To God

Acts 2: 1-41

 Are you connected to God?

There are many different ways of connecting in life.

Physical – hold hands with your neighbor 

Symbolic – paper chain  with names

Emotional – ball game of your favorite team

Heather Alison – server for the San Diego Chargers stumbled and accidentally dropped her purse with $1,000 in cash over the railing – it rained down money on the people in the lower deck.  She got it all back plus $170  - we are family 

Group – identified as Americans, Christians, Floridians

Being connected to God is a spiritual connection.

Perhaps this is the most difficult connection to determine – as human beings, we often confirm reality by our senses:  see, touch, hear, smell, taste – those things give validity to our experiences.

God is “otherly”   one of a kind – there are no comparisons available. Even though each one of us is unique we have certain common characteristics but God is wholly “other  He cannot be understood by our five senses.

We can’t touch, smell, or taste God. We can’t see God yet we can see the evidence of God – footprints all around us–we can’t hear God audibly except in extremely rare circumstances yet there is this internal antennae that knows when God is speaking to us.

So can we be connected to God and if so how do we do it?

I.  God desires you.  Luke 19:10

10For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”(NIV)

Have you ever tried to be friends with someone who doesn’t want to be friends with you – doesn’t work – desire by one party not the other.  God desires to be connected to us.

Beginning in the garden, God sought out Adam and Eve; sought out Moses, he sent multiple ambassadors called prophets to announce himself but when all of those proved insufficient; he sent Jesus so that we could be connected to Him.

When we were created by God – his goal – design – intention was for us to be in fellowship with him

If you are ever in Rome, you must go see the Sistine Chapel; painted by the great artist Michelangelo.

One of the most favorite scenes is God reaching out with his strong hand to touch the limp hand of Adam. – God wants to connect with you.

II.  God gets your attention   vs. 1-13

 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[a] as the Spirit enabled them.

 5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken.7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,[b] 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”  13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”(NIV)

In this story this was a dramatic way to get their attention.

For those who are connected to God; how did he get your attention: 

Circumstances – most receptive to spiritual things when we go through a life change – marriage – birth of a child – divorce – loss of a job  

Surroundings  Rom. 1:20  20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.(NIV)

God used a burning bush to get Moses attention; a blinding light to alert Saul but those are unusual events

1:20   look at nature – complexity of the human body – this can’t be by accident.

Person  don’t have a dramatic experience of salvation  - brought up in a Christian home – exposed to the gospel early – then at some point in my life I had to decide:  is this real?  Do I believe it?  Do I want to be connected to God?  Exposed by multiple persons  some of you have had one individual who has prompted you –opened your eyes

            Literature  our Gideon friends have hundreds of stories about how someone picked up a Bible and read it and then changed their life

            88 reasons why the rapture will occur in 1988 –Bob Russell came to me and accepted Christ.

            CS Lewis book on Mere Christianity is a book that answers skeptics.

Many times we don’t recognize that God is trying to get our attention – after the crisis or life change – we go right back to our old ways. we can ignore him.  

III.  God shares His story   vs. 14-36

The Sistine Chapel is a huge panorama of God’s story.  Over 300 characters depicted; beginning with the Genesis account of creation, moving through the stories of the OT heroes through the time of Christ to the last judgment. I couldn’t tell a Van Gogh from a Van Halen but this is a jaw dropper.   It is a stunning visual picture of God’s story:  creation – fall – prophets – Jesus – salvation – hope. At first it may look like 300 different stories but each of those individuals are a part of God’s story.

To be connected to God is to say; I want to be in the picture – I want to join your story.  We all have a story.  Earthly story about birth, childhood, school, relationships, bills, work, interests, sickness, conflict – that’s our earthly story.  Important 

We have another story – a spiritual story – about discovery –purpose of meaning of life – significance –interwoven through our earthly story is this spiritual story:  in that story we wrestle with some tough questions:  who is God anyway; why should I commit my life to Christ; many times there is a  tension between faith and doubts; it is a story about whether or not we want to get in on God’s story of redemption or whether we want to ignore him and just be content with our earthly story.

The Bible is a record of God sharing his story with us.  Most of the time, God shares his story through someone telling us about it – in this instance it was Peter –

Here is how he tells God’s story  

 14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

 17 “‘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, 
   your old men will dream dreams. 
18 Even on my servants, both men and women, 
   I will pour out my Spirit in those days, 
   and they will prophesy. 
19 I will show wonders in the heavens above 
   and signs on the earth below, 
   blood and fire and billows of smoke. 
20 The sun will be turned to darkness 
   and the moon to blood 
   before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 
21 And everyone who calls 
   on the name of the Lord will be saved.’[c]

 22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men,[d] put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25 David said about him:

   “‘I saw the Lord always before me. 
   Because he is at my right hand, 
   I will not be shaken. 
26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; 
   my body also will rest in hope, 
27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, 
   you will not let your holy one see decay. 
28 You have made known to me the paths of life; 
   you will fill me with joy in your presence.’[e]

 29 “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,

   “‘The Lord said to my Lord: 
   “Sit at my right hand 
35 until I make your enemies 
   a footstool for your feet.”’[f]

 36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”(NIV)

When God uses a person to share his story – we start with something we have in common.  Peter goes back to their Jewish heritage – where he begins.  Paul was in Athens – he was talking to Greeks not Jews – he didn’t start with Abraham – he said – I see you have a lot of Gods here – I noticed a stature about an unknown God – let me tell you who that is. 

The individual telling the story tailors it so that it is understood by the listener.  When Carol, Amanda, or Rick tell this story to elementary children they don’t start by saying:

Jesus was the incarnation of God, who died a substitutionary death for the propitiation of our sins. HUH?    Those things are true – but they don’t connect.  The story is the same – we couch it in language, customs, and commonality so it can be understood.

Where did you hear the story?  Since childhood, by a friend, or a pastor, or on television or maybe you just sat down and read the Bible.  If you want to be connected to God, we need to know His story.

IV.  God asks for a response  vs. 37-41

37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

 38 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. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.(NIV)

After hearing the story, they ask:  what should we do?

3000 of them said:  we believe the story – we want to be in on it – want to be connected to God. 

Peter doesn’t force a response but he gives direction:  repent; be baptized; in the name of Jesus Christ and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit who will come to live within you. 

Deal with three different aspects of our connectedness:  the past, present, and future.

These three things authenticate our experience of being connected to God.  To be connected to God is not just a decision, it is a commitment.  Although as pastors we often use the phrase, you need to make a decision to accept Jesus, that phrase is not found in scripture – what is found is Jesus calling us to be disciples; Jesus says follow me 25 times in the gospels;

Paul is saying to the crowd that day and to all who afar off: are you committed to Christ? 

If our decision does not lead to a commitment, there is something wrong.  I made a decision to get married but after the initial ceremony, I made a commitment to be a husband.  I was married on June 1st. On June 2nd, I didn’t say:  that was nice, what should we do next week.

Repentance means we admit we were wrong – ask God for forgiveness and he does – accepts us as part of his family. Forgiveness of our past

Baptism says we are serious about this – not ashamed – we want to witness to our faith. Affirmation of our present

Gift of the Holy Spirit simply means the spirit of God lives within you; guiding, teaching, correcting and you allow him to give you direction. Hope of our future. God wants you to be  connected to the source. Not what pastor thinks you should do; or your friend; or your wife but what God wants you do. 

To say I want to go to heaven but I don’t want to allow the Holy Spirit to guide my life is a contradiction in terms.

To be connected to God takes our faith combined with God’s grace.

God’s grace is his love reaching out for us – seeking us – desiring us – our faith is the response of saying yes to His drawing.