Old Brick Reformed Church, Organized 1699

490 Route 520 • P.O. Box 153 • Marlboro, NJ 07746

Office Phone: (732) 946-8860 • Office Fax: (732) 946-9254

Secretary's Email: secretary@oldbrickchurch.orgInfo

Sunday Worship: 9:30AM - 10:30AM

Pastor Kaden's Sermon Notes for Sunday May 31st, 2020

Power Unleashed

People are really starting to bite at the bit. Salon and barbershop owners want to get back to cutting hair and painting toenails. Librarians are anxious to return to cataloging books and periodicals. Lifeguards want to get back to the pool and restaurant servers are eager to take orders and carry food. And on and on it goes. People want to return to work and resume, as much as is possible right now, their normal way of life.

President Trump has certainly been pounding that back to work drum lately for sure. He's been putting pressure on Governors around the country to ease restrictions and allow people to get back to work. The President wants to unleash American workers and let them return to what the American worker does best, using his or her talents on the job to produce the highest quality product they can manufacture. And man does it ever seem America's workers are ready to do this. You can feel the enthusiasm and soon when that power that's been held in check for a while, gets the green light we'll see a surge of energy unleashed as the workforce heads back to work and reignites our economy. I am anxious to see it; you probably are too.

As the disciples waited in Jerusalem for the fulfillment of Jesus' promise that the Holy Spirit would come and anoint them with His power, they waited with eager anticipation. The disciples waited, but not impatiently. No, as they waited, they stayed focused on spiritual things. They prayed and worshiped. They communed with the Lord and with one another. They encouraged each other and looked with hope filled expectation to the day the Holy Spirit arrived and would empower them as Jesus promised. And they didn’t have to wait very long.

It was only a short while after Jesus ascension back into heaven that the Father sends the Holy Spirit. Dr. Luke provides the details in Acts chapter 2: 1-13. Here's how he describes it:

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like a blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Now they were staying in Jerusalem God fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs -- we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!"

Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?" Some, however, made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine."

An unusual event? That would be an understatement. Supernatural, for sure! Astonishing, absolutely! Incredible, mysterious, hair scratching, perplexing, disturbing, amazing, choose whatever adjective you'd like to describe it, this Pentecost event was dynamic. Whenever the Spirit of God unleashes His power its always awesomeness and unmistakable. The Spirit of God turns things upside down, revealing God's omnipotent power.

The disciples are anxiously waiting for the Holy Spirit to arrive, but they never expected what His arrival would be like. Suddenly the Holy Spirit comes blowing through the door like a barreling, high powered freight train. His presence is so overpowering the entire house is shaken by His dynamic presence. The disciples then see what appears to be tongues of fire that separate and come to rest on each one of them. The Holy Spirit is like a blazing fire igniting passionate fires of faith, enlivening the recipient with spiritual strength they otherwise had never experienced before.

Equally astonishing the Spirit enables the disciples to speak in languages other than their own. The Spirit has provided this ability that God might speak to and be understood by the many people in Jerusalem who come from different cultures and speak different languages. As the crowds listen, people are shocked that they’re hearing the disciples speak to them in their own language.

"Utterly amazed," says Luke, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? ...we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" The crowds wonder what it all means? And we can certainly understand why, this was an awesome experience.

Of course, whenever God demonstrates His mighty power there will always be skeptics and critics and it was true here. Luke says, "Some, however, made fun of them and said, 'They have had too much wine.' Like all skeptics who, when they are unable to explain, accept, and believe the mighty transforming activities of God, the skeptics mentioned here ridicule and deny what they were witnessing and attempt to pass it off by saying, “They have had too much wine."

I find the story fascinating. It's a story recorded in Genesis chapter 11: 1-9. It's the story of The Tower of Babel. You should take a look at it because in that story people share one common language but, sharing one common language, the people become full of themselves and decide they'll build a tower that will reach to the heavens "so that we can,' they say, 'make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth." Simply put the people pushed all thoughts of God out of their minds. So, what does God do? God scatters and confuses them, He distorts their common language and the people aren’t able to understand one another any longer.

But here in Acts chapter 2, with the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, God draws people together by enabling the disciples to speak in languages the people know so that everyone listening can learn of the wonders of Almighty God. Where at Babel there was confusion and mayhem, on Pentecost there is rejoicing, unity, and understanding. The empowerment of the Holy Spirit will send the disciples out into the world where they will proclaim the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ and "turn the world upside down" by their conviction and witness to the truth concerning Jesus and resurrection hope.

Skeptics back then might well have said, "Wow, are those guys the best that Christianity has got to offer?" "If Jesus was entrusting the future of His kingdom and the Church to them it won't stand the test of time." And, without the help, strength, and empowerment of the Holy Spirit those skeptics would have been right. But God the Father sent the Holy Spirit and His presence and power filled the disciples with such incredible boldness the message of Christ circulated through-out the world leading people to Christ. And the Holy Spirit continues to share today, through empowered followers of Christ, the same message with the world and it’s a message that’s still changing lives even now.

So, let us heed Paul's advice when he said in Ephesians 5: 18b-20:

"...instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your hearts to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

God bless you all.

2 Thessalonians 2: 16-17

Two illustrations you may enjoy:

The Original Staff:
When the church began on earth, the Pastor was being executed as a criminal; the chairman of the board was out cursing and swearing that he had never even been a part of it. The treasurer was committing suicide. Most of the rest of the board members had run away. And about the only ones who showed any signs of faithfulness were a few ladies from the women's auxiliary.

What's Plan B?
According to legend, when Jesus returned to heaven following his death on the cross and resurrection from the tomb, the angels gathered in amazement. They gazed at the wounds in his hands and feet and shuddered to recall his suffering. Finally, Gabriel spoke:
"Master, you suffered terribly down there. Do they know and appreciate the extent of your sacrifice?"
"No," said Jesus. "Not yet. Right now only a handful of people in Palestine know."
"Then what have you done to let everyone else know?" asked Gabriel."
"I've asked Peter, James, and John, and a few others to spread the news. They will tell others who will tell others until the message spreads to the ends of the earth."
But Gabriel, knowing the nature of human beings, asked, "What is Plan B?"
"I have no Plan B," replied Christ. "There is no alternative strategy. I'm counting on them."

Twenty centuries later, he still has no other plan. He's counting on you and me.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor George Kaden

Reformed Church
In America
RCA The Reformed Church in America is a fellowship of congregations called by God and empowered by the Holy Spirit to be the very presence of Jesus Christ in the world.

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