Sunday March 6, 2016 | Seth McCoy
On that same evening (Resurrection Sunday), the followers gathered together behind locked doors in fear that some of the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem were still searching for them.
Out of nowhere, Jesus appeared in the center of the room.
Jesus: May each one of you be at peace. I give you the gift of peace. In the same way the Father sent Me, I am now sending you.
Now He drew close enough to each of them that they could feel His breath. He breathed on them.
Jesus: Welcome the Holy Spirit of the living God.
You now have the mantle of God’s forgiveness.
As you go, you are able to share the life-giving power to forgive sins, or to withhold forgiveness.
We can all struggle to hear and obey God at times – but why? Is it that we’re not listening well? Or that we’re afraid that we might not like what we hear? We’re not alone in those realities – even Jesus’ disciples found themselves there, hiding from others and living in fear. But when they received the Holy Spirit, they had supernatural help to overcome their fears – and so do we! The truth is, we shouldn’t be afraid of what will happen if we listen to the Holy Spirit, we should be afraid of what we’ll miss out on if we don’t!
When Seth got spanked as a child, the one doing the spanking often said, “Seth, this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.”…
Jesus told the disciples something like that – that he was going to leave them soon, but that it would be good for them. Looking back, we can see that was true, but at that time it had to be quite confusing to the disciples. They had never seen someone as amazing, as wise, as loving as Jesus – and then he tells them it’s good that he’s going to leave them soon? It must have been hard for them to believe…
The first case of “evangel-phobia” in the Bible is in John 20. Right after Jesus left them, the disciples are hiding in a locked room because they’re afraid – now that Jesus had left them, there were people looking for them who wanted to hurt them. Then suddenly, Jesus appears inside that locked room with them, tells them to be at peace, and that he would soon be sending them out from their hiding place. He breathes the Holy Spirit on them, gave them God’s forgiveness, and gave them the authority to forgive the sins of others.
A little while later, as recorded in Acts 1 and 2, that same group of disciples that was hiding in that locked room turns into a very bold group who were unafraid to go out into public and proclaim the Good News. What changed? Well, as Jesus said, the same Spirit that was in Him would be given to them, and that’s exactly what happened.
This story of transformation is a picture of our own past, present, and possible future. While hiding in fear, the Holy Spirit comes to us and wants to fill us with His peace, boldness, love, etc. That is what transformed the disciples 2000 years ago, and it still happens today. There is supernatural help and hope for us.
Just as the Israelites followed a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, God’s Spirit will still lead us today – but now He’s closer than our own breath. Why do we doubt that God wants to guide us through life? Why do we wonder if God wants to work through us? Do you believe that God has something to say to you? How about through you? Do you believe that God cares about you? How about the people around you?
In the OT, Samuel grew up in the House of the Lord, where one night Samuel heard God’s voice. The third time he heard that voice, Eli finally realized that God was wanting to speak to Samuel. But the first few times, not only did Samuel miss that fact, but Eli missed it too. How many times have we missed God speaking to us? Are you ears open to hear God? Have you been listening?
We have to be attuned to God, and we have to be attuned to other people. Can we wake up in the morning and intentionally listen to God? Are you willing to be intentional about seeing where God is unlocking doors for you to give you opportunities to share what’s in your heart with others?
When God opens a door for us, we have a choice. He doesn’t force us through the doorway, but He is at work on the other side of that door, and He’s inviting us to work with him there. But we have to be willing to risk walking through that open door – leaving the room we’ve been living in, and walking out into a new place.
In Acts 2, Peter is filled with the Spirit, and he shares the Good News with others. 3000 people were baptized that day. What if Peter had said “no” to the Spirit’s prompting? The bottom line is that we shouldn’t be afraid of what will happen if we listen to God and follow Him. Rather, we should be afraid of what we will miss out on if we don’t listen to God and obey Him.