Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Dynamic Spirit Power!

“Dynamic Spirit Power!”

Acts 2 Pentecost mural

Acts 2:2-4 – June 9, 2019

Have you ever been outside in hurricane-force winds? Either you, or a loved one you know and who is very dear to you? How about a massive storm that has huge bolts of lightning, and loud cracks of thunder? Can you imagine God’s mighty power displayed, for everyone to see and hear and feel? Anyone who has ever been caught in such a powerful storm can tell you, such a dynamic panorama can be earthshaking, literally. That mighty God-sent power is just what I’ll be preaching about today.

Most of us, perhaps even all of us are familiar with the disciples’ fearful reaction after our Lord Jesus ascended into heaven. And, for good reason! The Roman authorities were still hunting for the body of the Rabbi Jesus that disappeared from the tomb, some weeks before. Remember what happened on Easter morning? Not only the Roman authorities but also Jewish leaders were still demanding to see the body of this itinerant rabbi that they said was stolen from the tomb! Of course, we know better.

God’s mighty, miraculous power intervened, by way of the Resurrection and Ascension. Our Lord rose from the dead, walked and taught on this earth in His resurrected body for seven weeks, followed by His bodily ascension into heaven. What is more, the last instructions of Jesus to wait for power, to stay put in Jerusalem, were still fresh in people’s ears.

But—still, God left the disciples very much afraid, and very much in hiding. At least, after the risen Jesus went away for good. That’s what humans thought, anyhow.

Here we are, on Pentecost morning, waiting with the disciples. As was their custom, they were gathered for prayer in the Upper Room. Can you imagine a large group of disciples, with Jesus’ mother Mary in the midst of them? Talk about a prayer meeting! Still, they were huddled, in hiding. These disciples were being faithful, as best as they could. When, on Pentecost morning, a God-sent happening occurred. But, you don’t need to take my word for it!

Listen to what Dr. Luke says at the beginning of Acts 2: “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.

Now, today, if something like that happened, we might look around for the fancy special effects team in the background. We might wonder where the cameras were placed when those tongues of fire wondrously appeared above each person—marking them, letting everyone know that God was director, and God wrote the script.

Getting back to a description of a display of God’s mighty power, that other-worldly power was certainly on display in the sound like the blowing of a violent wind from heaven. In keeping with my analogy, God was also producer and certainly handled all special effects.

The Koine Greek word for “power” is dunamis, which the Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament defines as: able to produce a strong effect power, might, strength” and “as supernatural manifestations of power, miracle, wonder, powerful deed.” This is the same word that is used ten times in the book of Acts to refer to God’s mighty power or acts. Plus, dunamis is the root word for dynamite: the mighty, powerful dynamite of God!

This dynamic power was on display to the disciples, in the upper room. Dr. Luke mentions that “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” On display only among the disciples—at first. But, soon, other people started to get in on the action!

Let’s hear from Dr. Luke: “Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?”

Once the dynamic Holy Spirit blows in on the disciples with tongues of fire, and their physical tongues are loosened in many other languages, what an awesome display of power! Passersby from other countries off the street gathered around. They heard the violent wind of the Spirit and the expression of many languages that quickly followed. All of the disciples were telling the Good News, that Jesus our Messiah is risen from the dead—in many different languages. And, probably because of the regional pronunciation, the expat onlookers were able to tell that many of those who were speaking different languages were Galileans. Is it any wonder that these onlookers were totally amazed?

I am reminded of a flash mob in some public place, like a mall or in a downtown square. Just as passersby are engrossed in the performance the flash mob does, in a similar way, the onlookers are fascinated by the whole God-sent operation that happened in Jerusalem on Pentecost morning, especially by the sharing of the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ in their own heart-language, their own mother tongue. And, since the Holy Spirit was present in mighty power on that Pentecost morning, many came to believe in Jesus as their Messiah that day.

But, Pentecost was not just a one-time event. You know, an event that happened just in the distant past, in Bible times, never to be repeated. No! Whenever anyone believes on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, a Pentecost happens! The Holy Spirit blows through that person, that beloved one of God. The Holy Spirit blows into each of our lives, and the power and possibility of God acting with and through each one of us is an amazing and awesome truth!

Commentator Rev. Gary Simpson brings out the fact “I am more aware of the numerous ways the Holy Spirit comes into people’s lives and affects positive change. No longer is my understanding of Pentecost simply wrapped around the phonetic languages we speak out of our mouths. Rather, I am aware of the many ways the Holy Spirit speaks through us and to us through sounds, pictures, ideas and even hope.” [1]

I am reminded that some people think Pentecost was just a day, an event that happened two thousand years ago. But, no! Wait a minute! Are these well-meaning people putting limits on the mighty power of God? What about that violent wind of the Holy Spirit that blew through the house on that first Pentecost? Are these well-meaning people trying to put God in a little box of their own devising and understanding?

As the Rev. Simpson reminds us, Pentecost is not simply a day to remember the birth of the Church, but it is also a day to celebrate the mighty power of the Holy Spirit, the dynamite of God, active and present in each believer’s life and heart. It is God’s power working in us and through us, so we can be witnesses to what the risen Lord Jesus has done for us. Yes, we are changed, too! And we have the opportunity to change the world, just as much as the first-century disciples of Christ—by the power of the God-sent dynamite of the Holy Spirit.

Alleluia! Amen.

[1] http://www.theafricanamericanlectionary.org/PopupLectionaryReading.asp?LRID=88

Lectionary Commentary, Acts 2:1-8, Gary V. Simpson, The African American Lectionary, 2009.

@chaplaineliza

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The Spirit of God, Given to Us

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, March 22, 2018

Rom 8-11 same power, words

The Spirit of God, Given to Us

I haven’t read the letter to the Romans for some time. (I mean, I haven’t really, thoroughly read it.) I might have dipped into it, during the past few years. I preached a few sermons on passages from Romans, yes. But I have not read it in depth—not for a long time.

So many quote-able verses. So much that is so memorable. In terms of visual communication, so many memes can be made, suitable for social media!

For the past three days, Rowan Williams has assigned reading parts of Romans 8. I was particularly struck by the repeated references Paul makes to the Holy Spirit, or the Spirit of God. Third Person of the Trinity, this chapter is one of the places that Paul gives us quite a bit of the information about the Spirit. We find out that the Holy Spirit communicates with our spirits. We discover the Holy Spirit groans without words, in a meaningful way that resonates so deeply. In our place, and on our behalf.

In fact, “we are already experiencing a ‘foretaste,’ an advance sample of the experience God has made us for.” [1]

Sometimes, life seems so routine, so boring. I plumb forget that God has created me with eternity in my heart and mind. God means for me (and, by extension, for all of us!) to be adopted and accepted into God’s heavenly kingdom. What a profound statement. What a profound series of statements, in fact. God is embracing us as God’s children. What a loving, welcoming statement for Paul to make.

I am so grateful for God’s overflowing, everlasting love. Dear Lord, I appreciate finding out more inside information—from You! Gracious God, thank You for loving us so much that You sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in each of us. Thank You most of all for sending Your Son to die for us, and in our place. “It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Thank You, dear God.

@chaplaineliza

 

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[1] Meeting God in Paul: Reflections for the Season of Lent, Rowan Williams (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015), 70.

How Shall We Meditate?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, June 15, 2017

Bible with flowers, drawing

How Shall We Meditate?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer had excellent advice on prayer and meditation. His suggestions to the seminarians at Finkenwalde were so pertinent.

His depth of experience in meditation and prayer provided such substance, especially the way in which Bonhoeffer taught how to meditate and pray using Scripture. “There is free meditation and meditation that is bound to Scripture. We advise the latter for the sake of the certainty of our prayers and the discipline of our thoughts.” [1]

Bonhoeffer’s suggestion to have all the seminarians meditate on the same passage of Scripture really intrigued me. Not only were the same few verses of the Bible meant to speak to each individual’s heart and mind and spirit, but moreover, the seminarians would then have the opportunity to share with each other. They might be able to discuss the passage even further, and really chew on, or meditate over the Word of God.

He gives instruction on prayer, too, as the seminarians compose themselves for the morning time of meditation. “If during meditation our thoughts move to persons who are near to us or to those we are concerned about, then let them linger there. That is a good time to pray for them.” [2] Bonhoeffer was quite serious both about prayer for others and continued prayer for the salvation of our own souls.

His call for the power of the Holy Spirit to come upon all who meditate that day is an excellent reminder for all of us. The Holy Spirit enlightens us on a regular basis, giving us deeper insight into the text.

These few insights merely scratch the surface of prayer and meditation instruction, as far as Dietrich Bonhoeffer is concerned. (My sneaking feelings of inferiority are rising within, again. Note to self: this has got to be the result of my re-reading this superb book…)

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 24.

[2] Ibid, 25.

Prayer, Grief and Peace for Loved Ones

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, September 14, 2016

peace-i-leave-with-you-cross

Prayer, Grief and Peace for Loved Ones

This is a blog on prayer, and matters of prayer.

I seldom do this, but I would appreciate prayer for an older relative’s family, in another state. A recent death of the senior. I haven’t seen any of the family for years, yet I feel the loss.

Reflecting on John 14:27, it says “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

Jesus gives me peace. He offers me peace in troubled times, in grieving times. Plus, I can offer that peace to others. Yes, I can grieve. My friends and family can grieve. However, the Holy Spirit has promised to come alongside and comfort. Not as the world tries to distract, but real and genuine comfort and encouragement.

Gracious God, thank You for the peace and serenity that Jesus promised in this verse. Help me to bring some of that peace and comfort to my family. I pray that You hold all who loved my relative in Your everlasting arms of care and concern. Please encourage them even in the midst of their grief and sadness. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

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Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

Fire of the Spirit, Hear Us

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Holy Spirit descending dove

Fire of the Spirit, Hear Us

Do you have allergies? I do, unfortunately. Allergic to several different kinds of molds. So, autumn is not one of the best times for me. Sneezes, snuffles, eyes stream, tickle in the back of the throat. And, yes, I do have a roundabout way that this ties in to the topic for today.

The topic of today’s prayer is Gifts of the Spirit. is The prayer I chose for today from The Oxford Book of Prayer concerns “For Thine is the Kingdom.” (Prayer 508, page 131) [1] As I read this prayer from the pen of St. Hildegard of Bingen, I cannot help but feel badly. When most people consider the Holy Spirit and the Spirit’s gifting, they get excited. (Can’t help it!)

Sadly, I am not up to it. A mild sinus headache is making me miserable, and it all stems from my fall allergies. (Sorry, Lord.) Besides, the air pressure outside is particularly low. It will be raining for about 24 hours, and boy, can I tell.

I suspect Hildegard had problems, too. If not exactly like mine, at least similar. (Perhaps she even might have had allergies.) Anyway, here’s the prayer:

“Fire of the Spirit, life of the lives of creatures,/ spiral of sanctity, bond of all natures,/glow of charity, lights of clarity, taste/of sweetness to sinners, be with us and hear us./Composer of all things, light of all the risen,/ key of salvation, release from the dark prison,/hope of all unions, scope of chastities, joy/in the glory, strong honour, be with us and hear us.”

Dear Holy Spirit, I read that we are supposed to be celebrating and being joy-filled. Yet, even the mention of Your Fire cannot help me to excuse myself. Please change my insides. Please, Lord, heal me. Restore me. Change me.

@chaplaineliza

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Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] The Oxford Book of Prayer, edited by George Appleton. (New York: Oxford University Press, reissued 2009), 131.

Center on the Vine? Abide? Remain?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, September 29, 2015

VINE Vine stained glass John 15

Center on the Vine? Abide? Remain?

I purposely chose a Name of God that has given me difficulty for years. This particular Name comes from John 15:5. My Name of God for today is Vine.

I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” This is Jesus talking to the disciples in the Upper Room Discourse. I have had difficulty—for years and years!—with that simple word “abide.” For the life of me, I could not get the concept through my head. I kept going around and around. As far as John 15 was concerned, “abide” meant “remain.” And “remain” meant “reside.” Which also meant “abide.” Argh!!

I finally had a kind of a breakthrough while reading a bible commentary on John about two years ago. I can’t for the life of me remember which commentary this was, but the writer drew a comparison of camping versus building a proper house. When I abide in Christ, I am taking up residence, putting down roots. It is no fly by night kind of thing—unlike temporary camping, where I could set up a tent for a night or two, and be gone the next.

Since I had that breakthrough and now am better able to comprehend what Jesus was saying in John 15, I thought I might choose this particular Name.

One might think that the words Jesus used in this chapter might have helped me, or given me a mental picture. No. No such luck here. I have no idea why, but I have had difficulty with this image and this concept for years and years. (And I am usually a visual person!)

However, I persevere. I tried to center and focus with this Name of God. I even tried some Ignatian-prayer-type focus. Alas, I am not very good with this meditative type of prayer. Centering and focusing? Not right now, apparently. At least not today.

Dear Lord Jesus, I know I did try to center and focus on You today. I wonder what You think of me as I founder and flounder about, in prayer? I did not have the sense that the Holy Spirit was as present as at other times. (I know, I very well could be wrong about that.) But I felt particularly un-focused. Dear Lord, the best I can say is that I tried. And, I hope that my prayers to You rise before You like incense. Thank You for listening.

@chaplaineliza

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Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

Spirit of God, Help Me Center

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, September 28, 2015

Gen 1-2 Spirit of God brooding over the water

Spirit of God, Help Me Center

When I pray, I sometimes ask for God’s help in praying. I know the Apostle Paul specifies in Romans 8 that the Spirit of God helps us even when we don’t know the words to pray. What about when my word—Name of God I chose for today is Spirit of God?

I was intrigued and moved by the Scripture reference paired with this Name of God: Genesis 1:2. I know that verse, and I know the image I saw in my mind, immediately upon shutting my eyes and beginning to center.

Genesis 1:2 says, “The earth was formless and void or a waste and emptiness, and darkness was upon the face of the deep [primeval ocean that covered the unformed earth]. The Spirit of God was moving (hovering, brooding) over the face of the waters.” (The Amplified Bible translation.) This mentions how the Spirit of God—the Ruach ha Kodesh, or Holy Spirit—brooded over the unformed creation.

Immediately I saw Something (or Someone) in my mind, hovering over an ocean—and yet not an ocean. Brooding over some space that looked like a land mass, and yet was not, quite. That Spirit of God was moving with love in Her heart.

Oh, did I mention the word “Spirit” in Hebrew is feminine? That’s why I used a feminine pronoun, because otherwise the masculine/feminine word agreement won’t jive.

The second impression I received as I centered was that of the Creation of Narnia, in The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis. As I saw Aslan beginning to sing, I also thought of the Spirit of God. Kind of a mash-up of narratives, I know, but it was way cool. In my mind, anyway.

Dear Holy Spirit, thank You for this gentle, loving time of prayer. I am so glad I focused, using this Name of God.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er