Acts 2:1-6, 14, 16-17a, 21 - When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. ... Peter ... addressed them: "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, ... this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: 'And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh ... And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved.'"
When God gave the first Christians the gift of the Holy Spirit, they needed some way to recognize that the Holy Spirit was working through them—some kind of gift, some evidence of His presence. What should God choose?
He could've picked anything—healing or miracles or really persuasive preaching. But He picked none of those. Instead, He gave them the gift of speaking in languages they had never learned.
Now the thing about that gift is, it's basically useless for the person it happens to. It does me no good if God gives me the miraculous ability to speak in Chinese or Tagalog or Cherokee. It only helps somebody other than me who already speaks that language and needs to hear about Jesus. The gift of tongues means that other people can hear the Gospel, believe in Jesus, and be saved.
And that's exactly what happened. The foreigners visiting Jerusalem for the holiday came together in the street, and they were shocked. All these people were speaking their own languages, even though they were clearly Galileans! (I wonder if they could tell by their accents. That would be kind of hilarious.)
When God chose this one gift for Pentecost Day, that meant the Good News of Jesus got out into the world at top speed. Thousands of people heard that God had come into the world for their sakes, to live, to suffer, to die and to rise again—and that anyone who put their trust in Him would be forgiven and would live forever. And they responded. About 3,000 people believed and were baptized.
Going forward, sharing the Gospel wouldn't be that easy. Missionaries would have to learn languages the hard way, most of the time. People would usually come to faith in smaller groups, or even one by one. But for the birthday of the Christian church, God made sure we focused our attention on what matters to Him—reaching out with the Gospel to the people all around us who don't yet know Jesus Christ. That is where God's heart is, and that is where our hearts belong as well.
WE PRAY: Lord, help me to love the people around me as You do, and be able to share Your love with them as well. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. Do you know any other languages?
2. What gifts has the Holy Spirit given you?
3. How do you use them in His service, to build up the people of God?
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