The Day of Pentecost
May 31, 2020
“Excited About God”
Rev. John R. Larson
Ascension Lutheran Church Littleton, Colorado
When is the last time you really got excited about God? Now maybe that is a silly question to ask a bunch of Misery-Synod Lutherans. After all, do we get excited about anything?
But I still need to get an answer from you – when is the last time you really got excited about God? Some Lutherans have been known to get excited about God. Missouri-Synod (sorry – earlier I gave us the nickname we too often earn), Missouri-Synod folks get excited about God. Do you? Have you? Are you?
This is Pentecost and this is the day of God’s Holy Spirit – the one who causes us to truly get excited about God. On the Ascension Day, 10 days prior to Pentecost, Jesus built up the excitement, “Wait for the gift my Father promised…in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…You’ll receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…” (Acts 1:4,8) And now the day was here. The wind from God blows in, the house is filled with the Spirit’s force, tongues of fire rested over those disciples of Jesus, and they spoke in languages they didn’t know. Those that heard them speak – folks from all over the world, people of all different languages, said, “We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues.” (Acts 2:11) Both the speakers and the hearers were excited about God. When is the last time you really got excited about God and who He is and what He does?
A while back I was meeting with a person who was struggling with life. There wasn’t a whole lot to get excited about. Things were pretty hard. Life was confusing and God was confusing. But instead of trying to get a grip on all the troubles that existed we did something else. We began just talking about the vastness and greatness of God. We started to think about His work in making the littlest bird – like a hummingbird and then the huge elephant. Their eyes started to change. The thought of God engineering the smallest and then the largest brought some excitement. Then we got personal. I read Psalm 8, “When I consider the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.” (Verses 3-5) The more we talked about God the more excited we got about Him.
But on that day in early June of the year 30 there were some who thought the excitement that the followers of Jesus had was artificial. They thought they had been drinking wine all night long and now at 9:00 in the morning they had already become drunk. But they weren’t drunk. They were filled with something better than wine – they were filled with God’s Spirit.
Sometimes, though, people don’t get excited about anything. Life has become apathetic – without emotion, without feeling – nothing moves them. So – what is needed? God’s Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will irritate life. When our life is on the wrong path, when we have no concern for following the good ways of God in life the Holy Spirit comes to afflict us. He stirs things up. He lets us know that this is not how God wants our life to be. We are made in the very image of God but at times we look in the mirror and see how ugly we have become.
Get excited that God would care enough about you that He would try to get you on the right path. C.F.W. Walther, the leader of our church body, about 175 years ago said, “Where there is no spiritual hunger and thirst, the Lord Jesus is not received.” Jesus when speaking about the coming of the Holy Spirit said this, “It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.” (John 16:7-8) What if you were in trouble with the choices you were making in life, you were foolish and even were on the way to self-destruction, and nobody, nobody, cared enough about you to try to talk sense into your hard head? That would be tragic. God has sent the Holy Spirit to shake us up. Get excited that God cares that much for you that He would irritate your life.
On Pentecost 3,000 people got excited about God. They become Christians. They were baptized. It began with irritation and ended with contentment. Peter gets up on Pentecost morning, telling them that they crucified the Lord of Glory. The Spirit’s irritation came in the manner of a heart that was cut to the quick. They then asked, “What shall we do?” The answer they got was the reason that they got so excited about God and became followers of Jesus Christ, “Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38-39)
Do you get excited that the ugly sin we have, when given to God, is gone? Do you know that God nailed every sin to Jesus when He died on the cross? I witnessed a preacher, who got angry at a parishioner during one of his sermons. The man was yawning during the preacher’s fevered sermon as he told of Jesus’ great forgiveness and salvation. Do you get excited about the forgiveness and cleansing from Jesus or does some preacher catch you yawning? In our present world we are learning not to take anything for granted. Don’t take the forgiveness of Jesus for granted.
When Mike Zehnder came up with the idea of having various people who spoke different languages read a portion of the reading from Acts, the section that says, “We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues”, he was excited. After the group was recorded he was more than excited – he was overwhelmed with emotion.
It is exciting to see what God’s Spirit does in people lives. He cuts the heart to the quick, exposing the sins that destroy us and calling for repentance. It is exciting to know that God forgives us fully. Trust Jesus for your forgiveness. It is exciting to know what God’s Spirit has for us forever. In the Small Catechism we read about how God brings us to saving faith – it is the work of God’s Spirit. “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.”
During these past few months I am so proud of what I have seen in you. I have seen God’s Holy Spirit. I’ve heard expressions of faith and the yearning to give gifts to others, being people serving those who are struggling. You have held people in earnest and heart-felt prayer. I am excited to see the Spirit of God at work in you. When some folks ridiculed what they saw on Pentecost Day, Peter said that this working has been spoken of many years ago by the prophet Joel, “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.” (Acts 2:17-18)
Excited about God? Yes!! Pentecost brought the work of God into the world. Now He works in us to interrupt life, to restore life, to make our life of a great calling and purpose.
There are times when people get excited momentarily. But their excitement moves to other things. This excitement from God stays with us. Our excitement doesn’t always have to loud or frenzied. But it is grounded on the truth of God, upon His word and promises. Sometimes our excitement comes with humility and reflection and it always comes with courage and power, boldness and strength.
When is the last time you got excited about God? I hope it is today, right now – God’s Spirit is filling you to overflowing so that you, in your own language, by your own life, declare the wonders of God with pure joy. Amen!!