Crave the Spirit (Pentecost Sunday) - Wellington First Assembly

Wellington First Assembly

326 W Botkin Lane, Wellington Kansas ........Family Faith Lessons - 9:30 AM........ Sunday Worship - 10:30 AM


Sunday, May 27, 2018

Crave the Spirit (Pentecost Sunday)

In the last few weeks, many of us have attended graduation ceremonies of our own kids, friends, others. During this time, many students are honored for their achievements. It’s not unusual to see or hear the valedictorian speech and the list of achievements they have done and then thank those (mom, dad) that helped them get there. 

As a Christian educator who also works in special education, I know the struggles that students face to overcome obstacles and reach achievements. I know what distinguishes the slackers from the sluggers, what marks the lazy from the diligent. I know that grades alone do not give value or condone worth. There are characteristics and attitudes that show whether a student has the persistence and discipline to achieve a goal, whatever that goal is. Those distinguishing marks provide the power to achieve the impossible.
Today is a unique day in the Christian and Jewish calendar. Fifty days. Fifty days after Passover. Fifty days after leaving the land of Egypt in a hurry. Fifty days after eating only unleavened bread. This Feast of Weeks – 7 weeks to be exact --was and is celebrated because
God commanded the people of Israel to present grain offerings. The Jewish people also believed that it during this time that God in return for their thanksgiving, gave them the Torah – the Books of Moses at Sinai – when Moses encountered God on the mountain. The book of the law --- the guide that is to direct the moral compass of the people of God – the books that reveal the story of redemption, from creation onward. The books that reveal God wishes all the people of Abraham to be a witness to all the peoples, numbering thousands like the grains of sand and the stars of heaven. The books that a young Rabbi, named Jeshua – the adopted son of a Jewish carpenter – memorized, referenced, and used to teach his disciples about the promised reality of a future hope.
The name we use in our Christian calendar is Pentecost – fifty days. The day the church of 120 saints gathered in the upper room, committed to prayer and thanksgiving – pouring out their praise like a grain offering to God, waiting for Jesus to fulfill his promise made on the day that he ascended the clouds into glory.
In John 14 Christ declares – I will go and prepare a place for you. I will ask my father to give you another --- the Advocate, the Comforter, our Guide – the Holy Spirit. The Spirit works in conjunction with the Word, pointing us back to Christ and to the Father’s story of redemption – The Spirit empowers us, gives us distinguish marks – allowing us to become part of that story – to take up the mantle as the New Israel – grafted into the line of Abraham. Each one of us sitting here today who is called a child of God is ready to be used by him. In this service today, sits every gift that the Bible has ever mentioned, ready to be unleashed together. Not entrusted to one individual, but to the body of believers. God is no discriminator of persons-- But you ALL will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you – So that you might be witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8). The great commission flows out of the great commandments.
Just as the people of Israel were marked by circumcision, so today, the church is marked by the empowered life, the exercise of all the spiritual gifts in community, in order that the world may hear the full gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. Today’s message centers around some of the distinguishing marks -- individually as a person / and corporately as a gathered church – of those who live an empowered life. If you do not catch anything else at all today, hear this – A Spirit empowered life is available for the asking... to those who remain inside God’s plan of protection and provision. (REPEAT) AMEN!
The primary text for my message today is found in Numbers 11: 24-30. (NLT) Please stand if you are able for the reading of God’s Holy Word.
24 So Moses went out and reported the Lord’s words to the people. He gathered the seventy elders and stationed them around the Tabernacle.[a] 25 And the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to Moses. Then he gave the seventy elders the same Spirit that was upon Moses. And when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But this never happened again.
26 Two men, Eldad and Medad, had stayed behind in the camp. They were listed among the elders, but they had not gone out to the Tabernacle. Yet the Spirit rested upon them as well, so they prophesied there in the camp. 27 A young man ran and reported to Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp!”
28 Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ assistant since his youth, protested, “Moses, my master, make them stop!”
29 But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them all!” 30 Then Moses returned to the camp with the elders of Israel.
Please allow me to set the scene of this eleventh chapter of Numbers. We have read a portion that is found in the middle of the chapter. Yet to understand fully the context of these verses, we need to look where it is placed. The key point – the climax, the moral of the story in much of Eastern and Hebrew thought is not in the final paragraph, like we might write. The point is made in the middle –– Moses states – I wish that all the Lord’s people would be prophets, and that the Lord would put his Spirit on all them!
It is this verse (29) which ties the First Covenant to the New Covenant. Moses is prophetically looking forward and speaking it forth. If we just read the portion of the text today, we miss out on the earnest groaning that Moses has. His statement stands in stark contrast to the situation around him. The rest of the chapter focuses on the people complaining – not living a live empowered by the Spirit.
Human Pattern
The chapters of the Bible are written intentionally, carefully crafted to provide us guidance, warning. It reveals our human condition. Lost in our humanity, we often are caught in a cycle of destruction. The first three verses of chapter 11 provides the pattern – I’m sure we might recognize ourselves:
·        The people complain, rejecting God’s provision;
·        God’s anger and the natural consequences of sin – death – are present.
·        Intercession is offered,
·        Grace and Forgiveness prevail.
These 3 verses set the stage for our story. If you are following along in your Bibles – verse 4.
4 Then the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt. And the people of Israel also began to complain. “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed. 5 “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted. 6 But now our appetites are gone. (our strength is dried up) All we ever see is this manna!”
I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that the rabble wasn’t marked by thanksgiving. Here it is, a time of remembrance, a time of pouring out grain offerings to God, a time to be thankful for shaking off the chains of bondage, fleeing slavery, leaving the old life behind. (In me you are a new creation – old things have passed away, behold all things have become new – II Cor 5:17). Yet the rabble is not content.
The Rabble is a group; rabble rousers are individuals. Anyone been part of a rabble? It’s easy to be seduced into rabble hood. Just need a little bit more (greed), let me tell someone else my complaints (prayer chain or gossip). I don’t think that many who end up in a rabble ever meant to get there, but they began to trust the rabble rouser, instead of trusting God.
At some point, the rabble-rouser looks around and no longer is thankful for what he sees. He no longer recognizes the plan of God’s divine redemptive story, he is no longer empowered by the hope that dwells within us. The attitude, the distinguishing mark of Thanksgiving is gone from his live. He is a rabble. He thinks he has power, yet God declares him impotent.
Do you want to live a spirit empowered life? Cultivate an attitude of Thanksgiving.
How do you do that? Start simple. Say thank you. To everyone. For everything. For the behind the scenes preparations for the church, for the hard jobs people do at work. From your heart, the mouth speaks. As you speak thanksgiving, your heart becomes transformed.
Read passages from the Psalms, or from Paul’s prison epistles. Meditate on them day and night. If David can be content, stripped of his Kingship, hiding in a cave, yet still be thankful to God, can we not too? If Paul and Silas can sing praises in a jail cell after being beaten senseless, can we not praise our God? If today’s modern martyrs in the news, can still be thankful despite being imprisoned, being condemned to death for refusing to deny their Christian faith, can we not be thankful in our situation?
The rabble rouser wants us to believe, that manna – God’s provision --dries up our strength, takes away our appetite and places us into a position of weakness – yet the opposite is true. If you want to live
a Spirit empowered life – cultivate an attitude of Thanksgiving.
Section II: Need Power? - Focuses on a Future Reality
We as Americans, love success stories. Whether it’s the old adages of Andrew Carnegie or John Rockefeller learning to work their way out of a poor family into becoming wealthy philanthropists, or the mom and pop inventor who makes it big on the tv show – The Shark Tank, we always root for the underdogs. One common thread that is revealed in their biographies is this --- their eyes were never on the present but could see the future reality. Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, envisioned a future that revolutionized computers and phones. We have all heard, that without vision, people perish – dreams die.
A distinguishing mark of the spirit empowered live is learning to simultaneously live in this world yet keep our eyes focuses on the future reality. Right now, you might not be much, but God has a plan for you. Right now, you have family members ravaged by the effects of sin – yet you know God has a plan of restoration for them. Right now, you can’t figure out how God will supply bread on your table, but you are willing to press on and live in his provision. Moses sent twelve (12) spies into the land. Ten (10) reported the obvious – but two (2) saw what God had in store.
Do you desire to live an empowered life? – Then don’t dwell on what your present situation is, don’t rest on the achievements done in the past. Don’t think our church is too small to make an effect on our community, our world. The best days are in front of you! Focus on the Future Reality of the soon coming King!
Numbers 11:7-9. 7 The manna looked like small coriander seeds, and it was pale yellow like gum resin. 8 The people would go out and gather it from the ground. They made flour by grinding it with hand mills or pounding it in mortars. Then they boiled it in a pot and made it into flat cakes. These cakes tasted like pastries baked with olive oil. 9 The manna came down on the camp with the dew during the night.
The rabble rousers did not rejoice. They complained. For those that may have forgotten about the miracle of the manna, the Mosaic author reminds the people in verses 7-9, just in case the future generations of Israel had forgotten. This is a bona fide miracle. Not only did they have enough to eat every day – God performed a miracle every day. –
NEVER GET COMPLACENT ABOUT THE MIRACLES GOD DOES DAILY IN YOUR LIFE! God works in you every day. God works through you every day. God protects you every day. God provides for you every day. This so important that when Jesus taught us how to pray, he states – Give us our daily bread. God is our sustainer, both then and now. Everything we have is due to his sovereign grace!  3) Rejoice in the miracle of God’s Provision!
So, on this day, do you want a Spirit empowered live?
·        Cultivate a life filled with Thanksgiving
·        Focus on the Future Reality,
·        Rejoice in the miracle of God’s provision.
It would be easy to stop there. Yet our text doesn’t. As is typical in our human condition, the weeping of the people got to the point where not just they were complaining to the Lord, but Moses was too – In verse 14 – I am not able to carry all these people alone – the burden is too heavy for me.
Newsflash – Moses was never supposed to carry it alone. There are no lone Ranger Christians.
The burden was heavy – you know what Jesus says – Come, all ye heavy laden, lay it down and I will give you rest. Moses was done – “Kill me at once”, he screams at God in verse 15. The person who had interceded on behalf of God’s people was finished.
My friends, we are called, like Moses to be an intercessor. But intercession is never born from within us – but from the Holy Spirit of the Living God. When we are at our ropes end, there is nothing to do but plead for our intercessor. Jesus, sitting at the right hand of the father, interceding for us. The Holy Spirit, serving as our advocate, enabling us to intercede for others, even groaning in pains and tongues that no one understands. When there is no one human left to intercede on this planet – our God intercedes for us – Lord have mercy, hear our cry!
He hears us. He hears the genuine cries of pain. He hears the bitter complaint that rejects his provision. He hears both.  He gives two plans:
GOD’s Plan A
16.Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel… I will come down and talk with you there. And I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them.
God’s Plan B
18 And say to the people…for tomorrow…you shall eat meat… a whole month, until it becomes loathsome to you, because you have rejected the LORD who is among you and have wept before him, saying, “Why did we come out of Egypt?” ’ ”
KANSAS ROUNDABOUT ILLUSTRATION – Eventually you have to choose your exit.
What is your choice? Which exit will you take?
Moses went and told the people the words of the Lord (24). The people heard the prophetic – Moses told them what would happen. Which strong craving do you have? Do you want the Spirit of God, or do you crave meat – the luxury, temporary things that have no lasting value. This is defining time. This is refining time.
And while the story of Numbers 11 distinguishes between certain individuals, the reality is that within our human hearts exist a bit of both – we are yet being made perfect in his likeness.
4) If you want to be empowered by his Holy Spirit, you will be distinguished by the marks of refining fire.
God heard two complaints – and he gave a choice to the people.
So now you know the backstory. The stage is set for our text.

Monday morning, the sun rises (Option A). The camp of Israel is set in a circle. The Tabernacle is in the middle. The tribes are arrayed around it. Moses gathers the 70 to the center around the Tabernacle – and the Lord’s Holy Spirit was poured out. The Spirit rested upon them. They prophesied. They were anointed, called, and confirmed. They were
But the anointing is never just for the individual. It is always for the body. Gifts may be utilized by an individual – but the gift is never self-serving – it is for the body. The power of the Holy Spirit was never intended to remain the possession of a few but shared by the entire gathering of believers. All of a sudden, others, Eldad and Medad experienced the outpouring.
Joseph, son of Nun did not comprehend this aspect yet. He wanted Moses to tell them they could not partake of it. This is my final point –
5) if you want to be marked by the Spirit of God – dwell near his presence.
Moses knew that God was beginning something that day, something that would eventually spread beyond those 70 and be shared by the 120 in the Upper Room centuries later. Moses learned that day the power of the Intercessing Advocate. The Spirit of God cannot be stopped and will fall where he pleases – and he pleases to be present in our midst. The Spirit that day was not just available for those appointed into leadership by to all those in the camp. Moses gave Joshua a little leadership lesson – Son, I wish everyone were prophet and the Lord would put his Spirit on them (29) If you want a spirit empowered life, dwell continually in his presence.
Monday Morning – the sun rises—Option B
The report comes in . Quail is driven in by the winds. Enough meat to feed the entire camp. The kind you could only get at the best shops in Egypt. It is covering the ground. All you have to do to get it is walk about a day’s journey, in any direction—get as much as you want. In fact, the Bible reports the least amount brought back was 10.
Don’t worry about stepping on the manna on your way out of town. You have something better to get than God’s daily provision. Don’t worry that God’s glory is present in the camp – you have something better to do, someplace better to be.
I am confident that Eldad and Medad heard these arguments. I am sure that they may have felt pressure to go with others instead of remaining in the camp. They weren’t chosen elders. They weren’t the pastors. What did they have to lose? Yet in their faithfulness to God, in their intent to stay close to his presence, they received the power and anointing.
And they others? They received an epitaph – they too received a distinguishing mark – Kibroth-hattaavah – literally meaning – “the burial place of the ones who had the strong craving.” When you walk outside of God’s provision and protection, you are living dangerously.  But when you pursue the craving welling from deep within, you will encounter His powerful presence.

If you want a life, empowered by the Holy Spirit,
1) Cultivate an Attitude of Thanksgiving
2) Focus on the Future Reality
3) Rejoice in God’s Daily Provision
4) Endure the Purification of Refining Fire
5) Dwell Continually near his presence.
A Spirit empowered life is available for the asking to those who remain inside God’s plan of protection and provision.

Crave the power of His presence.
Shall we pray.