Guidance Systems

Acts 2:1-21

Who here has a GPS in there car?  Who doesn’t know what a GPS is?  The full name is a Global Positioning System.  When they were first available on the retail market they did exactly what their name suggests, they gave the user their position on the globe according to longitude and latitude.  Back then if you bought a good one it would mark a start and finish point and maybe keep track of where you went so that you could follow your footsteps on the way back out of your hike, boat trip or journey in your car.

Now we know them as tools for giving us turn by turn instructions as we navigate our way around cities and highways, they tell us where speed cameras and school crossings are and if you pay a subscription some of them will even give you live traffic updates.  They have come a long way in the last few years, and if you buy an after-market one they are even reasonably affordable.

For those of you who said you had one do you know exactly how a GPS works?  Can you see the signal that travels between the receiver and the satellites to establish your position?  NO you can’t can you!  But when you turn it on you trust that it will work and will guide you from point A to point B in the shortest or fastest way.

You all know where I’m headed don’t you?  That’s right, we don’t fully understand how the Holy Spirit works either, we can’t see him, but we just have to trust that he is at work.

Those people gathered for the festival in Jerusalem got a bit of an advantage, they HEARD the sound, like a rushing wind, they SAW divided tongues like fire appearing among the disciples and resting on them.  There should have been little doubt about what was going on, but they were all amazed and astonished.  Then they heard them speaking in different languages, but everyone heard and understood.

They could look, see and hear what was going on, we can only read about it, in our current context the answer to anything we don’t quite understand is to “Google it”.  For those who don’t know how to do that I’ve got a couple of screen images here to help you understand that concept. 

First you go to http://google.com.au, then you type in the subject that you’re looking to have a question answered on, like I have here, then you get a list of the millions of websites that have information that matches the expression you’ve searched for. 

Even this can be a bit hit and miss.  Some people use Wikipedia as their answer to everything, but as you can see at the top of this article, the quality of the information provided has issues because of referencing or unverifiable sources!

So where do we turn for guidance on who this Holy Spirit is and what he does for us?  Some of you would have been here six weeks ago when I spoke about the third article of the apostle’s creed.  I said then that we KNOW that the Spirit comes to us and speaks to us through the Word of God.

We have heard about the Spirit in action in the Word of God today, and how the Spirit appeared to the people gathered.  What happened after this event was a continued spreading of God’s Word by the power of the Holy Spirit.

To symbolise this today as we come forward to Holy Communion we are going to light candles from the Paschal candle and then pass that flame on to each other.  Then we are going to place our candles, still lit, around the font, before we return to our seats.  The Spirit spread like fire in Jerusalem and continues to spread that way today.  The Spirit burns on within each of us, and when we share God’s Word with others through what we say and by our actions, that spark ignites a flame within others.

The ultimate goal is that all people might call on the name of the Lord and be saved.  That is how Peter’s address to the crowd ended. 

What about in the mean time, how is the Spirit acting now?  Some people confuse the fruits of the Spirit, that is, faith, hope, love etc. with the work of the Holy Spirit.  The results of the Holy Spirit acting on us through our faith are the fruits that we talk about.

Some people seek evidence of the Holy Spirit acting in their lives right now.  In his address to the crowd Peter quoted the prophet Joel, who in turn had been speaking what God had revealed to him through the Spirit.  He stated that the Spirit will be poured out upon all flesh, some will prophesy, some will see visions and some will dream dreams and then their will be signs of the coming again of the Lord.

There are people today who claim to be prophesying and some who see visions and dream dreams.  These people truly believe that these gifts come from God, by the power of the Spirit.  There is no doubt in my mind that these kinds of gifts do exist to this day.  I think that we would see, hear and know more about them and be less sceptical if we were less busy with ‘everyday’ life and spent more time reading, studying and meditating on the Word of God.

Think about it, when was the last time you set aside time to specifically devote an hour to reading God’s Word, praying to him and actually stopping long enough to LISTEN?  I read a great little book last week that challenged me to do just that.  I didn’t manage a whole hour at a time, but half an hour was a good start.  I didn’t have any visions or dream any divinely inspired dreams that I know of, but I certainly gained some insights into the texts I had been reading and meditating on.

Do you know what the toughest part was?  Actually being quiet for five minutes and trying to shut out other thoughts that weren’t related to God.  When I pray and I suspect you would be the same too, we tend to talk lots, ask lots and demand lots from God, but do we actually stop and listen for an answer?

Every time I’ve tried it this week I’ve been reminded of the constant ringing I have in my ears, I usually only hear it at bedtime, but this week I was quiet long enough a few times to hear it during the day.  It’s a constant noise in my ears, but with all of the noise going on in life I rarely hear it.

I think we make it hard for the Holy Spirit to get through to us when we won’t be quiet long enough to listen and hear. 

The disciples were confronted by a loud rushing of a violent wind to get their attention, and they weren’t living in an age of constant noise like we are.

I’d like to encourage you to find a little time in your week, get up half an hour earlier, go to bed half an hour later, spend a bit of your lunch break or even during your trip on the train, listening to what God might be trying to say to you through the Holy Spirit.

Is there so much going on that you don’t stop long enough to hear what’s going on in your own head, let alone have time for God to speak to you through his Word or prayer?

Let the Holy Spirit guide you, you may not understand how, but he knows the way, we let a GPS navigation unit guide us around the city, why not let the Spirit guide us along life’s journey.  After all, whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, so isn’t it worth taking the time to call on that name and listen to him?

Amen.