AGCC Sun. a.m. 9/7/1997

(see Sun. a.m. message: AGCC 2/16/86)



TEXT: Isaiah 44:1-3; Acts 2:17-21

INTRO: Israel discovered over and over again that they could not accomplish God's will without His power and help....and this is still true!

Whenever Israel became wealthy or powerful they became spiritually weak and unfruitful...and when they recognized their own weakness and poverty they found a rich outpouring of God's Spirit.

What is begun in the Spirit cannot be fulfilled by the flesh!

ILLUS: Several million members of the church are to be recalled because they are not performing properly. Symptoms include frequent missing, lack of power and poor adaptation to rough roads. Regular maintenance should have prevented most of the difficulties. Sadly, many only come for maintenance when a major breakdown has occurred and, therefore, it is difficult for service personnel to attempt to correct the basic problems at these times.

So the recall is under way. Church leaders say that Service Managers are being trained to deal with the problems. One member who came in for a trial recall a year or so ago was pleased with the results. "It's amazing," she said, "I'm getting much better mileage now. I don't notice the rough spots so much, and I find I have enough power to give others a helping push now and then." Spokespersons said retraining is possible. Service personnel are available around the clock and shops are open seven days a week. -- Grace Current, Grace Brethren Church, (Winchester, VA, Jan 1996), p. 2.

We need an outpouring of the Holy Spirit today as much as the early Church needed it in the beginning!

PROP. SENT: The Word of God teaches us that we need an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives if we are to do and be what God desires. God has promised an outpouring of His Spirit for all those who will seek Him.


A. Purpose 44:1

1. God has purposed to make His presence known to us and to the world.

a. Israel was chosen by God to be an instrument to reveal God's power and love.

b. It was not just to make Israel have less work and an easier lifestyle!

2. God would not leave them without Hope, Help, or the Holy Spirit!

a. God realized that human strength is not adequate

b. God would grant His Spirit to His people so they could always walk the right way.

ILLUS: It is said that a certain guide lived in the deserts of Arabia who never lost his way. He carried with him a homing pigeon with a very fine cord attached to one of its legs. When in doubt as to which path to take, he threw the bird into the air. The pigeon quickly strained at the cord to fly in the direction of home, and thus led the guide accurately to his goal. Because of this unique practice he was known as "the dove man." So, too, the Holy Spirit, the heavenly Dove, is willing and able to direct us in the narrow way that leads to the more abundant life if in humble self-denial we submit to His unerring supervision.

3. God calls on Israel's attention to this important issue...He has a plan!

B. Plan! 44:2-3

1. God informs them that it was He who formed them in the womb....He was there at the beginning, and He will be with them in the present and future too!

2. They need not be afraid of what lay ahead of them, He is going to pour out His Holy Spirit on them!

a. Though they are like a dry thirsty land, they will be brought back to life.

b. Not only will God put His Spirit on them, but on their offspring and the future generations...for they too will need the Spirit of God in order to do and be what God wants.

3. If God is willing to pour out His Spirit on His people then the only real question is whether we see this as a priority or not and are willing to put it as an important need in our life.

ILLUS: A man had built a prosperous business through zealous toil and honest dealings. As he advanced in age, he felt concerned about the future of his enterprise because he had no close relatives except three nephews. One day he summoned the young men and said, "I have a problem, and whoever comes up with the best solution will inherit all that I possess." Giving each of them an equal sum of money, he instructed them to buy something that would fill his large office. "Spend no more than I've given you," he directed, "and be sure you're back by sunset."

All day long his nephews sought to fulfill their mission. Finally, when the shadows lengthened, they obediently returned to make their report. Their uncle asked to see their purchases. The first dragged a huge bale of straw into the room. When it was untied it made a pile that nearly hid two of the walls. After it was cleared away, the second brought in two large bags of thistledown, which when released, filled three-fourths of the room. This was even better than the first.

The third nephew stood silent and forlorn. "And what have you to offer?" asked his aged relative. "Uncle, I spent half of my money to feed a hungry child and gave almost all the rest to the church. With the little I had left, I bought these matches and a small candle." Then he lit the taper, and its light filled every corner of the room! The kindly old man realized that here was the noblest of them all. He blessed him for making the best use of his gift and gave him all his possessions.

4. Fortunately for Israel and for us today God does not expect us to live in our own power and strength...but many try to, even some Christians!

5. God was promising more than just a quick fix here, or an emotional experience...He is promising His presence in His people!


A. Perspective 2:17

1. Even in the last days (and perhaps because of the toughness of the last days!) God says He will pour out a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

2. Unlike the Old Covenant, this outpouring of the Holy Spirit will not be confined to a small group of will cross all lines of sex and age!

a. Young and old alike will be used by the Holy Spirit in prophetic ministry and dreaming dreams of what can be done with God's help!

b. It is not an issue that there will be a select group of prophets in these last days, but rather there will be an outpouring of God's Spirit that will result in proclamation (prophesy) of God's salvation!

3. God's people won't be just going in circles endlessly, they will be empowered and filled!

a. For this to happen they will have to be filled with God's Spirit.

b. They will have to take their lead from God and not the world that is going nowhere fast!

ILLUS: John Henry Fabre, the great French naturalist, conducted a most unusual experiment with some Processionary Caterpillars. These caterpillars blindly follow the one in front of them. Hence, the name. Fabre carefully arranged them in a circle around the rim of a flower pot, so that the lead caterpillar actually touched the last one, making a complete circle. In the center of the flower pot he put pine needles, which is food for the Processionary Caterpillar. The caterpillars started around this circular flower pot. Around and around they went, hour after hour, day after day, night after night. For seven full days and seven full nights they went around the flower pot. Finally, they dropped dead of starvation and exhaustion. With an abundance of food less than six inches away, they literally starved to death, because they confused activity with accomplishment. Many Christians make that same mistake.

4. Nearby is the power of God, but those in this world cannot see it, if we follow them we will simply go round and round until we perish in weakness.

a. God has made His power available, but we must receive it!

b. For those who don't follow the world they will find this energy from God.

B. Potential 2:18

1. God desires to set free the potential of all of and women to do His work.

a. As He pours out His Spirit....we will "prophesy"...meaning "proclaim" Him and His salvation.

b. This certainly is the meaning since the end verse of this paragraph refers to people getting saved! (2:21)

2. It is not enough to come and sample God's power whenever we feel like it, or to get a little here, and a little there....

a. God's desire is to "pour out His Spirit on us"

b. We are to take all we can get and as much as possible, not just on special occasions.

ILLUS: A city dweller moved to a farm and bought a cow. Shortly after he did, the cow went dry. When he reported this fact to a neighbor farmer, the farmer expressed surprise. The city man said he was surprised too. "I can't understand it either, for if ever a person was considerate of an animal, I was of that cow. If I didn't need any milk, I didn't milk her. If I only needed a quart, I only took a quart." The farmer tried to explain that the only way to keep milk flowing is not to take as little as possible from the cow, but to take as much as possible. Is that not also true of the Christian life? Those who only turn to God in need miss the real joy that flows from a daily infilling of His Spirit.

3. Obviously God knows our potential when we tap into His power on an ongoing basis and not just sporadically!

4. The power to proclaim Christ and His life...His gospel requires His Holy Spirit.

a. It would appear we have a choice to participate in this outpouring of His Holy Spirit or try and get by on sporadic experiences!

b. Let Him pour out His Spirit daily on you!

5. A true outpouring of God's Spirit results in proclamation of the Gospel...this is its main focus, not miraculous signs...

a. miraculous signs FOLLOW them that believe.

b. miraculous signs are not the goal of an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, they are the results that follow the proclamation or preaching of the Word!

6. It is clear in the text here that God's main purpose of pouring out His Spirit is to energize proclamation in power (prophesy).

a. It was not so much FORE-TELLING as it was FORTH TELLING!

b. Energetic and purposeful preaching is the result of any great outpouring of God's Spirit....this has been true of all real revivals, as was true in the book of Acts following the outpouring of the Holy Spirit!

(1. Immediately after being baptized in the Holy Spirit Peter senses the crowd's attention to the unusual manifestations of tongues and immediately draws them away from that to preaching to the Gospel!!! [prophetic proclamation]

(2. The result of proper focus with this power was that 3,000 were saved!....Tongues did not become the issue, Peter made repentance the issue!


A. Preparation 2:19-20

1. Not only will there be an outpouring of God's Spirit on His people, but there will at the same time be an outpouring of darkness and judgment.

a. Why? To contrast the God of light to the darkness of this world!

b. The Spirit of God is preparing the world for the coming of the Lord.

2. This is why we will need an outpouring of God's Spirit in these last days, we will need the power to proclaim the Gospel against the backdrop of a fallen world.

a. With such a sweep of darkness coming we will need more than just clever tactics to reach the lost, or snappy programs, or even well drafted theology....

b. We will need God's power, and conviction and compassion to preach to the perishing!!

ILLUS: A seminarian turned in his typed-up sermon to his homiletics professor for grading. When he met with him for a conference the professor started out very positively. He said to the young man, "I like your exegesis. You have presented the meaning of the text In a helpful and clear fashion. Your three points make sense, they show balance and progression. Your introduction and your conclusion both show a great deal of thought. The illustrations you used seemed most appropriate. However, I am going to give you a D on the sermon." The seminarian was taken aback and said, "Why a D if it's all that good?"

The professor said, "Well, frankly, it's because of your sermon title. It is one of the worst I've ever seen. Nobody will want to come a hear a sermon entitled: 'The Pericopes of Jesus in Relationship to the Eschatology of the Apostle Paul.' I tell you what I'll do. You see if you can come up with a better sermon title and I'll reconsider the grade. What you want is a title that will reach out and grab people by the heart. A title that will compel them to come and hear what you have to say. Imagine that title out on the sign in front of a church with such impact that if a bus stopped in front of the church and the people on the bus saw the sign, it would be so powerful it would motivate them to immediately get off the bus and run into the church."

The young man said he would give it his best shot. So he went home and he wrestled with this task all night long, sweating bullets. The next morning he showed up at his professor's office and handed him his new sermon title, which read: "Your Bus Has a Bomb on It!" -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) pp. 108-109.

3. A clearer contrast between the wicked and righteous will begin to reveal itself.

B. Purpose 2:21

1. This outpouring is there to empower us to do preach the Word, and also available to all who are thirsty!

a. It is tragic that so many don't avail themselves of this outpouring

b. It is there, there is no reason to be thirsty and unfulfilled!

ILLUS: The Amazon River is the largest river in the world. The mouth is 90 miles across. There is enough water to exceed the combined flow of the Yangtze, Mississippi, and Nile Rivers. So much water comes from the Amazon that they can detect its currents 200 miles out in the Atlantic Ocean. One irony of ancient navigation is that sailors in ancient times died for lack of water--caught in windless waters of the South Atlantic. They were adrift, helpless, dying of thirst. Sometimes other ships from South America who knew the area would come alongside and call out, "What is your problem?" And they would exclaim, "Can you spare us some water? Our sailors are dying of thirst!" And from the other ship would come the cry, "just lower your buckets. You are in the mouth of the mighty Amazon River." The irony of ancient Israel and the tragedy around us today is that God, the fountain of living water, is right here and people don't recognize Him! Earl Palmer --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 242.

2. With an outpouring of the Holy Spirit there will be an outpouring of people getting saved!

3. We are living in exciting times, a time when God is pouring out His Spirit, are you availing yourself of this outpouring or are you just surviving day to day?

CONCLUSION: After the Spirit was outpoured on the 120, Peter stood up to address the crowd and explain what the outpouring's purpose was.....not to have an experience, but to infuse God's people with power for evangelizing! We don't do God's work in our own power, but "by the Spirit saith the Lord"! (Zech. 4:6)