Most sermons on Pentecost focus on the signs and wonders performed by the apostles, or the 3,000 who were saved in one day, or the cloven tongues of fire that appeared. But we don't hear about one event that became the greatest wonder of all. This event sent multitudes back to their nations with a vivid, unmistakable impression of who Jesus is.
Overnight, thousands of for-sale signs appeared in front of homes throughout Jerusalem and the surrounding area. Scripture says, "All that believed were together, and had all things in common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need...Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need" (Acts 2:44-45; 4:34-35).
Imagine the scene in Jerusalem! Multitudes of houses, lots and farmland were suddenly being sold off, as well as household goods such as furniture, clothes, crafts, pots and pans, works of art.
Onlookers had to ask, ‘What’s going on? Do these people know something we don’t?” Any believer would respond, “No, we’re followers of Jesus and when we gave our hearts to the Messiah, his Spirit changed us. Now we’re doing the works of God and raising money for the poor and helpless.”
How did the Holy Spirit bring about this sudden change of heart in those newly baptized believers in Jerusalem? It was through the quickening in their hearts of the words of Jesus: “For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me” (Matthew 25:35-36).
These believers knew they could never live the same way again. Suddenly they saw how serious this matter of representing Jesus truly is and it drove them into their houses to find everything they didn’t need and then take those goods to the streets to sell. Simply put, Christ’s Word gave them a new attitude of love and concern for the needy.
If you cry out for God’s touch and seek to have a new passion for Jesus, you’ll be taken on a great journey by the Holy Spirit. At some point on that path, you’ll end up facing the challenge of Jesus to care for others.
When it comes to our walk with Christ, the Bible shows us there is a crucial difference between a spark and a torch, which we can see when we examine the lives of Saul and David. Saul had amazing experiences with God, moments that ignited in him a great zeal and provoked him to action. “Then the Spirit of God came powerfully upon Saul, and he became very angry. He took two oxen and cut them into pieces and sent the messengers to carry them throughout Israel with this message: ‘This is what will happen to the oxen of anyone who refuses to follow Saul and Samuel into battle!’” (1 Samuel 11:6-7).
After each of Saul’s many moments of anointing in his life, he drifted from his passion for the Lord. One well-known instance of disobedience is when God commanded Saul to slay Agag, the enemy king he had captured, and to destroy all the spoils of battle. But Saul spared Agag and kept some of the spoils and in so doing, quenched the Holy Spirit’s work in his life (see 1 Samuel 15:8-10).
On the other hand, we see David raised up to be Israel’s next king. As his reputation for bold obedience grew, so did the fruit of his obedience, which made Saul jealous. At one point Saul intended to kill David and trapped him in a cave. Yet the Lord was gracious, stopping Saul before he could execute his plan. Simply put, Saul was bent on backsliding but the Lord’s mercy returned to him repeatedly.
David had the same spiritual experiences that Saul did, yet the spark that David received was fanned into a flame. “As David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David from that day on” (16:13). The phrase “from that day on” shows the difference in David’s and Saul’s lives. Once David received a spark from God, he guarded it, stoked it and fueled it. He determined, “I want this spark to increase into a burning flame for the Lord.”
Pray with me today, “God, thank you for touching me with the Holy Spirit. Anoint me with power to reach out to those around me and grace to show forth the compelling love of Jesus.”
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31, KJV).
This is one of the most amazing verses in the Bible, and we read it all wrong. We fixate on “they shall mount up with wings as eagles” and skip over the walk and run portions. But flying like an eagle is not our goal. Actually, most days we may not feel like flying — but we can take one step at a time with our Savior.
Paul says, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). Notice he says, “walk” in the Spirit, not fly in the Spirit. We don’t start out at a sprint or in the air as the eagle.
Christianity is a walk of faith, not a run of faith. It may sound boring but it’s effective. “For we walk by faith” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Walking means doing basic, simple things to honor God — things such as deciding to pray, going to church, telling your loved ones you love them, making breakfast for your family, picking up your Bible to read. Every act of obedience is a step and every step will turn into your Spirit-walk.
When you take one small step of obedience, God blesses it. You may not feel like raising your hands in worship to the heavenly Father but you put forth a little effort because you love him — and God does the rest. You may not feel like being kind or reaching out to someone, but you do it because you have compassion and want to please Jesus.
Paul instructs us to take just one step at a time. Put one foot in front of the other and these steps become our walk. Those who walk are the ones who last. Those who try to run and fly usually tire out and are never seen again. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German pastor and theologian, said it well: “One act of obedience is better than one hundred sermons.”
Today, determine to let God lead you step by step as you pursue your walk with him. Walk by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7); run the race with endurance (Hebrews 12:1); and then soar like an eagle (Isaiah 40:31).
After pastoring an inner-city congregation in Detroit for thirty years, Pastor Tim served at Brooklyn Tabernacle in NYC for five years and pastored in Lafayette, Louisiana, for five years. He became Senior Pastor of Times Square Church in May of 2020.
“The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isaiah 35:11). In this passage, Isaiah is telling us that in the midst of the dark times to come, some of God’s elect are going to awaken and lay hold of the Spirit of Christ. When they do so, the Holy Spirit will cause a spirit of joy and gladness to reside in them so deeply that no condition, circumstance or person will be able to steal their joy.
There may be no joy in our wicked society, among the ungodly, or even in dead, formal churches. But Isaiah speaks a word of hope to the righteous: “Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, you people in whose heart is My law” (51:7). God is speaking here to all those who know and obey him.
We who know Christ’s righteousness are not to live as those who are without hope. We have been blessed with both the love and fear of God, and his will for us in the darkest times is to obtain his joy. Even as we see judgment falling around us, we are to sing, shout and rejoice — not because judgment has come, but in spite of it.
God reminded his people, “[I] made the depths of the sea a road for the redeemed to cross over” (51:10. He was saying, “I’m still the Lord, the worker of miracles, and my arm is still strong to deliver you.” So, what does God want his people to know in light of this truth? He says it all in one verse, Isaiah 51:11:
God looked down through the ages and said, “I’m going to have a people who will obtain joy.” You can lay hold of it and it will be yours — forever!
God desires every believer to be involved in full-time ministry — but what is full-time ministry? It doesn’t simply mean pastoring a church, traveling as an evangelist or going to a foreign land as a missionary. Scripture says we are all called as priests unto the Lord; in the Lord’s eyes, full time ministry is ministry unto him.
You won’t need human applause, a plan, an assignment, or involvement in some great work. The only ministry that satisfies your soul is your prayer and worship to the Lord because you know that all ministry flows out of ministry to the Savior. When you’ve given yourself completely to a single thing — ministering unto the Lord — then you're ready for what God sees as full-time ministry.
In the coming days, passive, lukewarm believers will experience a searing of their conscience. This won’t be a hardening against God; they’ll hold a form of godliness and believe they’re safe, but the time will come when they have no feeling whatsoever. And, in turn, they’ll have no fear, shock or concern for eternity. They’ll stop growing in Christ and become easy targets for Satan.
Paul describes what happens to those who refuse to grow up in Christ: “Having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness” (Ephesians 4:18-19). In short, such people become casual about the things of God and ignore all calls to wake up and seek him.
I urge every young believer: if you’ve grown lukewarm and apathetic toward Jesus, wake up! Don’t let the fire of the Holy Spirit go out of your life. Seek the Lord and become a full-time minister unto him, pursuing him with all your heart. In so doing, you’ll have the power of Christ to face the days ahead with confidence and peace.