ALL IN PERSON SERVICES HAVE BEEN CANCELLED ALONG WITH ALL CHURCH EVENTS DURING THE WEEK. STAY SAFE!
*WEEKLY DEVOTIONAL FROM PASTOR JIM*
Pentecost Sunday (based upon Acts 1:3-5; Acts 2:1-4; Acts 2:17-21)
The disciples in Acts 1 were instructed by Jesus to wait in Jerusalem until the right time to receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2). We who live in Pennsylvania in May 2020 have been instructed by Gov. Wolf to wait to resume full scale life activities because of the COVID-19 battle. I want to share with you about an unusual scale that measures the wind. Wind is mentioned in our text.
The wind. That’s an invisible but truly powerful force. We know it when we feel it, but how can we describe it? “The wind blows where it chooses,” Jesus said, “and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes” (John 3:8). Significantly, he goes on to say, “So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
For thousands of years, no one thought that the wind could be measured. But then, in the late 1700s, a cabin boy in the British Navy began to keep a meteorological journal so that he could stay on top of weather conditions. His name was Francis Beaufort, and he grew up to become a Rear Admiral, serving the Navy for 68 years. Over the course of his career, he developed a method for describing the wind that became known as “The Beaufort Scale.”
According to Beaufort, you’ve got your “calm.” You’ve got your “light breeze.” And then a “moderate breeze,” and then a “gale,” then a “storm,” and then a “hurricane.” Beaufort’s definition of “calm” is a “sea like a mirror.” When a “light breeze” is blowing, you see small wavelets on the water, and the crests don’t break. A “moderate breeze” creates small waves, while a “strong breeze” generates large waves, white foam crests and probably spray.
When a “gale” is beginning to blow, you see moderately high waves and crests that begin to break into sea spray. A “storm” is defined by very high waves with long, overhanging crests. The surface of the sea takes a white appearance, and the tumbling of the sea becomes heavy. And at the top of the scale is a “hurricane” — a wind condition you don’t want to see firsthand! “The air is filled with foam and spray,” says Beaufort, and the sea is “completely white with driving spray.” With his descriptions of every condition from calm to hurricane, Francis Beaufort created a way to describe the wind — a scale that is still in use today.
It was a windy day in Jerusalem when the apostles gathered to celebrate the harvest festival known as Pentecost. Acts tells us that there came a sound like the rushing of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where the apostles were sitting. Firelike tongues rested on each of them, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit — they began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability (Acts 2:1-4). Suddenly, the international crowd that had gathered in Jerusalem could hear the apostles speaking about God’s deeds of power — they could understand what the apostles were saying, because they were speaking the native language of each and every person.
But the force of the wind did not end there. It inspired the apostle Peter, who had acted like a Christ-denying coward just a few months earlier, to stand in front of a mob of mockers and shout, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem ... listen to what I say.” Peter proclaimed that the coming of the Holy Spirit matched the words of the prophet Joel — words that told of how God would pour out his Spirit upon all people. Your “sons and your daughters shall prophesy,” said Peter to the crowd, and “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved”.
What a mighty wind it was, whipping through Jerusalem and blowing away the everyday expectations of everyone who was gathered there. People were impacted, lives were changed, and it was — for apostles and members of the crowd alike — the storm of the century.
But how can we measure the force of this holy wind? If we were to apply “The Spirit Scale,” what would that look like? How do we experience the Holy Spirit in our lives today?
Calm. This is the condition we experience when the Spirit leads us, equips us, and gives us serenity and peace. “Peace be with you,” said Jesus when he appeared to the disciples after his resurrection. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” giving them the power to forgive sins (John 20:21-23). When the Spirit Scale reads “calm,” we are given peace and a sense of purpose — we know that we belong to God, and that we now possess a sense of direction. This Spirit-scale calm is something we feel even though our lives may be buffeted by hurricane force winds. Whatever the nature of the external wind that is assailing us, the calm of the Spirit keeps us on mission, on point, and on message. We are unmoved. We are unfazed. We are experiencing the “calm” of the Holy Spirit.
Strong breeze. At other times, the Holy Spirit comes as a “strong breeze,” a Spirit-wind that has a creative quality to it and leads to surprising improvements and new directions in our lives. In the Bible, this is seen in the “wind from God” that swept over the face of the waters at the moment of creation, bringing order out of chaos (Genesis 1:2). This is the Spirit-wind that came upon the anointed figures of the Old Testament when they were empowered for specific tasks and missions. This is the Spirit that came upon the seventy elders (Numbers 11:25). This is the Spirit that came upon Balaam when he uttered his oracle (Numbers 24:2). This is the Spirit that rested upon Othniel, the judge of Israel (Judges 3:10), and Gideon (6:34) and Jephthah (11:29) and Samson (13:25). This is the Spirit that fell upon Saul (1 Samuel 10:10) and David (16:13).When we head into a situation where new directions, fresh opportunities and unlimited possibilities face us, we look to the Holy Spirit for the “strong breeze” to empower us according to the will of God.
Gale. Higher up the scale is the Spirit as a “gale,” a force that breaks unhealthy patterns and shakes up the status quo. In a world that so often fights fire with fire and responds to violence with even more violence, we are given the power we need to go in a different direction.
A couple from a jungle in Africa arrived in Kingston, Ontario, and were given a fully equipped home to live in. They were handed the keys, but no one thought of explaining about the electrical appliances. During the month of July they went to bed when it got dark and rose with the sun. They collected wood and were able to cook in the fireplace. They found water came from the taps, and they did their washing in the kitchen, and dried their clothes on the line. But by November they were cold, miserable and very frightened. Happily some friends came to visit, found the house in darkness and they flicked on the lights. They showed the couple how they could set the thermostat to heat the house and use the electric stove for cooking. The next week they learned about the washer and dryer, the vacuum cleaner, how to answer the telephone and dial their friends. The television helped them find out about Canada, and how people survived the Canadian winter.
That story illustrates the huge change that took place on the Day of Pentecost. “Suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a mighty wind and it filled the entire house” (Acts 2:2). The couple from Africa discovered that they were living in a house in which they were free to enjoy light, and heat, and the many appliances needed for the Canadian winter. But the Pharisees and other religious leaders of the day had never told people all that God had for them. On the Day of Pentecost the early Christians began to experience the light and power available to them by the power of the Holy Spirit.
This is a powerful wind, one that can knock us off balance and push us out of our comfort zones. We need to ask ourselves: Are we willing to be blown in this direction?
Hurricane. Finally, at the top of the chart is the Spirit as a “hurricane.” This is what hit Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, turning the lives of the apostles completely upside down. They were reoriented from looking inward at themselves to looking outward toward a world in desperate need of the gospel. They were changed from fearful disciples into fearless evangelists, and they headed off into the mission field with a powerful sense of purpose.
On this Pentecost Sunday, consider the lyrics of this prayerful hymn, “Dwell in Me”.
*Dwell in Me, O blessed Spirit, How I need Thy help divine! In the way of life eternal, Keep, oh, keep this heart of mine.
*Let me feel Thy sacred presence; Then my faith will ne’er decline; Comfort Thou and help me onward, Fill with love this heart of mine.
*Round the cross where Thou hast led me, Let my purest feelings twine;
With the blood from sin that cleansed me, Seal anew this heart of mine!
*Dwell in me, O blessed Spirit, Gracious Teacher, Friend divine!
For the home of bliss that waits me, O prepare this heart of mine!
*Dwell in me, Oh, dwell in me; Hear and grant my prayer to Thee;
Spirit, now from Heaven descending, Come, oh come and dwell in me!
Blessings, Pastor Jim LeVan
A N N O U N C E M E N T S for May 31, 2020
1. Our local congregations are encouraged to set aside time for prayer on Sundays at 11 o’clock. As the Welsh hymn goes, “God be with you till we meet again”.
2. In your prayers please include Jane Urban who needs to receive radiation treatments. She is currently staying at the home of her daughter Deborah Toth, 3998 Brumby Way, Snellville, GA 30039. Also, prayers are requested for Jane Yeanish who fell at her home, 6855 Old Grange Road, Slatington PA 18080, and broke her hip. She is in St. Luke’s Hospital, Lehighton Campus and will receive therapy in their Rehabilitation Unit.
3. If you are receiving a postal mailing, but have an e-mail, please communicate with Barbara Diefenderfer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Thank you to all who love God and express your love for the Lord by praying for his church and sending tithes, offerings, and contributions to sustain the Slatington Baptist Church, 509 Main Street, Slatington PA 18080.
5. Slatington Borough residents are urged to please fill out your 2020 Census form now if you have not done so! If you need help call the Borough Manager Dan Stevens at the borough office at 610-767-2131. To date, there has been a very poor response for this community. Please be aware that neglecting to fill out the 2020 census may result in loss of funding (road paving; water lines; recreation including NL swimming pool; Slatington Public Library; borough maintenance). We may also loose State Representation and taxes would have to increase at a higher rate.
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Organized in 1859 as the Williamstown Baptist Mission in a schoolhouse outside of Slatington, our congregation moved to West Church Street Slatington in 1891. We soon outgrew that facility and in 1899 acquired the tract of land where our church presently stands.
On Sunday, June 3, 1900, the first public worship services were held in our church building at 509 Main Street where we worship today.
ALL ARE WELCOME
Our congregation extends a warm and friendly welcome to all who seek a relationship with our Lord.
Join us Sundays at 10:45 am for
Lord's Day Worship!
Rev. James W. LeVan, Pastor
509 Main Street, Slatington, PA 18080