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Pentecost Sunday

Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!  In the name of Jesus, dear friends in Christ, “I want to do it MYSELF!”  “I don’t need a map, I don’t need directions, I’ll figure this out MYSELF!”  Have you ever spoken similar words?  As for me, I’m often very determined to do something or figure something out by myself.  And isn’t it true that we often like to be independent?  We enjoy our independence as a nation.  We often don’t like to rely on the help of others.  We like to do things our way and on our terms.  Yet, one of the hardest things for many people to do is admit that they need help.  When someone is suffering from an addiction one of the first things that needs to take place is for that person to admit he/she has a problem and needs help.  Today we are continuing our sermon series on the Christian family.  The fact is that each and every person and each and every family cannot make it on their own without help.  We need help.  Today we thank the Lord that He has provided the help that each of us needs.

The disciples were going to need some help.  When Jesus first spoke the words of our text it was on Maundy Thursday just before He’d be arrested and put to death on the cross.  Jesus knew that He would soon be leaving His disciples in a visible way and their lives were going to dramatically change.  No longer would they be able to rely on Jesus being right with them to instruct them, correct them when they were wrong, and give them the face to face encouragement that they enjoyed.  He was about to leave them and they’d need some help.

He said, “All this I have spoken while still with you.”  Jesus told them all sorts of things and explained to them the truths about God while He was with them.  Think about all of the parables Jesus spoke to them to illustrate spiritual truths using earthly situations and scenarios, or think about His sermons and His explanations of the miracles that He did, or the many times Jesus told them about His suffering and death on a cross.  No doubt many things they had heard from the Lord went right over their heads and they didn’t understand – they needed some help in order to grasp the things Jesus taught them.

We may be tempted to shake our heads when we read about the disciples and how so many times they just didn’t get it.  Jesus had told them all again and again that He’d suffer, die, and rise and yet when it happened the disciples were terrified and afraid.  Jesus would tell a parable and the disciples wouldn’t understand the point and have to ask Jesus what it meant.  Even when Jesus was about to ascend into heaven the disciples were still thinking that Jesus was going to set up an earthly kingdom instead of a spiritual and eternal kingdom.  So many times they just didn’t seem to get it.  Well, do we get Jesus’ words all the time?  We may read something from God’s Word and because of our own lack of Biblical knowledge it goes right over our heads.  And yet, instead of expending some effort and working at trying to understand what God is saying to us, so often we simply dismiss it, “it’s just too difficult to understand, why should I bother, it’ll take too much of my time.”  We need help.

God knows our inadequacies and our failings and so He gives us the help we need.  “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”  The word translated “Counselor” in our text is the word “Paraclete” (not parakeet) that’s the Greek word.  Its meaning is hard to capture in English.  But what it literally means is “one who is called to the side of” “who walks alongside someone” so essentially it is a counselor, a comforter, an encourager, a coach, a mentor, a helper, one who gives someone help.  So what was this “Helper” going to do for the disciples?  They often did not fully understand many of the things that Jesus told them.  But here Jesus promises that after He leaves He will send the Holy Spirit in an extra measure to remind them and teach them of the things that Jesus told them.  This first happened on Pentecost when God poured out the Holy Spirit in a special measure on the believers who were present.  There was the sound of the wind and the tongues of fire, and the speaking in different languages, but what was most important was the message that they shared, it was Jesus’ words, God’s Words, the Gospel.

Now you might think, “That was nice for the believers back then.  They had the apostles to explain God’s Word to them.  But what about us today?  Can we even be sure we have God’s Word?”  How do we know we have Jesus’ words?  What we have in the Bible is not just human thoughts and human words of what some disciples thought Jesus might have said.  Oh no.  What we have in God’s Word is the very words that Jesus spoke, the very truths of which Jesus taught expounded in full measure.  One of the jobs the Holy Spirit did was to remind the first disciples of the very words that Jesus spoke.  So even though the gospels weren’t written until sometime after Jesus had left, they still are the very words that Jesus spoke and the things that Jesus did.  It isn’t like that child’s game telephone where you whisper something in someone’s ear and they whisper it to another and so on and then at the end the message is completely garbled or changed.  This here is a miracle.  It is humanly impossible to remember human words with exactness that were spoken over a period of three years.  How many of you here would be able to recite my entire sermon last week?  Anyone?  I couldn’t even do that!  That’s where the work of the Holy Spirit comes in.  We know for a fact that what we have is actually the words that Jesus spoke because the Holy Spirit reminded the disciples and worked through the disciples to write down the truth.  But that wasn’t it.  The Holy Spirit also taught the disciples.  The Holy Spirit also taught the disciples the results and effects of Jesus work and ministry.  He opened their minds to understand Jesus words and He guided them to explain and expound further on the meaning of Jesus’ work.  We have these teachings of the Holy Spirit written down for us in the other books of the Bible, like the letters written to different congregations.  And the Holy Spirit’s job of teaching is not finished even today.  Today as we open up opportunities in our lives to come into contact with the Holy Spirit’s tool, God’s Word, He teaches us God’s Word.  Yea there may be things in God’s Word at a first glance go way over our heads when we read it.  But when we read it over again and again and compare it with other sections of Scripture and think about it as we conduct our lives the Holy Spirit helps us.  He does something.  He’ll turn the lights on for us and enlighten us.  This same thing hopefully happens in church (as long as the pastor doesn’t get in the way of the message) and also when we gather with other Christians and study God’s Word.  The Holy Spirit is at work in us teaching us.

Finally Jesus gives a little more help through the work of the Holy Spirit, He said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.”  One of the gifts that Jesus conveys to us through the Holy Spirit is His gift of peace.  Here Jesus isn’t giving the disciples and us merely a subjective “peace,” rather He gives us an objective peace.  Subjective peace is determined by one’s own feelings or the situation one finds oneself in, etc.  The objective peace is what Jesus gives.  This peace is a reality.  This is the peace that Jesus won for us.  It is the fact that Jesus has paid for our sins in full and completely, it is the reality that we now stand before God innocent because of Jesus, it is the fact that nothing can separate us from God’s love, it is the condition of being in the right relationship with God in our lives.  That is ours because of the work Jesus did for us.  Now this objective peace is ours all the time.  It doesn’t matter what our outward condition is we still have peace knowing that everything is right between us and God.  Now becoming more and more aware of the objective peace that you have with God in life will have a positive bearing on the subjective peace that you feel from day to day.

The peace that Jesus gives is infinitely greater than the peace that the world might offer to you.  The peace the world offers is often merely a wish and a feeling and is temporary and is based on outward circumstances.  Now this weekend we thank the Lord for our armed service men and women who devote their lives to maintaining our nation’s freedom and peace.  They rightly deserve our respect and gratitude.  However, even earthly peace falls far short when compared with the peace that the Holy Spirit gives us.

Everyone wants peace in their family as well.  Unfortunately because of sin families can be some of the most un-peaceful places in our lives.  Arguments abound.  Fights.  Squabbles.  Hurt feelings.  Miscommunication.  Anger.  The answer to having peace-less homes is not found in the world.  The peace the world offers is things like: your family just needs a vacation, you need to just spend some time apart to sort things out, just try to forget about your differences instead of trying to deal with them.  All those “solutions” for managing family problems may give peace for a little while, but none will give true peace.  All they are is treating the symptoms and not the problem.  So what is the answer that gives homes peace?  The answer is to focus God’s lasting peace.  This peace God doesn’t merely just wish us to have, rather His Holy Spirit actually gives it!  How does He do that?  He regularly reminds us of the peace that He gives us.  He reminds us of the peace we have with God because of Jesus’ perfect life and innocent death for us, He reminds us that we stand in a right relationship with God, He reminds us of those things constantly as the Holy Spirit works on our hearts with His tool: the Bible.  As the Holy Spirit works this lasting peace in our homes and in our hearts our hearts will be less troubled and fear will be less a part of our lives.

So this week, thank the Lord for sending the Holy Spirit.  He helps you.  He uses His tool, God’s Word, to enlighten you, to open your eyes to see the beauty of God’s love for you in your Savior Jesus.  As He does so He also gives you peace; the peace that you stand right with God, the peace of being a part of God’s family, the peace of having a home in heaven.  And this peace that the Holy Spirit gives you flows over into your lives as a citizen, as a member of a family, in your everyday life.  So thank the Lord for the Holy Spirit.  He’s God’s counselor who gives you the help you need!  Amen.