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God breaks language barriers
Spiritual Spinach

God breaks language barriers

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I was on the road by 8 a.m. and looking forward to my interview.

I’d be talking with pastry chef Austin Weyhrich of Fremont and his boss Cedric Fichepain, who owns Le Petit Paris French Bakery in west Omaha.

Cruising along in U.S. 275, I started thinking back to the French class I had in high school.

Familiar words and a couple of phrases filtered through my brain. With no one else in my car, I felt free to rehearse aloud what few French words I knew.

It’s fun to know at least a couple of phrases in a foreign language.

And recently I was thinking about a Biblical account of some men who started speaking in other languages — thanks to the Holy Spirit.

We can find the account in the second chapter of the book of Acts in the New Testament.

This occurrence takes place after Christ has been crucified and resurrected from the dead. He’s ascended into heaven, but not before telling his followers to go make disciples of all nations.

Sounds like a big job.

But before Jesus ascends into heaven, he tells his followers not to leave Jerusalem.

They’re supposed to wait for the promise of the Father — they’ll be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

I can’t imagine what they must have thought. It must have seemed so mysterious.

But they obeyed.

Then the day of Pentecost arrived. Pentecost is a celebration of the harvest — when the first part of the crop is presented as an offering to the Lord.

On this day, the disciples are all together in one place.

Suddenly, there comes from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind that fills the whole house where they are sitting.

Divided tongues of fire appear and rest on each one of them.

If you’ve ever seen an artist’s painting of this scene, you’ve probably seen people with small flames above their heads.

What happened next can’t be captured on canvas.

All the disciples in that house are filled with the Holy Spirit and begin to speak in other languages as the Spirit enables them.

Devout Jewish people from every nation are in Jerusalem that day.

At the sound, a multitude gathers.

And they are bewildered because each one of them hears the disciples speak in their own language.

They know the speakers are Galileans.

So how are they hearing these men speak in all these other languages?

“We hear them telling us in our own languages about the mighty works of God,” crowd members say.

They ask one another what this means.

But others in the group mock the situation and say the speakers must be filled with wine.

That’s when Christ’s disciple, Peter, sets the record straight.

He says they’re not drunk and points out that it’s only 9 a.m.

Peter will share the Gospel, telling how Jesus was crucified and then resurrected.

The Scriptures record that the people are just cut to the heart when they realize they were the ones who put Jesus on that cross.

Actually, all of us put Christ on the cross.

He died to pay the penalty for all our sins.

But on this day of Pentecost, the people will ask what they can do.

And Peter has the answer.

“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” (Acts 2:38-39).

Those who receive his word are baptized — and about 3,000 souls are added to the kingdom that day.

After that, it says the people devote themselves to the apostles’ (that’s Peter and the other disciples) teaching. They share fellowship.

I love what I read next:

“And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had everything in common.”

Later, it states that the “Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

I wonder what that day — so long ago — must have been like.

What must that “awe” have felt like? What signs and wonders did they see?

And what was it like to be with people — and have everything in common?

It must have been such a joyous, incredible time.

Soon thereafter, Christians would begin to face persecution. Many would be murdered in what people call martyrdom.

Christians today in different parts of the world are suffering terribly and being killed for their faith as well.

And Christian thought differs about the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

From what I understand, some people think speaking in other tongues died out with the early church.

Some believe it can happen today, but only to certain people, while others believe the gift is available to all who seek it.

It breaks my heart when I hear people try to imitate speaking in tongues and make fun of it.

Mockery is never right.

But I guess it’s nothing new.

People mocked when they heard the disciples speak in tongues and accused them of being drunk.

I wonder what happened to those early day mockers.

Did they leave the scene and miss Peter’s life-changing sermon? Did they miss seeing signs and wonders and having everything in common like the other early day believers?

If they did, I think they missed a lot.

My prayer is that people today will be careful and not fall into deception or be led astray by false teachers.

Instead, I pray they’ll study the Scriptures and seek the leading of the Holy Spirit and won’t be so cynical that they dismiss the variety of God’s miraculous works in modern times. If God did something long ago, couldn’t he still do it today?

I’ve been surprised more than once by God.

And I suspect he’ll surprise me a few more times before my life on this earth is over.

I’ll bet a lot of those early Christians were surprised, too, in wonderful ways — not only after they heard the disciples or saw signs and wonders, but when they began to experience God in a way they never had before.

I’ve prayed that God will take me deeper into the knowledge of him. I’ve had some wonderful experiences and pray for more.

And I believe they’re coming.

As for my trip to the bakery, I had a nice experience, too. I mentioned to Cedric that I’d taken French in high school in the late 1970s.

“It hasn’t changed much,” he said, smiling.

I suppose not, but I had to confess that I speak tres petit (very little) of the French language.

Oh well.

At least there’s no language barrier when it comes to enjoying a piece of triple chocolate mousse cake.

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She writes a weekly spiritual column.


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