Pentecost, The Outpouring of Holy Spirit and The Feast of Harvest

Pentecost and the outpouring of Holy Spirit, that occurred during the Feast of the Harvest, is a subject I am continually seeking to understand. God’s Word holds a rich reservoir of significance and truth worth searching out and discovering.

Jesus “gave many convincing proofs that he was alive.” (Acts 1:3)  

“… he appeared to Cephas,
and then to the Twelve.
After that, he appeared to more than
five hundred of the brothers and sisters
at the same time…”
1 Corinthians 15:5-6

 

Jesus showed Himself

Ascension

Forty days after His resurrection, Jesus visited His disciples for the last time. He instructed them to wait for “the gift” from the Father.

“… Do not leave Jerusalem,
but wait for the gift my Father promised,
which you have heard me speak about.
For John baptized with water,
but in a few days you will be baptized
with the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 1:4,5

I’ve never been good at waiting, especially when I know something good is about to happen. Waiting creates room for God.  

The disciples waited. They returned to Jerusalem together, “to the room where they were staying.” (Acts 1:13) “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” Anticipation grew as they waited together in unity.

Pentecost

Ten days later, they continued to press in together in prayer waiting for the promise  the outpouring of Holy Spirit.

“When the day of Pentecost came,
they were all together in one place.
Suddenly a sound like the 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.”
Acts 2:1-4

The Feast of Weeks, or the Feast of Harvest, was rooted in Moses’ receiving the Law. Many similarities mark the Presence of God both here in Jerusalem and on Mt. Sinai.

Gods Presence in the fire and cloud

  • God’s appeared with fire, smoke and thunder on Mt. Sinai. Wind, fire and the loud noise of speaking in other tongues confirmed God’s presence at Pentecost.
  • The Law taught the people how to live. Holy Spirit now became the Teacher and Counselor.
  • While Moses was on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments, the people were worshipping the golden calf. As a result, 3,000 people died. At Pentecost 3,000 people received new life by believing in Jesus.

“… for the letter kills,
but the Spirit gives life.”
2 Corinthians 3:6

God’s presence covered Mt. Sinai. His presence filled the Tabernacle of Moses, and then later Solomon’s temple. With the outpouring of Holy Spirit, God came to dwell “in” His people with power.

Joel

At Pentecost, people were “amazed and perplexed” to hear their own language spoken by foreigners. They were convinced something significant was occurring. Others laughed and mocked, calling them drunk!

Peter rose up with boldness and authority pointing everyone to Joel’s prophecy,

“In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
 your young men will see visions,
 … old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.”
Acts 2:17-18

Pentecost, the Outpouring of Holy Spirit

Every Jew recognized these words as a small portion of a much larger text. The preceding verses in Joel speak of abundant harvest — relevant to both the Feast of Harvest and Pentecost.

“Be glad, people of Zion,
rejoice in the LORD your God,
for he has given you
the autumn rains of righteousness.
He sends you abundant showers
both autumn and spring rains, as before.”
Joel 2:23

The autumn rains in righteousness can also be translatedteacher of righteousness.” The religious sect of Qumran, which produced most of the Dead Sea Scrolls, claimed that its most revered teacher of the law … the “Teacher of Righteousness” was the fulfillment of this prophecy.”

Jesus Christ, Teacher of Righteousness, fulfilled all He promised, including the outpouring of Holy Spirit.

The Harvest

As important as timely rains are, one shower never produces a bumper crop. Joel declares the evidence of the outpouring of Holy Spirit is overflowing harvest,

“The threshing floor
will be filled with grain;
the vats will overflow
with new wine and oil.”
Joel 2:24

Joel’s prophesy included both physical and spiritual overflow. Worship and praise of the Lord accompanied the feasting of the harvest. Joyous celebration and thanksgiving accompanied the festivities. 

Twice Joel repeats, 

never again will my people be shamed.”
Joel 2:26,27

Peter, who once bore the shame of denying Jesus, stood strong, now filled with Holy Spirit. “Never again” would shame make his life! “Never again” would lack fill his soul. The harvest would “never again” fail. From this moment on, the new wine and oil of Holy Spirit poured through his life in overflowing measure.

Pentecost, Holy Spirit

Christ may have left, but the outpouring of Holy Spirit had come!

In

Peter used the historical record of Israel to prove Christ’s validity. Without mincing words, he boldly talked about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, to explain this visible work of Father, Son and Holy Spirit evidenced among them.

Exalted to the right hand of God,
he (Jesus) has received from the Father
the promised Holy Spirit
and has poured out what you now see and hear.”
Acts 2:33

Joel spoke of God dwelling in the midst of His people.

“Then you will know that I am in Israel,
that I am the LORD your God,
and that there is no other;
never again will my people be shamed.”
Joel 2:27

That little phrase “I am in” means “in the midst, present in the center or middle.” Though Joel may not have comprehended the meaning of his words, the imagery of the outpouring of Holy Spirit living “in the center” of believers is clear.

God, not wine, made the people stagger with His Presence. He came to live “in the center” of their beings. “Never again” would shame (disappointment, delay, or the pale of death) oppress them.

Respond

Peter challenged his listeners to respond to the outpouring of Holy Spirit,

“Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized,
every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ
for the forgiveness of your sins.
And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 2:38

Fire of Holy Spirit

The only prerequisite to receiving the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is repentance. Repenting means confessing and turning from sin, accepting Jesus’ death as the all-sufficient sacrifice as payment before God. Then believing Jesus destroyed death through His resurrection and confessing Him as Lord. 

Peter calls them to publicly demonstrate their death to sin and life in Christ through baptism in the name of Jesus Christ.

“Those who accepted his message were baptized,
and about three thousand were added
to their number that day.”
Acts 2:41

What joy in the harvest of souls!

For Today

The outpouring of Holy Spirit began at Pentecost, but it didn’t end there. A few days later, we see it continued.

“After they prayed,
the place where they were meeting was shaken.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and spoke the word of God boldly.”
Acts 4:31

Oil of Holy Spirit

Paul told believers to “not get drunk on wine…instead be filled with the Spirit.” (Eph 5:18) He encourages them tokeep being filled, to cram in more, to level up the supply.”

God intends the outpouring of Holy Spirit to be a continuous action in every Christian.

Just like an oil lamp needs a constant supply of oil to produce light, believers require constant filling of Holy Spirit to bring light to the world. Pentecost was the initiation into an unending supply available to all

Joel said, “In the last days“, making it clear he wasn’t referring to a single one-time activity. In Acts, they “all” received. Even now, Holy Spirit continues to be poured out on those hungry and ready to welcome Him.

Perhaps, today will be the beginning of your personal Pentecost, as you receive Holy Spirit. 

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Sowing and Reaping – Whether Intentional and Random Wisdom is Needed!

Sowing & Reaping

Everything we say and do is investment deposited in the lives of others. The outcome will always be a reflection of the seeds sown whether intentional or random. Let us carefully consider the principle of sowing and reaping approaching it with wisdom.

Kinds of Seeds

For much of my life I paid little attention to this process. The seeds I was sowing were not always beneficial! A quick cutting word, impatience, sarcasm, selfish use of resources and relationships. My list of less than desirable seed is longer than I would like to include.

I’m ashamed to say that it took me too long to see the connection between my words and actions with the resulting outcomes. By then I had a lot of unfavourable “weeds” to pull and burn from my life. Unfortunately, my poor seed choices effected not just me but everyone in my life!

Weeds

Though I have been diligent in recent years, that infestation of bad habits and patterns is not easy to uproot!

“My experience shows that those
who plant trouble and cultivate evil
will harvest the same.”
Job 4:8

True Illustration

“Do not be deceived:
God is not mocked, for whatever one sows,
that will he also reap.”
Galatians 6:7

In 1874 a member of the New York State Prison Board noticed that six members of the same family were incarcerated at the same time. The board did some research tracing the family line back to an ancestor born in 1720. He was considered lazy and godless, an alcoholic of “low moral character”. Marrying a woman who was much like himself, they had six daughters and two sons.

Of the approximately 1,200 descendants of this couple who were alive by 1874:

  • 310 were homeless
  • 160 were prostitutes
  • 180 suffered from drug or alcohol abuse
  • 150 were criminals who spent time in prison, including seven for murder

To top it off the state had spent $1.5 million to care for this line of descendants, and non had made a significant contribution to society.

Reaping Destruction

The Contrast

But the opposite is also true!

“But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations
on those who love me and
obey my commands.”
Exodus 20:6

In contrast, another family who lived in the same era was studied. This second family study began with the famous preacher Jonathan Edwards, who was born in 1703. He lived a life of strong moral values and became a minister and a dedicated family man.

He married Sarah who shared his values; together they had 11 children. Eventually, Jonathan Edwards became the president of Princeton University. Here is what researchers discovered about the approximately 1,400 descendants of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards by 1874:

  • 13 were college presidents
  • 65 were college professors
  • 100 were attorneys
  • 32 were state judges
  • 85 were authors of classic books
  • 66 were physicians
  • 80 held political offices including three state governors
  • 3 were state senators
  • 1 became vice president of the United States

(Taken from 2 Equals 1, Married for Life Course)

Sowing The Word

“It is the same with my word. I send it out,
and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
and it will prosper everywhere I send it.”
Isaiah 55:10-11

Wise Planting

A wise person plants the best quality seed they have available – seed tested and chosen carefully.

You have heard me teach things
that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses.
Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people
who will be able to pass them on to others.”
2 Timothy 2:2

Paul is talking to Timothy reminding him of the investment of time and truth deposited into his own life. He challenges Timothy to be faithful and plant these same seeds into the lives of others, who will in turn invest into yet others.

Seed produces! The harvest, though not immediate or guaranteed, exceeds the measure invested. The process is be perpetual!

Sowing and Reaping

Consider these verses of sowing and reaping!

“Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.”
Psalm 126: 5

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good.
At just the right time
we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”
Galatians 6:9

Harvest of Love

I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness,
and you will harvest a crop of love.
Plow up the hard ground of your hearts,
for now is the time to seek the LORD,
that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.’
Hosea 10:12

It’s a New Day

No matter how much time is behind you or what your past has been. Today is a new day! It is never too late to begin to invest intentionally in your life and the lives of those around.

Even if there has been a season of discipline in your life, take hope!

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time,
but painful. Later on, however, 
It produces a harvest of righteousness and peace…”
Hebrews 12: 11

Don’t be discouraged by poor crops you may have reaped from in the past. There is better harvests awaiting you!

“Remember this – a farmer who plants only a few seeds
will get a small crop.
But the one who plants generously
will get a generous crop.”
2 Corinthians 9:6

From this day forward, begin a journey a sowing wisely and generously! Just wait and see what kind of abundant harvest awaits!

“… those who live to please the Spirit will
harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.”
Galatians 6:8

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To Reap the Harvest First Plant the Seed

Plant the Seed Reap a Harvest

Our grandson came for a visit to sample the corn harvest from our little garden. He is old enough to know time between seeding and harvesting is lengthy. To reap the harvest we first plant the seed.

“Why can’t you plant a seed one day and eat corn the next,” he questioned as buttery juice oozed from the corners of his mouth.

As adults our queries are similar,

“Lord, how long…”
Why do clouds of promise evaporate before us…”
Where are You Lord now…”
When …”

Types of Seed

I have asked God for specific things on many occasions. Often what he offers looks quite different from my requests. I expect the finished product; He gives me the seed of a promise.

Seeds never look like the plant that brings the increase.

The Beginning

Here are some of the God seeds in my week:

  • a dream that became a  word of encouragement to someone needing it at that moment
  • four young girls who planted seeds of purpose and inspiration in me through a simple drawing that touched my heart powerfully
  • a prayer for a new acquaintance that turned into healing for her back injury
  • tears of joy and thankfulness with a young couple who have been on a trajectory of separation and divorce for several years … their marriage now being restored … this moment a valuable seed that will bring hope and courage to many
  • time invested in young women finish well a leg in their race God has marked out for them
  • an open door to a major conference for “Olivia & Me
  • increased opportunity to teach and minister to broader spectrum of people

Each is God’s seed of opportunity, ability or gifting; each must be planted into a bed of faith to produce.

Choice

 

Let it Grow

Seed reproduces when planted!

“The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.
Then Moses would return to the camp,
but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.”

Exodus 33:11

Joshua was given a seed of God’s presence. He stayed in it – resting and waiting there. Then later when it was his turn to lead, success was given to him. Success was the harvest of time in God’s presence. His success became the victory of an entire nation.

Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back.
Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live.
Your people will be my people,
and your God will be my God.”
Ruth 1:16

Ruth’s dedication to care for her vulnerable mother-in-law was a seed that wove through the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Through her the Saviour of the world would come. Her commitment to the God of Naomi became the forerunner of millions of others who would come to Christ.

Destroyers

 “…Simon Peter was standing by the fire warming himself,
they asked him again,
You’re not one of his disciples, are you?”
He denied it, saying,
“No, I am not.”
John 18:25

God’s grace is so incredible that even our greatest failures can become seed for propelling us into success! We know the end of the story. Peter became the apostle to the Jews, sharing the truth of gospel far and near. The seed of failure could have destroyed him! He chose to plant it deep in the soil of faith.

Stored Seed

There are many with great intelligence, talent and gifting, with overflowing resources and opportunities with ability to excel in many levels. Yet they have become shipwrecked or stalled out in their faith. Why?

Every one of these qualities is a gift, or seed, God bestows. Over the years, each of us are given many seeds. We might not even recognize them as God’s provision to the needs of ourselves or others.

 

“The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest…Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain…”But God said to him, ‘You fool!”
Luke 12: 13-21

How devastating to reach the end of our journey and discover we too have been foolish! This poor man already had barns filled. When more seed came, he continued to store it.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with abundance. Abundance is simply an overflow of God’s blessing. This poor man forgot the gift of seed was God’s.

 

Eat it Fresh

 

Like my grandson, savour the goodness of God’s blessing! At the same time be sure to plant the little seeds He gives. The harvest will be amazing!

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