GSFA Devotional: Bread for Our Journey
Pentecost Sunday (23 May 2021)
PENTECOST: The Indispensable Gift of God’s Power
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Tim 1:7, ESV)
There is an uneasy hush in the public park where I am seated writing this devotion. COVID-19 has stilled the roar of human activity as we once knew it. All across the world, our present times are filled with gloom, disruptiveness, high levels of stress and much suffering. Deaths due to COVID-19 have passed the 3.4 million mark globally to date. The current conditions call for nothing less than a mighty wind of the Holy Spirit sweeping across the Church so that Christians can find deep strength in God and be empowered to bring healing, hope & love to a distraught world.
Let us dwell on what happened at that first Pentecost (Acts 2:1-47)1 which took place on the fiftieth day after Jesus Christ our Passover Lamb had poured out His life on the Cross. God the Father kept His promise and poured out the Holy Spirit on the gathered believers. They burst out into their world with a new & overflowing sense of God’s presence, God’s power & the mighty works God had done through the death, resurrection & ascension of Jesus Christ. This was good news to be shared with the whole world. Within one generation, the Church born that day grew from the hundred and twenty in the upper room in Jerusalem to become multiple congregations across the length and breadth of the vast Roman empire. Do you long for the Church of today to make such an impact?
Since that first Pentecost, there have been significant moments in Church history when God has graciously poured out His Holy Spirit to revive His Church, bring a stunning number of souls into His kingdom and alter the course of nations. I believe that God is ready to do this in this distressing hour when the cloud of darkness is indeed covering the earth (Isaiah 60:1- 3)2. May each one of us personally, and may our churches collectively, turn to God with a desperate, seeking, humble and repentant heart. Only a revived, Spirit-empowered people can bring the light of God’s kingdom into the midst of the world’s pain and lostness. Let us cry out to God in prayer for a fresh outpouring of the Hoy Spirit in our day. We need a power not our own.
When you receive the filling or outpouring of the Spirit, the form of that decisive, unmistakable experience can vary from person to person. But the evidence of being Spirit- filled is common. In 2 Tim 1:7, we are reminded that the Holy Spirit is a Spirit “not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” These words were addressed to Timothy, a key leader of God’s people, to embolden him not to shrink back from Gospel ministry on account of the hardships posed by institutional Roman persecution. The words speak to us today with fresh force. The prolonged COVID-19 pandemic brings us also face to face with an intimidating and fearful situation that can unhinge us and dampen our spirits. We need an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in which God gives us:
Power to overcome our fear and timidity in distressing times; a power that sends us forth with dynamic energy, courage and joy to proclaim by word and deed that Jesus Christ is Lord of all.
Love that flows from His heart and causes us to give ourselves unconditionally to serve others in self-giving and sacrificial ways.
Self-control so that our minds are not ruled by passions of the flesh. Neither are our minds restless because of conflicting desires or raging fears. But the Holy Spirit gives us a unified & controlling centre at the core of our being, one that is based on a living & vital relationship with Christ (see the healed demoniac clothed with a sound mind in Mark 5:153). Where this divine centre of living is established in our souls by the Holy Spirit, we will find that the different roles we play and ‘the fretful calls of life’4 are all integrated in a coherent life lived for God, and our physical body is yielded to God as an instrument of righteousness.
If you long for such a life and desire to be used by God in these critical days, would you ask the Lord to fill you this Pentecost with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit? Ask him through prayer and praise, and through your longing. You can ask him personally as you sit or kneel in His presence. You can also join the gathering of God’s people, onsite or even online, to ask Him together to fill you as a person and to build a Spirit-filled Church. The Lord longs to do so. The gift of God’s indispensable power is not based on merit. The Lord gives out of His abundant grace: good measure, pressed down & running over ... to all who ask in Jesus’ name!
The Rt Revd Rennis Ponniah
Hon Director, GSFA Secretariat
Hon Fellow, St Peter’s Hall (Diocese of Singapore)