This morning, we come together to celebrate Pentecost Sunday!  The word Pentecost in the Greek literally means “the fiftieth day.”  Who here is excited about the fiftieth day?!?!  Well, fifty days in and of itself isn’t anything to get all that excited about.  However, after this morning, we will understand why Pentecost is actually so exciting to us as disciples of Jesus.
We’re not going to spend a whole lot of time on this, but it is important that we understand why these fifty days are so important for the Israelites and Jews of yesterday and today.  There are three festivals that the Israelites were to celebrate annually found recorded in Exodus 23, Leviticus 23, and Deuteronomy 16.
Deuteronomy 16:16-17
16 Three times a year all your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread (Passover), the Festival of Weeks (Pentecost) and the Festival of Tabernacles. No one should appear before the Lord empty-handed: 17 Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you.
Note that the Passover was for the Israelites alone to celebrate (Exodus 12:43), however, the Festival of Weeks and the Festival of the Tabernacles was to be a time of rejoicing by everyone – Jew and Gentile alike!  In the same way, salvation was provided by Jesus, by a Jew for the Jews alone initially.  After being rejected by the Jews, salvation was made available for all.  Isn’t it awesome that God reflected this future reality within these celebrations given thousands of years prior to Jesus symbolized?
Today, we celebrate Pentecost.  This celebration was to take place wherever the Lord would choose as a dwelling place for His name.  Why did God prescribe this celebration in this way instead of specifying where the celebration was to be held?  That is because the place in which God has chosen as a dwelling place for His name is: US!  God chose the day of Pentecost to being to pour out His Holy Spirit upon men and women just like us so that we become temples for God’s own Presence to dwell!
As Paul wrote:
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
The Pentecost that we celebrate today had its beginnings shortly after the resurrection of Jesus recorded here:
Acts 1:3-8
3 After his suffering, Jesus presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 2:1-4
1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Why is Pentecost so important?  Is it just so that we are enabled to speak in other tongues?  Is it just so that we can be on fire for God?  Is it just so that we can do strange things that freak people out?  Not by any means!  When we refer to Pentecost, we no longer mean just fifty days, we’re referring to the dramatic life-transforming event of the infilling of the Holy Spirit and all that comes with it.
Why is Pentecost so important?
1. Closer fellowship with God
Did you know that despite the common saying, we are not all children of God?  No, it is only those who have been born again, as Jesus described in John chapter 3 to Nicodemus who are God’s children.  It is only those who are lead by the Holy Spirit who are truly God’s children.
Romans 8:14-17
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Galatians 4:6-9a
6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.  8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you know God -or rather are known by God –
Jesus comforted His disciples as He reminded them that He would be soon leaving them in John chapter 14 that He would not leave us as orphans.  He said:
John 14:15-20
15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me.Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.
Pentecost makes it possible for us to be adopted into the family of God.  Through the Holy Spirit, we have an awesome Heavenly Father and countless brothers and sisters in Christ.  We have not only closer fellowship with God, but we are actually grafted into His family.  He shares all things with us.  We become one through the gift of the Holy Spirit.  There is nothing in all of creation that can compare to having close fellowship and friendship with God!  Why is Pentecost so important?
2. Personally experience and be a witness for God
Acts 1:8
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
We have a tendency to use the word witness in the church to describe something that we are.  We avoid certain places as to not be a bad witness.  We avoid cursing as to not be a bad witness.  Although those things aren’t necessarily bad, that isn’t at all what Jesus meant when He said that we would be His witnesses.  To be a witness means that we personally experience or see something occur.  This goes back to Dal’s message last week on the power of testimony.
Jesus said that we would be His witnesses.  This means that we would have personal encounters and experiences with Him.  Our faith is not solely based on what God did centuries ago, it should be just as much based on what He did yesterday.  To be a witness is simply to testify to what you have seen God do in and through your life.  The Greek word used for witness is the same word used as a witness in a courtroom when one is called to testify to what they have personally seen or heard.  In fact, Jesus said:
Luke 12:11-12
11 “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”
The Holy Spirit dwelling within us will help us to be bold and courageous witnesses for God.  It is the Holy Spirit who empowers us to be able to either say the right thing at the right time, or to keep silent.  He will guide and direct us in all things as we seek after Him.  In fact, Jesus told His disciples:
John 16:7
7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
Can you imagine having something better than Jesus walking beside you through life?  Jesus essentially said that it was better for them that He left, that it is better to be filled with the Holy Spirit than to have Jesus in the flesh.  We see the evidence of this as His own disciples struggled so much while they followed Jesus.  When the day of Pentecost came, however, they were transformed!  They now knew and understood the teachings of Jesus and the word of God clearly, they were able to minister in power just as Jesus had.  They drove out demons, healed the sick, raised the dead, and more!  In being witnesses for God, we are encouraged to:
Ephesians 5:15-20
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Why is Pentecost so important?
3. Ability to receive spiritual gifts
When speaking of why Pentecost is so important, this is usually the area of focus.  I still can’t understand for the life of me why something that is black and white and absolutely clear in the scriptures causes such controversy in the church today.  The early church regularly used the gifts of the Spirit and Jesus said that anyone who believed in Him would as well (John 14:12).  For sure, our enemy is determined to keep these gifts silenced and hidden away.  After all, when they were put to use in the scriptures, entire families, cities, and even nations turned back to the Lord and were radically transformed by the gospel!  In the same way that prayer, teaching, worshiping, and everything else that the early church did continues today, so spiritual gifts are still for today!  The only indication in the scriptures that they would ever cease is after we are resurrected into the new order of things.  That’s why Paul wrote this:
Hebrews 2:1-4
1 We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2 For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3 how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
1 Corinthians 12:1-11
1 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
1 Corinthians 14:1-5
1 Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit,especially prophecy. 2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. 3 But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. 4 Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesiesedifies the church. 5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.
Romans 12:4-8
4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
1 Peter 4:7-11
7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Indeed, we desperately need the many various gifts of the Holy Spirit today.  They are the most powerful and effective way to share the love of God with others and to work together to be the physical body of Christ here on the earth today!  Why is Pentecost so important?
4. Power to live a holy life
What none of us can do on our own, the Holy Spirit is able to do for us.
Titus 3:3-7 (NKJV)
For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
This process of regeneration and renewal is a work in our lives that can be done by the Holy Spirit alone.  As we allow Him to work in our lives, we are transformed from the old person that we once were into the new creation that God declares us to be.  We become holy, set apart, for God.  We’re not holy out of duty to a demanding overlord, but set apart by the kind love and mercy of God that inspires us to allow Him to work in our lives.
Why get excited about fifty days?  We celebrate Pentecost because it was then that God chose to pour out His Spirit within us.  May we keep in step with the Spirit and embrace all that He desires to give us and to do in and through us.  May we never lose sight of this precious gift freely given to us, but instead, rejoice for it and take full advantage of all that the Holy Spirit desires for us!