Pentecost – Sermon 52

13th February 2011 Off By Derek Buckthorpe

Prayer to start

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ



Who shapes us? Who makes us what we are?
Is it our parents – our families? – our DNA?

Is our personality and attitude towards life – something we are born with – or are we shaped by our experiences and the choices we make in life ?

As Christians we believe in the transforming power of the Holy Spirit –

That whatever our past – we can be changed into a new likeness – a new person –

But for that to happen – we have to make some choices – choices that reflect a new relationship with God, through Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit –

First Point Full reliance on God

First – As Paul puts it – we must have “a full reliance on God – there is no question of us having sufficient power in ourselves”

Paul realized this from his Damascus Road experience – through God’s intervention he was changed from a violent persecutor of Christian families – into an Apostle who expounded the Gospel and spread the Christian message of love and salvation to all – Paul became the greatest teacher of the Christian faith next to Jesus Himself

Moses too knew the importance of God’s presence and power –

In our OT reading God commanded Israel to go to the land He promised them – but the command alone was not enough – and Moses asked for God’s reassuring presence before setting out –

“So that it is known that I and your people have found favour with you.”

Moses had come a long way since he first led the people out of Israel – then he was unsure about who the God of the burning bush – really was -and whether he was capable of doing what was asked of him – full of excuses about his own abilities and calling.

Since then he had faced many challenges – and developed a personal – relationship with God – meeting Him in a special “tent” set up for the purpose – away from the people – all they could do was watch and stare.

But despite this close contact – Moses still wanted reassurance about what was ahead – and about his own responsibilities – who he can trust –

Having won one concession – Moses then asked to see God as He really is – but this was not possible for Moses –

In vivid and pictorial language – the passage tells us that Moses can only see where God has been – and know God from the grace and mercy that He bestows.

In spite of Moses great title and status as the servant of the Lord – He is only at the beginning of a long process of God’s revelation – which will culminate in the suffering servant of Isaiah and find fulfillment in Jesus Christ –

Through Jesus God became “flesh” and came and lived among us – to show God’s love at first hand – through Jesus we have the power and image of God – and through Jesus we know how much we have to change –

Point 2 Turn to Christ and lift the veil

So our next choice as Paul puts it is “to turn to the Lord …..who removes the veil over our face” –

Paul uses the veil on Moses’ face as an illustration of the unbelief and hard heartedness of the Jews –

The Old Covenant Laws given through Moses – were carved on tablets of stone – although brought in Glory – this list of do’s and don’ts will eventually fade into insignificance – the Old Covenant Laws provided the will of God – but they don’t provide the power to fulfill them

Each time Moses went into the presence of God – he was re-charged with the Divine Glory – but he knew it was only temporary – and he veiled his face when he went out – to hide its fading nature

But Paul reminds us that through Jesus Christ we now have the means of receiving an even greater Glory that will not fade –

Jesus is the image of God – and through Jesus we can be recharged permanently –

He can remove the veils that conceal us from Him

The veil over our face – which we use like a mask to fool others and hide what is underneath –our sins – our worries – our fears –

The veil that covers the mind – which becomes a blindfold – preventing us from seeing and understanding – His word – the Jews turned the OT Law into a rigid formula – so that God’s love was no longer alive in their hearts –

The veil that covers the heart – like a mourners veil – of sorrow – with eyes and feelings kept in the past – preventing us from going forward with Christ – the Jews stayed with the old answers, rules and memories –

But when we turn to Christ – the veils are removed – just as the veil in the Temple was split in two when Jesus was crucified for our sins – Jesus takes away all barriers that separate us from God – so we can have a personal relationship with Him – through His Son –

through the cross we are led to a new freedom from life’s torments – freed from failure and frustration

Through the cross – the strength of God’s love more than matches the power of sin – there is no longer any need for hostile feelings – towards ourselves – others – and God –

Love is at the centre of Jesus’ relationship with God – and at the centre of His relationship with us – through love we are all one with Him and the Father –through love we can become the people God wants us to be

Love is a far more important incentive for doing God’s will – than any legal regulation or fear of judgment – where love is there is no sense of strain or bondage in doing what is right – Jesus’ love empowers us by His Spirit to do God’s will from the heart –

Many of us are frightened to let our veils go – to depend totally on Jesus – in case we are left naked and vulnerable – but Paul tells us there is nothing to fear – the veil removed by Jesus will not reveal our weakness but will illuminate our strength and transformation in Christ –

Point 3 Allow ourselves to be transformed by the Spirit of the Lord –

And so we come to our third choice to ask to be filled and transformed by the Spirit of the Lord

When we rely on God – and turn to His Son Jesus Christ – the Holy Spirit is available to us to guide and change us –

The desire for us to follow Jesus doesn’t come from ourselves – but from God’s Spirit in us –

The Holy Spirit is the way in which God has chosen to change our attitude towards Him and towards others – The Spirit breathes the life and power of God into us – and prompts us into action – telling us what to say and giving us the boldness to say it –

Where the Spirit of the Lord is – there is liberty – the Spirit brings freedom from everyday pressures and worries – freedom from fear and uncertainty –

For the Spirit to work in us – Paul says we must practice seeing as in a mirror – the “Glory and worth of God”

The word Glory is used 12 times in our NT reading – To see His Glory means to see His worth – weight and depth – to behold the beauty and worthiness of God expressed in His creation – and His people
– to believe in His explosive – and over whelming power –

Today – we lead such busy lives – that we don’t take time out to ask the Spirit to work and change us –

The Spirit works in us –

Through prayer – having a quiet time with the Lord is essential if we are to want to grow Spiritually – we have to plan it – early morning is best – if we meet Him before anything else – then we know we are pointed in the right direction –

When we read the Bible – the Spirit interprets it for us – He illuminates Jesus’ teaching – and helps us apply it to our situation –

through fellowship with others – as we relax together – the Spirit works within us to change and unite us as the body of Christ –

Just as a mirror glows as we turn it towards the suns rays – so we must turn towards Jesus to reflect His radiance – and receive the Spirit of the Lord –

If we do that – Gradually we are changed into the image we reflect – and what we see in Christ we become ourselves –

Conclusion Who shapes us?

At Pentecost – the birthday of our church – God gave us a new beginning – an opportunity to be transformed into His likeness – to be permanently changed and charged with His Spirit –

Just as the Spirit transformed the disciples from a frightened group of followers – into bold evangelists and Apostles – able to face whatever comes – so the Spirit can change and transform us

But we must not be like the Israelites watching at a distance – we must act

– Bring God into our situations
– Make Jesus the focal point of our lives
– Ask the Spirit to fill us with His transforming power

No matter what has happened in the past – we must let God and the Holy Spirit shape our present and our future and turn us into a new creation – reborn – (shaped) in the likeness of His Son –

Lets finish with a prayer –
Come Holy Spirit come, fill your church and remain in our hearts
In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit –