A SPECIAL ENERGY OF JOY
Romans 8: 22-27
ACTS 2: 1-21
IMAGINE … Just imagine … A special energy of joy. A celebration … almost beyond comprehension; think about the best birthday party you have ever been to; the biggest and loudest party filled with happiness … because the party I am talking about exceeds that … the joy and energy of happiness so much more because this party includes all of those amongst the heavenly host entering together into a special celebration. Just because of one person … someone you might have had something to do with.
In Luke chapter 15 Jesus declares that
“there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”
I know you all remember the prophet Zephaniah … just check out this book <<Pointing to Bible>> somewhere between Genesis and Revelation … the prophet teaches us that
“THE LORD YOUR GOD … is in your midst.”
Actually, friends that’s quite true … we often speak of where two or more are gathered in the name of Jesus that Jesus is present but frankly the God who created the universe … the God who cares for the little bird … right here this morning … that God has dropped in at 74 Church Street in West Deptford New Jersey to me in our midst … AWESOME … AMAZING …. My God we come to worship You!! Thank You for being in our midst … amidst our mumbling and grumbling … amidst our singing and praise …
Anyhow, God is in our midst today on the celebration of the birthday of God’s church; the church of Jesus Christ. PENTECOST … we wear red to remember that God sent Jesus to teach us about living … God sent Jesus to die for our sins and God’s grace extends to all humanity because we were all made in God’s Holy image. Jesus .. oh dear friends … JESUS IS RISEN <<HE IS RISEN INDEED>>. And Jesus, in front of His friends went to the crest of that Mount of Olives sharing a few final teaching moments that were clearly not just for those disciples but for those who believe.
You do believe today don’t you friends? You have found the reality of Jesus too much to deny and push aside, right? Deep deep in your hearts …the world can be bold and bitter but you do have the fire in your souls this morning don’t you? Jesus is the light on your darkest day? You get it … right?
Jesus final words … it was a directive to people of faith like us and like the disciples,
“You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea, and Samaria, in Swedesboro, West Deptford, National Park, and Verga … and even to the end of the earth.”
Although Jesus was only specific about those parts of the Holy Land and those special towns in New Jersey … his end statement applies to those of you watching on FACEBOOK in Kenya, Liberia, North Carolina and Nevada … YOU and you and you and me … we are to be His witnesses not just once hidden under a blanket but out into the world … can I hear an AMEN? The witness of Jesus Christ is so needed … desperately today and tomorrow and then into the next day!
And, Jesus gift … God’s gift … you see God. You do remember God because the prophet taught us that God is in our midst today even on PRETZEL SUNDAY. God has given us … now this is according to Jesus Christ and friends you do believe in Jesus this morning, right? Well the gift …
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”
Ok, you are looking at me and saying Pastor you have six pack abs … it’s clear you have power but that’s just my physique … the power of the Spirit is the energy, the joy, and the testimony we have to share the GOOD NEWS. To be witnesses with enthusiasm to the rest of the world … our world … our daily walk … because there are folks who need to hear it.
Now, remember how Jesus said that the angels will have a party when one person comes home to God; something you and I can make happen well remember that prophet I was telling you about … ZEPHANIAH? Well the prophet teaches that not only is
“the Lord our God in our midst … but that God will REJOICE OVER you with singing.”
You see God not only has taught God’s angels to celebrate and rejoice but God in God’s awesomeness also rejoices.
And, then there was that fellow David .. as God’s ARK … that holy of holies was brought home to Jerusalem …
David danced with all of his strength before the Lord.
Not just a little half dance that most men do when forced on the dance floor but with all of his strength and Scriptures teach us it wasn’t just David but
the entire house of Israel who not only danced but brought up the Lord’s chest with shouts of trumpet blasts.
There’s something about having God in our midst that makes us want to celebrate, to praise … our Psalm today,
“Let my whole being bless the Lord …I will sing to the Lord as long as I live … I’m rejoicing in the Lord!!!”
God’s here … God rejoices over us … the angels party in heaven when one person comes to know God. A special energy of joy my friends and then we head to Jerusalem for today’s moment in history. PENTECOST.
As was tradition, people of faith had come to the Holy City for the Pentecost celebration. This holiday celebrated both the wheat harvest and the anniversary of when God gave God’s people the Torah. Jesus had only recently ascended into heaven so no more Jesus sightings … and together were the disciples and their friends and strangers from throughout the world. They didn’t know when they arrived that God was going to communicate with clarity on that day … God was not going to confuse them with mysterious voices but God was going to use God’s Holy Spirit to lift them up to a new life filled with God’s GOOD NEWS!
And, suddenly … the sounds of howling wind … flames dancing from the sky onto each of those who were there … people who normally would sit there not talking because they spoke different languages suddenly understanding each other. Those from Galilee understood the Egyptians and the Asians … Libyans and Romans chatting away with great joy! They were surprised .. they were bewildered … they were happy. So happy that those who weren’t part of the Holy Spirit moment could only declare God’s people as drunk but it was THE SPIRIT of GOD … Peter shared the words of the prophet Joel …
“God says I will pour my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy and your young will see visions and your elders will dream dreams … everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved!”
And, friends … change began to happen; people wanted to be part of this movement … a movement where people were filled with joy; danced with abandon whose God rejoiced over them and where the angels in heaven partied when just one person came to know God.
So, we sang JOY TO THE WORLD THE SPIRIT’s COME And SURELY THE PRESENCE of the LORD is in this place … Molly blessed us with START A FIRE but it’s Pentecost … it’s a day of celebration … it’s time for us to show some rejoicing in knowing God’s love.
In 2013 … a song was released as part of a movie for kids. The song became an instant phenomenon it pushed away the stuff in the world that brings us down and the singer sang of his escape … he became free of the world’s gruesome game and became happy.
So, this morning it’s time to be happy … it’s time to celebrate God … it’s Pentecost … sway in your seats, dance on the floor … lift your hands in praise … make the neighbors wonder … THINGS ARE LOOKIN’ GOOD now … let’s rejoice … God’s here in our midst.
<<PLAY HAPPY VIDEO>>
Paul writes … ALL WHO ARE LED by GOD’s SPIRIT are GOD’s Sons and daughters! The Spirit comes to help our weakness.” And, the Psalmist declares … I will sing to the Lord as long as I live … I will sing praises to my God while I am still alive … Let my praise be pleasing to Him … I’m rejoining in the Lord!” Just think who in your life needs to be the one who starts the next heavenly party … share the GOOD NEWS with them!
Watch a video of today’s worship service: