Tag Archives: resurrection

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

(Suggestion: visit me at my regular blog for 2019: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. #PursuePEACE – and my other blog,  A Year of Being Kind . Thanks!

Resurrection Sunday, For Us

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Jesus and empty tomb

Resurrection Sunday, For Us

I haven’t written any reflections last week during Holy Week. Yes, I was busy. Yes, I was under the weather. And yes, I had much too much on my plate. I feel badly, because I did not finish the daily readings from the apostle Paul. (I did do two readings last week from Colossians, and appreciated them very much. But, I did not do any others…mea culpa.)

I know I have a poor track record, doing daily devotions. (Perhaps I ought to think of it as a batting average? That way, one day out of three would still be an awesome batting average. Any major league baseball player would be proud of a .333 batting average. *grin*) In any case, God and I will continue to discuss my regular vs. daily prayer, scripture readings, and devotions. Of that, I am sure.

The last reading was from 2 Corinthians 5. Such a marvelous chapter! In almost every verse in this chapter I find a vivid image or stunning word or phrase that speaks directly to my heart and soul. From the tent Paul describes in the beginning of the chapter to the ministry of reconciliation that he closes the chapter with, this is—hands down—one of my favorite chapters in all of the Bible. “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything old has passed away. See, everything has become new!” And, the three verses following, of course. Such wonder. Such glory. I cannot even begin to describe the magnificence of Paul’s words.

As Prof. Williams says, “Paul write perhaps his most powerful explanation of the importance of Jesus’ resurrection. His point is this. The resurrection of Jesus matters, Paul says, because without it our faith is futile and we are pitiable people….But not only that – it also inaugurates that new creation now, as a reality into which we are invited.” [1]

What an invitation! Imagine, Jesus inviting you and me into His presence, into His new creation. We may come freely, no strings attached. How awesome, how fabulous is that? Truly, a gift given to us all, freely. Thank You, Jesus. “Let us live in this world as foretastes of the new creation to come, a world guaranteed by Your resurrection life. Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! Amen.” [2]

@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] Meeting God in Paul: Reflections for the Season of Lent, Rowan Williams (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015), 92.

[2] Ibid.

Meditation, Prayer and Wartime

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, July 2, 2017

hands folded in prayer

Meditation, Prayer and Wartime

The year was 1942, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer found himself in the midst of the war. Of the seminarians he was responsible for training several years before, many of those young men had gone into fighting on the front lines.  And, several had recently died.

World War 2 had indeed indelibly marked so many hearts. In writing to these hurting hearts on the matter that struck everyone so close to home, Bonhoeffer says that “they sleep now with all the brothers who have gone before them, awaiting the great Easter Day of the Resurrection.” [1]

It takes an especially strong faith to be able to hold to that faith in such dismal conditions.  When so many others are in despair, having lost their belief in God, Bonhoeffer’s faith shines all the more brightly. Plus, his simple, hopeful view of God’s heaven relates to just about every person living in those times: “We see the cross and we believe in the Resurrection; see death and we believe in eternal life; we experience sadness and separation but we believe in eternal joy and fellowship.” [2]

Bonhoeffer reflects on the letters he was receiving that month, for it was his birthday. I am assuming not only the seminarians but others of his acquaintance were sending him letters, remembering his birthday. “How shall I respond to such faithfulness? I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Let us remain constant in prayer for one another. Who knows how much protection through God’s grace he owes to the intercession of a brother?” [3]

I gather from these words that few things were as important to Bonhoeffer as being held in prayer by his friends and companions. Just as he did the same, in earnest prayer and meditation, this was an all-important activity of his. Such a simple, blessed view of God and the faithfulness of God’s people! This, to me, shows us a man who practices what he preaches: faithfulness and earnestness in prayer and meditation.

Dear Lord, help me be one of the sincere followers of Bonhoeffer, taking his example to heart. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

@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), 41.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 42.

God Was with Paul and Barnabas. God Is with Me, Too.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, April 20, 2015

difficulties overcome

God Was with Paul and Barnabas. God Is with Me, Too.

Our God is acknowledged as very present, and a refuge in times of trouble.

Whatever happens, whenever I can help out, God will be with me, too. Just like God was with Paul and Barnabas in their difficult times, in Acts 13. But, it didn’t start that way. No, Paul and Barnabas went to and fro at first, freely witnessing to the power of the resurrection. A portion of the people listening to them were described as jealous of God’s power and success, too. So, they started to persecute Paul and Barnabas.

There is no pleasing certain people. Whatever happened, God was there in the past. And God will be there, at our sides, right now. Whether stilted, difficult, or downright angry, some people keep stirring up trouble and problems.

Intellectually, I keep telling myself that the power of God will help me! Experientially, that’s another matter. Doubts come up in my mind. Anxious thoughts, fears, even angry thoughts. But God can smooth that all out. God can overcome, even though. Thanks, God!

Let’s come to God in prayer. Dear God, thanks for being there with me. Thanks for being present amidst my doubts and fears. Thanks for helping me to say, “The Lord is risen, indeed!” But, God, not everyone believes this. Help me to keep on striving to communicate God’s love, even though things are not going my way. Thanks, again, for being a refuge and a strength to me, even through difficulties. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

@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 #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er