Praying in the Spirit

Monday through Friday, June 24-28, 2019

Part 1

Back when I first started this journey of writing and sending out a daily devotional, we began by going through the book of Acts in a chapter by chapter - and at times verse by verse - study. There may be a day when we do something like that again in the not too distant future.

 

This week, we are going be looking at what “Praying in the Spirit” means. (I can't seem to get away from the larger theme of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Jesus focused on this subject towards the end of His ministry and it’s basically the primary focus of the book of Acts, so that makes it worthy of our attention.) I feel very strongly that we are coming into a period of time where we are going to need to draw upon the empowering that the Holy Spirit gives us through the gift of tongues.    

For the record, Christian Assembly (and the Assemblies of God) is a Pentecostal church which basically means that we believe all the gifts of the Holy Spirit that we read about in the Bible are still available and accessible to us today. Also, it is my (our, as in WCA & the A/G) conviction that this gift of the Holy Spirit is very beneficial to anyone who possesses it and uses it on a daily basis. That is a significant key – using it daily. Without that, there is not much benefit in it.

(I am becoming more and more concerned with the direction that many “Pentecostal” churches seem to be moving in – which is away from a definite focus on the Holy Spirit.)

Some of you may not know that we have a pre-service prayer meeting at 9:45 in our prayer room each Sunday; there are others who pray in the sanctuary during that time. For my part, I am just excited to see more people engaging in prayer for our services. I would love to see all of you in one of those meetings, for in them, you will often hear people praying in tongues. The same is true of our mid-week Prayer Meeting in the Sanctuary on Wednesday nights during the school year. Often, I will encourage everyone to pray in the Spirit together (“Praying in the Spirit,” “praying in tongues,” and the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” - all referring to the same thing.)

What I want us to consider is this: What happens in us when we pray in the Spirit? Because when we pray in the Spirit (in tongues), we are allowing the Holy Spirit to pray through us. The gift of tongues is a heavenly language given to us by God, and when we use this gift in prayer, the Holy Spirit is the only one who knows what we are praying.  

I believe there is a way for us to gain insight into what we are praying when we pray in tongues. There is a way to pray with our understanding that can enlighten us as to what happens when we pray in the Spirit. I would think that if we can gain a little better understanding of what happens in the spirit realm when we pray in the Spirit, it will give us an even greater desire to use this effective form of prayer. (Or it may give those of you who have not received this gift a greater desire to seek it out. I’ll say more about that next week.)

1 Corinthians 14:15 “So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind.” Paul presents the most balanced perspective of all the New Testament writers on this subject. He talks about praying not only with the Spirit, but also with his mind.

 

There is a difference between praying with your mind and praying in the Spirit. Praying with our mind is what all of us do. Praying with the mind is that of knowing what it is you are asking God for, or what you are seeking God for. However, there is a difference between just uttering a prayer and entering into a spirit of prayer.  

 

Continued tomorrow

Praying in the Spirit, part 2

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

But there is a difference between just uttering a prayer and entering into a Spirit of prayer.
 

A Spirit of Prayer

I want us to understand what it means to enter into a spirit of prayer when we are praying. It’s almost like the difference between singing the very first song during our worship time and singing the last song. No matter how you start, or no matter what kind of attitude you have when you first begin, with time, the music and the words begin to get into your heart and your earnestness deepens. You begin to actually hear the words you are singing, rather than singing by rote, and they start coming from your heart rather than just from your lips.

The Spirit prays according to the Will of God

Romans 8:26 “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” Here Paul is talking about our weaknesses. Our flesh is naturally weak when compared to the Spirit of God. Jesus told us once, “The spirit is willing, the flesh is weak.” Praying in tongues can literally strengthen us physically and spiritually.

Consider what James said about this, in James 3:2: “We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.” According to the Bible, if a man were to never error in what he says he could control his whole body. What Paul was saying (Romans 8:26) is that without the help of God there is no hope. But with God there is great hope. James teaches us that the person who can control his tongue can control his whole body. When we pray in tongues we speak perfectly because we pray according to the Will of God. That is the only time we are never error in what we say (pray) because it’s actually the Spirit of God praying through us. If we are never at fault in what we say, we are able to control our whole body.  

Have you ever thought about how what we speak can affect us physically? I’m not just talking about making positive confessions and saying only positive things. I’m talking about how what we say relates to the weaknesses we have. What are weaknesses? They are things that are the opposite of Christ-likeness. Any weakness can be defined as being the opposite of what Jesus is really like. Praying in the Spirit helps us to be more like Christ because it causes us to pray according to the Will of God.

 

Weaknesses are usually the cause of praying outside of the Will of God. If you have a controlling weakness it most likely causes you to pray in ways that have wrong motives. If you hate someone, that hatred will affect the words you say, and hatred itself has been scientifically proven to be detrimental physically. Therefore, if you are not praying according to the Will of God you cannot gain control of your body.
 

The Will of God Is Mercy

We need to consider carefully the will of God. In Matthew 5:7 we read, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” The Will of God is mercy.

 

I was saved as a young boy.  However, when I think of why God saved me, there is no good reason.  It was not that I was working at becoming better and better until finally I became so good that God saved me. What it all boils down to is that the only reason for my salvation is that God had mercy on me. And the same is true for you: Salvation is simply an act of mercy which we receive when we ask Jesus to forgive us and save us. I deserved nothing and I got everything. Salvation is a pure act of mercy. 

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” Mercy is our lifeline to God. If God were to withdraw His mercy from your life, you wouldn't have any life left. The Bible says, “The whole earth is full of the mercy of God” (Psalm 33:5). Whether we know it or not, this earth exists because of God's mercy. If it were not for mercy, God would have struck us all dead the first time we sinned. None of us would have made it through our teen years.  

Our lifeline to God is through mercy and to continue receiving mercy we have to be merciful to others. We have to do to others what God has done for us. Another way to put this would be; “Blessed are those who treat others as God has treated them because then they will continue to be treated by God that way.” God wills that all people would come to repentance; that no person should perish.  When God brings us to repentance, He is displaying His mercy.  

 

Continued tomorrow

Faith should be Spelled R-I-S-K

Monday through Friday, June 24-28, 2019

Part 1       

A lone traveler had hiked for many miles across the desert. His water supply was completely gone and he knew if he did not find water soon he would surely die. Suddenly, off in the distance, he saw what looked like an old abandoned cabin. When he arrived, he began searching for water or a way to get some: as he searched, he discovered an old rusty pump near the back door.

He noticed there was a tin can tied to the pump. Getting closer to investigate, he saw a note inside the can. The note had the following message: “Dear Stranger, This well has never gone dry, but this pump needs to be primed in order to bring up the water. Under the white rock I’ve buried a jar of water, to keep it hidden away from the sun.

Now, there is enough water in the jar to prime the pump. Pour half of it into the pump to wet the leather seals. Wait a few minutes, then pour in the rest of the water and begin to pump.

When you are finished, please re-fill the jar and place it back as you found it for the next traveler who comes this way. Have FAITH and believe."  

Friends, if you were that lonely traveler in the desert, what would you do? Would you dig the water jar from the sand and drink it? Or would you believe and in believing pour every precious drop of that water into the pump? Would you take the risk, both for yourself and for the next weary traveler that may pass that way?

What would you do? I believe that story possesses some interesting questions for each one of us. Do you believe? Do you trust? Do you have faith? Faith to act on that which is written? What would you do?

In much the same way, God has laid before us a written note. A note that we call the Holy Scriptures, the Bible. The Words written in the Bible; they are Words for us, they are Words of salvation, Words of life, Words of hope, Words of peace, Words of grace. They are Words of living water in this desert called life.

I’ll be very honest with you, I had to dig into these Words this past week, I needed comfort, peace, hope. I needed to turn to these Words, to trust them, to cling to them, to be strengthened by them. Folks, these Words, they are the source of life. They point to eternal life. Eternal life found only in Christ Jesus. They are a Living water that if we will drink from, we will thirst no more.  

 

Continued tomorrow

Faith Should Be Spelled R-I-S-K, part 2

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Do you believe God’s Word? Do you have faith in God’s Word? Or is it all about you? Is it all about your way? Is it all about your feelings? 

Jesus is our salvation in the desert of life. He is our source of life. Life for all eternity. Do you believe in Jesus or are you going your own way? Have you ignored the written Word of God? Have you ignored the promises of God?

Our study this week is from John’s Gospel and it calls us to believe. It calls us to a life in Faith. Look with me at our Bible passage for the week, John 6:24-35.
 
John 6:24-35 “When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor His disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. 25 When they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You get here?” 26 Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you, you are looking for Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled. 27 Don’t work for the food that perishes but for the food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal of approval on Him.”

28 “What can we do to perform the works of God?” they asked. 29 Jesus replied, “This is the work of God – that you believe in the One He has sent.”

30 “What sign, then, are You going to do so we may see and believe You?” they asked. “What are You going to perform? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, just as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” 

32 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, Moses didn’t give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the One who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 Then they said, “Sir, give us this bread always!” 35 “I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again” CSB. 

Someone in that crowd asked Jesus, “What must we do… to perform the works of God?”  Jesus answered that person, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him, Whom He has sent.” Then Jesus goes on to say, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me shall never hunger, whoever believes in me, shall never thirst.”

Listen friends, we are all called to believe, and more than that, we are called to act on our belief through Faith. It is one thing to believe in Jesus, the truth is, millions of people around the world believe in Jesus. In fact, even the devil and demons do - but it is quite another thing to act on our belief in Jesus.  

 

Continued tomorrow

Faith should be Spelled R-I-S-K, part 3

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Everyone, each one of us, daily expresses faith in something. No one can live a single day without exercising a level of faith. When you get up in the morning and go into the bathroom you flip a light switch and exercise faith. Faith that the lifting of that switch will work and bring light into the room. When you sit down behind the wheel of your car, you put the key in the ignition and turn it and have faith. Faith that your car will start. When you mail a letter, you have faith that our postal system will deliver it to the right address… Someday!

Every time you walk into a building, you are expressing faith. Faith in the architect and faith in the workmen who constructed the building. In each instance, there was an action to validate and demonstrate your faith. You flip a switch, you turn a key, you mail a letter, you walk into a building.

The measure of our Faith is not our “talk.” It is not what we say we believe or even what we say we will do! Friends, the truth of the matter is, the measure of Faith IS our “walk.” Faith is what we do. It is not what we say we will do.

 

I have used this illustration before, but please humor me as I use it again – and use your imagination for a couple moments. Imagine I am holding a chair… I believe this chair will hold my weight, but this is Faith. Now, imagine I am standing on said chair. Faith that it will indeed hold my weight. You see, faith is never something just to be talked about. Faith is something that must be demonstrated in the way we live our life. Paul Harvey once said, “If you do not live it you do not really believe it.”

 

There is a Biblical basis for Mr. Harvey’s statement. James said this: “Show me your faith apart from your works and I will show you my faith by my works.” 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (James 2:18, 26) CSB. Believing is one thing. But, do you have Faith, do you have an action-filled, Biblical faith?

Perhaps, instead of calling it Faith, we should call it, “Faithing.” The Greek word translated as Faith is a verb, something that obviously requires action. It is Belief. Faith, in action, it is Faithing. And this, Faithing, is also expressed in the spiritual realm.

The difference between the Faithing we exercise in our daily routine in the world and spiritual Faithing is the object of that faith - because as we have said, everyone places faith in something or someone.  

 

Continued tomorrow

Faith should be Spelled R-I-S-K, part 4

Thursday, June 20, 2019

The truth is, your faith is only as good as the object, the person, the ideal in which you place it.

The Scriptures are clear that we, as humans, should place our faith, our trust, in the Spiritual Ideal -in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. This is what we are told in Acts 4:12, “There is salvation in no one else for there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved” CSB. The writer of Hebrews also describes what real Biblical faith looks like. Look with me at Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen." True faith brings forth a confident obedience to God’s Word in spite of our circumstances, in spite of potential consequences, in spite of our feelings.

Faith is really described in a two-fold way. It is the “…substance of things hoped for,” another translation says, “…the reality of what is hoped for….” And it is “...the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is the acting foundation that gives a believer the confidence to stand firm in their Faith.

Confidence to stand firm in their Faithing.

Listen, the Holy Spirit is the wind in our sails, that is to say He is the indwelling presence of God enabling us to live a life of Faithing. If we live our life under our own strength through our own efforts in the end, we will fail. But friends, there is a transforming power available to us and to all who call themselves followers of Jesus. And it is Faith. Action-filled Faith: that is the key to unlocking this power.

 

To receive this transforming power we must open ourselves to the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit works through acting faith. If we are to succeed, we must learn to walk in Spirit Empowered Faith.

And for the Christian, faith is not spelled “F-A-I-T-H.” It is spelled “R-I-S-K.”  

 

Continued tomorrow

Faith should be Spelled R-I-S-K, part 5

Friday, June 21, 2019   

The truth is, if something is not a risk, it really does not require FAITH. Let me repeat that:  If something is not a RISK, then it really does not require FAITH. And the Scriptures are so very clear: “Without Faith it is impossible to please God” Hebrews 11:6. A risk-free life is a Faith-Less life. A risk-free life is a victory-free life. A risk-free life means a lifelong surrender to the average and ordinary (which in a way is the worst of all possible defeats).

It is time for Christians to break free of being mediocre, of being stationary. To break free from being content with rowing in their own comfortable little boat and not growing in their faith, not stretching their faith.

The truth is, you cannot walk on the water if you stay in the boat. You will never experience God using your prayer to heal someone, unless you step out and pray for them. You will never speak in the heavenly languages of tongues or give a prophetic word, unless you open your mouth and speak: you will never experience miraculous financial provision, until you begin to give what you have or commit to giving more than you think possible. Do you see that? Every one of these things involves a level of RISK – of Faith, if you will.  

Satan and his army of demons are a present reality in our world whether we believe it or not. We are engaged in a spiritual war and it is a serious battle. The Apostle Paul told young Timothy, “Fight the good fight of faith… Take a hold of eternal life.” 1 Timothy 6:12. The spiritual war we are involved in IS that good fight. Are you prepared for the battle? There is no time for idle sideline watching.

 

Satan and his army are scattering and destroying; Jesus Christ is gathering and building. Are you standing with Jesus? Are you involved in building the Kingdom of God? Are you involved in sharing grace with the lost? I have to tell us friends, it is impossible to be neutral in this spiritual war.

Friends, Faith requires us to trust. To trust God’s Holy Word. Faith requires us to take Action, to R-I-S-K! If we do not trust God, it would simply be like drinking the jar of water that was buried in the sand, instead of priming the pump:

"In a lonely desert stands a water pump in the sand. You are a solitary traveler, your canteen is empty, you are very thirsty and you come upon that old rusty pump. Tied to that pump is a hand-written note put there by some pilgrim. The note reads, “I have buried a jar of water to prime the pump; do not drink any of the water. Pour half of it into the pump to wet the leather, wait, then pour in the rest and begin to pump. Have faith, believe. When you are through drawing water, re-fill the jar and bury it in the sand for the next weary traveler.”

You are a traveler: a traveler upon this island in the universe, we call earth. You come across a Book, a Book that contains 66 smaller books. As you read it you see the truths that lie within it. God gives you the assurance, the strength, the conviction to live life and to live it to the fullest. But the Book also asks you to surrender yourself: to surrender yourself to another. It asks you to surrender yourself to Jesus. It describes Jesus as “The author and finisher of your faith.”

What will you do? The Scriptures proclaim that “Today, This Day, is the day of Salvation.” If you have not accepted Jesus as your Savior and Lord: then Step out in Faith, Faithing, and receive Him TODAY. Receive Him, accept Him, as your Savior and the Lord of your life. If you have received Jesus, If He is your Lord and Savior, then I ask you to empty yourself of self, and yield to the guidance of the Holy Spirit who lives within your very being, and be mature enough in your faith to get out of your boat and walk on the water.  END