, too! It is through the Spirit that the glory of God fills our marriages. It is the Spirit who knits together one man and one woman within the one-flesh covenant. It is the Spirit who guides us to serve our spouses. It is the Breath of God who challenges us to love well and who comforts us in the painful places of our marriages.

The Spirit is the One who gives us power—the power to forgive, to honor, and to cherish (Acts 1:8). He gives us the ability to speak in other languages: He enables us to communicate love and respect in ways that our spouses can “hear” and receive (Acts 2:4). As God pours out His Spirit, there will be signs and wonders in our marriages (Acts 2:18, 19). There will be miracles of forgiveness, endurance, humility, and kindness.

It is the Spirit who oils our relationships with harmony. He is the Friend who longs to encourage the lover and his beloved, not only in the “Song of Songs,” but in every marriage.

Even if your spouse is not obedient to God, the Holy Spirit is able to pour redemption and goodness into your marriage through your yielded spirit.

What a wonderful Gift to celebrate!

LORD, I do thank You for the priceless gift of Your Spirit. How awesome that You would choose to live with me and even within me! I yield to Your rule in my marriage. Even if my spouse does not join me, I choose to yield to You. Fill my mind with Your thoughts; give me eyes to see what You see; and fill my heart with Your desires. Fill me with Your Presence so that Your glory radiates into my marriage. Amen.

If you would like to learn more about Pentecost, I have written much more about it HERE and HERE.

A joyful celebration to you!
Tami

 

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Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s Time to Celebrate!

Have you ever celebrated Pentecost in your home? This coming Sunday is Pentecost, which God gave to us as a special day of rejoicing (Deut. 16:11). Observing Pentecost with your family or friends can be a wonderful celebration. Although Pentecost is not a complicated celebration,  it is one of great joy.

Pentecost was one of the seven feasts that God instructed the ancient Israelites to observe (and one of the three which required mandatory attendance in Jerusalem). Pentecost is a time to rejoice in God’s goodness to us.  At Pentecost, we celebrate three gifts:

1. The gift of the Scriptures. Pentecost is held fifty days after Passover. (Pentecost means “fifty.”) Fifty days after the first Passover in Egypt, the Israelites were at Mount Sinai. With loud sounds and with fire, God gave the Law and the Ten Commandments on Pentecost as part of the first covenant. God told the people to present to the LORD two loaves of bread as part of the Pentecost offerings. This bread, unlike the Passover bread, was “baked with yeast” (Lev. 23:17).
The first thing we celebrate are the Scriptures that God has given to us.  These words that are not just idle words—they are life to us (Deut. 32:4).  Like bread, they are nourishing to our spirits; like honey, they are sweet to our souls; like a lamp, they guide us.

2. The gift of the Holy Spirit. Fifty days after Jesus gave Himself as the Passover Lamb of God, the disciples were in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. With loud sounds and with fire, God gave the Holy Spirit on Pentecost as part of the new covenant. So the second thing we celebrate is the Holy Spirit, who gives us boldness, comfort, power, and instruction.

3. The gift of the spring harvest, and the promise of the fall harvest. Pentecost in ancient Israel occurred at the time of the wheat harvest in the spring. When the Jews gave their “firstfruits” as offerings to God during this festival, they were thanking God for the spring harvest as well as for the coming fall harvest. Pentecost is  a “firstfruits” celebration for us, too, meaning that we are offering to God our first and best–not our leftovers–both as an expression of gratitude for what He has given and also as a statement of confidence that He will provide again.

English: Picture of wheat from Czech republik

The Jewish people traditionally read the book of Ruth on Pentecost because most of the story of Boaz and Ruth occurred during the spring harvest in Bethlehem (which means “house of bread”).  God gave Boaz and Ruth good things in their lives, such as a son, a grandson, and a great grandson, King David–this was a “spring harvest.”  These blessings were also promises of abundant good things still to come: the Messiah came through their family line!

Ruth in Boaz's Field

We learn in Acts 2 that on the day of Pentecost, after the disciples received the Holy Spirit, three thousand people became followers of Christ. This was an “harvest” of souls–an abundant spring harvest! It gives us confidence that God will also bring the “fall harvest” that He has promised.

An interesting Jewish tradition on Pentecost is to read from Ezekiel 1, a passage which refers to a great windstorm and to fire. Perhaps these images were in the disciples’ thoughts as they then encountered for themselves the sound of a mighty wind and the sight of fire. In the excellent book God’s Appointed Times, Barney Kasdan makes these comments:

Imagine thousands of Jewish worshipers leaving the Temple after the morning service (at the third hour, Acts 2:15) having just read the passage from Ezekiel 1. Suddenly some of the same manifestations of the Holy Spirit started to appear before their eyes! No wonder they were amazed and perplexed by the windstorm and fire. It certainly got their attention! They must have wondered if God was revealing his Shekinah glory for the first time in early 600 years! The glory of God was present at the giving of the Law; the same glory was manifested at the giving of the holy spirit. The prophet later wrote: “I will put my Spirit in you and cause you to walk in my statutes…” (Ezekiel 36:27). *

It is fascinating, too, to see in Romans 8:23 that the Holy Spirit is referred to as “firstfruits,” that is, He is God’s good gift to us, and He is also a promise of the abundance of good gifts still to come.

So how can we celebrate all of this on Sunday?  Here are some simple ideas, which you can either simplify or embellish.

1. Decorate (optional):  Use flowers, greenery, or other decorations to represent spring. Perhaps using your best dishes will make the time more festive.  If you have something that symbolizes harvest (such as wheat, barley, or fruit), that would be great, too.

2. Celebrate the Scriptures:  Serve bread, and talk about how the Scriptures nourish us. Read Deuteronomy 8:3. Serve honey (or jam for children under 2), and talk about how the Scriptures are sweet to us.  Read Psalm 119:103. Light candles or use flashlights as you discuss how the Scriptures are like light for us. Read Psalm 119:105.  You may also want to read Psalm 19:7-11.

3.  Celebrate the Spirit: Express thankfulness for God’s gift of the Holy Spirit. You might read Acts 2:1-4 and Romans 8:5-16. Other verses about the Holy Spirit that you may want to read are John 14:16-17, 26.

4.  Celebrate the harvests:  You may want to serve barley soup as a reminder of the spring harvest.  (You can easily add barley to vegetable soup or to beef-and-vegetable soup.)  Thank God for what He has provided for you and your family recently (the spring harvest), and thank Him that He is going to provide in the future (the fall harvest).  Read Acts 2:38-41, noticing the spring harvest of souls. Perhaps you will want to pray for more laborers to work in the harvest fields (Matthew 9:38) and for God to bring an abundant fall harvest of people who will love Him.

Happy Pentecost!

*Barney Kasdah. God’s Appointed Times: A Practical Guide for Understanding and Celebrating the Biblical Holidays. Clarksville, Maryland: Lederer Books. 1993. pages 55-56.