FAITH, HOPE, AND LOVE – THE KEY TO VICTORY

1 Corinthians 13:13 – Now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Normally you do not think of spiritual warfare when reciting 1 Corinthians 13:13. These three pillars of the Christian walk are essential to our battle against the enemy. These three weapons have power to destroy the enemy’s entrenchment in the mind of believers and will pull down strongholds of arguments against Christ.

We begin with faith, not only because it is mentioned first, but because “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). Jesus would often declare that one’s faith had made the individual whole. The biblical definition of faith is that “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith operates out of assurance. Assurance comes by the promises of God’s word. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). The context of Romans 10 begins with Christ as the end of the law for righteousness. Righteousness has its root in Christ alone.

Romans 10:6 quotes Deuteronomy 30:14, stating that the righteousness based on faith speaks of the word of God being near us, that is in our mouth and in our heart. Faith operates by the word of God taking root in our heart and then being formed in our mouth. Both our mouth and our heart are connected with righteousness. We think in righteous terms and we speak with righteous words.

When we were in the flesh, our heart and mouth produced works of the flesh. Jesus said, “The things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and slanders” (Matthew 15:18-19). In Christ, our heart and mouth are to be used as instruments of righteousness producing life.

In his letter, James connects “faith and works.” James asks the question, “If someone says he has faith but he has no works, can that faith save him? Faith is spoken, but the kind of faith that brings about results is the faith of Christ which always produces works of righteousness. Christ-like faith will reach out into the community and set the captives free from sin, sickness, demonic oppression, and to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith is the first pillar of three. Today, why not believe God for an infilling of His Holy Spirit in the realm of faith? Let the Holy Spirit search your heart and cleanse any areas needing to be washed in the blood of the Lamb. Trust the Holy Spirit to put “the word of faith” into your mouth. Saints, be established in a lifestyle of faith!

Father, search my heart and see if there be any wicked thing in me. I ask to be made wholly consecrated Lord, to Thee. I pray to be established in faith and be used of the Holy Spirit to set others free from every stronghold of the enemy binding up their life.

REMAINING FAITHFUL

1 John 2:24 – If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father (KJV).

Abiding is an important topic of the New Testament. In the last hours of His earthly life, Jesus taught His disciples what it meant to abide in Him. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).

For some, John 15 can be a difficult chapter because of the illustration of removing branches and casting them away. It is important to understand that Jesus is speaking to His apostles. They are the ones He is sending into the world to lay the foundation of His Church by preaching the “goodness of His kingdom.” Judas, who was named among the apostles, was really an agent of the devil. The Jewish people saw themselves as the “special people of God.” Jesus is now defining who the people of God really are. Apart from Jesus, nothing can be done that has eternal significance.

The sum total of what Jesus came to accomplish is found in the Father and the Son taking up a place of residence in the believer through their indwelling Holy Spirit. In John’s gospel account, he calls this “abiding.” In John’s letter to the church, he again calls this work of God “abiding.” God’s will is to abide in every part of the believer’s life. The Father and the Son’s desire is for the believer to manifest their nature in every area of one’s life.

The word abiding speaks of fellowship. “What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete” (1 John 1:3-4). Abiding in Christ is what produces fellowship with the Father and the Son. It also is the foundation of relationship among believers. There is a wonderful joy when one learns about an individual they know who has entered into a fellowship with the Father and the Son. The other day, a friend was sharing with me his recent experience with God. I was filled with joy and it allowed me to share with him deeper things in Christ than I had previously shared.

Father, I want to grow in my relationship with You. Lead me to abide in You so that Your will might be established fully in my life. I have determined to press into You. I ask You to supply the needed grace in my life to be Your faithful servant.

DO NOT LOVE THE WORLD

1 John 2:15 – Do not love the world nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

What a great verse of Scripture to remind us of how easily we can become separated from the love of the Father. The Father does not forsake us, but we can be drawn away from His presence as we are filled with things. Some years ago, I began to change a habit of saying “I love a particular item.” I realized the habit focused on “things” rather than a person. The Father is concerned about persons. Love is meant to be organic and not about objects.

The world is corrupt through sin. Sin gave Satan a right to rule the nations and corrupt the world through systems. Jesus conquered Satan and made it possible to bring the nations under God’s government. The objective of salvation in the life of a believer is to destroy the works of the flesh with its lust and remove the love of the world in the saints of God. Jesus made it clear when He prayed to the Father saying, “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15). Jesus prayed these words because He understood, while the disciples were in the world, the attacks against them would be rooted in Satan and his domain.

It is not wrong to have possessions as long as the possessions do not possess us. There is an expression I learned many years ago, “Hold on to things loosely.” I enjoy restoring old radios and transmitters. I continually need to practice not becoming emotionally attached to a nice piece of equipment. I am grateful for all that the Lord has blessed my wife and me with, but I know I can be satisfied with little because I have known both little and abundance.

The Holy Spirit wants to develop a kingdom culture in us. That is, everything we own, time we spend, and places we go must have a foundation in the kingdom of God. Whether or not I am purposely involved in a particular kingdom activity, the kingdom of God is to be my first priority.

Father, reveal to me if there is any worldliness in my life. Help me, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to be free from any love of the world. I choose to only make room for the love of the Father in my life.

BE ON THE ALERT

Ephesians 6:18b – Be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all saints.

Throughout the New Testament, the verb “to pray” carries a number of meanings. A few examples are to ask, make request, to desire, beseech, and to call to one’s aid. The word “intercession” is used often in today’s church. It speaks of requests made on behalf of others. The Scriptures do not speak of an office of “intercessor.” The Holy Spirit leads individuals to make petition on behalf of others. Some are led by the Spirit to pray on behalf of nations. Nations include people groups coming to a revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit is the sole interpreter of the needs of the human heart. He makes intercession on behalf of the saints. Prayer is impossible to man apart from the Spirit’s help: “The Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words” (Romans 8:26). Believers are exhorted to pray at all seasons in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18; cf. Jude 20). “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16).

Paul teaches that prayer is made from two sources. “For I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also” (1 Corinthians 14:15). When Paul speaks of the mind, he is speaking of his understanding. Paul is saying that there are areas of need of which we are aware in our minds. We don’t need a special revelation to pray. Just pray! There are other needs of prayer which come by revelation through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Paul is speaking of his own “spirit” praying and singing. In the context of the chapter, he is addressing the subject of the private use of tongues.

Just as Paul said in Ephesians 6:18, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all saints. This is one of our assignments, beloved. As we put on the armor of God daily, let us make sure we do not neglect this exhortation. This would be a good time to commit or recommit yourself to a lifestyle of prayer. Prepare for the battle! The war is on with the kingdom of darkness. The saints of God must be engaged in the battle or suffer loss.

Father, I pray for Your help to cause me to be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all saints. Grant boldness to all Your servants throughout the world to be given utterance to make known the mystery of the gospel. Give me that boldness as well to witness Your love revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord.

WITH ALL PRAYER IN THE SPIRIT

Ephesians 6:18 – With all prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit.

Prayer is one of the most important disciplines of a believer’s walk in Christ. Prayer is our means of communication with our heavenly Father. Prayer is what we have been called to as priests of God. The authority Jesus has given to His church to overcome the kingdom of darkness is implemented by prayer. Prayer is not our thoughts being expressed to God, but rather through relationship with the Holy Spirit we receive God’s desires, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

Paul used the word all – “With all prayer and at all times.” When writing the Thessalonians, Paul admonishes them, “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Prayer is not a ritual, but rather a lifestyle. Prayer must be Spirit-led to accomplish God’s purpose, and not from one’s own soul life. “God’s house will be a house of prayer for all peoples” (Isaiah 56:7).

The New Testament gives us an expanded dimension of prayer. “To pray” is always used of “prayer” to God. “Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates. We can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection” (2 Corinthians 13:7-8 KJV). I site the KJV because the quote uses the word “wish.” Paul is praying his desire or wish to God for the Corinthians.

Paul’s injunction in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 is “to pray without ceasing.” This describes his burden for the Lord’s Church to enter into her calling of prayer at all times. Paul’s prayer for the Philippians is most insightful when he says, “This I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless” (Philippians 1:9-10). Locating the prayers of Paul and the other apostles is a profitable study. Incorporate them into your prayer life. This prayer in Philippians is a powerful prayer which truly identifies the Father’s heart for His sons and daughters.

In tomorrow’s devotion, we will discuss a number of meanings for prayer. I will include: proper prayer and how faith relates to prayer. The Holy Spirit is present to help us enter into Paul’s encouragement to the Saints at Ephesus, “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit.” Daily, ask the Father and the Son to fill you with their Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will lead you and direct you throughout the day. You will find yourself praying more as the Spirit of God gives you insights and direction in the day’s activities.

Father, I thank You for inviting me to partner with You every day through prayer and petition. Fill me with Your Spirit as often as needed so that I might be alert to Your will and guided in my daily decision making. Use me to pray for others in their walk, that by faith I would see Heaven’s will brought to pass.

WITNESS OF THE SCRIPTURES

John 5:39 – You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me.

John 5 mentions four witnesses regarding Jesus. They are: the witness of John the Baptist, the witness of works, the witness of the Father, and the witness of the Scriptures. Jesus declares, He can do nothing on His own initiative and if He alone testifies about Himself, His testimony is not true (John 5:30-31).

What Jesus says about Himself is also true for every believer. As a believer, I can do nothing on my own initiative. One of the great challenges of the Christian walk is learning to live out of the life of the Spirit as opposed to drawing from our natural life. Many believers initiate good works, the problem being “they initiate them.” The works which Jesus performed came from the Holy Spirit, not Jesus’ own ideas of how to serve His Father. The witness of Jesus came from other sources. Jesus knew who He was, but He let other sources testify concerning Him.

The witness of John pointed toward Jesus and away from John. The witness of works demonstrated God’s power through Jesus’ life. The witness of the Father is that He sent His only Begotten Son. He spoke many times, through many individuals, and in many different ways concerning the coming of Jesus. The witness of Scripture is in the miraculous way the Law and the Prophets testified of Christ.

The fallacy of the religious leaders was they thought life was contained in the Scriptures. They did not recognize the One of whom the Scriptures spoke. To receive life is not a matter of conversation, but action. The action required in this case was to believe Jesus. Believe not only His words, but His works.

After Pentecost, the witness of all that Jesus did was witnessed in the coming of the Holy Spirit. Eternal life is obtained through the Spirit. As we believe the witness of others pointing to Jesus, as we believe the work of Jesus in the cross, as we believe the Father’s declaration that He sent His only Begotten Son, and as we believe the Scriptures.

As we receive Christ, His life is firmly rooted in us through the power of the Holy Spirit, and then we become part of the witness. The transformation of our life, the witness of our faith through how we now live and share with words, God’s love becomes a conduit of God’s grace.

Father, thank You for the witness You have given of Your will revealed in Christ. Thank You for sending the Holy Spirit to draw me to Christ and the life You made possible through faith in Jesus, the Christ, my Savior, and my Lord. Use me to testify of Your Son that others also may know His life.