Sunday 25th April 2021

Bookmark and Share

As I mentioned in Wednesday’s article, we are going to spend the next few weeks looking at a speech Simon-Peter gave. This is the first occasion when someone other than Jesus shares the gospel – the message which we have put our faith in. In Wednesday’s article we read that on at least one of Jesus resurrection appearances, he spent time teaching his disciples how the scriptures we refer to as the Old Testament tell us about the death and resurrection of the saviour God would send - and now Simon-Peter shares that teaching with people in Jerusalem. Read Acts 2: 14-24

Simon-Peter quotes from the prophet Joel and I’m guessing the part of your bible where we find book of Joel is not well thumbed! But those people who were listening to Simon-Peter would not only know the quotation, they would also have an awareness of what the whole of Joel’s book is saying. It starts off with an illustration reminding people how swarms of locusts turn a fruitful landscape into barren, lifeless desert and then Joel says that their lives have been stripped bare, by the locusts of sin.  Joel then goes on to first remind them who God is “he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.” (Joel 2: 13b) and then gives them a promise from God: “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2: 25). Joel is emphasising that God wants to redeem and restore, and then he goes on to tell the people how God will do that. Joel tells them, ‘God will pour out his spirit… on all who call on the name of the Lord.’

Both in Joel’s time and Simon-Peter’s, the people had come to believe that God was absent, distant, no longer wishing to be associated with them. Joel’s message is that God isn’t absent, isn’t distance but wants to be fully involved in their lives. This is a timeless message. Lots of people today have been feeling the same way, feeling disconnected from God, either because of the pandemic or because of their personal circumstances or a combination of both. Joel’s message gives the solution to those types of feelings - God want us to turn to him, to acknowledge that hope is found in him alone

Now there is a big difference between the situation Joel was addressing and our situation. Those people Joel wrote to and those listening to Simon-Peter only expected to see God’s Holy Spirit present in the lives of special individuals - people like Moses, King David, Elijah and Elisha, but Simon-Peter tells them that things have now changed, and to expect God’s Holy Spirit to be an ever-present help in their lives.

Simon-Peter explains that because Jesus sacrificed his life on the cross and God has shown his power over sin and death by raising Jesus to life again, and because Jesus has now ascended back to his Father in heaven, we are living in ‘the last days’ as we await Jesus’ return. And because we live in ‘the last days’ we can know the presence of God’s Spirit in our lives as we call on him –put our trust in him.

God promises to give the ever-present help of his Holy Spirit to both sons and daughters, whether they are young or old, and by implication any age in-between! So that must include you!! God wants everyone who calls out to him, to know the ever-helpful presence of his Spirit, but notice that Joel isn’t told by God what this will look like. Simon-Peter says that what he and the other followers of Jesus had just experienced, was God’s Holy Spirit being poured out on them, but it isn’t ever recorded as happening in that same way again. God’s promise is more exciting than his Spirit being poured out on everyone in the same way, Father God is not looking at a formula, or a ritual, God desires a relationship with us.

The bible records in Acts of the Apostles a number of occasions when people are very aware of God’s Holy Spirit being poured out on them, and each occasion is different, although there is a common factor, the people recognise that they need God at the centre of their lives – they ‘call on the name of the Lord.’

How God reveals his spirit’s presence to each of us will continue to develop and change as our relationship with him evolves. Prayer is where we are most likely to recognise God’s Spirit in our lives. It might be through reminding you of a phrase you read in the bible or you find that in your prayers you keep returning to a certain phrase or topic. It might be through the line of a hymn which keeps returning to you or a comment you hear someone else make. Maybe it will just be a nagging thought constantly in the back of your mind or it may even be through a burning bush – or dreams - or visions! - but for me it is usually far less spectacular.

Below are the lyrics to a song which you perhaps aren’t familiar with, but use the words to help you voice your own prayers to God:

Holy Spirit, living breath of God, breathe new life into my willing soul.

Let the presence of the risen Lord, come renew my heart & make me whole.

Cause Your Word to come alive in me; give me faith for what I cannot see,

give me passion for Your purity; Holy Spirit, breathe new life in me.

(Keith Getty & Stuart Townend © 2005 Thankyou Music)

Page last updated: 5th May 2021 7:21 AM