Keep The Fire Burning Pentecost Sunday 2019

Are you a disciple of Jesus? Are you baptized in the Holy Spirit? Are you stoking the fires? In this teaching, we will point you to answers for each of these questions. 

Pentecost Sunday – Keep The Fires Burning

120 believers have gathered again in the same place where Jesus broke bread and said take eat this is my body broken for you and after the meal gave thanks to the Father for the wine and passed it among his disciples and said this is my blood which is poured out for the forgiveness of sins. Tradition reports this is where Thomas was confronted by the risen Jesus and believed. That room is called the Cenacle, its located in the southern part of the Old City of Jerusalem on Mount Zion.  The current structure of the room dates back to the 14th century. In the room in which the Last Supper took place an even more ancient prophecy was fulfilled. Twice in the writings of Jeremiah and twice in the writings of Ezekiel the prophets wrote that God would put His Spirit in believers.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 (MSG)
I'll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I'll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that's God-willed, not self-willed. I'll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands.

That stone heart, it’s the cause of so many problems for believers. For it is our old adversary, egoism. The self centered upon the self that puts one’s own interests and desires above any other even if those pursuits injure others. The stone heart, self-willed, I will do what I want when I want the way I want. In the life of a believer one who has acknowledged their need for a savior, believed that Jesus is the savior they need and committed themselves to a lifestyle of discipleship to Jesus, though their sins are forgiven and they are declared righteous by Almighty God, still have this ingrained principle within. Egoism hijacks a believer’s best intentions, as the Apostle Paul said:

Romans 7:15 (MSG)
What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise.

Because of this, we are immature believers, adolescents in the faith, riding a spiritual roller coaster in which the highs are when all is right between our conscience and our faith, the lows when we know we have fallen short of the glory of God. We rejoice in spiritual mountain top experiences, we mourn our lack of follow through in the valley. We want to be all in for God, fully devout disciples of Jesus Christ, living our lives to the full, but then we find that once again we have fallen into unrighteousness. Up and down, back and forth, as if tossed by the waves of the sea. We may even question our own salvation experience when faith in Christ washed our sins away and made us new creations setting us right with God. Do you need a change of heart?

It is in this upper room that 120 of Jesus disciples are praying and that ancient prophecy is fulfilled. They gathered to celebrate the Jewish Feast of Pentecost, that occurs 50 days after the Passover celebration.

Acts 2:1-4 (MSG)
When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.

Through His prophets, God said: I will put my Spirit in you. With this baptism in the Holy Spirit, we now have freedom from egoism. No longer can our best intentions be hijacked, no longer are we immature, but now we have an adult like faith, now we are fully responsible for our thoughts, words, and deeds. Now we choose to say no to our temptations or we choose to give in to our temptations. Now we decide if we will stay on the narrow path of salvation, becoming more and more like Christ who now empowers us, or to wander off that path at our own peril.

But this Baptism in the Spirit doesn’t to us automatically. We first must learn of the Spirit’s infilling and then we must ask for this second work of grace.

Acts 19:1 (MSG)
Paul made his way down through the mountains, came to Ephesus, and happened on some disciples there.

Disciples Christ-followers, people who have heard the gospel responded to God gracious invitation to become one of His children. People who acknowledged their need for God, believed it is through Jesus God reveals Himself, so they committed themselves to be followers of Jesus that they may know God. Paul joins company with these believers.

Acts 19:2 (MSG)
The first thing he said was, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? Did you take God into your mind only, or did you also embrace him with your heart? Did he get inside you?"
"We've never even heard of that—a Holy Spirit? God within us?"

The prophets foretold this—I will put my Spirit in you. Paul then asked how they came to believe in Jesus.

Acts 19:3-4 (MSG)
3 "How were you baptized, then?" asked Paul.
"In John's baptism."
4 "That explains it," said Paul. "John preached a baptism of radical life-change so that people would be ready to receive the One coming after him, who turned out to be Jesus. If you've been baptized in John's baptism, you're ready now for the real thing, for Jesus."

John the Baptist, the herald of the coming Messiah. Do you recall what he said about Jesus, the one who comes after him?

Matthew 3:11-12 (MSG)
[He] will ignite the kingdom life within you, a fire within you, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. He's going to clean house—make a clean sweep of your lives.

The Holy Spirit is like a fire within you that purifies. Consuming all this is unworthy of the gospel of Jesus, bring forth the salvation God has worked in you.

Have you experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit now that you are a believer?

Every believer is sealed with the Spirit the moment God accepts you as His own.
There is a difference from being sealed and being filled. It is the Spirit that brings you to faith in Christ, and then seals your faith with Himself when you believe.

Ephesians 1:13-14 (NKJV)
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

The Spirit empowers sanctification, the power that transforms you into the person God declared you to be when you asked Him to save you. Being sealed with the Spirit that power is active in you. The Spirit leads you to the place, matures you to a place of confirmation. A time in which you must decide that you are all in, that you are serious about your faith in Christ, that you are going to bend the knee, and make your Savior your Lord also. It is the place where you will sacrifice your egoism, you will crucify your old way, only that which is dead can be resurrected. It is the place in time where you identify yourself completely with Jesus.

Galatians 2:20-21 (MSG)
I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not "mine," but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.

You know that the Holy Spirit has led you to this place and time of confirmation because you realize that you are not living your life to the full; that you are still hijacked by egoism, easily overcome by the temptation to do what you want to do regardless if it is righteous behavior or sin. You live for God but then you live for self. You bless God but then you curse another human being.

James 3:10-11 (MSG)
My friends, this can't go on. A spring doesn't gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it?

You acknowledge your sin problem, you repent, not out of fear of damnation, but out of love for God, you have the deepest desire to be free from this back and forth, up and down spirituality. Then you consecrate yourself, you dedicate yourself to God’s and only God’s purposes for your life. You choose to be set apart as God’s instrument, God’s servant, to spend your life for His Kingdom. You “present yourself as a living sacrifice, holy, well pleasing to God…”(Romans 12:1)

When God answers this desire of your heart the testimony is heard I have been baptized in the Holy Spirit, I am saved and sanctified. The change that takes place is that egoism can no longer hijack your will. Now you have the power to say no to temptation and yes to God. You are responsible for your own choices, you act like a spiritual adult, you can choose to live your life to the full. What naturally follows is living a life that is characterized by love for God and love for others. Love that desires and seeks to do anything that enhances and deepens the relationship. Love that abhors and refrains to do anything that deters, damages or destroys the relationship.

We have dear brothers and sisters who teach that the evidence that one is baptized in the Spirit is that they speak in tongues. For our faith community, we teach that the evidence that one is baptized in the Holy Spirit is the growth and development of the fruit of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-25 (NKJV)
“…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such, there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh [egoism] with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

These words become what flows from your inmost being. They become your character qualities.

Have you been baptized with the Holy Spirit?

John said Jesus would baptize you with fire and the Spirit.  A holy fire would burn within you. This promise was fulfilled on that first Christian Pentecost: “Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks…” A holy fire burning within.

Let us pray that you are saved and sanctified, a spirit-filled believer, one who has crucified egoism; experience teaches that we must keep those fires burning. We can quench the flame of the Spirit, we are told: “Do not put out the Spirit's fire…”
(1 Thessalonians 5:19 (NIV). We put out the Spirit’s fire within us two ways, one through neglect, slowly omitting the spiritual habits and disciplines that keep us close to God, and, two, by continued disobedience, purposefully choosing to do what we know to be inconsistent with the will of God. To keep the fires burning we do just the opposite. We persist in our practice of the seven habits of a disciple—daily we are in the word, praying, building fellowship, serving in our area of giftedness, worshiping in all that we do, obeying what the Holy Spirit has revealed to us, and practicing contemplation. To keep the fires burning we choose to do God’s will even when we would rather excuse ourselves from this duty. As the fires continue to burn, they are a refiner’s fire, purifying, cleansing, making perfect, sanctifying us wholly, with the result of becoming more and more like Jesus in thought, words, and deeds. To burn a fire must have fuel, and the fuel we need to keep the fires burning always comes through our obedience and the encounters with God such obedience brings

Today on Pentecost Sunday you have three questions to answer. Each question is vital to your spiritual well-being.

First—Are you a disciple of Jesus?

Second—Are you baptized in the Holy Spirit?

Third—Are you stoking the fire within you?

Let’s go over those questions again

First—Are you a disciple of Jesus?

Having acknowledged your sin, believed in Christ for the forgiveness of sin, committing yourself to a lifestyle of discipleship, have you asked God to save you?

Second—Are you baptized in the Holy Spirit?

As a disciple you have recognized that your obedience is hijacked, that a saboteur is within, tripping you up in your spiritual journey. Has it saddened your heart that you are grieving the one who loved you and gave himself for you? Then offer yourself to God, consecrate your all to His service. Ask God to crucify your egoism. Have you asked God to sanctify you?

Third—Are you stoking the fire within you?

A fire needs fuel or it will become nothing but cold ash. You testify to being saved and sanctified, a disciple baptized in the Holy Spirit, how is your passion for spiritual things? Is your relationship with God still fresh, exciting, the number one priority in your life? Are you diligent in practicing the seven habits of a disciple, choosing obedience, encountering God as you go throughout your day? Is your business Kingdom business. To keep the fire of the Holy Spirit burning within your answers to those questions needs to be yes.
          
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