Obedient People Have Special Experiences Part 1
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
Obedient People Have Special Experiences
Acts 1:4; 2:1-8
God has wonderful plans for people who are obedient to Him. Isaiah 1:19 says, “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.” And in Habakkuk, we read, “Look at the nations! Watch them and be amazed and shocked. I will do something in your lifetime that you won’t believe even when you are told about it. (Hab. 1:5) God told His servant, Habakkuk, that his prayers would be answered in a way he never expected. God was going to bring Babylon against Judah and chasten His people, because of their disobedience. In 597 B.C., the Babylonians conquered Judah and began to deport the Jews to Babylon. They would remain in captivity for seventy years, and even though some returned to Israel, they were never a great nation again.
From the human point of view, the invasion of the land and the captivity of the people would seem a tragedy, but it was God’s work just the same. God’s reply to Habakkuk reminds us that His ways are not our ways. The prophet Jeremiah wrote about the plans which God has for His people. He wrote, “I say this because I know what I am planning for you,” says the Lord. “I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future. Then you will call my name. You will come to me and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will search for me. And when you search for me with all your heart, you will find me!” (Jer. 29:11-13)
Sometimes we can’t make up our minds, but God is never uncertain about any decision. Sometimes when things are not going good, we think that God is against us, but all of His thoughts and actions are good, and even those that seem harmful are for our own good. His plans for us were made long ago, and He does exactly what He planned, and He is working to an exact timetable which only He knows. God’s gifts are not determined by what we fear, or from the things we desire; but they come from the hopefulness of our faith, which is expressed in our prayers and requests to God.
The scriptures for today focus on the people of the early church. I want to read Acts 1:2-4, and 2:1-8 to you.
“Until the day he was taken up into heaven. Before this, with the help of the Holy Spirit, Jesus told the apostles he had chosen what they should do. After his death, he showed himself to them and proved in many ways that he was alive. The apostles saw Jesus during the forty days after he was raised from the dead, and he spoke to them about the kingdom of God. Once when he was eating with them, he told them not to leave Jerusalem. He said, ‘Wait here to receive the promise from the Father which I told you about.”’ That was Acts 1:2-4.
Last week, we studied these verses and we saw that Jesus gave His disciples many infallible proofs of His Resurrection. Over a period of forty days between His death and ascension, Jesus appeared at frequent intervals to His apostles. No one could seriously doubt that He was alive. Before He left, He told them to wait for the promise of the Father. A great deal of ink has been used attempting to explain these five words; the promise of the Father. However, various passages of Scripture make it clear that the promise of the Father (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:16) and also the promise of the Son (Jn 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7) were references to the arrival of the Holy Spirit of God.
Now, let’s read chapter 2, verses 1-8:
“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a noise like a strong, blowing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw something like flames of fire that were separated and stood over each person there. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak different languages by the power the Holy Spirit was giving them. There were some religious Jews staying in Jerusalem who were from every country in the world. When they heard this noise, a crowd came together. They were all surprised because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were completely amazed at this. They said, “Look! Aren’t all these people that we hear speaking from Galilee? Then how is it possible that we each hear them in our own languages? We are from different places.”
We are told here that all the disciples were together in one place and that they were bonded together by a unity of purpose. Then the Holy Spirit of God came with power accompanied by two signs. The first sign was the sound of a mighty rushing wind and the second was like flames of fire that separated and stood over each one there. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues (languages).
At Pentecost, these men were given an unnatural ability to speak in other languages. There were Jews there in Jerusalem from all over the world to celebrate the feast of Pentecost, so there were also many languages present.
The news of this special event taking place on Pentecost spread throughout the city, and they were all amazed. Those who heard the disciples speak in their own languages, said to one another, “We do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.”
The disciples were commanded, by Jesus, to wait for this very special event. Their option was to obey and wait or to get busy on their own. The 120 believers obeyed and waited. But some left and we wonder what happened to those who left rather than to obey the Lord’s command to wait.
We are going to look at these special experiences that came to those who waited as Jesus had instructed. There are four points that should be made about this very unusual experience:
1. It was an emotional time unlike any anyone had ever experienced.
2. It was a mystical experience.
3. It was a melting moment.
4. A movement was born.
Now the first thing that is evident is that “it was an emotional time unlike any anyone had ever experienced.”
The Holy Spirit swept over them in an overwhelming demonstration. We are told that “Suddenly a noise like a strong, blowing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw something like flames of fire that were separated and stood over each person there. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak different languages by the power the Holy Spirit was giving them. They were all amazed and confused, asking each other, ‘What does this mean?”’
Some thought that they were drunk, so Peter addressed that thought. He said, “These people are not drunk, as you think; it is only nine o’clock in the morning!” Then he told them, “But Joel the prophet wrote about what is happening here today: ‘God says: In the last days I will pour out my Spirit on all kinds of people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. …. Then anyone who calls on the Lord will be saved.’” (Acts 2:2-4, 12, 15-21)
When Peter spoke to the crowd, he was assuming the role of leadership. Notice that the Eleven stand behind him giving their full support to his message. Peter warns the onlookers that the one hundred and twenty are not drunk as everyone thought, but what they are viewing is in actuality a fulfillment of prophecy. They should not be surprised at what they see, for it was predicted hundreds of years before by the prophet Joel.
This was an emotional experience, but is it good to experience such emotion? Well, we accept emotional experiences in every other area of our lives, so why not accept emotion as part of our spiritual experiences. After all, if love is an emotion, then God has expressed that emotion toward us. John 3:16, says, “For God so loved the world,” and there is the verse, “God is love.” And Paul said, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God.” We are also told, “That He first loved us.”
When you come to believe that God loves you, it is an emotional time; and that knowledge leads to obedience because you want to please Him. Obedient Christians have a warm, loving feeling toward God. They are open and responsive to his movement in their lives.
There are people, who refuse to obey God, and I believe that they are Christians; they may be faithful to their church and for all appearances look like they are walking with God. But they are not obeying Him, and disobedient people are afraid that they will give away their true selves. They can’t bring themselves to give up some sin or they covet something that is sin, so they’re not happy. Their sin prevents them from having a relationship with Jesus, and there is the constant fear that they will have their sin exposed.
I have lived in this terrible condition. For me, it was smoking. I believed that for me smoking was wrong, so I tried to hide my addiction to protect my Christian witness. I would sneak into the restroom and smoke, and at noon, I would eat alone in my car, so I could smoke. It was like being in prison; and I was very unhappy until I was able to break the habit, with God’s help.
There have been other addictions in my life, and there are some that I am still fighting, but with God’s help, I am getting more successful in defeating these sins. I want to obey the Lord, but I can’t do it without the help of the Holy Spirit! Thank God, His Spirit is right here in my heart.