Devotional — Spirit in different ways

Published 10:00 am Sunday, June 12, 2022

Wind, Spirit, Breath. Throughout the Bible, these words are actually the same. Whether it is Ruah in Hebrew or Pneuma in Greek, the word for spirit is the word for breath is the word for wind. This is remarkable in that normally the Greek and Hebrew words do not line up so neatly in their meanings. Both speak of invisible movement of life around us, filling us to experience God’s presence. As I reflect on this devotion, I am preparing for Pentecost – the Ruah/Pneuma’s big day. The Spirit of God burst forth in our collective consciousness in this time, but the Spirit has been very much at work long before.

In Genesis 1, the Spirit of God hovers over the deep in anticipation of Creation. God’s Spirit gave the prophets of God the breath to speak their God-speech. Saul in his process of becoming the first king was caught up in the Spirit of God and joined in God’s worshipping, rejoicing Spirit (1 Samuel 10). That same spirit shows up a number of times through the older testament. In addition to 1 Samuel, the Spirit is active in the Psalms. David had a strong sense of God’s Spirit at times filling his lungs with song.

Isaiah 61 is fantastic in that the prophet proclaims God’s good news and lays out God’s work in the gift of the Spirit. This is the passage Jesus reads in Luke 4 for his only formal, religious appearance. Jesus’ first message to the people is with the Spirit who gives him the utterance of truth and fulfillment. Jesus is moved around by the Spirit, he speaks by the Spirit, instructs baptism by the Spirit, and gives his followers the Spirit. The Spirit is the one who picks up where he leaves (literally) off. John 14 is an important passage of promise about this and concludes in the Spirit. Jesus gives us the Spirit as our helper, our comforter, and our advocate. The story of God’s people after Jesus’ resurrection is replete with the Spirit, just as Jesus said. The Spirit works, provides, and directs, and the followers of Jesus share in an amazing adventure exploring God’s Good News with the Spirit.

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All of us experience the Spirit in different ways, but at the heart of it, all who are in God are also in the Spirit. Some of us may not be acting out as much as others in the Spirit, but there is a great sense of appreciation of God’s Spirit in our shared history. None of us could do anything with God without the Spirit. As you draw breath, remember you are in the Spirit of Life. As you feel the breeze, remember you are held in the Spirit of Comfort. As you wait for God’s coming blessing, remember you are held in the Spirit of our Lord. Love lives, faith grows, and hope is realized all in the Spirit of God.

REV. DR. PETER SMITH is the pastor for Farmville Presbyterian Church. He can be reached at