Week 1 – The Fruits of the Spirit Introduction
Day 2 – Goodbye, PyeongChang
(Goodbye in Korean)
Scripture Reference: Acts 2:1-13
“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4, NASB)
Do you ever wonder what Heaven looks like? The Bible tells us a bit about heaven in Revelation, but there is much that remains a mystery. If you want to read more, you can look at Revelation 21 – 22 and read about the city of pure gold, the jeweled walls and the 12 gates, each made with a single pearl, which is where we likely have gotten the expression “Pearly Gates.”
But today, we’re going to consider what Heaven sounds like.
The first followers of Jesus Christ likely spoke some combination of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. As Paul, Silas, Barnabas and the other apostles carried the Gospel near and far, people in other nations were able to hear of the hope and promise of Jesus and many accepted Him as their Lord and Savior and the Gospel message was shared across towns, nations and continents.
Today, missionaries serve in all corners of the world and the Bible is translated in digital, audio and print formats to bring God’s Word in people’s native “heart languages” to even the most remote village or isolated island.
Can you just imagine how beautiful heaven is going to look and sound? All of God’s creativity, love and majesty poured into His children, and then all of His children gathered around His throne, praising and worshiping our Heavenly Father, His Son and our Savior, all of us filled with the Holy Spirit of God, casting our crowns around His throne and pouring back all His love and joy to worship and honor Him!
Today is the Closing Ceremonies for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang and we’ll be invited to watch the athletes from the participating nations walking together into the arena, celebrating their victories, courage and sportsmanship. They come from divergent backgrounds, their socioeconomic statuses likely vary considerably and their native clothing and traditions are each unique and meaningful. They may have learned how to say a few words in the language of the host country and perhaps they have made friends from around the world, teaching each other how to say some common greetings in each other’s languages.
In some ways, the Olympics could be a bit of a sneak peek into what heaven might look and sound like. The beauty of many tribes and tongues gathered together, the chorus of languages being spoken, the diversity of cultures and histories being shared and celebrated.
In our Bible reading for today, we learn about what happened when the first followers of Christ received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. They were gathered in Jerusalem, along with other Jewish people who were observing Shavuot (Pentecost), the Jewish holiday observed 50 days after Passover to commemorate the day 50 days after their Exodus and deliverance from Egypt, when Moses received the Torah (also known as the Ten Commandments and the Law) from God on Mount Sinai.
Before He ascended into heaven, Jesus instructed His followers, the apostles, to wait in Jerusalem to receive the Holy Spirit. In Acts 1, Jesus told them,
“Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
(Acts 1:4-8, NASB)
Just as Jesus had promised them, the day arrived when they were to receive the Holy Spirit. And as they were gathered together, suddenly the Holy Spirit fell down upon them, like tongues of fire, and God inexplicably and mysteriously gave each of them the ability to speak other languages – languages from distant lands which they may have never even heard, let alone learned how to speak.
And the Jewish people who were gathered in Jerusalem for Shavuot (Pentecost) were amazed to hear these Galileans speaking languages from around the world. By the Holy Spirit’s indwelling power, these simple people were suddenly able to speak in languages far from their homeland – in languages native to Rome, Egypt, Libya, Asia, Mesopotamia and Medes!
Imagine what it might have been like to be given the ability to speak a language that you have never studied or even heard a single phrase or word. Yet just as He promised, God sent the Holy Spirit to the followers of Christ, to help them, equip them, guide and convict them, intercede for them and be their Helper on their own journey of sanctification on earth, until they went to be with their Heavenly Father and Savior in heaven. And the very first thing the Holy Spirit did when He was sent to the apostles was to give each of them the ability to share Christ with people quite different from them – from a different nation, tongue and tribe.
Perhaps this is because Jesus didn’t call us to keep the Good News to ourselves. In the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20, He commanded us to go and make disciples of all nations and to teach them about who Jesus is and what He has done for all of us. Before He ascended to heaven after His death and resurrection, Jesus commissioned us to tell the world about Him – and then He sent His Holy Spirit to fill us, equip us and teach us so that we could go and do all that He has called us to for His glory, honor and praise.
And because of the Great Commission that Christ gave to us and the Holy Spirit living in us who helps us each day in so many ways, we are able to share Christ with others and lead the lost to our Savior. Just as someone once shared Christ with us, so we are to then go and tell others about Him, sort of like the 1970s and 1980s shampoo commercial – we tell two friends, and they tell two friends, and they tell two friends, and so on and so on!
Even though we may be uncomfortable or uncertain sharing our faith at first, God wants us to tell others about Jesus so that they too can know the hope we have in Him and they too can accept Him as Savior.
You may be bold and outgoing or quiet and introverted — but as a follower of Christ, each of us is equipped by the Holy Spirit to tell others about Jesus and point them to Him.
Just like the first followers of Christ, (sometimes referred to as the first fruits), we are called to go and make disciples of all nations. That may mean you travel to the ends of the earth to bring the Gospel to an unreached area or to an urban city full of earthly riches and opportunities but where the Good News is rarely heard, or it may simply mean you share the hope you have in Christ with a neighbor, a family member, a coworker or a friend.
We are all called to tell others about Jesus and to give a reason for the hope we have in Him. (1 Pet. 3:15). God may use us in different ways and different places, but He wants each of us to know and follow His Son, and then tell others about our great and awesome God.
And one day, we will all be gathered in heaven in an endless and glorious time of worship of our God and King.
The book of Revelation offers us a glimpse of what worship in heaven might look like.
“ And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.””
(Rev. 4:9-11 NASB)
You may have heard Chris Tomlin’s song, “How Great Is Our God” – maybe you’ve sung it at church or heard it online or on the radio. As you may know, there are two versions of the song – the original and the “World Edition,” which includes some of the lyrics sung in languages from around the world.
When I hear this song, I get goosebumps thinking about how it might sound to God when we worship Him with all our different voices, dialects, accents and languages. I wonder if this is what it will sound like in heaven, all of us worshipping together, the heavens filled with the melody of awe, wonder and peace.
To our ears, the voices are all different and we hear the multitude of tongues and translations. Yet to God, there is just one beautiful choir, singing praises to our God and Savior, filled with the Holy Spirit, rejoicing in how great our God is, in one accord, worshiping the One True God.
Oh what a foretaste of glory divine!
- If you have time tonight or this week, watch the Closing Ceremony from the 2018 Olympic Games. As you watch the athletes from all the different nations, be in prayer for them as they return home – for safety in their travels and for comfort and rest after their competitions. Consider choosing one nation that you don’t know much about and be in prayer for the people of that nation in the days ahead. Pray for those who don’t know Christ, for missionaries serving there, for Bible translators working to bring God’s Word to their nation. Pray that the Good News of Jesus would reach all the peoples of that country. You could google the country and learn a bit more about the people there. If you keep a prayer notebook, add the people of this nation to your prayer list to remember to keep them in prayer.
- Watch the World Edition of “How Great Is Our God” and imagine what heaven will be like, when we gather to worship and praise our God and Savior! Allow yourself time to listen to the song and watch the video and just think about the amazing and wonderful world God has given us to live in, the beauty and diversity of our world and how He wants us to love and serve Him, and love and serve our neighbors all over the world, so they will know His love.
- This week, try to be deliberate in living out your faith. Ask God to show you someone that you can be the hands and feet of Jesus to. It may just be an encouraging word to someone or perhaps God will open a door for you to share your faith with someone you talk with this week.
Ask God to show you how to share your faith in Christ with someone and ask Him for courage to be bold in telling someone the hope you have in Christ! You might invite someone to a church service during this Easter season or share something you have been learning or reading about God that has encouraged or helped you – or even just ask a friend or family member what they believe about God and Jesus, and then share your faith with them also.
You could also write their name in your spiral notebook or binder and continue to pray for them in the days and weeks ahead, asking God to show you ways to share your faith with them and others.
- Do you want to learn how to say goodbye in Korean? Here’s a short audio clip that will teach you how!
This Week’s Prayer Focus:
Please continue to pray for the Parkland community and all those who have been affected by gun violence.
Bible Memory Verse: Galatians 5:22-23
Fruit of the Week:
Oranges, a fruit grown in Florida, to remind us to pray for all those affected by the school shooting in Florida, including the families, the students, first responders and all of the community.
Sacrifice during Lent – Why do we sacrifice to God during Lent and at other times in the year?
1 – Sometime this week, try to visit the produce section of your market. Look at the fruits there and consider God’s creativity and goodness in giving us these foods to nurture and nourish us. Thank Him for His goodness and select a fruit to enjoy this week, such as oranges from Florida. If possible, make this a weekly habit during the Bible study as a way to be mindful and intentional about celebrating the fruits of the Spirit.
2 – Make a commitment to pray each day for the Prayer Focus. If you already pray daily, find time to include the prayer focus in your prayers. If you don’t currently pray each day, try to find a time when you can spend a few minutes seeking God, interceding for the prayer focus and seek to begin to incorporate a regular prayer time into each day.
“Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.”