Articles from the Blog
Praying always with all prayer…. — Ephesians 6:18If you want to grow in your spiritual walk, you need to make prayer a central part of your life. But in order for prayer to be the great adventure God wants it to be in your life, you must understand that there are all kinds of ways to pray. Don’t get stuck with just one form of prayer! The Bible tells us that there are several kinds of prayer, and you need to learn to use every kind of prayer that’s available to you. Ephesians 6:18 says, “Praying always with all prayer.…” The first thing I want you to notice is that this verse commands us to pray “always.” As noted in the Sparkling Gem for January 4, the word “always” is taken from the Greek phrase en panti kairo. The word en would be better translated at. The word panti means each and every. You could say that this word panti is an all-encompassing word that embraces everything, including the smallest and most minute of details. The last word in this Greek phrase is the word kairo, the Greek word for times or seasons. When all three of these words are used together in one phrase (en panti kairo) as in Ephesians 6:18, they could be more accurately translated at each and every occasion. But I want you to notice that this verse goes on to say that you are to pray “with all prayer.” This phrase is taken from the Greek phrase dia pases proseuches and would be better translated “with all kinds of prayer.” To assist the Church in maintaining a victorious position in life, God has given His people various kinds of powerful prayer.
Other translations of Ephesians 6:18 include:
“Use every kind of prayer….” (Goodspeed) “Pray…with all manner of prayer….” (AMP) “Pray…with all kinds of prayers….” (NIV) “Pray…with all kinds of prayers that are available for you to use….” (REV)Most people don’t realize there are different kinds of prayer. But according to this verse, God has actually made many forms of prayer available to us to use as needed, such as the prayer of faith, the prayer of intercession, the prayer of consecration, and the prayer of agreement. Sometimes life can be difficult and challenging. For one thing, the devil doesn’t want you to be blessed or successful in your endeavors. So in order to face the inevitable attacks that arise against your marriage, finances, body, job, and career, you must come to realize that prayer is indispensable. You cannot succeed as a Christian without an active and effective prayer life. No matter how anointed, skilled, or gifted you may be or how bold and courageous you think you are, you simply cannot maintain a victorious position in life apart from prayer. Without prayer, you can be sure of absolute and total defeat. But as you develop a lifestyle of prayer, taking advantage of every form of prayer available to you, you will find that victory is yours in the midst of every challenge! The various kinds of prayer have all been given to you for your benefit and spiritual growth. So take the time to study the Word and learn how to pray with “all kinds of prayer.” Don’t let this day go by without spending quality time in prayer with the Heavenly Father. There is victory waiting on the other side!
My Prayer for TodayLord, forgive me for the times I get so busy that I neglect my prayer life. I really want this inconsistency in my life to be broken; I want my prayer life to get stronger and more stable. I realize that when I don’t spend time alone with You, I make it difficult for You to tell me what You want me to know. Inconsistency is a work of the flesh, so I am asking You to help me break this pattern and learn how to make prayer one of the most important pillars of my life.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI declare by faith that prayer is a central and significant part of my life. God has great spiritual adventures planned for me, and He wants to reveal them to me during my time of prayer. I am steadfast, immovable, and consistent in my time with God. Nothing is as important to me as those moments I enjoy with Him. As I spend time with Him each day, He refreshes my spirit and enlightens my mind with the knowledge that He wants me to know. My prayer time is a key to the success God is giving me in my life.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. Do you find yourself praying “at each and every occasion” during the day? 2. How can you remind yourself to pray throughout the day? 3. In what types of situations would it be appropriate to pray the following kinds of prayers: the prayer of faith for your own life, the prayer of thanksgiving, the prayer of intercession, and the prayer of worship?
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. — 1 Corinthians 6:19,20Russia is a nation with more than one thousand years of Russian Orthodox religious history. One of the greatest signs of this religious history is located right in the heart of Moscow — a gigantic white marble cathedral with golden domes that is called “Christ the Savior.” I’ve traveled the world and seen a lot in my life, but when it comes to decorative architecture, this building is by far one of the most splendid I’ve ever seen. Its interior is highly adorned with ornamentations of gold, silver, and precious stones. It is embellished like no other building I’ve ever seen anywhere else. When we hear the word “shrine,” this is normally the type of image that passes through our minds. We see arched and vaulted ceilings, marble, granite, gold, silver, hand-carved etchings, and lots and lots of smoke from incense being burned as a part of worship. Shrines are not comfortable places where we’d want to live, but their ornamentation is certainly impressive. A shrine is a beautiful place to visit, but we wouldn’t want to live there! The Greek word naos is the word for a temple or a highly decorated shrine, like the one illustrated in the story above. This Greek word is the very word the apostle Paul used when he told the Corinthians, “…Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you…?” (1 Corinthians 6:19). Because the Corinthians were Greek and had grown up in a classical Greek culture, they had seen temples their entire lives. So when Paul used this word naos, it would have been natural for images like the ones above to flash through their minds. They knew that the word naos always depicted a highly decorated shrine. The temples of their times were beautiful buildings with tall, vaulted ceilings, marble columns, granite floors, hand-carved woodwork overlaid with gold and silver, and burning incense billowing into the air around the front of the altar. Shrines like the one I described above are imposing and impressive; however, they’re not comfortable. But when the Holy Spirit came into your heart, He made a home that was so comfortable, He was actually happy to come live inside you! He moved in, settled down, and permanently took up residency in your heart — His new home! You see, when you got saved, the ultimate miracle was performed inside your heart. The Holy Spirit took your spirit, which had been dead in trespasses and sin, and raised it to new life. His work inside you was so glorious that when it was all finished, He declared you to be His own workmanship (Ephesians 2:10). At that moment, your spirit became a marvelous temple of God! What does all this mean?
- When we were born again, we were inwardly created to become a dwelling place of God.
- Our bodies are not mere shacks or mud huts; rather, we are inwardly fashioned to be magnificent dwelling places for the Spirit of God.
- Because the fruit of the Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, and the grace of God are working inside us, we are inwardly embellished with rich spiritual ornamentation.
- Our inner man is now a temple that is so marvelous, no human eye has ever seen anything like it!
My Prayer for TodayLord, I am so excited to think that You made my heart Your home. It is so overwhelming to think that You want to live inside me. Help me see myself as Your dwelling place and to honor Your Presence inside me by the kind of life I lead. I want to bless You and honor You, so please help me do the right things that bring You the greatest pleasure and joy.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI gratefully acknowledge that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Yes, the Holy Spirit lives inside me. My heart is not a hotel where He occasionally visits; rather, my heart has become His home. He has invested His power, His gifts, His fruit, and the life of Jesus Christ in me. Inwardly I am highly adorned with the goodness of God. My spirit is so marvelously created in Christ Jesus that God Himself is comfortable to live inside me!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. Are you living like the magnificently decorated cathedral of God’s Spirit that you are? 2. How can you make use of the rich ornamentation you have on the inside of you: the fruit of the Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, and the grace of God? 3. How would you behave differently if you truly believed that the Holy Spirit has permanently moved into your life and redecorated the place?
Wherefore seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight.… — Hebrews 12:1What is it that keeps hindering you from living a life of obedience? Do you struggle with a particular sin, habit, attitude, or fear that keeps you from running your race of faith the way you ought? If so, you probably already know what it is, and I’d guess that you’ve already prayed, prayed, and prayed for victory in overcoming that problem because you really do want to please God. Every now and then, we all tolerate things in our lives that make it difficult for us to please God. And when we know we’re not pleasing God, we typically aren’t happy with ourselves either. This is one reason that Hebrews 12:1 tells us to “…lay aside every weight….” The words “lay aside” are taken from the Greek word apotithimi, a compound of the words apo and tithimi. As noted in the Sparkling Gem for January 6, the word apo means away and the word tithimi means to place or to lay something down. When these two words are compounded together, it gives a picture of someone who is laying something down while at the same time he is pushing it far away from himself. It means to lay something down and to push it far away and beyond reach. Thus, this word implies a deliberate decision to make a permanent change of attitude and behavior. Removing wrong attitudes and actions from our lives will not occur accidentally. We must decide to change — to remove, to lay aside, and to put away attitudes and actions that don’t please God and adversely affect our walk of faith. Hebrews 12:1 refers to these incorrect attitudes and actions as “weights.” The word “weight” is from the Greek word ogkos — a word that describes a burden or something so heavy and cumbersome that it impedes a runner from running his race as he should. This word was particularly used in the athletic world to signify the actions of an athlete who would deliberately strip himself of excess weight before participating in a competition. This stripping process included the loss of excess flesh through dieting and exercise. Then on the day of the actual competition, he stripped off nearly all his clothes so no extra weight would slow him down. He had his eye on the prize, so he was determined to strip off all “weight” that might potentially keep him from being the best athlete he could be. This sends a strong message to us! If we want to please God, satisfy ourselves, and do something significant with our lives, we have to choose to remove anything from our lives that would hinder those objectives. The athlete of the ancient world didn’t become “unweighted” by accident. He dropped all excess weight on purpose. He dieted; he exercised; and he shed every other unnecessary weight he could find to shed. This stripping process demanded his attention, his decision, and his devotion. It wasn’t going to happen by accident, so he had to initiate the process of removal. What if those athletes had tried to run their race with loads of extra weight? They certainly wouldn’t have been able to run very far! This is exactly what sinful habits and attitudes do to your walk with the Lord. If you don’t remove them, they will eventually weigh you down and knock you out of your race of faith! The Holy Spirit is urging you and me to take a good look at our lives and then remove everything that weighs us down and keeps us from a life of obedience. We must be honest with ourselves and with God. Do you have a habit or a wrong attitude that binds you? Are you plagued by a fear that weighs you down and keeps you from fulfilling your potential in Christ? Make a rock-solid, quality decision today to grab hold of those unnecessary burdens and remove, lay aside, and permanently put them away from your life. Once you make that decision, you’ll find yourself running your race of faith with much more ease as you press on to victory!
My Prayer for TodayLord, I know that You’re on my side and that You want to help me. So today I’m asking You to help me lay aside the attitudes, negative thought patterns, and bad habits that keep pulling me back down into miserable defeat. I’m exhausted from trying to live for You while dragging along these old weights behind me at the same time. I need to drop them and leave them behind! So today I am asking You to help me make the big break. Help me make this the day I permanently drop all the unnecessary weights that hinder me and walk away from them forever!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that I live a life of obedience! Sin, bad habits, negative attitudes, and fear have no influence in my life. Because I am free of these things, I am able to run my race of faith without any hindrances caused by my own actions. Because I want to please God, I do not tolerate things in my life that make it difficult for me to walk by faith or to please God. Absolutely nothing is more important to me than knowing God’s will and doing it in a way that brings pleasure to the Lord!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a “weight” that has been keeping you from running your race with grace and ease lately? 2. How can you strip yourself today of that “weight” so you can stay in the race to win God’s prize for your life? 3. Write down three ways you can please God, satisfy yourself, and do something significant in your life this week.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. — 2 Corinthians 13:14Most all of us would say we want to live a victorious Christian life. But without daily communion with the Holy Spirit, it’s impossible to attain that goal. Communion with the Holy Spirit is the launching pad for a life of supernatural power and consistency. In Second Corinthians 13:14, Paul says, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.” I want you to notice the word “communion” in this verse, because communion with the Spirit is what we are talking about today. The word “communion” is the Greek word koinonia, a word that has a whole flavor of meanings, but one primary meaning is that of partnership. An example of koinonia conveying the idea of partnership can be found in Luke 5:7 after Jesus supplied a miraculous catch of fish. After the fishermen had fished all night and caught nothing, Jesus told them to cast their nets on the other side. When they obeyed, they caught such a massive amount of fish that the nets began to break! Peter knew he couldn’t handle this miraculous catch by himself, so he called to other fishermen in nearby boats to come and assist him. Luke 5:7 says, “And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.” Do you see the word “partners” in this verse? It is a form of this word koinonia. However, in Luke 5:7 it refers to real, legitimate business partners. One scholar says that this word used in this context lets us know that Peter was no small-time fisherman. He owned an entire fishing enterprise, and those men in the other boats were his business associates or his company partners. Whether these other fishermen were co-owners or employees who worked for Peter, they were all working together on the same job and were focused on a joint venture to catch and sell fish.
Keeping this in mind, Second Corinthians 13:14 could convey the following idea:
“…and the PARTNERSHIP of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”If you stop and think about it, this really makes a lot of sense. When Jesus’ earthly ministry was in operation, He and the Holy Spirit always worked together. Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35); empowered by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:16); and led by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 4:1). Jesus also healed people by the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:38); cast out demons by the power of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:28); was resurrected from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11); and was seated at God’s right hand in the heavenly places through the power of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:19,20). Every time we see Jesus in the Gospels, He is working hand in hand with the Holy Spirit. In fact, Jesus even said He wouldn’t initiate anything by Himself, indicating His total dependence on the Spirit of God (John 5:30). Well, if Jesus needed this kind of ongoing partnership with the Holy Spirit in order to accomplish His divine role in the earth, we certainly have to have it as well! But there is yet another idea conveyed by the word “communion” (koinonia) — that is, the idea of taking responsibility for someone. An example of this is found in Philippians 4:14, when Paul wrote to the Philippians and commended them for the generous gift they sent for his ministry. He told them, “Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.” The word “communicate” here is another use of the word koinonia. At the time Paul wrote the Philippian letter, he was in prison in Rome. Over the years, he had traveled and preached, raised up churches, worked with leaders, and given his life for the Church. But of all the churches Paul had poured his life into, none of them helped him financially the way they should have. In order to cover his expenses, Paul worked as a tentmaker during the day; then he preached and trained leaders during the evenings. This wasn’t the best plan, but because no one would support him, it was what he had to do. He was pouring his heart and soul into churches that were not financially helping him bear his load. Paul was in prison in Rome when he received a special delivery letter from the Philippians. In that package, he found a sizable offering that the Philippian church had sent to support him during his time of difficulty. In other words, the Philippian church didn’t just say, “We’ll pray for your situation, Brother,” and then forget about Paul. Instead, they understood their responsibility to help him, so they took up an offering to support him and to communicate their love for him. In other words, they took responsibility for him. Paul uses the Greek word koinonia to convey this meaning — the same word he uses in Second Corinthians 13:14 when he writes about the “communion of the Holy Spirit.”
Thus, Second Corinthians 13:14 could also be read this way:
“…and the RESPONSIBILITY of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
This means that just as the Holy Spirit wants to become your Partner, He also wants to assume great responsibility for you in this world. If you wish, He’ll stand by and watch you try to do it all alone. But if you’ll open your heart to the Spirit of God, He will assume a more active role in your life. He wants you to know that you are not alone — and that He will take responsibility for you!
If the cry of your heart is to know the partnership and the responsibility of the Holy Spirit — not merely as mental doctrines, but as constant, daily realities in your life — then decide today to get to know the Holy Spirit as your intimate Friend. Make Him your Partner. Allow Him to help you fulfill the responsibilities of your calling in Christ.Begin today to develop a walk of daily communion with the Greater One within. Let Him be all He wants to be in your life — your Source of wisdom, power, and strength to launch you forth into victory!
My Prayer for TodayHoly Spirit, I want to thank You for being my Partner in this world. I need Your partnership. I know that without You, I am so limited in what I am able to do. You see what I can’t see; You know what I don’t know; You have wisdom and insight that I don’t have. I simply must have Your help if I am going to do what God has asked me to do. I ask You to please forgive me for all the times I have gotten in such a hurry that I didn’t take time to fellowship with You. From this moment on, I promise I will do my best to consult You before I make a decision or take a single step!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that I am led by the Spirit of God. I am careful not to make big decisions without consulting Him first. The Holy Spirit is my Leader, my Teacher, and my Guide; therefore, I look to Him to help me make the right decisions and take the right actions in every sphere of my life — my family, my business, and my ministry. Every day I experience more and more victory because I allow the Holy Spirit to direct all my steps.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. Have you asked the Spirit of God to be your Partner in life and to take responsibility for all your cares and concerns? 2. What can you do to make the Holy Spirit a closer, more active Partner in every area of life? 3. Have you spent quality time in communion with the Holy Spirit today, being still and simply knowing that He is your God?
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword.… — Hebrews 4:12What is the significance of the “two-edged sword” referred to in Hebrews 4:12? If you start looking, you’ll find out this phrase regarding a “two-edged sword” appears all over the New Testament, so it must be pretty important. For instance, when the apostle John received his vision of Jesus on the isle of Patmos, he said, “And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength” (Revelation 1:16). Notice that this “two-edged sword” came out of Jesus’ mouth! Why would Jesus have a sword in His mouth? Shouldn’t the sword have been in His hand? The phrase “two-edged” is taken from the Greek word distomos and is unquestionably one of the oddest words in the entire New Testament. Why is it so odd? Because it is a compound of the word di, meaning two, and the word stomos, which is the Greek word for one’s mouth. Thus, when these two words are compounded into one (distomos), they describe something that is two-mouthed! Don’t you agree that this seems a little strange? So why would the Bible refer to the Word of God repeatedly as a “two-edged sword” or, literally, a “two-mouthed sword”? The Word of God is like a sword that has two edges, cutting both ways and doing terrible damage to an aggressor. Ephesians 6:17 calls it “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (see February 8). As noted, the term “word” is taken from the Greek word rhema, which describes something that is spoken clearly, vividly, in unmistakable terms and undeniable language. In the New Testament, the word rhema carries the idea of a quickened word. Here’s an example of a rhema or a quickened word: You are praying about a situation, and suddenly a Bible verse rises up from inside your heart. At that moment, you are consciously aware that God has given you a verse to stand on and to claim for your situation. You’ve received a word that came right out of the mouth of God and dropped into your spirit! That word from God was so sharp that it cut right through your questions, intellect, and natural logic and lodged deep within your heart. After you meditated on that rhema, or that quickened word from God, it suddenly began to release its power inside you. Soon you couldn’t contain it any longer! Everything within you wanted to declare what God had said to you. You wanted to say it. You want to release it out of your mouth! And when you did, those powerful words were sent forth like a mighty blade to drive back the forces of hell that had been marshaled against you, your family, your business, your ministry, your finances, your relationship, or your body. First, that word came out of the mouth of God. Next, it came out of your mouth! When it came out of your mouth, it became a sharp, “two-edged” — or literally, a “two-mouthed” — sword. One edge of this sword came into existence when the Word initially proceeded out of God’s mouth. The second edge of this sword was added when the Word of God proceeded out of YOUR mouth! The Word of God remains a one-bladed sword when it comes out of God’s mouth and drops into your heart but is never released from your own mouth by faith. That supernatural word simply lies dormant in your heart, never becoming the two-edged sword God designed it to be. But something happens in the realm of the Spirit when you finally rise up and begin to speak forth that word. The moment it comes out of your mouth, a second edge is added to the blade! Nothing is more powerful than a word that comes first from God’s mouth and then from your mouth. You and God have come into agreement, and that agreement releases His mighty power into the situation at hand! So begin to willfully take the Word into your spirit by meditating on it and giving it a place of top priority. This is how you take the first necessary step in giving the Word a “second edge” in your life. Then when you are confronted by a challenge from the demonic realm, the Holy Spirit will be able to reach down into the reservoir of God’s Word you have stored up on the inside of you and pull up the exact scripture you need for that moment. As that quickened rhema word from God begins to first fill your heart and mind and then come out of your mouth, it becomes that “two-mouthed sword” described in the Scriptures. That’s when demons start to tremble in terror!
My Prayer for TodayLord, I know that Your Word has the power to defeat every adversary in my life. As I take it into my heart and get it deep into my soul, I know it will empower me to speak Your Word with mighty strength and authority. Forgive me for the times I have just skimmed over Your Word rather than planting it deep in my heart. I realize that the answers I seek are in Your Word — and that Your Word, when spoken from my mouth, releases authority against the devices the devil tries to use against me. So today, Lord, I make the decision to plant Your Word deep in my spirit man and then to speak it and release its power in my life!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that God’s Word is a mighty and sharp two-edged sword that releases His power when I speak it out of my mouth. I read the Word; I take it deeply into my heart; and then I release its power from my mouth to thwart the enemy’s strategies and bring victory into every situation I’m facing today!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!