Devotions for May 9-15, 2016
Monday, May 9, 2016
“They were all together in one place” (Acts 2:1).
The panorama of the Serengeti in Tanzania was magnificent. Wildlife was everywhere. There were thousands of herds of wildebeests, zebras and various species of gazelle. The lions traveled in prides and the hyenas in packs. Even the humungous elephants roamed the plain together. A person never saw an animal alone—a live. The residents of the Serengeti knew instinctively that there was safety in numbers.
The disciples and other followers of Jesus knew that it was important for them to stay together as they waited for God’s gift of the Holy Spirit. If a group of Roman soldiers raided the upper room where they were staying they would not have been able to defend each other. Together, though, they could pray for each other, encourage each other and care for each other’s needs. Being a member of a community of Jesus’ followers was a central part of a Christian’s life from the very beginning.
The necessity of community holds true today. Some people believe that their faith is an issue that’s just between them and God. They are missing out, however, on a precious gift that the Lord has given the people of God.
Three in One, thank you for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Together may we care for each other, serve you and meet the needs of others. Amen.
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
“Suddenly from heaven” (Acts 2:2a).
When Fed Ex or UPS delivers packages to our door, one of the first things that we do is to check to see where the package is from. We hesitate to open the package if we don’t recognize the sender. Most of our phones have caller ID on them. Before we answer we glance to see who is calling. If the number is unfamiliar or an 800 number we figure it’s a phone solicitor and ignore the call. Knowing the sender or caller is important to us.
When strange, miraculous or supernatural things happen people want to know what causes them. The Scribes accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebul. The author of Acts leaves no doubt where this event originated. It is from heaven, a gift from God. God kept God’s promises.
The power at work in and through us is a gift from God. It is not something of our own creation, nor is it from our imagination. The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to us, and the Spirit is to bring God glory and touch the lives of others through us.
Divine Giver, we thank you for your gift of the Spirit and ask that this gift may flow through us unhindered and accomplish your will through us. Amen.
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
“The sound like the rush of a violent wind” (Acts 2:2b).
We cannot see it and when it is still we cannot feel it, but the wind still has great power. Wind farms that contain hundreds of wind turbines create enough power to light cities. Through the millennia the wind has shaped solid stone. It pushes ships from port to port and lifts kites high into the air. The wind can turn destructive and when it does it can flatten buildings, uproot trees and toss cars around like dice.
The word for the “breath” of God in both Hebrew and Greek is the same word as that for “wind.” This wind was part of creation and God breathed God’s wind into the nostrils of Adam. This wind inspired the prophets, descended upon Jesus at the time of his baptism, flowed through him during Jesus’ ministry and raised him from the dead.
God breathed on the disciples—and on us—God’s breathe. It was not a cooling, comforting breeze, but a powerful, creative force. The wind of God is not for our pleasure. Rather, the wind empowers us to accomplish our missions and to accomplish great things in God’s name.
Blowing Spirit, blow breeze through our lives with your flow. Amen.
Thursday, May 12, 2016
“It filled the entire house” (Acts 2:2c).
Sometimes in North America a restaurant is judged as much by the quantity of the food that it serves as it is by the quality. We might enjoy the food at a fancy, expensive eating establishment but feel cheated at receiving only a few ounces of meat and three spears of asparagus. A small scoop of gelato might lose its appeal when we remember that for the same amount of money we could have had a mounded dish of frozen custard. We know what it is like to order a fast food hamburger, look between the bun and exclaim, “Where’s the beef?!”
The Lord does not scrimp on God’s gift of the Holy Spirit. God filled not only the room where the disciples were waiting but also the entire house with the Holy Spirit. God fills our lives with the Holy Spirit. There is never a time when we can complain, “If only we had more of the Holy Spirit.” God’s Spirit came fully upon the disciples and upon us. The Spirit will accomplish God’s purpose in and through us.
God of abundance, may we never complain that we lack some good thing. Rather, help us to be amazed (and thankful) at the abundance of your gifts in our lives. Amen.
Friday, May 13, 2016
“A tongue [of fire] rested on each one of them” (Acts 2:3).
When we read the story of the first Pentecost we are fascinated by the imagery—the mighty wind and the flames of fire. The picture of the disciples looking like human Bic lighters with flames on their head seems odd, at the very least. What was Luke trying to communicate by including this detail? Evidently the flames did not last long. The crowds make no mention of flames of fire when they comment that the disciples appear drunk at 9:00 in the morning.
The Lord, who has no image, often is described as appearing to humans in the form of fire. God revealed himself to Moses on the side of Mount Sinai as a burning bush. Fire is a fitting symbol for God. An open fire cannot be contained or controlled. A fire is present, but it isn’t a solid, liquid or gas. A fire has no shape or substance.
God appeared to Moses in a burning bush and God appeared to the disciples on that first Pentecost as a flame of fire. God was present with the disciples. The disciples had both the power of the Holy Spirit and the attendance of God. The disciples were not alone as they began to continue the ministry of Jesus and accomplish their mission. We are not alone either as we take steps of faith to boldly, lovingly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and share God’s love and grace.
Mighty Lord, go before us to lead us. Walk beside us to encourage and comfort us. Walk behind us to protect us as we carry out your will. Amen.
Saturday, May 14, 2016
”All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4a).
In the 60’s and 70’s the Holy Spirit moved through the Church in what was called the “Charismatic Movement.” The word for “gift” in Greek is “charisma.” The Charismatic Movement focused on God’s gift of the Holy Spirit to individuals. People would have a spiritual experience, be “filled” with the Holy Spirit and display some of the gifts of the Spirit. The most common gift was that of speaking in tongues. Not everyone had this experience nor did everyone speak in tongues. This led some people who had not been “filled’ to become envious of those who had. Some of those who were able to speak in tongues fell into the temptation of thinking they were better Christians than those who had not received the Spirit or any gifts. It was not a healthy situation.
On the first Pentecost every one of the disciples and followers of Jesus were filled with the Spirit. No one was left out. Everyone received the Spirit because everyone was called to carry out the ministry of Jesus. They could only do this through the power of the Holy Spirit.
We may not have a spiritual experience, or speak in tongues, but all of us have received the Holy Spirit. We receive the Spirit as a gift from God at the time of our baptism. The Holy Spirit is a part of us for the same reason that the disciples and followers of Jesus first received the Spirit. We too have been called to continue Jesus’ ministry. The Spirit empowers us so that we can attend to the needs of others and share God’s love and grace through our words and deeds.
Jesus, you have called us to continue the ministry that you started while on earth. Through your Spirit give us the faith, courage and power to accomplish the tasks you have set before us. Amen.
Sunday, May 15, 2016
“Began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them ability” (Acts 2:4b).
Dr. Cindy Michaels opened up a medical clinic in an area of the city that was euphemistically called “tough.” She opened the clinic because she felt led to do so by the Holy Spirit. Through the clinic she was able to use her gifts and skills to minister to the needs of the people and to share with them the gospel of Jesus Christ. Eleanora is a retired school teacher. She decided that she would use her teaching skills to help tutor children in her congregation’s after school program. Over several years Eleanora helped scores of school children to learn and she shared God’s love with every one of them.
The Holy Spirit gave the disciples the ability to speak in other languages in order that they could communicate the gospel. Jews from all over the known world made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the celebration of Pentecost. By the power of the Holy Spirit the disciples were able to share the good news of Jesus with the gathered people. People heard the gospel in their own language and many of them responded the words of the disciples and became members of the growing Christian community.
We may not speak foreign languages. The Spirit still is able to use us to communicate God’s love and grace with others, though. Through our words and deeds the Holy Spirit touches the lives of the people around us and transforms their lives by giving them the gift of faith.
Gracious God, anoint our words and deeds so that the people around us can be touched by your Spirit and respond in faith. Amen.