More than forty years ago I stayed overnight in Orlando at a local motel. The motel operator informed me that if I would get up early the next morning I could watch the lift-off of the Space Shuttle which was to be launched at Cape Canaveral about 30 miles away.What an exciting experience to watch John Glenn and the crew lift-off on their first flight into space as they orbited the earth.  

Last Sunday, in our liturgical church calendar we celebrated the most amazing “Lift-off” which has occurred in human history. Tomorrow, again we will celebrate the greatest “Touchdown” in church history.

In the New Testament, we have the documented account of Jesus’ final appearance to his Apostles and the great crowd of more than 500 followers who were gathered on the hill near Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives. He revealed Himself intimately to them and gave them many convincing proofs that He was alive.

In his farewell address He said to them:
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” Suddenly, after He had spoken with them, He was taken up before their very eyes and a cloud hid Him from their sight. (Acts 1:8-9, NIV)

What an amazing “lift-off,” an event which the Apostles and followers would remember the rest of their lives. I can imagine them saying, “Were you there on that day?” as they recounted that dramatic and mysterious event which they had witnessed.

Christ Promises The Holy Spirit Will Come
The first "Act" was that of Jesus Christ. Acts has been called "The Acts of the Apostles," "The Acts of the Holy Spirit," and "The Acts of the Church". There is truth in each title. The Holy Spirit acted upon the lives of the Apostles and they acted upon the lives of the people of Israel. The Spirit saved Paul and used him to impact the world. But the first "Act" was that of Jesus Christ.

"...Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." (Acts 1:4-5)

Christ Promises Power When The Holy Spirit Comes
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts1:8)

Christ Ascends to Heaven

The disciples of Christ had just witnessed one of the most remarkable events to ever take place on earth. They had heard the resurrected Messiah of Israel tell them they would receive supernatural power from the Holy Spirit of God. They heard Him say they would be witnesses for Him throughout Israel and across the world.

The day finally came; the day when Jesus would return to Heaven to remain there until the time came for His return to Israel to set up His earthly Kingdom. The Bible gives us different views of the same event.
(Acts 1:6-11)

Christ Will Come Back Again from Heaven
They had witnessed Christ taken from earth to Heaven. Angels told them Christ would return to earth in the same way He had left it.
(Acts 1:11)

The Coming of the Holy Spirit

Ten days later, the Apostles and a smaller crowd of 120 were meeting together in an upper room in Jerusalem. They reminded each other, “Remember what He said, ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift My Father promised.” They were anticipating and preparing for this great event to occur as Jesus had promised them.

It was the day of the celebration of the Feast of Pentecost. They were all together in one place. Suddenly, there was a great blowing of a violent wind which came from Heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then, after seeing tongues of fire which separated and rested on each of them,
“....ALL OF THEM were FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT and began to speak in other tongues....” (Acts 2:1-4, NIV)

What an incredible “Touch-down” as the Holy Spirit came upon each of them. This was the spark of a flame that spread throughout the city of Jerusalem. Thousands from varied nations and languages were gathered for the Feast of Pentecost. Peter addressed them in his native tongue, yet all of them understood him in their own tongue.

Peter declared,
“....Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:36-39, NIV)

Following Peter’s message, there was a dramatic and powerful response.
“Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” (Acts 2:41, NIV)

This was the beginning of the Christian Church which today numbers in the billions across the world. Let us rejoice as we celebrate this great Day of Pentecost in our churches.

"....Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw...tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them." (Acts 2:1-4)

Here is a simple, yet powerful prayer chorus:

    Come, Holy Spirit, I need You!
    Come, Sweet Spirit, I pray.
    Come, in the strength of Your power,
    Come, in Your own gentle way.
    (Come, Holy Spirit, William J. Gaither, 1964)