This last episode in our Easter series looks at transformed disciples after Jesus ascends to Heaven. They had a purpose and a mission and they were amazing at accomplishing it because they were powered by God the Holy Spirit. Nicole and Sharon pivot from the disciples of long ago to all of us who live now. God has made you on purpose and He truly has a plan for your life. Let's talk and dig deeper and see how to live well.
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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Welcome to the Sweet Selah Moments Podcast. Spring is on its way and with it the very special Easter season. We hope this Easter series will refresh you as you stop for a little moment and listen in. This Sweet Selah Moments podcast is brought to you by Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries.
Welcome to episode 39 Living Out Our Purpose. We are finishing out our Easter series with a look at life after Jesus’ ascension for his disciples and ultimately for us, his followers now in 2021. I am intrigued by this title, Sharon, living out our purpose is actually living life on purpose, looking for what God would have us do. Right?
Right. I feel so sorry for those who have not yet grasped that God made them on purpose for a purpose. To wake up each day and be on mission for God is so exciting. And he has such great plans for us if we’ll listen. He also equips every single Christian with specific gifts to be used in building up the kingdom. I can’t wait to talk about all this, Nicole.
Let’s start though, by imagining how the disciples felt after watching Jesus ascend in a cloud, up, up, up, and then out of sight. They had instructions to wait, to go back to Jerusalem and wait., Nicole, what do you think was going on in their minds?
Standing there watching Jesus ascend into the clouds, I think a bit of awe maybe, and maybe sadness he was leaving because they loved and followed him for so long.
Oh, my goodness to see him go out of sight would have been so, so hard.
Oh yeah, and maybe a little bit of ‘now what’?
Exactly, and the thing that’s hard about the wait they were asked to do is they weren’t told how long. You know, when you wait for Christmas, it’s like, well, I know it’s December 25th.
You know, it may take a while to get there, but it’s going to come. But when you’re waiting to feel better after being sick, you don’t know how long.
There’s no end date, yeah.
Right. Or you’re waiting for a loved one who’s walked away from God to return. You have no idea. And the kind of waiting they were asked to do is the ‘wait until something happens’ wait, which I think is harder. I used to think in the middle of some of my waiting’s, if you just tell me how long?
Even if it’s ten years.
Like I’d be so much more patient.
Yes. At least I’d know I’ve got 10 years to wait. But they weren’t told how long to wait so, well.
Today we’re going to read about the day of Pentecost and how the waiting ended then and how God showed up BIG. But first of all, Nicole, let’s look at Acts chapter one. We’re going to be Acts chapter two, but can you summarize that first chapter of Acts for us?
Yeah. So Jesus went back up into heaven and two men appeared in white and asked the disciples why they were standing there, staring up at the clouds. I love that part. What are you doing standing here? And they said that Jesus will return the same way he left. So they all went back to an upper room together and waited. And while they waited, they tried to figure out how to replace Judas from among the twelve. They cast lots and Mathias was selected to become an apostle with the other 11.
Well, at least they had one thing to do while they were waiting.
Yeah. To kind of drag it out to kill some time.
And it’s fascinating to me that they felt like there needed to be twelve.
Yeah. That’s interesting.
Maybe cause there’s twelve tribes of Israel and twelve is just the number.
I don’t know, but it gave them something to do anyways.
Well, in the second chapter of Acts the wait is over. Listen, podcast listener, as we read his Word, this is our Selah moment, when we hear God’s word spoken to us. In this case, through Luke. He was a physician, a doctor who lived in the time of Christ and recorded the history of the early church for us in Acts. Nicole, why don’t you start us off with verse one of Acts, chapter two.
“On the day of Pentecost, all the believers were meeting together in one place.”
“Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven, like the roaring of a mighty wind storm. And it filled the house where they were sitting.”
“Then what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them.” And
“And everyone present was filled with the Holy spirit and began speaking in other languages as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.”
“At that time, there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem.”
“When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.”
“They were completely amazed. ‘How can this be’, they exclaimed, these people are all from Galilee?”
“And yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages.”
“Here we are Parthians, Medes, Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus and the province of Asia.”
“Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the areas of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome.”
“Both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans, and Arabs. And we all hear these people speaking in our own language about the wonderful things God has done.
“They stood there amazed and perplexed. ‘What can this mean,’ they asked each other?”
“But others in the crowd ridiculed them saying, ‘They’re just drunk, that’s all’.”
There’s one in every crowd.
“Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd. ‘Listen carefully, all of you, fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem. Make no mistake about this’.”
“These people are not drunk as some of you are assuming. Nine o’clock in the morning is much too early for that.”
(Logic.) “No. What you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel.”
“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my spirit upon all people, your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions and your old men will dream dreams.”
“In those days, I will pour out my spirit, even on my servants, men and women alike. And they will prophesy.”
“And I will cause wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and clouds of smoke.”
“The sun will become dark and the moon will turn blood red before that great and glorious day of the Lord arrives.”
“But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
“People of Israel, listen. God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders and signs through him as you well know.”
“But God knew what would happen and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him.”
“But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip.”
“Peter’s words pierced their hearts and they said to him and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do’?”
“Peter replied, ‘Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy spirit’.”
“This promise is to you, to your children and to those far away, all who have been called by the Lord, our God.”
“Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, ‘Save yourselves from this crooked generation’.”
“Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day, about 3000 in all.”
“All the believers devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and to fellowship and to sharing in meals, including the Lord’s Supper and to prayer.”
“A deep sense of awe came over all of them and the Apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders.”
Oh my goodness, Nicole, they were just hanging out in the upper room, waiting, waiting, waiting.
And then power came on them to the degree that at least 3000 people, I mean that’s if everybody accepted Christ that day, but a huge crowd came. So this was not a small noise. This was not just a noise that they heard. This was a roaring, this was a movement of the spirit that was so big that it attracted thousands of people to that one place where those disciples were. I think that’s so stunning. So it was really clear. The wait was over, you know what I mean? Sometimes you’re like, is the wait over? No, no, no, no, no, no nothing’s happening and then bam!
Yeah, it all happens.
There’s the Holy Spirit. Wowzers, they thought they were just celebrating the Feast of the Pentecost, which is kind of a normal holiday celebrating the first harvest of the wheat crop. They did it every year, you know, kind of like celebrating Memorial Day?
So, it had been 50 days since Jesus had risen from the grave and just seven days since he’d ascended into heaven. So the wait was actually mercifully quite short.
That was nice.
It was nice. And then bam, just as Jesus had told them, he’d leave, but the Holy Spirit would come and take up residence inside them. Amazing.
It’s amazing, yeah.
Yes. With tons of fire and wind and then the speaking, Oh my word. Well, what stood out to you? I mean, this is an amazing chapter.
There’s so much. I know.
What stood out to you the most?
Could you imagine being there and just hearing that and seeing the fire and hearing all the tongues, it must’ve been amazing to be part of that. But I think the most powerful moment and I just… three thousand people were baptized and added to the church that day.
That very day.
Three thousand people, can you imagine? To be part of that, it was such a beautiful moment, you know?
When I was reading it, I’m noticing that Peter raised his voice and I’m like, why did he raise voice? Oh, there were thousands of people there. He had to raise his voice in order to be heard. So that was why he raised his voice. And I love that God made it possible for people from all over the world to hear the gospel message in their own language. It did two things really. They heard it speaking specifically and personally to them, but also God was showing he was God by miracles, signs and wonders in those days, particularly, although he still does signs and wonders today. But back then, you don’t see Galileans talking in Cyrenian and Egyptian you know? And yet they were and you’d think in the confusion, you wouldn’t even be able to hear it. Right? Because all these people are talking in different languages, but everyone there was able to discern what God had for them. What a day of calling and three thousand weren’t like, Oh, maybe I’ll think about it.
Yeah. They were all in. They were baptized and added to the church.
Yeah. And presumably tongues of fire and Holy Spirit within.
I can’t even imagine being there though, that would have been so incredible.
Just an incredible day.
Yeah, you’d never want it to end.
I know it. Powerful, powerful, powerful. So, but you know, what’s super amazing is that same Holy Spirit resides in you and me and every believer in Christ. I love that.
And every one of us has been given a special gift of the Spirit to be used in service to the Lord. At that time, what those disciples needed, the gift they needed was to communicate.
And so they did, they just opened their mouths and languages poured out. They didn’t maybe even understand what they were saying, but their listeners did. But, we’re given a variety of gifts and these apply today, the gifts still apply today. So we’re going to look today briefly at a few of the gifts listed in either 1 Corinthians 12 or Romans 12 and talk about them because that’s how we live on purpose for a purpose when we know how we’ve been gifted and the assignment God’s given us as Christians in the world today. So Nicole, you go first.
All right, well, in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 we read, “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice. To another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another and to someone else, the one Spirit gives a gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles and another, the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages. While another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.” So these are all the spiritual gifts that can be given to us from this passage. Wise advice, messages of special knowledge, faith, healing, the power to perform miracles, the ability to prophecy, the gift of discernment, the ability to speak in unknown languages and for someone else to interpret. That’s quite a list and all these things are pretty impossible without God’s Spirit.
They are. They are and that is quite a list and I love how he keeps emphasizing one Spirit gives multiple gifts. Like we’re all still connected by the Spirit. And it’s only done, like you said, through the Spirit, no other way. And yet somebody gets this gift. Somebody gets another gift and we don’t get to choose.
Right, which is good. That’s a lot of pressure.
Yeah, yeah. Also, there’s no bragging.
You know, it’s not like, well, I have this gift. Well, you were given it, whatever. You didn’t earn it. You didn’t muscle it up.
I made the perfect choice.
Yeah, exactly. It was totally given to you. Well Romans 12:6-8 also lists gifts. So I’m going to read those. “In his grace God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So, if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well, if your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously, if God has given you leadership ability, take that responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.” Oh my goodness, I love how he’s like, Hey, if you got this gift, use it. So here are the gifts listed from this passage: the gift of prophecy, the gift of faith, of service, of teaching, encouragement, generosity, leadership, there’s even a gift of showing kindness. Isn’t that the sweetest?
Oh, that is a good one.
I think that’s also the gift of mercy. You know, just the idea of seeing someone’s need and wanting to meet it. It’s so pretty. Well, I love the variety of gifts listed in these passages because just as people are unique, so are their areas of giftedness. I have friends with the gift of encouragement and let me tell you, they are wonderful to have as friends because they’re always noticing things and saying nice things and encouraging me, they spur me on and they notice when I’ve honored God in some way. So I’m really grateful for my friends who have different gifts from me. Mary has the gift of discernment and she’s helped me several times. I don’t have that gift. And she’ll say, you know, I just have a sense about this Mom and I think you need to be careful here. And she is like spot on, Nicole.
She should be living next door to me.
Discern for me as things come along.
Yes, discern for me what to do as I read this, what do I need to know about it? But, we need each other.
I was going to say it’s so neat how our gifts complement. God knew when he gave each person and put us all together that we need each other and the gifts God gave us to share.
Yeah. Because we don’t have them all.
No. We can’t have them all.
Right. Oh my word. Can you imagine if you had all the gifts? It would be kind of exhausting.
You’d kind of just explode I think.
It’s a lot to do.
Oh, my word. Well, do you know what gifts God has given you, Nicole?
Yeah. I just recently found out, it’s kind of exciting to discover that. God has given me the gift of encouragement and mercy. They’re both like right there, hand in hand, which is kind of interesting.
It’s crazy what a blessing it is to use those gifts for him though. I always feel like when you’re helping someone, you’re kind of getting more than you’re giving. It’s just such a neat thing.
Isn’t that the truth?
Yeah. It’s a joy to come alongside a sister in Christ and encourage them in their faith and to point them back to the Bible and that gift of encouragement, it also keeps me in my Bible for sure. That way I’m getting those true words of encouragement and not relying upon like, Oh yeah, good. You know, I’m offering true encouragement.
From the Word.
The only real encouragement. And mercy, I wasn’t sure about that gift until recently. It’s a gift that allows me to see the needs of others and to bring those needs to God in prayer, because at first it was overwhelming to see the needs and feel like I couldn’t do anything, but God was just like, pray. Like I’ve given you this heart that breaks, bring it to me and don’t keep carrying that burden. So, really neat.
What a beautiful application. That is so right and true because if you answer every heart cry for every person you burn out and Jesus doesn’t expect us to, but we always pray.
And then through the prayer, you know, which ones you’re supposed to do other things with.
To minister to. Exactly.
It’s been a very, very good thing. It’s neat though, because these gifts bring us closer to God. We have to continue to reach into him to use these gifts because they’re from him. So it’s a good relationship.
It is. It is and I love that it pulls you back to prayer.
Yeah. It’s kinda neat.
It’s also kind of handy being your friend. Encouragement, mercy, thanks Nicole.
I got you covered with the prayer.
I’m loving it! Well, I have kind of a unique way of how I discovered my two main gifts. It was kind of unusual. I was, um, let’s see, my kids were four and three years old, so it was quite a little while ago. And we were living near West Point, Ray was a teacher at West Point and I took walks every morning before he left for work with a neighbor while Ray was still home to listen for the kids who were still in bed. So it was like a really early morning walk every day, but it was very consistent. And we talked about everything, you know, because we walked every day. Well, one day, out of the blue, she said, Sharon, I’ve been studying the spiritual gifts and I know your gifts. I’m like, well, that’s interesting. You didn’t discover them for you. You discovered them for me. She said, yeah, they’re teaching and evangelism and that really resonated with me. And I said, maybe, maybe they are. Thanks. And then the conversation moved on. That same week, no joke, I got a letter from a friend that I used to know in Massachusetts who wrote me very sporadically. Like, you know, twice a year. Dear Sharon, I just attended a spiritual gifts conference and I know what your spiritual gifts are. They’re teaching and evangelism.
Oh, how funny.
Is that not…? Well, it’s not coincidence.
I’d say God really wanted you to know that and feel confirmed in that.
He super did. I was holding the letter and shaking. I’m thinking, wow, Lord, you wanted to underline this for me and somehow it’s important that I know this. And as I look back on it, why, why Lord? Well, I think two reasons, first of all, because I needed to teach and I needed to be bold about sharing my faith, which I always kind of have been. I love talking about the gospel. That’s who I am, which is why it’s a gift. But I also, because they’re visible gifts, they’re kind of like the upfront gifts. I think God wanted to emphasize to me, I gave you these. You’re not a good teacher because you’re anything special. I chose you for this. And any teaching you do that has any value at all is because I gave it to you and I’m moving through you. So my place in it needed to be underlined for me too. I am under him. I am gifted by him to do this work. And I am obligated to him. To whom much is given, much is required to live out this gifting. So.
Oh, I love that. That’s a really neat story.
So it is kind of interesting and you know what? I find my greatest joy when I’m teaching, you know, it’s really nice having a ministry where you can teach when that’s your greatest joy. You’re like, Oh, cool, people are listening to me.
Another happy day.
I get to teach. Oh goodness. So anyways, I think that’s typical. You find your greatest joy in your areas of gifting because it’s how God wired you.
Isn’t that so neat though, again, he provides such a joy in what he calls us to do. It’s not this horrible mundane task. He equips us for what he wants us to do.
Right, yes. It’s not like, Oh no, I have to teach.
I’m like, Oh, that’s why you gave me so many words.
There was a purpose for those, not just to drive my friends crazy with all my talking. So Nicole, knowing all this about how we are each given a gift, what does this say to every church member and how a church ideally should work?
It reminds me of that verse about being the body of Christ. You know, we all have very important parts and God designed each of us to do that work. And like we said, no gift or role is more important than any other. And we need each other to all be well-rounded and to help each other.
We do, we absolutely do. I remember my friend Vicki who had the gift of service and she says, someone has to take care of replacing the paper towels in the bathroom, you know?
That’s true, yeah.
And she’s like, and it’s me. That’s what she would do. And you’d always find her making sure things were tidy and in place while I was obliviously talking to someone in the lobby, right. And my talking was drawing people to Christ and her servant heart, keeping things tidy and in order and not chaotic was drawing people to Christ. Each of us.
I love that. It’s so neat.
Yeah, it’s just wonderful how God does that. It really is. So. Okay. Well, have you shared with your girls by any chance about gifts, spiritual gifts? I didn’t when my girls were little, cause I don’t think I knew much about it.
I haven’t, it’s funny. I haven’t yet. I just started to discover my own gifts so I haven’t sat down with them and kind of talked about their spiritual gifts yet, but now I’ve learned more about mine and am kind of growing in them I do want to find a better way to sit with the girls and like, okay, well you have Jesus in your heart so let’s find out your gifts. You know, right now I’m just kind of watching them and trying to figure them out. Cause they’re serious little creatures.
You know, and I think it would help. A lot of teenage girls and guys go through a time of, an angst of, you know, what am I here for? What’s my purpose?
Yeah, looking for their purpose. Right.
You know, and to kind of, help them hone in on, you definitely have a purpose and you’ve been gifted in a special way because you’ve received Christ.
You know, if your child has received Christ, let’s pray about this because as, as you discover that purpose, you’ll find your niche in the church to serve. You’ll find your mission for life.
And you know, and too many kids, especially nowadays are suicidal because there doesn’t seem to be a reason to get up in the morning. But if you’re living on mission and you’re like, okay, I have been gifted this way. How do I use it?
Wow. Like God created me for this. Yeah.
Every day is so fun. And I did discover the gift of evangelism when I was a teenager, but you know, it’s funny, I kind of dropped it. You know, I used it as a teenager and started the Bible study and all that stuff. But, it kind of faded and came back when the teaching and evangelism walk and letter occurred.
I love that.
But, it’s been fun to live on mission ever since, it really has. So. Okay. Well podcast listener, we are not going to leave you out of this discussion. It’s your turn. Do you know what gifts God has specifically given you to use for the common good? If yes, how are you using them for his glory? If no, seek him on this, ask a friend what gifts she sees in you and which of these makes you glad when you practice it? That’s a good key to what you’re wired to do. Vicky loved a tidy bathroom. I didn’t notice one.
But she did. And she loved having that. So anyways, Nicole and I are going to ask you some questions that may help you in discerning what gifts God has given you. So listen carefully and maybe he’ll reveal to you your purpose. Go ahead, Nicole, you start.
When you are able to surprise someone with a generous gift, does it just give you a huge surge of joy? You have the gift of giving generously. Do it often as God leads.
Are you able to sense God’s nearness even in awful situations and just know, but know, he’s there in the midst? Well, you might have the gift of faith and Oh how we need you to share that with others, spurring them on to greater belief that God is real and he is good.
Do you love teaching things you’ve learned to others? When you read a Bible passage, are you thinking, Oh, I just want to share this it’s so special. Then you most likely have the gift of teaching, use it to strengthen your students, whether they are your own children or a larger crowd.
Do you find yourself in the kitchen, cleaning up the crumbs and dishes no matter where you happen to be, do you notice messes and piles and just want to straighten them up? You may have the gift of helping, Oh, you are so needed, Friend. Some of us are oblivious to said messes and need help noticing them and need those who naturally gravitate to caring for the ordering and cleaning of things.
Do you have a burning desire for those who don’t know Jesus to know him? Do you absolutely love to tell the gospel story of Christ’s saving grace for broken people? You may have the gift of evangelism. The times are dark, and we need you to be sharing that gospel, Friend.
Does having people over warm your heart and get you all happy and excited? Do you take pleasure in creating a beautiful meal and a pretty place for guests to relax and feel welcomed? Uh, can I come to your house? You most likely have the gift of hospitality. And these are just a few of the many gifts that God gives us in a special measure in order to further his kingdom. But let’s be aware that to some degree, we’re all expected to do these things. I mean, we should all have generous hearts. We should all open our homes, as God leads, to others. We should all be quick with an encouraging word and we should all share the gospel as God gives us opportunity. But when we discover our area of special giftedness, we just know that that’s the part of the kingdom we should most be working in. That’s why we have wonderful Christians, preaching and teaching and other just as wonderful Christians serving soup in soup kitchens and caring for the poor and sick and broken ones in different marvelous ways. We all have a job. All of us, and that job will fulfill us in ways nothing else can when we are doing what God wired us to do. And someday Nicole, when we reach heaven, maybe we’ll get to hear the words, well done good and faithful servant, to which we will reply. Uh, you know, Lord, it was only by the strength you gave me through your Holy Spirit within me, that anything well done happened at all.
Well, let me close this in prayer. Oh Father, I pray for every listener today that you would show them that you made them with a purpose and they are to live on purpose for you. God help us all to wake up every morning and say, show me, whether it’s a tiny, hidden thing or a great big thing, show me what is your mission for today? God help us to live on purpose. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Thanks so much for joining us. Next week, we’re going to tackle a parable together. Episode 40 is called The Joy of Being Found. Make sure you listen in friends. Also, we are forming an inner circle of sorts among all you wonderful listeners. Would you like to join? Podcast partners are followers who donate monthly to this podcast ministry and that donation does not have to be a big one. We’d love $5 a month or even $2 a month. It costs us over $200 each month to produce these. Would you help us? We’ll be creating a special email just for you and we will pray for you as well with great joy as you partner with us. Go to @sweetselah.org/donations right now, if God places us on your heart as something he has for you to do. We really need you. We don’t want to go to advertisements. We’d rather keep going as we have been. We just really need some help. Go to @sweetselah.org/donations and write ‘podcast partner’ in the comments when you donate. Thank you for listening and responding as God leads.
Speaker 1 (30:42):
We are so glad you stopped for a while with us. Sweet Selah Moments is a co-operative production of Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries. More information about this podcast, including show notes can be found at sweetselah.org and at wordradio.net. Thank you for joining us.hank you for joining us.
You can download and print the transcript here.