Topic:JUST TRUST GOD’S GOODNESS AND PRAY IN THE SPIRIT
1 Corinthians 14:14
For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.
God has given us a powerful prayer gift—praying in tongues, which is not limited by distance, time or head knowledge. When you pray in tongues, you could be praying for your future or even a loved one overseas. You won’t know what you are praying unless God tells you. This is because your “understanding is unfruitful”—your mind is not involved.
“But Pastor Prince, I must know what I am praying!”
Sometimes, it is better not to know what you are praying. In 1993, I had a long season of praying in the Spirit. If I had known then everything that I was praying in tongues, I would have freaked out! For example, I would have been afraid if I had known that the Holy Spirit was saying, “Father God, in the year 2002, anoint Joseph Prince to preach six messages every week to more than 10,000 people.” That has come to pass. But back in 1993, one service was enough to tire me out!
So I thank God that I don’t know what I am praying when I pray in tongues. I simply trust His goodness and pray in tongues for everything that He has planned for me to come to pass in His perfect timing.
Beloved, don’t stop praying in tongues just because you don’t know what you are praying. You could be praying for the safety of a loved one in a life and death situation. Especially when you feel an urge to pray because you sense danger, pray! Pray until you sense a release as the burden is lifted. The Holy Spirit will know exactly what is going on, who is in danger and how to pray for deliverance (see Romans 8:27).
You may say, “Well, I can just pray in English.” You can, but your prayer will be very limited because you don’t know everything. It is better to pray in tongues because the Spirit knows all things.
My friend, you don’t belong to the natural, limited realm. You belong to God who is unlimited! So pray in tongues, and see great things happening for you and through you.
But thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory [making us conquerors] through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:57, The Amplified Bible
Victors! More than conquerors! That’s what the Bible says we are. I know you’ve heard that many times before, but today I want you to let the reality of it really sink in. I want you to spend some time meditating about what those terms actually mean.
The dictionary says that victory means “final and complete supremacy or superiority in battle or war, success in any contest or struggling involving the defeat of an opponent or the overcoming of obstacles.”
To conquer means “to get the better of in competition or struggle, to master, suppress, prevail over, overwhelm, surmount, to gain superiority, to subdue, to vanquish, to crush, to defeat.”
Once you get those definitions firmly in mind, you’ll realize in Jesus you’ve gotten much more than a ticket to heaven. You’ve gotten the best of the world you’re living in now. Through Him, you’ve overcome it, mastered it, suppressed it and prevailed over it.
No wonder 1 Corinthians 15:57 shouts, “Thanks be to God Who gives us the victory, [making us conquerors] through our Lord Jesus Christ” (The Amplified Bible)!
Why don’t you shout too! Shout thanks to God today for making you an overcomer. Praise Him that you are joined up with the One who has conquered the world, the flesh and the devil. Shout hallelujah and enjoy the victory!
Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.
1 Corinthians 14:1-3
That ties this back to the “love” chapter. Love is to be the basic, biblical reason for exercising a spiritual gift. Love is the hunger to reach out for someone else’s benefit. That is to be the controlling theme throughout this whole chapter in the discussion of tongues and prophesying. Love is building up someone else. To that end, “desire spiritual gifts,” so that they may be a means of helping others and fulfilling love.
Clearly the one spiritual gift that is most effective in that direction is prophesying. The gift of prophesying is not predicting the future. That may be an element occasionally in it, but it is the explanation of the present in the light of the revelation of God. The closest term we would call it by today is biblical preaching that unfolds the mind of God and applies it to the daily struggles of life. That is prophesying. That is the gift for a congregation to desire above all others.
Beginning with Verse 2 and on through Verse 5, Paul compares the gifts of prophesy and tongues. Anyone who speaks in tongues is not understood in a congregation because he speaks “mysteries in the Spirit.” The reason for that was he was speaking in a language that they did not understand. At Corinth people would stand up and speak in these languages, perhaps recognizable as being languages used somewhere nearby (as on the Day of Pentecost), but the people there did not understand the language, and so they could not know what the speaker was saying.
In contrast, Paul now describes the gift of prophesying, which Paul says has a threefold effect. First, it builds people up. The word is oikodomen in the Greek, oiko means “house,” and domen means “to build.” To build a house on a solid foundation is the idea; and the work of prophesying gives people a foundation. One of the major problems among Christians today is the struggle they have with the sense of their true identity. Many people are emotionally torn apart because they do not understand that they are new creatures in Christ; they are no longer what they once were. Because they still get feelings of being what they once were, they believe those feelings, and they react accordingly. There is an up-and-down experience that they can never get away from. Prophesying corrects that. It teaches us who we are in Christ.
The second thing prophesying does is strengthen people. This is the word from which we get the word paraclete, one of the titles of the Holy Spirit. He is the strengthener of God’s people. It means to support and encourage; it is “one called alongside,” that is the literal meaning of the term, to support you and steady you and strengthen you.
The third ministry of prophesying is that of comforting. Still a third Greek word is used here, paramuthian, which means to empathize, to put yourself in the place of others, to understand the pressures they are under. It means to be able to feel with them and be able to encourage them with the fact that you know how they feel. That is what the word of prophesying is inclined to do. We have all had the experience of listening to a text of Scripture expounded, and it seemed to speak right to our basic problem. That is what prophesying does. You can see how useful and how important it is to have this exercised in a church.
Thank you, Father, for the ministry of the Word of God in life. I pray for those who expound it that they might be your mouthpiece to a needy people.
What is the primary aim in the exercise of spiritual gifts? In what ways does the gift of prophesying, as in exposition of the Word of God, fulfill this basic purpose?
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
1 Corinthians 11:23-25
Paul passes on to them and to us our Lord’s emphasis upon two remarkable symbols, the bread and the cup. Deliberately, after the Passover feast, Jesus took the bread, and when he had broken it, to make it available to all the disciples, he said to them, “This is my body.” Unfortunately some have taken that to mean that he was teaching that the bread becomes his body, but as you look at the story of the Upper Room, it is clear that he meant it in a symbolic sense. If it was literal, then there were two bodies of Christ present in the Upper Room, one in which he lived and by which he held the bread, and the bread itself. But clearly our Lord means this as a symbol. “This represents my body which is for you.”
Not “broken for you,” as some versions have it. That is not a very accurate rendering. It is not broken for us. The Scriptures tell us that not a bone of his body would be broken. Rather it is intended for us to live on; that is the symbolism. Thus when we gather and take the bread of the Lord’s Table, break it and pass it among ourselves, we are reminding ourselves that Jesus is our life: He is the One by whom we live. As Paul says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me,” (Galatians 2:20 KJV).
This is what the bread symbolizes — that he is to be our power by which we obey the demands of God, the Word of God, to love one another, to forgive one another, to be tender and merciful, kind and courteous to one another, to not return evil for evil but to pray for those who persecute us and mistrust us and misuse us. His life in us enables us to be what God asks us to be. We live by means of Christ.
Following that, our Lord took the cup. The wine of the cup symbolizes his blood which he said is the blood of the New Covenant, the new arrangement for living that God has made, by which the old life is ended. That is what blood always means: Blood is the end of a life, and the old life in which we were dependent upon ourselves, and lived for ourselves, and wanted only to be the center of attention is over. That is what the cup means. We agree to that; we are no longer to live for ourselves. You do not have final rights to your life, and the price is the blood of Jesus. Therefore, when we take that cup and drink it, we are publicly proclaiming that we agree with that sentence of death upon our old life, and believe that the Christian life is a continual experience of life coming out of death.
Power with God only comes when we die to the wisdom and the power of man. We give up one so that the other may be manifest within us. That is what the cup means. It is a beautiful picture of what Jesus said of himself, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone,” (John 12:24 KJV). Nothing is more descriptive of the emptiness of life than that phrase “abides alone” — lonely, restless, bored, miserable, unhappy. That is the life that tries to live for itself and its own needs and its own rights, but the Christian life is one in which that is freely and voluntarily surrendered. If the corn of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it will bring forth much fruit, and by the participation in the cup this is what we are declaring.
Lord Jesus, thank you for giving your life up that I might have new life in you.
When we partake of the symbols of bread and wine, do we honor the richly profound reality they represent? Does our gratitude for His indwelling Life find expression in sacrificial love, no longer living for self interest but for Him who gave Himself for us?
Bible in a Year:
Isaiah 30–31 Philippians 4
Let your gentleness be evident to all.
In one of Dr. Seuss’ whimsical stories, he tells of a “North-Going Zax and a South-Going Zax” crossing the Prairie of Prax. Upon meeting nose to nose, neither Zax will step aside. The first Zax angrily vows to stay put—even if it makes “the whole world stand still.” (Unfazed, the world moves on and builds a highway around them.)
The tale offers an uncomfortably accurate picture of human nature. We possess a reflexive “need” to be right, and we’re prone to stubbornly cling to that instinct in rather destructive ways!
Happily for us, God lovingly chooses to soften stubborn human hearts. The apostle Paul knew this, so when two members of the Philippian church were squabbling, he loved them enough to call them out (Philippians 4:2). Then, having earlier instructed the believers to have “the same mindset” of self-giving love as Christ (2:5–8), Paul asked them to “help these women,” valued coworkers with him in sharing the gospel (4:3). It seems peacemaking and wise compromise call for team effort.
Of course there are times to take a firm stand, but a Christlike approach will look a lot different than an unyielding Zax! So many things in life aren’t worth fighting over. We can bicker with each other over every trivial concern until we destroy ourselves (Galatians 5:15). Or we can swallow our pride, graciously receive wise counsel, and seek unity with our brothers and sisters.
Topic:He Won’t Let Us Go
Bible in a Year:
Isaiah 14–16 Ephesians 5:1–16
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.
Julio was biking across the George Washington Bridge—a busy, double-decked thoroughfare connecting New York City and New Jersey—when he encountered a life-or-death situation. A man was standing on a ledge over the Hudson River preparing to jump. Knowing that the police wouldn’t arrive in time, Julio acted quickly. He recalls getting off his bike and spreading out his arms, saying something like: “Don’t do it. We love you.” Then, like a shepherd with a crook, he grabbed the distraught man, and with the help of another passerby, brought him to safety. According to reports, Julio wouldn’t let go of the man, even after he was safe.
Two millennia earlier, in a life-or-death situation, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, said He would lay down His life to save and never let go of those who believed in Him. He summarized how He would bless His sheep: they would know Him personally, have the gift of eternal life, would never perish, and would be secure in His care. This security didn’t depend on the ability of the frail and feeble sheep, but on the sufficiency of the Shepherd who’ll never let one be snatched “out of [His] hand” (John 10:28–29).
When we were distraught and feeling hopeless, Jesus rescued us; now we can feel safe and secure in our relationship with Him. He loves us, pursues us, finds us, saves us, and promises to never let us go.
Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
I don’t know about you, but I am not satisfied with just knowing that I am righteous by faith. I also want to get to know the One who made me righteous. I want to have an intimate relationship with my Savior!
Abraham was such a man. He was righteous by faith, but he also had a close walk with God and was blessed by God in all things (see Genesis 24:1). His nephew Lot, on the other hand, although righteous too (see 2 Peter 2:7–8), had no heart for God. He ended up losing a lot when Sodom, the city he dwelt in, was destroyed along with Gomorrah. He was saved by the skin of his teeth!
My friend, do you want to be a Christian like Lot, righteous but always finding yourself in trouble, or do you want to be a righteous-and-blessed Christian like Abraham? Then, like Abraham, have a heart for God.
From place to place, Abraham would build an altar to the Lord. And in between altars, he grew very rich (see Genesis 13:2)! There is no biblical record, however, of Lot ever building an altar to the Lord.
What is an “altar” in today’s context? It is a place where you know that you have a close relationship with God. For example, when my late father was in the hospital, I was worried and did not know what to do. I remember driving down the road and crying. After a while, I just threw my cares to the Lord. When I reached the hospital, I just laid my hands on my father and said, “Be healed in Jesus’ name.” And he was healed!
Till today, I can remember the place where I had cast my cares to the Lord and leaned on His love for me. That is my “altar.” And it is not the only one.
We have got to have this kind of relationship with God, one full of “altars” that remind us of His love, goodness and faithfulness. Let’s not live the Christian life like Lot, saved by the skin of our teeth. Let’s walk closely with God as Abraham did, and be richly blessed in every area of our lives!
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
Compassion. That’s the one thing people need more than anything else in this world. They need someone to reach out to them with the compassion of God.
Compassion is a deep yearning that responds to the needs of people. It’s much deeper than sympathy. Sympathy can just sit around feeling sorry for people. Compassion has to do something for them.
Compassion is what motivates God, and Jesus’ life on earth was a picture of that compassion in action. His whole ministry was driven by it. It was compassion that caused Him to multiply the loaves and fishes, heal the sick, cast out demons and raise the dead. It was compassion that compelled Him to go to the Cross. And it’s that same compassion that He now longs to pour out through you.
That’s a staggering thought, isn’t it?
It’s staggering to realize that we believers are the only body Jesus has on this earth now. His healing must flow through our hands and our faith. His compassion must move us to provide for the hungry. It must compel us to cast out demons and set the captives free.
“But, Brother Copeland, I don’t have that kind of compassion!”
Yes, you do. If you have the Spirit of God dwelling inside you, you do—because He is that kind of love! You simply need to activate it.
How? Just like Jesus did when He walked the earth. Through prayer and fellowship with the Father. Look through the Gospels and notice how much time Jesus spent alone with the Father. That time activated the compassion of God within Him. It caused Him to feel what God feels about the suffering of mankind. It stirred Him so much that whenever He encountered a need, He met it by the power of God.
Follow His example. Spend time in fellowship with your Father. Meditate on His compassion until it rises up strong on the inside of you. Stir it up until the desire to see others set free becomes paramount in your thinking.
Jesus has sent you to reach out and touch a love-starved world with His compassion.
above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
I believe that when you pray in the Spirit, that is, in tongues, a shield goes up all around you—a watery shield. But why do I call it a “watery” shield? Let me share with you what the Lord showed me.
Once, I was meditating on Ephesians 6:16—“above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” At first, I thought of a Roman soldier’s wooden shield. But three words kept repeating themselves in my mind: “quench” and “fiery darts.” Then, the Lord said, “Son, if it is a wooden shield, the fiery darts will burn it up.” He showed me a watery shield instead, one which was able to quench the fiery darts.
You may ask, “Where did the water come from?”
Remember that Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). The next verse says, “But this He spoke concerning the Spirit…” (John 7:39).
Jesus was speaking about the Holy Spirit, which He likened to rivers of living water flowing out of us. So when we pray in the Spirit, rivers of living water will flow, quenching the devil’s fiery darts thrown at us!
This happened one day when I was having supper with a church member. Now, I don’t often pray in tongues when I say grace over my food. But that night, I felt prompted by the Spirit to do so. So I prayed in tongues as I laid my hands on my packet of nasi lemak (coconut-flavored rice).
Soon, we were tucking into our food and talking when suddenly, I bit on something hard. I spat it out quickly and realized that it was a nail! Then, I realized that this was the reason the Lord wanted me to pray in tongues. Though the devil was trying to “nail” me, he failed!
My friend, put up the watery shield that God has given you. Pray in the Spirit and quench the enemy’s fiery darts!
I used to worry about making decisions for God. I used to be afraid to step out on faith and declare I was going to do something new that He’d shown me to do. I’d think, What if I fail? I was so scared of failing, I’d muddle around in indecision for weeks. Then one day I found out it wasn’t my power that was going to carry it out anyway. But it took my decision to move God in on the scene. Once I decided what I was going to do, and committed myself totally to it, God backed me!
What I learned is a truth from the Word of God that, if you’ll pay attention to it, will revolutionize your life. It’s truth that carries an awesome responsibility with it, but it’s a fabulous thing to realize.
Here it is: The right, the privilege and the power to decide has been left by God in the hands of men.
You have the right, for example, to decide where you’re going to spend eternity. You have a right to make that decision, and God will back your decision.
God can do everything for you but decide. He’s provided the power. He’s provided His Name. He’s provided the blood of Jesus. He’s provided the kingdom of God. He’s even made us partakers of it (Colossians 1:12).
But He’s not going to stuff that inheritance down our throats. Somewhere down the line we each have to make the decision to receive it.
Now the beautiful part is this: When you make that decision, God will back you to the hilt with His power. Once you make a decision to be born again, there’s no devil in hell big enough to stop you. All you have to do is decide.
Decide now. Declare your decision. Let it be done unto you according to your words.
Is God leading you in some new direction? Is He leading you to step out in faith for healing or prosperity or to take a whole new step of ministry? Don’t let fear hold you back.