This past month, I had the privilege of listening to 12 of our Brethren pastors talk about the future of our denomination. Some of the best parts of that conversation were when we stopped and prayed for each other and the future of our church. One main point of our prayer was the future vision for our denomination.
When working in an organization a vision statement paints the picture of the preferred future for the organization. It is a motivation that keeps us moving forward and the guiding idea that underlies our daily decisions. It is this picture that our national leadership is seeking to discern and the reason for many of our conversations with our local church leaders.
In the book of Joel, the prophet tells of a day when God’s people will be filled with the Holy Spirit. In those days, with the work of the Spirit, “your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams and your young men will see visions.” Peter and his fellow disciples were the recipients of the spirit on the day of Pentecost. Peter quickly began to preach and prophecy about the Spirit they just received and the need for those listening to repent and turn to Christ.
I reference these passages of scripture specifically to remind us that we have received the same Spirit that was poured out on the disciples on the day of Pentecost. We have been given the capacity to see visions and dream dreams. These visions and dreams are of God’s Kingdom manifesting itself on earth as it is in heaven. Like Peter explained, those who are filled with the Holy Spirit have access to vision, prophecy, and dreams. All of the work the Holy Spirit did that day was for the benefit of those who did not know or believe in Jesus as the Messiah. When the Spirit manifested that day, the disciples were able to speak to those present in their native languages, so they could fully understand what was being said to them. They could hear the meaning and nuance of what was being said by Peter because of the familiarity of their own language being used by those filled with the Spirit.
"…We have been given the same Spirit as those disciples on the day of Pentecost…"
Interestingly, there was another spirit present that day at Pentecost. There were people there that day accusing them of being drunk. Peter quickly stood up and spoke against that spirit. Critical spirits, when left unchecked, prevent us from seeing and appreciating all that God is actively doing. Those with cynical spirits cannot be allowed to speak into our vision. Frankly that cannot. Critical spirits cannot empower people to dream dreams or see visions, those who are empowered with cynical spirits can only see what is wrong. These same spirits can even take us to the point where we begin to hope for something to be wrong. If we are not careful, this spirit begins to affect our identity. We become people marked by the need for negativity.
But Church, we have been given the same Spirit as those disciples on the day of Pentecost. Did you hear that? I don’t stop often enough to remind myself of that fact. We have access to the Spirit that helps us dream dreams and see visions of the future. Through the Holy Spirit, we can paint the picture of our preferred future together. This same Spirit not only gives dreams and visions; it also destroys the critical spirits that reside in all of us.
This month, I ask that you join me in praying for the Holy Spirit to empower our collective imagination. What is Holy Spirit saying to you? What dreams are you dreaming of? Do you need to pray that the critical spirit of cynicism is put to death in your own life and allow the Holy Spirit to reign?
Just after Peter's sermon in Acts 2, we are told of the results from the Spirit descending on the disciples that day. Just after the text of Peter’s sermon, we can read Acts 2:42-47. This passage of scripture tells of the early church and is often used to describe the church we all need to get back to. Actually, it tells of the results of the move of the Holy Spirit that day of Pentecost. On that day, God’s sons and daughters prophesied in other languages. Peter cast a vision of the Kingdom that was so compelling that 3000 people started following Christ that day. They devoted themselves to each other and to Christ. They worked diligently to support each other by sharing all that they had. God blessed them and continued to add to their number.
We all know that the enemy continued to work against them. We can read the letters of the New Testament and see that critical and other divisive spirits that were used to tear them apart. But, the Holy Spirit prevailed and continues to prevail to this day.
I pray for you and the others in your congregations as your dream dreams and seek God’s vision for your church and your community. Be reminded that you have the same Spirit as those on the day of Pentecost. May the Holy Spirit have its way in your life, your family, and your communities of faith. Let’s dream together and be encouraged that Christ Kingdom has already come. Christ is here and active! May we have the eyes to see and the courage to act!
Well said Brother! I’m finding the need to keep pushing forward in faith and to discern God’s voice over the noise of cynicism so prevalent in complacency. Lead on....