BY THE LOVE OF THE SPIRIT, STRIVE TOGETHER WITH ME IN YOUR PRAYERS

Romans 15:30 – Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.

Paul is writing to a church that he has not seen. He had longed to go to Rome, but the Spirit of God has had him focused on the Eastern Mediterranean. Many of Paul’s friends, and fellow laborers were there in Rome with the Roman saints. Paul is strongly calling for them to join him in his labors by praying for him to be rescued from those that are disobedient in Judah. That was a nice way of speaking about the Jews who wanted to kill him. He asked for prayers concerning his outreach to Jerusalem. He also asked them to pray about giving money to the poor saints living there. He asked them to pray for his ability to come to them in joy, by the will of God and to find rest in their company.

His request to the Roman Christians was in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit. Jesus is reigning as Lord in this present time. The Spirit has come to administrate the love of God in the earth. The Spirit always has unity in love as the core of His purpose. It is the love of the Spirit that makes unity possible. Unity must have as its purpose the will of God in order to be accomplished. Today, we hear a lot of talk about unity. It is awesome to see pastors throughout a city joined together in prayer. It is tremendous to sing songs from a great variety of streams. It is always a joy to know that denominationalism is taking a back seat. Many different groups are being joined together in the unity of the Spirit to accomplish God’s purposes in the earth. Paul is requesting prayer for himself from a large church in Rome. In fact, it was the only church in Rome. According to Paul’s greetings in the sixteenth chapter of Romans, it appears the believers gathered in houses, but related as one church in the city.

The Lord is at work restoring His Church to the simplicity of those early days. He is continually at work through His Holy Spirit, raising up His servants all over the world who are laboring for the same cause. That cause is the advancing of His kingdom in the earth. Today, prayers are offered for poor saints, and the suffering church around the world. Large amounts of money are being raised in the same spirit in which Paul raised money for the poor saints in Jerusalem. We are living in apostolic times, as God the Father, by the Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit prepare an end-time church to fulfill His purpose in the earth.

Ask the Holy Spirit to enlarge your vision for what the Lord is doing in these days. Ask Him to guide you in your prayers and to fill you with “the love of the Spirit” for all saints. Be generous toward the poor, especially those of the Household of God.

I WILL ONLY SPEAK OF WHAT CHRIST HAS ACCOMPLISHED THROUGH ME

Romans 15:18-19 – For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit.

Some may think it is an egotistical statement by Paul to speak only of what Christ has done through him. One day, I received a letter from a sister in Christ, who felt she needed to write and tell me I was bragging of what Christ had done through me. Of course, I wrote her back, and thanked her for bringing this to my attention. I mentioned to her that I had taken her letter and shared it with other well-known pastors in our city. My purpose was to inquire of these pastors to find out if this might be true. They did not agree with her perspective and affirmed the reports of what the Lord had been doing.

It is easy to get caught up in drawing attention to self. One does need to be careful, and know one’s motivation in testifying about what God has accomplished. Paul had totally surrendered his life to Christ. Those that knew Paul knew that he had learned to die daily to himself. It was factual that the Gentiles were turning to Christ in large numbers. The reason for these massive amounts of conversions was the combination of “words and deeds.” There were numerous manifestations of “signs and wonders” which occurred through the power of the Holy Spirit. When God uses someone to bring about His purposes through one’s speech, deeds, and supernatural means, one would be expected to share the great things God had done.

We too, should be asking the Lord to use us for His glory. Paul gives us a model of a life surrendered fully to Christ. He also models the combination of words and deeds. Today, many have lots of words, but no real proof of lasting results. Paul’s ministry was based in “signs and wonders.” The same Holy Spirit that was working mightily in Paul is with us today. He has not changed! The church has changed, but the Holy Spirit remains the same. We definitely live in a different time, twenty-one centuries later. What is not different is that signs and wonders are still happening.Let us simply surrender to the Spirit of the Lord. Ask Him for divine appointments that you may speak and demonstrate His power in the life of others through your words and by deeds, even in signs and wonders.

AS LIVING STONES YOU ARE BEING BUILT UP AS A SPIRITUAL HOUSE

1 Peter 2:5 – You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

 We read in Peter about a work of the Holy Spirit. He is building a spiritual house for a holy priesthood. 1 Peter 2:4 speaks of Jesus as a living stone. Men rejected Him, but in God’s eyes, He is “choice” and “precious.” O that the Holy Spirit would help us see Jesus as the Father does. He is our Lord and Savior, our friend, but He is so much more. He is the stone that is perfect. He is the corner stone that is the foundation for the building which God is raising up. Remove Him and the building collapses. Jesus cannot be a small part of one’s life. He cannot just be the God of Sunday morning. As the Scripture says, “in Him we live and move and exist” (Acts 17:28). He is called a stone, which represents something that does not move. In Him “there is no variation or shifting” (James 1:17).

Peter goes on to say; we too, are as “living stones.” He created us in Christ to be solid. Paul expresses it like this. “Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). The Holy Spirit is building a spiritual house, a house that is alive and called to be a house of intercession. This is what Peter means when he says, “being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood.” As priests of God, we offer “spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” What kind of spiritual sacrifices is the Holy Spirit creating in us? Peter, in his first letter, helps to provide the answer. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous  light” (1 Peter 2:9-10).

WOW! What glory He has placed upon us. What privilege the Spirit of God has called us into. Think of it. You’re part of the chosen race in the earth, part of the royal priesthood, and part of a nation that is like no other nation ever. A Christian belongs to a people that are God’s own possession. That’s us! Rejoice, O saint of God! Be strong and courageous, and shout the victory which is ours in Christ Jesus the Lord.

I thank you Holy Spirit for faithfully calling men and women to Christ Jesus.  I thank you for placing me among the people of God. Please continue to build Your will and purpose in me. Strengthen me to be faithful. Help me to accomplish what the Father and the Son desire of me.

PUT ASIDE THE CORRUPTNESS OF YOUR HUMAN NATURE AND LONG FOR GOD’S PURE WORD

1 Peter 2:1-3 – Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

This Scripture reveals that the human nature with its corruptness does not just disappear when we are saved. Peter says to “put aside” these evil behaviors. The five areas that Peter named are summed up in the word “wickedness.” Put aside all wickedness and become like newly born infants. What does a newborn want? Pure milk! As we begin our walk in Christ, the Holy Spirit begins to create an appetite for the pure milk of God’s Word. We must nurture that desire. This is our first step of cooperation with the Holy Spirit. We begin to think, “I need to read the Scriptures.” We choose to put aside other things and make room for the reading of His Word so we may begin to learn God’s will for our lives.

Peter relates this desire for God’s pure word to growing in our salvation. True salvation ought to be accompanied by desires for God’s presence; the learning of His Word and a life lived out in righteousness. This new desire for the Word of God is in contrast to the old desires of our flesh. I remember how I could hardly wait to get time to study God’s Word. I had a hunger to know what it said and to be able to share with others what I had learned. I had a deep desire for others to experience what I had experienced through the Holy Spirit and God’s pure Word. I had been saved from my old life and ways. I recognized my growth in respect to my salvation.

I began to recognize the kindness of God in saving me. I also sensed a growth in my knowledge of what it meant to be “a son of God.” I began to experience the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and I knew that I was entering into His grace. Peter calls it “tasting the kindness of our Lord” (1 Peter 2:3). When we recognize this kindness, we cannot help choosing to put aside our human corruptness and longing for His pure Word.

Ask the Holy Spirit to renew your hunger for His Word. Begin by reading of His goodness in all that He has done in Christ Jesus for us. Lavish yourself in the love of God and begin to experience a renewed desire to know His Word. If you are living in the knowledge of His kindness already, worship Him for all He has done for you.

LIVE FEARFULLY DURING YOUR TIME HERE ON EARTH

1 Peter 1:17 – If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth.

This is a powerful statement and reveals why we always need the Helper, the Holy Spirit. It is a serious thing to call God “our Father.” Receiving salvation, in and of itself, is an awesome thought. But it is even more awesome to realize that God has given us “power” to be His children. The implications are more than our finite minds can take in. He is no respecter of persons. To think that He made me alive in His Son through the power of His Holy Spirit causes me to take things very seriously. As a child of God, I have the personal responsibility to live and conduct myself in a manner that is fitting to the name I carry.

As my children were growing up, they had to give account to their mother and me. They had to answer directly to us about doing their chores, their school work, and their attitudes toward us and toward their siblings. They were our children, carrying our name, and we treated them the same without partiality.  We wanted them to understand that there were consequences for yielding to the sin nature, for disobedience, and for neglecting their responsibilities. Our heavenly Father is the same toward us. The word fear as used here does not mean to be afraid in the way one might fear evil. The word is a beautiful word which carries the meaning of reverence and awesome respect. It is a respect that has the knowledge of one day standing before Him and giving Him an account.

The Holy Spirit wants to remind us that, as His children, we have all the blessings and benefits of heaven. We also have the responsibilities that are expected of a son and daughter of God. Our goal is not to “appease” God so we can make it into heaven. Jesus took care of that on the cross as He laid down His life for each of us. We have an increasing desire to “please” Father God, because we love Him for what He has done for us. We also fear Him as the God of all creation. This is a healthy attitude and one that will enable us to “conduct ourselves in the fear of God.”

Today, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any areas that are not submitted to your Father in heaven and to fill you with “godly fear” all the days of your life here on earth.

BE QUICK TO HEAR, SLOW TO SPEAK, AND SLOW TO ANGER

James 1:19 – This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

Did they know?  James seemed to think they did. He lists three things that he felt they knew. First, is to listen carefully. The word “quick” means “alive.” In other words, be alive and pay attention. Secondly, be slow to speak. I learned a long time ago I should try to be the last one to speak in any discussion if I want my point to stick. So listen carefully and don’t just say the first thing that comes to your mind. Thirdly, be slow to get angry. In communication, the opportunity for anger is lurking at the door. By keeping our cool, we keep the lines of communication open. Over the course of time, we are able to resolve volatile issues.

I have found that many of God’s people do not know these principles, or at least they do not practice them. Many times, we are preparing our response rather than listening carefully to what another is saying. I cannot tell you how many times, in preaching or teaching, someone heard me say something very different than what the CD revealed I actually said. This is why I have found it important to solicit questions or comments after speaking to make sure others heard me clearly. If you are not sure what someone said or meant in a statement, it is healthy to ask the person to repeat themselves or clarify what they said or meant.

Paul instructs us to “be angry, yet do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26). James tells us to be “slow” to anger. Aren’t you glad for these two Scriptures? Jesus became angry with the religious leaders of His day. Anger is an emotion that God put in us. Why? We are created in the image of God and throughout the Scripture we read of God’s anger towards sin. Anger is an emotion that can produce the right results when used correctly, but can also be devastating when out of control and done hastily. God’s anger, in most cases, was not about Him, but it was about what was happening to others as a result of sin.

Daily, commit to the Holy Spirit your hearing, your mouth, and your emotions. Lord, help me to hear more than the words spoken. Lord, help me to respond thoughtfully and allow my emotions to be kept under the control of Your Holy Spirit.