15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will bein you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. John 14:15-20
There are times when we don't really know what or how to pray.
Maybe you are overwhelmed by a burden.You find yourself discouraged, depressed, and overwhelmed.It is at that point that the Holy Spirit will help you.
Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as a "comforter."In John 14:16, He said, "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever" (KJV).
We have lost the meaning of the word "comforter."It comes from the Greek word Paracletos, which means "called alongside to help," a helper, aide, or assistant.
Some versions translate Paracletos as the word "advocate," which is applied to Jesus in 1 John 2:1: "If anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous."
The purpose of an advocate is to plead the cause of another, an intercessor.This is part of the work that the Holy Spirit has come to do in your life.
Sometimes a sigh will do.Why?Because we don't always have to put words to our prayers.
Here's the good news-sometimes just a sigh or groan will do.The Holy Spirit will do the rest.
Trust me, I have done this many times, especially recently.I don't know what to say, or how to say it.I just know that I am in pain, so I sigh, I groan, and sometimes I cry.
That's where the Holy Spirit comes in.As Romans 8:26-27 tells us, "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 through wordless groans.And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God."
prayer: FATHER, I AM RELIEVED TO KNOW THAT YOU HAVE PROVIDED THE HOLY SPIRIT TO BE MY COMFORTER AND ADVOCATE.YOU KNOW THAT SO OFTEN I DON'T HAVE THE WORDS TO EXPRESS TO YOU WHAT IS IN MY HEART, BUT THE SPIRIT KNOWS AND WHEN I SIMPLY SIGH OR CRY, HE IS ABLE TO TELL YOU WHAT I CANNOT.THANK YOU FOR THAT AMAZING GIFT!AMEN.
·When I am at a loss for words in my prayers, do I simply stop and let the Holy Spirit intercede for me?
·When have I experienced the Holy Spirit advocating for me?
25 Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. John 5:25-29
Betty Eadie represents a group of individuals who claim to have learned what God is like through a near-death experience.In her book Embraced by the Light, she tells about meeting Christ in the twilight zone between life and death; she even dedicates her book to Him.Now, she says, she knows there will be no judgment at death, just glad admission to the realm that can be best described as a place where everyone is nice.She appeals to the desires of all of us to enter Beulah Land, no questions asked.We also learn that the world is not filled with tragedy as most of us suppose, for humans are not sinful creatures after all.
Alan Jacobs, professor of English at Wheaton College, points out that we gravitate to such beliefs because by nature we seek "God's resounding endorsement of our every craving."Thus, as we shout across the chasm to God, His revelation turns out to be the echo of our own voice.
Listen to Jeremiah's cryptic description of such idolatry: "Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk.Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good" (Jeremiah 10:5).In this passage, a couple of characteristics of idols are evident.First, they must be carried-an idol allows me to remain at the center of my life, and my loyalties are always under my control.Second, I can make my idol any shape I desire, and yours can differ from mine; it becomes whatever I make it to be.I can credit it with mystery, with magic, and with meanings derived from my own mind.In the end, since I manufacture reality, I am my own god.
When we construct an idea of god, "from man upward" we must, of course, disregard any claims for truth.After all, the god you construct might be entirely different from mine.Hitler has his god and you have yours.Adherents of these new kinds of "faith" can go on triumphantly, fabricating as many conceptions of god as there are cravings in the world.Twenty years ago we heard, "If it feels good, do it."Today, it is, "If it feels good, believe it."
C.S. Lewis said it more accurately than anyone: "The Pantheist's God does nothing, demands nothing.He is there if you wish for Him, like a book on a shelf.He will not pursue you."The Bible teaches that God created man in His own image; man now attempts to return the favor.No wonder we read of idolaters, "There is no fear of God before their eyes" (Romans 3:18).
prayer: OH FATHER, FORGIVE ME FOR IDOLIZING ANYONE OR ANYTHING ELSE ABOVE YOU!IT IS SO EASY FOR ME TO GET CAUGHT UP IN WHAT THE WORLD OFFERS AS A GOD, BUT I KNOW THE TRUTH, AND I SEEK ONLY YOU.PROTECT MY HEART FROM THE EVIL TEMPTATIONS TO FABRICATE MY OWN GOD.AMEN.
·What am I idolizing?How will I rid my life of that?
·How am I trying to construct God in my mind?How does that image compare to His Word?
21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom 1 Corinthians 1:21-22
Here is one of Paul's secrets to surviving life's challenges: He belonged to God. Do you belong to Jesus?It can make all the difference.
Over and over in Scripture, we are given the analogy of being in a relationship with God like that of a bride to a husband with whom she is deeply in love.This reminds us of His affection and love toward us.
We are also given the analogy of a sheep belonging to a shepherd.In John 10, Jesus told us that He is "the good Shepherd and we are his sheep."This reminds us of His constant care and awareness of our whereabouts.
It's hard to be proud about being compared to a sheep.They are basically defenseless, vulnerable, dim-witted creatures.But when under the care of a loving shepherd, they are safe and content.
We are also given the analogy of a child to his father. Romans 8:15 reminds us, "The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” "This reminds us of His tenderness and protection over each one of us.
We are also told in Scripture that we are his very property.We read in 1 Corinthians 6:19, "You are not your own."In the Greek, it is "You are not your own property.You are brought with a price."
If something belonged to a king, it carried his seal.In the same way, 2 Corinthians 1:22 says, "set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come."
I read a story about an old gentlemen who was known for his godly life. One day, someone asked him, "What do you do when you are tempted, old man?" He replied, "I just look up to heaven and say, 'Lord, your property is in danger.'"
Yes, we are His bride, children, sheep, and property.And, when the Devil see that "I.D. tag," he respects it.
And, just like Paul, we, too, can say, "I belong to God!"
prayer: FATHER, WE COME BEFORE YOU, WITH A HUMBLE GRATITUDE THAT YOU HAVE CHOSEN US TO BE YOURS.MAKE US REMEMBER THAT WE WERE BOUGHT AT THE GREATEST PRICE AND TO LIVE OUR LIVES IN ACCORDANCE TO YOUR WAYS.HELP US TO TURN TO YOU WHEN WE ARE TEMPTED TO STRAY.THANK YOU FOR THE PRIVELEGE OF BELONGING TO YOU.AMEN.
·How do I show I'm grateful that I belong to God?
·Do I appreciate that I was bought with the greatest price: Jesus Christ?
·Do I see respect and esteem God's "I.D. tag" on me?
24 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. Colossians 1:24-28
In our therapeutic culture, where all of us are allegedly either in recovery or denial, we have exchanged the language of Scripture for the language of Psychology Today. Sin is redefined as a lack of self esteem. Gone is the idea that the knowledge of God is our greatest goal; a knowledge of ourselves and of our need for self respect should be the first item on our theological agenda. Back in the eighties, Reverend Robert Schuller wrote, "What we need is a theology of salvation that begins and ends with a recognition of every person's hunger for glory." According to this conceptualization, God is not a judge who has been offended, but a servant waiting for opportunities to affirm our dignity. Schuller adds, "The Gospel message is not only faulty, but potentially dangerous if it has to put a person down before it attempts to lift him up." Sad to say, these ideas are now a part of our culture and are surviving nicely within the church.
The wider culture suggests that if I can be on a talk show and expose my innermost secrets to the world, I will be helped and healed. I will have my fifteen minutes of fame and "set the record straight." God, if He is worthy of my attention, exists to give me the unconditional acceptance I deserve. In fact, His job is to affirm who I am. My great need is not to repent, but to be comfortable with my true and unique personality. A noted historian Joseph Haroutunian remarks, "Before, religion was God-centered. Before, whatever was not conducive to the glory of God was infinitely evil; now that which is not conducive to the happiness of man is evil, unjust and impossible to attribute to the deity ... Before, man lived to glorify God; now God lives to serve man."
There is some truth to all of this. Christ does promise peace, but it is not peace apart from suffering; it is not peace that is exempt from conflict. Even today, many of Christ's followers are being persecuted and even martyred. His promise is that He will be with us, not that our lives will be free from distress. He came to carry our griefs and sorrows; but when my emotional need for acceptance is more important that my spiritual need for justification, when God owes me fulfillment, when I seek personal gratification more than the humble worship of my Creator-I have forgotten that I exist for His glory and not my own.
prayer: LORD, HELP ME BE CHRIST-CENTERED AND TO REPENT FROM MY SELF-CENTEREDNESS AND LACK OF HUMILITY. FORGIVE ME FOR PUTTING MY OWN PERSONAL GRATIFICATION AND COMFORT FIRST. THANK YOU FOR CARRYING MY SORROWS. LET ME SAVOR THE PEACE THAT YOU ALONE PROVIDE. AMEN.
·Do I put myself first? What steps can I take today to overcome this worldly behavior?
·To whom can I make myself accountable to help me in this regard?
1 Vindicate me, my God, and plead my cause against an unfaithful nation. Rescue me from those who are deceitful and wicked. 2 You are God my stronghold. Why have you rejected me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy? 3 Send me your light and your faithful care, let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. Psalm 43:1-3
When Paul was at sea on his way to Rome and the mighty tempest hit him and the others on board, he was able to courageously encourage others. He told them, "But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me" (Acts 27:22-23).
How was Paul able to be so confident? He was conscious of the presence of God in the face of danger. He knew that God was there with him. And God is with us in our storms as well. God will always give us what we need when we need it.
You remember that Paul had what he called his "thorn given to me in the flesh," which was presumably some kind of physical disability or illness. He asked the Lord three times to remove it (see 2 Corinthians 12).
God's answer was, "My grace is sufficient for you" (2 Corinthians 12:9), which is another way of saying, "I will be with you, Paul. Instead of a healing, I will personally be there in a special and sufficient way."
God is with you right now, regardless of the storm or even the shipwreck. We may not hear an audible voice, but you may hear that "still small voice" of God's Holy Spirit. Or He will speak to you through His Word. Then you, like Paul, can reassure others that "the Lord is in control." Time and time again, God reminded Paul of His presence.
He was there when Paul was in jail in Jerusalem, as Jesus told him to be courageous (Acts 23:11). It happened in 2 Timothy 4:16-17 when Paul said, "At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side." And it happened here in Acts 27, in the midst of the storm.
You can take heart in the face of danger or uncertainty because you are aware of God's presence with you. When your boss says, "I'm really sorry, but I'm going to have to let you go!" Or when the doctor says, "The test results are back and I need you to come in." Or when the telephone rings and someone says, "There's been an accident."
You are not alone. The Lord is standing next to you. He cares. Jesus said, "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:20).
prayer: LORD, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR STANDING BY ME THROUGH ALL MY TRIALS. YOUR PRESENCE GIVES ME THE STRENGTH TO ENDURE. THANK YOU THAT YOUR WORD AND HOLY SPIRIT GIVE ME GUIDANCE AND COMFORT TO WITHSTAND DIFFICULT TIMES. I PRAY THIS IN THE ASSURANCE OF CHRIST. AMEN.
·Am I conscious of God's presence in my trials? Do I let my fears control me in trials or let Jesus lead me?
·Do I listen to God through His Word and gain His comfort?