28th May 2023

Fulfilled promises

My good friend and colleague, Heber Ticas promised to procure a rare bottle of tasty tequila for my wife Susan’s 60th birthday. He ran into a bit of a snag and gave me the bottle at a conference and said to tell Susan a “Happy 62 and a half birthday!”

We laughed, but there is a bit of truth that sometimes it takes a while to fulfill a promise. Have you ever reaped the benefit of a promise long after it had been made? You may have even forgotten the promise – or given up on it. Whether you’re making the promise or receiving it, the windfall of a past promise fulfilled is always a source of joy.

Shortly after Jesus promised he would send the Holy Spirit, the Disciples gathered for Pentecost. We can only imagine how much they understood the wonder of the promises that Jesus made to them, but after seeing him ascend, you can guess they were ready for anything. Did they expect the Holy Spirit to come at Pentecost? It’s hard to tell.

History had taught them that the promises of God are always fulfilled but in his time. Five hundred and fifty years passed between God’s promise to Abraham and when Joshua led the Israelites to the Promised Land. There were seven hundred years from Isaiah’s hopeful prophecies to Jesus’ coming. But now maybe it was going to be different. After all, Jesus had told them to not leave the city. On that Pentecost, their world changed. Like a roaring wind, the Holy Spirit came and filled the house. Luke tells us in the book of Acts that all of the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, and began preaching in different languages. Then Peter was prompted to preach.

“Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say…This is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh…” (Acts 2:14, 16-17a NRSV)

The promise had been fulfilled. Peter then gave a convicting and powerful message about who Jesus is and why he came. A message that resonated with many who were present, drawing them in to be baptized in great numbers as they were led by the Holy Spirit.

What did Peter feel as he saw over three thousand people come forward for baptism following his address? I suspect he was filled with joy. The familiar joy of a promise being realized. Did he recall the words of Jesus three years prior, as he knelt upon a boat that was sinking due to the weight of a great catch of fish? Jesus had told him, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” Standing in front of the crowd at Pentecost, Peter experienced the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise.

The Holy Spirit helped him to not be afraid as he stood before the people – he was no longer the man who denied Christ or who sank as he tried to walk on the water. The Spirit had made him into a fisher of men.

The promise that the Spirit transforms and sustains those who follow Christ is also for you and me. This Pentecost let the Spirit of God change you and discover the wonder of God’s promises fulfilled.

Presented by Greg Williams

About the presenter:
Greg Williams is President of Grace Communion International and lives in North Carolina, USA.  Word of Life each Sunday is taken from ‘Speaking of Life’, (https://www.gci.org/videos/media-speaking-of-life/), a public resource video on the USA website of Grace Communion International

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