Week 39 The Gift of the Holy Spirit

 By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)

 Week 39
Scripture Readings: Acts 1-2

Key Scripture Verses: Acts 1:8, Acts 2:3 (NIV, Life Application Bible)

“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.”

“They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.”

 The story of Pentecost is a fascinating and exciting one. Jesus has been resurrected from the dead and at this point he has appeared to his disciples over many occasions. He has spent 40 days with his disciples and he has one last thing to tell them before he is taken up to Heaven before their very eyes. He tells them to wait for a gift, not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the gift of baptism in the Holy Spirit. My Bible’s commentary points out that the Holy Spirit, because of its nature as spirit, could be all over the earth at the same time and that was a wonderful way for God to be everywhere and with them always. This was the gift Jesus was to send back to them after he left.

The disciples who now realize and understand that Jesus lives, that he was resurrected, are willing to do exactly as he says. They wait for the Holy Spirit to come upon them. Ten days later after Jesus ascends to Heaven, while many Jews from all over are gathered in Jerusalem for the Festival of Weeks, the Holy Spirit comes upon them.

And it is an incredible event. Tongues of fire rest on them—they begin to speak in tongues and all of the people there hear the gospel spoken to them in their own language—languages these Galileans did not speak ever before. Wow! The people gathered there had to have been in such awe of that. And this time the disciples knew what was happening, knew this was what Jesus had meant, and Peter explained it to the people when they questioned whether the disciples were drunk. And the Bible says that many people were converted to Christianity because of it.

As I thought of these images and I thought of having a tongue of fire, I thought about how that meant that the disciples who were now being sent out into the world to tell others about Jesus, becoming his Apostles, were “on fire” for Jesus. The Holy Spirit indwelled their very beings to speak of his Word, to teach the gospel in God’s own way through them.

And I wondered if we who are Christians today are as excited and “on fire” for Jesus. Are we eager to share his love and to follow his commission to spread the gospel to all the ends of the earth as we are compelled to do?

The Holy Spirit is mysterious and difficult to comprehend at times; however, it is our spiritual cord to God and Jesus—it is our spiritual life line that connects us at all times to the living Christ.

We can call on God in an instance through our prayers. It’s the fastest means of communication possible and we have God with us 24/7, no matter where we are, no matter what circumstance we are in. We can have all of our earthly privileges taken from us, but no one can take God’s Holy Spirit from us and He is accessible at all times because of it.

The Holy Spirit truly is a gift. We have the same gift that was given to these disciples, if we have accepted Jesus as our God and savior, if we have repented of our sins, and followed him.

Not all of us speak in tongues, but each of us is given our own spiritual gifts. Are we using our tongues of fire to spread his word, to share ourselves and our own unique gifts to God’s glory?


By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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