Tag Archives: Lord Jesus Christ

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.


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Hildegard of Bingen Urges Confession

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, April 12, 2017

confession, word

Hildegard of Bingen Urges Confession

Hildegard was a woman who stood head and shoulders above all those around her. She lived in the 1100’s, and was extremely unusual for that time—a literate woman who was a published author, administrator, visionary, and person with the gift of prophecy. Plus, she went on regular speaking engagements, later in her life.

All of this striving and working to further God’s work in the world! The excerpt from one of Hildegard’s writings is entitled “Letter to Christian Laypeople.” This is a solemn reminder to turn from the devil and his works and ways.

Hildegard wrote about the clear dichotomy between secular and religious, and how far even changing climate and legal responsibilities can be, adding to the persistent uproar. Hildegard mentions the death of some shameful experiences, the idea of wanting desperately, or even anger at not being chosen.

Are we able to write out the happenings of the day, and become deeply involved in the confession of what we have done as well as by what we have left undone? What about those in Hildegard’s time? She is, indeed, pointing out several sad areas of many, in the 12th century, the 21st century, and everything in between.

What Hildegard is suggesting is called by yet another name: the practice of examen. Would that more Christians had this practice as a regular part of their spiritual lives. Confession of sins and places where people fall short is a sure way to a closer walk with God. As the Apostle Paul says, “Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” (Romans 13:14) Prudent advice, whether it comes from Hildegard of Bingen, Billy Graham, or some other spiritual director.

Dear Lord, in Your mercy, allow each of us to monitor our lives in such a fashion as is pleasing to You, and take corrective measures when necessary. In Jesus’s powerful name we pray, amen.



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In Which I Stay Close To God

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, December 3, 2015

Jesus baby and Virgin Mary

In Which I Stay Close To God

Henri Nouwen’s suggestion for today? Think more about God. Have a prayer at the ready. Pray “Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.” [1]

It makes so much sense. (As in, “duh!”)

I know that what I allow my mind to dwell upon is important to my spiritual state, as well as to my prayer life. I appreciate the example Fr. Nouwen gives, of waiting in line at the supermarket. Instead of getting upset or angry because I am waiting too long, I can choose to pray, instead. Moreover, despite labors or losses, despite positive or negative happenings in life, I can decide to look at things from a positive angle.

Instead of letting my mind be absorbed by or distracted by all “the garbage of advertisements,” I can choose to think of God. I “can decide what [my] mind will receive.”[2] I can try to look for opportunities to serve God and serve others. Encourage others, too.

God, instead of mean, nasty and thoughtless things, help me to concentrate on positive things, kind things, helpful things. Thanks for the help, God!


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

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

[1] Advent and Christmas: Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen (Linguori, Missouri: Redemptorist Pastoral Publications, 2004), 10.

[2] Ibid.

Worthy is the Lamb!

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, July 31, 2015

Paschal Lamb-cross stained-glass from Duomo Cathedral-Florence

Paschal Lamb-cross stained-glass from Duomo Cathedral-Florence

Worthy is the Lamb!

Here we are, at the end of the month. Already! I have enjoyed praying through July with the wonderful book Praying the New Testament as Psalms. I realize the New Testament was written in a different kind of manner. However, I have so appreciated these sections written like the books of poetry from the Hebrew Scriptures. Certainly a change in perspective, that’s for sure.

I also appreciated the two authors, Fr. Desmond O’Donnell and Sr. Maureen Mohen. Turning Scripture I know so well into modern psalms? Marvelous idea! Thank you both for your thoughtful adaptations of various verses of the New Testament.

I wanted to end the way I began, with Blessing. A Benediction, of sorts. Even though I will continue tomorrow, it will be a different month. But, as far as Blessing is concerned, you can’t beat the awesome benediction found at the beginning of the book of Ephesians, 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,/who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” [1]

My response is truly to praise God, to bless God’s name, and even sometimes to fall on my face before God . The Lord my God.

The second psalm adaptation comes from the book of Revelation. This is another benediction! Another one, in the midst of all hell breaking loose on earth. “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and wealth, wisdom and might and honor. Glory and blessing forever.” [2]

Yes. Yes, a thousand times. Dear Lord Jesus, worthy are You. Thank You, dear Lord, for these modern psalms that give me a fresh, different way of looking at Your Word. And, Glory and blessing be forever more. Amen, and amen!


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 .

[1] Praying the New Testament as Psalms, Desmond O’Donnell, OMI, and Maureen Mohen, RSM, (United States of America: ACTA Publications, 2002.), 16.

[2] Ibid, 17.