Our Upper Room
Our Upper Room
Sermon Notes Ps. Jim White
Sunday, 23rd May, 2021
Well today is Pentecost Sunday. It’s a great day of celebration for the church, because the Christian Church was birthed when the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus’ disciples in the Upper Room at the time when they were celebrating Pentecost.
Pentecost is a Greek name. Coming from their Hebrew roots, the people of Israel up until then would more likely have called it the Feast of Harvest, because it was the beginning of the season for harvesting wheat.
I’ll come back to that in a minute – because even the theme of Harvest is such a perfect description for the birth of the church.
But aren’t you glad we live as people of the Spirit and people of Pentecost – every single day of our lives?
We are a Pentecostal people. Our church is part of a Pentecostal movement that started exactly 47 years ago in Brisbane.
I found this bit of history of Christian Outreach Centre which is still our legal name, even though our trading name is now International Network of Churches.
Christian Outreach Centre began with twenty-five adults meeting in the Taylors’ home on 16 June, 1974. On the following Sunday, one hundred and twenty-six people took Communion in a rented building owned by the Teachers’ Union.
The Church grew rapidly. It had started with no money or resources, but by October was able to purchase a Salvation Army property in Woolloongabba.
The Church kept expanding, particularly by unchurched people being saved. It was also a place where Christians, both Protestant and Roman Catholic could be baptised in the Holy Spirit.”
Within three years, the children’s church alone had over 700 kids.
They bought more property, began a television program called A New Way of Living – and brand new churches started popping up all over the country, including our church here in Ballina – and Christine Hervey is the only person that is still here now, who was part of those wildfire days in Ballina.
I’m convinced Christine is going to still be here when Jesus comes back!
Now there are INC Churches all across the world that are part of this movement.
We have a rich history – and it’s a supernatural history. It truly is a story of spiritual revival.
It’s had lots of rough spots – just like every other denomination – but the power of the Holy Spirit and the passion of totally committed men and women, has brought it to what it is today.
We are even part of that continued expansion, with Arise Church in Lismore being birthed from Seacoast. So the journey continues.
I hope that story stirs your spirit this morning. What an amazing foundation we stand on! Like every other Christian Church, we’re actually part of 2,000 years of church history!
But that’s just the introduction to my message.
It’s a clear testimony to the power of Pentecost even in the 21st century.
And as much as I love the words of Acts 1 and 2 in particular, which is where we read about Pentecost, I don’t want to just tell the story again.
We all know that it was an incredible moment when the fire and wind of the Holy Spirit came into that Upper Room and upon the praying disciples. It changed everything! It changed the world!
I want to centre our message this morning around the whole theme of the Upper Room. Not just the Pentecostal Upper Room, but what the Upper Room speaks to us – taking it from the first century – and placing it right smack bang into the middle of the 21st century.
And I’m not just talking about a particular upper room – I’m speaking about the “place” where we find the church and the Holy Spirt creating an atmosphere of incredible unity, love, power and joy – where something powerful ignites and sparks a supernatural move of God.
I’m going to jump ahead firstly, to Acts chapter 12 – to the time when the early church began to suffer persecution – the disciple James was already beheaded – and Peter was thrown in prison by King Herod.
The Passion Translation
“The church went into a season of intense intercession, asking God to free him.
6 The night before Herod planned to bring him to trial, he made sure that Peter was securely bound with two chains. Peter was sound asleep between two soldiers, with additional guards stationed outside his cell door, 7 when all at once an angel of the Lord appeared, filling his prison cell with a brilliant light. The angel struck Peter on the side to awaken him and said, “Hurry up! Let’s go!” Instantly the chains fell off his wrists. 8 The angel told him, “Get dressed. Put on your sandals, bring your cloak, and follow me.”
9 Peter quickly left the cell and followed the angel, even though he thought it was only a dream or a vision, for it seemed unreal—he couldn’t believe it was really happening! 10 They walked unseen past the first guard post and then the second before coming to the iron gate that leads to the city—and the gate swung open all by itself right in front of them!
They went out into the city and were walking down a narrow street when all of a sudden the angel disappeared.”
This is not the only time in the history of the new church where prisoners were supernaturally set free from prison. In fact, as you know, miracles, deliverance and healings were part of their every day lives.
But it’s where Peter goes next that is really special.
The Passion Translation
12 When he realized this, he decided to go to the home of Mary and her son John Mark. The house was filled with people praying. 13 When he knocked on the door to the courtyard, a young servant girl named Rose got up to see who it was. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so excited that she forgot to open the door, but ran back inside the house to announce, “Peter is standing outside!”
15 “Are you crazy?” they said to her. But when she kept insisting, they answered, “Well, it must be his angel.”
16 Meanwhile, Peter was still outside, knocking on the door. When they finally opened it, they were shocked to find Peter standing there.”
Now it’s not obvious that Mary’s house was the home with the upper room, but many scholars believe that is was. It seems that Mary’s home was a central gathering place for Christians in Jerusalem, and most likely the place where the disciples stayed where they were in town.
But that’s not the main point. The main point is that the Christian Church was praying fervently together for Peter’s release. The place was filled with people. And it’s the place where Peter automatically knew to go to after being set free from prison.
There’s this strong sense of community – a prayerful, interceding community. And we know from other verses that the church was a rich fellowship of believers.
And from that place of devotion and dedication – standing together as one voice and one heart – they positioned themselves to see the supernatural power of God released in their midst.
The heart of my message this morning is that I believe that the church in this season right now is heading towards that same kind of powerful, life transforming, miraculous place.
I’m calling it an Upper Room experience – with the Upper Room really just being a position and a place of uncompromising faith – passionate and fervent prayer and worship… because I’m sure they were worshipping God with all their hearts.
Why shouldn’t we be believing for the kind of fellowship where there is a depth and strength of love, faith, compassion, joy and righteous dedication and devotion for one another?
And the reality is – it’s already happening to a large degree here at Seacoast. We have faithful passionate intercessors. We have a strong, united men’s prayer group. We have other prayer groups, a united and vibrant worship team who gather in fellowship and genuine relationship as much as anything else – and we have you here….
You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t see the potential for this church to explode into something powerful that glorifies God and impacts our community. You are part of that happening.
By chapter 12, we can see that this devoted and united type of lifestyle and community had not dwindled at all since Pentecost. In fact, persecution is probably what made them ever tighter together.
But why should we wait for persecution? It will come I’m sure…. But that’s not the basis of our faith and our community. We are centred on Jesus Christ and all that He is.
Now let’s look back to the time before Pentecost – to the time we know Jesus and His disciples definitely were in the Upper Room.
New King James Version
When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. 15 Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”
And He then shared wth them probably the most intimate meal that they had ever had together.
This is my body, He said. This is My blood…
But this isn’t just a special moment for the disciples. Jesus was instituting a brand new covenant with all people. A new covenant in His blood.
Other significant things happened there. Jesus said his betrayer was siting amongst them. Of course we know now it was Judas.
But then the other disciples started arguing about who was greatest amongst them.
Jesus then teaches them that how greatness is experienced. He bestowed the Kingdom of God upon them.
And then in John’s gospel, it says that Jesus then:
New King James Version
“rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. 6 Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”
7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”
8 Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”
Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”
9 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”
In this place of the Upper Room, everything changes. God’s covenant with us becomes a covenant of mercy and grace. The revelation of Jesus Christ as Saviour of the world begins to unfold.
Disciples are shown by example how they are to be the greatest leaders – by humbling themselves and serving. By washing the feet of those they love.
It’s around this time, that Jesus prays that incredible prayer to the Father that’s shown in John 17 – asking that we would be one with Him as He is One with the Father.
I personally think it’s the most beautiful and powerful prayer in the bible. It’s where Jesus’s blessing and His glory is released upon all His followers.
The Upper Room is the place of revelation. It’s the place of humility. It’s the place of being washed by Jesus. It’s the place of knowing who we are as a son or daughter of God.
So now we head over to what today particularly is all about.
It happens in the middle of these other two stories I’ve just shared.
After His resurrection, Jesus reveals Himself to the disciples and teaches them more on the Kingdom of God.
Then just before He ascends into heaven, He says to His disciples, wait here in Jerusalem for the Promise of the Father, which was to be the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
New King James Version
The Upper Room Prayer Meeting
“Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. 13 And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. 14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.”
Altogether there were 120 people in that Upper Room. Some have suggested that this Upper Room may have been above a synagogue…because regular houses would not have been able to hold that many people. Messianic Jews may very well have obtained their own place of meeting and worship directly connected to their Jewish roots.
Again – that’s not the point of my message.
The point is that as these ones gathered together, it says they were in one accord, in prayer and supplication.
In Chapter 2, it reinforces again – they were in one accord and in one place. That place was the Upper Room.
New King James Version
“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
All of this spontaneous, supernatural outpouring of the Holy Spirit could not be contained in an Upper Room – and so it flowed out onto the streets – where it just so happens, devout men from every nation under heaven were there for the Harvest festival.
And they heard these disciples speaking in the tongues of each of their native languages.
Peter is filled with a brand new passion and ability to speak with authority.
Some are astounded. Others think they are drunk.
Peter explains that this is the prophetic promise from Joel. It’s the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
And he calls all men to repentance.
Many are cut to the heart and respond.
And in one day 3,000 souls were added to the kingdom.
The Christian Church was birthed on that day! The day of Pentecost!
And so begins not a great harvest of wheat – but a harvest of men and women. And that’s the harvest we are called to in our day!
New King James Version
“So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
This is the dunamis power of God sovereignly at work.
Dunamis is where we get the word dynamite from. It truly is an explosive power.
It’s God’s power. But the disciples were positioned in one accord. It says it here again in verse 46. They broke bread together.
Note here it says – daily in the temple. So they all gathered together – in one place – every day in the temple.
Don’t ever think that the early church was just a bunch of home groups.
Yes, they did meet in homes as well, sharing meals, sharing their lives, providing for one another…
But the gathering of everyone together to worship and pray and listen to the Word of God was vital and central to their expression of faith and to their growth.
In a very real sense, the Upper Room flowed outward. The Upper Room is not just a room. It’s a way of being. It’s a way of living.
Clark Taylor got it right when he called their new television program – “A New Way of Living!” That’s what it was.
It is reinforced over and over that it has a lot to do with the people being in one accord. That’s true unity.
Unity is powerful in itself. King David spoke of this himself nearly 1,000 years before.
New King James Version
Blessed Unity of the People of God
A Song of Ascents. Of David.
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Running down on the beard,
The beard of Aaron,
Running down on the edge of his garments.
It is like the dew of Hermon,
Descending upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the Lord commanded the blessing—
I am prophesying that this church will become a genuine Upper Room – to the glory of God.
And it will mean that we will be one in faith, in spirit, in worship, in love for one another, for our community…
The Passion translation calls it “sweet unity.”
There’ll be no negative words spoken. There will be no murmuring. There will be heaps of encouragement. Heaps of generosity. Heaps of sharing life.
Seacoast will become known as a place of worship and prayer – which actually is already happening. Our last three worship nights have been packed with people from all different denominations – different tribes…. Same Jesus.
The oil of Anointing – the oil of the Holy Spirit – will flow over the whole body – and God Himself will command the blessing – life forevermore.
So there it is. The Upper Room.
Just to summarise, it’s a place where:
- Believers are faithfully devoted in prayer and intercession
- They are gathered together as one – in one accord
- Prisoners are supernaturally set free
- There’s a strong community and rich fellowship
- The new covenant of God’s grace is celebrated
- The revelation of Jesus Christ continually and progressively unfolds
- There is the expression of genuine humility and washing of feet
- And of course it’s the place of waiting on the promise from heaven
- Of experiencing God’s spontaneous and supernatural outpouring
- Where multitudes of souls enter into the kingdom of God.
- It will be where everyone is gathered together as one
- And it will be also as we meet more intimately in homes and groups
- The Spirit of God will overflow into the streets
- Many will hear what they need to hear, and be convicted and cut to the heart
- And finally, it will be a place where God Himself commands the blessing of life forevermore.
Is that not an amazing vision for the church?
Let’ have a big vision. A huge vision. A vision that is impossible for us to accomplish – but more than possible for God.
What’s the step right before us?
To get our hearts aligned with God’s heart. To show abundant grace to one another. To forgive. To let go of judgements. To release others from captivity. To be generous with our lives. And overriding it all – to make a decision to be in one accord with one another.