SERMON: AWAITING THE HOLY SPIRIT (9.26.21)
Introduction to the Message
I’ve heard a lot of great comments about our Revival Service last Sunday. Both church communities want to plan another one, so we’ll talk more about that. On an individual basis each of our experiences was likely different. If you did not strongly feel the Holy Spirit’s presence on you, please don’t be concerned. The theme for our service today is waiting or the Holy Spirit. It’s the way the Spirit operates, and it is always on God’s timing.
Every book in the Bible contains its own summary of what is included in that book. As we have studied Revelation, the summary is right at the beginning in 1:1: “The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
Please note the use of the verb tenses: ”what must soon take place” and “the time is near.” These are not past or present tense verbs--they are future tense verbs. All the events described in Revelation are events which we must anticipate, watch for, and prepare for.
Today’s two readings are also examples of waiting for God and the Holy Spirit. In Acts 1:4 Jesus told the disciples to patiently wait together for the Holy Spirit to join and empower them. He said: “Do not leave Jerusalem but wait for the gift my Father has promised…for John baptized with water but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Jesus also said in verse 7: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.”
The disciples waited as instructed and then the Holy Spirit came upon them in the upper room in ways that were both unmistakable and transformational. They all became missionaries of the Word with new knowledge and new language skills. I must say I am just a little bit envious on how quickly they learned new languages after I think about the time it took me to become fluent in Italian when I went to college in Italy!
Today’s other reading is a bit different but is also another example of waiting on God and the Holy Spirit’s timing. Simeon already has his visit from the Holy Spirit---the verse says the “Spirit was on him.” The Holy Spirit promised him that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah.
As guided by the Holy Spirit’s timing, Simeon went to the temple to encounter the young Jesus and his parents, Simeon recognized the young Jesus as the Messiah and praised God.
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss[a] your servant in peace."
Simeon’s request to live long enough to meet the Messiah was granted, and we can assume that he died as a happy, fulfilled believer.
So, brothers and sisters, we can learn something important about the need to wait for God’s timing. When we met last Sunday, you may have an expectation that the Holy Spirit would immediately show up for you…and maybe He did! But we know from these readings that that is not always the case. AW Tozer gives us several examples. He talks about DL Moody’s transformation. A spiritually sound woman prayed over DL Moody, but he left her not feeling anything different. Then, days later, the Spirit landed on Moody, and he was richly blessed by the Spirit’s presence. What difference did the Spirit make? Moody said he preached the same sermons after he was filled with the Spirit. “I didn’t change sermons, but what a difference,” Moody said. The Holy Spirit gave him the power to penetrate in much the same way that Peter the apostle was transformed into an effective speaker after the Holy Spirit landed on him.
John Wesley’s conversion took time as well. After observing how deep the faith of the Moravians was, he asked Brother Peter, the Moravian leader, how to be converted. The advice he got was “it’s all through grace. Pray for grace, preach grace, and when you have it, share it so others may get it too.” That was a critical part of the spread of Methodism worldwide.
There’s another important point I’d like to make about waiting for the Holy Spirit. If God makes a promise to you, he will always honor it. Joshua is an example of waiting for God’s promise. In waiting for God, he learned this, which is captured from Joshua 23:14-16: “Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth. And you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed. 15 Therefore it shall come to pass, that as all the good things have come upon you which the Lord your God promised you, so the Lord will bring upon you all harmful things, until He has destroyed you from this good land which the Lord your God has given you. 16 When you have transgressed the covenant of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed down to them, then the anger of the Lord will burn against you, and you shall perish quickly from the good land which He has given you.”
In this passage, we hear God speaking clearly about his promises for all good things, and for all harmful things he will bring if the Jews break his covenant. The Holy Spirit’s presence is worth waiting for, and God never breaks a promise. Our work is to be ready when the Holy Spirit reveals himself.
Father, we thank you for this world, for your grace and blessings, and for your willingness to send the Holy Spirit to bless us and to magnify our gifts. Thank you for all good things and for the confidence that when you promise, you always deliver.
Please consider this thought as you pray this week:
-- What has the Holy Spirit asked you to do, and how are you preparing while you wait?