Acts 2:1-21 & 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13

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acts 2 21

An Activity

We will make our own flying tongues of fire to praise God in many languages.

You will need:

  • A4 or letter paper, either white or in fire colours
  • Marker pens in red, orange and yellow
  • Paper clips
  • Scissors

Cut your paper into three rectangles, approx 20cm x 7cm. Each A4 sheet will make three flyers.

 

Fold a rectangle in half both ways and open it out. You should have a cross of creases.

Cut down the top crease nearly to the centre. Stop about 1cm from the middle. Now cut the side creases, again, nearly to the middle.

copter2The top two sections will be the wings. Colour them brightly with flames on both sides, then bend one forwards and one backwards.

The bottom section will carry the words of praise. Fold the sides over each other so that the middle section is triple thickness and secure at the bottom with a paper clip.

Write words of praise on this bottom section in any language you know. Here are some suggestions (courtesy of Google Translate, so please forgive any errors):

  • Afrikaans: Prys die Here
  • Czech: Chvála Bohu
  • Estonian: Tänu Jumalale
  • French: Louange à Dieu
  • German: Lob Gott
  • Greek: Δοξάστε τον Θεό (Doxaste ton Theo)
  • Hawaiian: E halelu aku i ke Akua
  • Hebew: השבח לאל (I have no idea)
  • Hungarian: Hála Istennek
  • Icelandic: Lof sé Guði
  • Irish: moladh Dia
  • Italian: Lodare Dio
  • Javanese: Pinujia Gusti
  • Latin: Laudem Dei
  • Malay: puji Tuhan
  • Maltese: tifħir Alla
  • Maori: Whakamoemititia te Atua
  • Somali: Ilaah ku ammaanaan
  • Spanish: Alabado sea el Señor
  • Swahili: sifa Mungu
  • Turkish: Tanrıya övgüler olsun
  • Vietnamese: Lạy Chúa
  • Welsh: Molwch Dduw (Molooch Theeoo)
  • Xhosa: Makabongwe uNkulunkulu
  • Yuroba: Ogo ni fun Olorun
  • Zulu: Dumisani uNkulunkulu

To launch your flyers, hold them by the paper clip and fling them high into the air as you shout your praise to God, then watch them all come spinning down.

A Reflection

My daughter has just been picked for the rounders team at school. She is fast, agile and did one of those ‘jump and catch and do an army roll as you land’ things in the last game. I am a proud Mummy, and even more so because I was never picked for any teams at school. In PE lessons they’d choose the girl with crutches, two broken arms and a squint before me. And fair enough. I am rubbish at catching, and in a merit-based selection system, I come so far down the barrel that I’m buried in the cellar floor.

But the Holy Spirit does not work like that. Gifts are not allocated on a merit-based selection system. If someone has the gift of wisdom, is it not because they deserve it. Nor is someone given the gift of leadership or preaching because they are super-special in some way. It can be hard to separate the person from the ministry, but I think it is important to do so because otherwise we can start to think that we have (or don’t have) gifts because of some goodness (or lack of) in ourselves. Instead, the Holy Spirit allocates gifts on a basis of needs.

When I was a student I went on some short-term missions with OM, and one year I was placed on a French-speaking team. Was I chosen because of my wonderfully fluent idiomatic French? Nope. I can just about order a cup of tea in a café (and probably get a cup of tea), nothing more. So why was I chosen? I was chosen because there was a need, and I filled it.  Not chosen because of some merit in me, be because there was a job that needed doing.

Look at the gifts of the Sprit listed in the 1 Corinthians passage. They are all, without exception, for the benefit of someone else.  Wise advice, studying and teaching (the point of studying is to use it, not just to get a brain the size of a planet), healing the sick, doing miracles, prophesying and preaching – all for the benefit of someone else. Even the gift of special faith, is, like studying, not in order for that person to have faith the size of a planet (mustard seed is enough), but for passing it on. When we are using our different gifts to serve others, it is the same Lord we are serving.

Notice also that when the disciples received the gift of other languages they had no idea what it was for – until folks came and heard the praises of God in their own language – and suddenly the God of the Jews was for everyone. So don’t worry if you can’t currently see a use for whatever gifting you have (and you do have). God doesn’t give gifts for them to be just buried away for safe-keeping. We are supposed to use our gifts.

And before we get tangled up in whether some of the gifts mentioned here should be features of today’s worship, let’s remember that these are just examples. It’s not an exhaustive list and there are plenty of other gifts that are given. Rom 12 and Eph 4, plus verse 28 here, list gifts such as serving, giving, encouraging, showing mercy, and administration (that is one I am greatly in admiration of). I could add the gifts of chair-stacking, of parenting, of noticing when someone is not happy – gifts of dentistry, of web-page design and of making people feel welcome. Just because something is not up-front, visible and ‘spiritual’ does not make it any less a gift.

How about the gift of sitting with the mums at the toddler group and listening to them? That is far more useful to real people in need than the ability the stand up at the front and lead worship. Yet I  hear folks say, ‘I could never do what you do, all I do is sit and chat’ – but that’s the whole point!

Our Response

Sometimes God gives us gifts to use in a specific situation. Sometimes we have gifts to use for a period, and then things change the need changes. Sometimes God gives us gifts for our whole lives and we (hopefully) grow in using them over many years – a reason, a season, or life.

Give thanks for all the gifted people from whom you have received and ask God to help  you to use your gifts for:

a reason – in your specific situation, with people around, you right now.
a season – the longer-term needs of your family, friends, workplace, church.
a life – when you stand before your maker, what gifts will He commend you for using?

Bible Text

Acts 2:1-21 Living Bible

Seven weeks had gone by since Jesus’ death and resurrection, and the Day of Pentecost had now arrived. As the believers met together that day, suddenly there was a sound like the roaring of a mighty windstorm in the skies above them and it filled the house where they were meeting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on their heads. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in languages they didn’t know, for the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.

Many godly Jews were in Jerusalem that day for the religious celebrations, having arrived from many nations. And when they heard the roaring in the sky above the house, crowds came running to see what it was all about, and were stunned to hear their own languages being spoken by the disciples.

“How can this be?” they exclaimed. “For these men are all from Galilee, and yet we hear them speaking all the native languages of the lands where we were born! Here we are—Parthians, Medes, Elamites, men from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia Minor, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, the Cyrene language areas of Libya, visitors from Rome—both Jews and Jewish converts— Cretans, and Arabians. And we all hear these men telling in our own languages about the mighty miracles of God!”

They stood there amazed and perplexed. “What can this mean?” they asked each other.

But others in the crowd were mocking. “They’re drunk, that’s all!” they said.

Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven apostles and shouted to the crowd, “Listen, all of you, visitors and residents of Jerusalem alike! Some of you are saying these men are drunk! It isn’t true! It’s much too early for that! People don’t get drunk by 9:00 A.M.! No! What you see this morning was predicted centuries ago by the prophet Joel— ‘In the last days,’ God said, ‘I will pour out my Holy Spirit upon all mankind, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men dream dreams. Yes, the Holy Spirit shall come upon all my servants, men and women alike, and they shall prophesy. And I will cause strange demonstrations in the heavens and on the earth—blood and fire and clouds of smoke; the sun shall turn black and the moon blood-red before that awesome Day of the Lord arrives. But anyone who asks for mercy from the Lord shall have it and shall be saved.’

1 Corinthians 12:3b-13 Living Bible

How can you know whether they are really inspired by God or whether they are fakes? Here is the test: no one speaking by the power of the Spirit of God can curse Jesus, and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” and really mean it, unless the Holy Spirit is helping him.

Now God gives us many kinds of special abilities, but it is the same Holy Spirit who is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service to God, but it is the same Lord we are serving. There are many ways in which God works in our lives, but it is the same God who does the work in and through all of us who are his. The Holy Spirit displays God’s power through each of us as a means of helping the entire church.

To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; someone else may be especially good at studying and teaching, and this is his gift from the same Spirit. He gives special faith to another, and to someone else the power to heal the sick. He gives power for doing miracles to some, and to others power to prophesy and preach. He gives someone else the power to know whether evil spirits are speaking through those who claim to be giving God’s messages—or whether it is really the Spirit of God who is speaking. Still another person is able to speak in languages he never learned; and others, who do not know the language either, are given power to understand what he is saying. It is the same and only Holy Spirit who gives all these gifts and powers, deciding which each one of us should have.

Our bodies have many parts, but the many parts make up only one body when they are all put together. So it is with the “body” of Christ. Each of us is a part of the one body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But the Holy Spirit has fitted us all together into one body. We have been baptized into Christ’s body by the one Spirit, and have all been given that same Holy Spirit.

Living Bible

The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

 


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