(Note: This blog is a summary of the sermon preached on Pentecost Sunday 2024)

Pentecost, a term derived from the Greek word for fifty, marks a significant event in the Christian calendar. Originally known as the Feast of Weeks in the Old Testament, this Jewish festival was celebrated fifty days after Passover. It was a time of giving thanks to God for the early harvest.

The physical harvest that the Israelites celebrated can be seen as a precursor to the spiritual harvest of new believers in Christ. Just as the Exodus foreshadowed the freedom given through Christ, Pentecost marks the first fruits of the new life found in Him. This harvest imagery beautifully illustrates the transformative work of God, bringing forth new life from what was once barren. On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples as the first fruits of the new covenant in Jesus. 5,000 people came to faith as the first fruits of the first sermon in the post-ascension era.

Understanding the Holy Spirit

One of the most profound aspects of Pentecost is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, often perceived as mysterious, plays a crucial role in the Christian faith. The Father creates and the Son saves, but what are we going to do with the Holy Spirit?

While God the Father may seem inscrutable and the Holy Spirit mysterious, Jesus provides a tangible representation of God and, in doing so, also reveals to us much about the Holy Spirit. Jesus is described in Colossians 1:15 as "the image of the invisible God," making the divine more accessible and understandable. Though the work of the Holy Spirit is mysterious, the motivation and intention of His work are reflected in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit's role is deeply significant and multifaceted. The Spirit was present at the creation, as described in Genesis 1:2, "hovering over the face of the waters." The Holy Spirit also spoke through the prophets, revealing secrets to David and foretelling future events, such as the birthplace of Jesus in Micah 5:2.

In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit's actions are even more pronounced. The Spirit brought Jesus into the world, as described in Luke 1:35: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God." The Holy Spirit identified Jesus at His baptism, led Him into the wilderness to be tempted, and was central at Pentecost, empowering believers to spread the Gospel with boldness. Acts 4:31 recounts, "And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness."

The Holy Spirit also bestows gifts upon believers. As 1 Corinthians 12:4–6 states, "Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone." These gifts are diverse, yet all come from the same Spirit, equipping the church to carry out its mission.

Trusting the Unpredictable Spirit

The Holy Spirit is completely trustworthy. He continues to extend the work of Jesus, who showed His love for us in the most powerful way. While the Holy Spirit’s motivation and intention are completely trustworthy, the actions of the Holy Spirit are quite unpredictable. The idea that the Holy Spirit is trustworthy and unpredictable is exemplified in Acts 10:44–47, where the Holy Spirit falls on Gentile believers while Peter is speaking. "While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God." This event shocked the Jewish believers, revealing that the Spirit's work transcends human expectations and boundaries. The Holy Spirit is unpredictable to us because our expectations are small and our understanding limited.

A Personal Testimony of the Spirit’s Work

The Holy Spirit’s work is often experienced in personal and unexpected ways. I was attending a pastor’s conference in Atlanta. At the opening service, we always take an offering to support a local ministry or mission. I had decided to give $5. When I took out my wallet as the offering plate approached, I discovered I only had a $1 bill and a $20 bill. $1 seemed cheap but $20 was a lot of money to me at the time. I prayed about which to give. A Bible verse came into my mind: “The Earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” I felt it was God reminding me that all the money is His and He can get me money whenever He wants to. I decided in faith to follow what I believed was the leading of the Holy Spirit. I put the $20 in and didn’t think any more of it.

On the commuter rail back to the airport, I was reading my Bible in preparation for a Bible study that I would be teaching that evening. A young man got into the deserted train car and sat down in the seat across the aisle from me. He looked like a sporty college student. He wore parachute pants and was carrying an oversized duffel bag. He asked me what I was reading. I told him it was the Bible. We had a short conversation and then he got off at the college park station. As he left the train, he gave me a note.

I opened the note as I left the station. It read, “Nice to meet someone who loves the Word. Take care, sir.” Inside the note was a $20 bill. I still have the note and the $20 bill.

How to See the Holy Spirit Work in Our Lives

Instead of asking, "What are we going to do with the Holy Spirit?" perhaps the more pertinent question is, "What is the Holy Spirit going to do with us?" The Holy Spirit is always at work in the world. I would not be so bold as to offer you prerequisites to seeing the Holy Spirit at work. But I would offer you guidance.

I would say that being guided by the Holy Spirit involves at least three things: 1) having the Word in your heart, 2) praying, and 3) listening.  

We need the scriptures as objective revelation to us because our hearts can easily lead us astray. Jeremiah 17:9 reminds us of the human propensity for error: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" Therefore, immersing ourselves in Scripture is crucial for discernment and spiritual growth.

Prayer is another vital component, as emphasized in 1 Thessalonians 5:17: "pray without ceasing." Continual prayer keeps us connected to God, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide and transform us.

Listening is an important part of praying that often gets overlooked. We often ask for guidance and then run off to do whatever without listening. If you ask for guidance, take time to be quiet and listen for guidance.

Pray, listen, and apply the Word to your life. This active engagement with God’s Word and the Holy Spirit’s prompting is how we align ourselves with God’s will.


Pentecost is not just a historical event but a continuous invitation to experience the Holy Spirit's power in our lives. The early harvest celebrated by the Israelites symbolizes the new life we receive through Christ. As we reflect on Pentecost, let us be open to the unpredictable yet trustworthy work of the Holy Spirit. By being in the Word, praying constantly, and listening attentively, we allow the Spirit to work in and through us, bringing about God's purposes in ways we may not anticipate.

Much grace and peace to you,