We come to a close on our Road to Pentecost with the transformation that comes from stillness. We've already seen how stillness helps point us in the right direction, keeps us from getting out ahead of God and allow us to witness the power of God as he defeats and disarms our enemies. Today we look back to the story that inspired this series to see the transforming power of stillness.
10 days. That's how long it took the followers of Christ to receive the promise from Jesus in Acts 1:8. In that time they had prayer continually (Acts 1:14), used the Word of God to guided them (Acts 1:16-20) and spiritually planned for the outpouring of Christ's power from on high (Acts 1:21-26). There is no mention of fasting here, but we know that Jesus mentioned his followers would fast after his death (Matthew 9:14-15). Therefore, we can infer that there would have been some kind of fasting going on as well. To be sure, locking yourself away from society and its for 10 days would be considered a type of social/media fasting for some today.
How did they do it? Imagine, if God had told us to go and wait diligently for a promise to be poured out on us. Most of us would be excited at first. Then, when Christ didn't give us a timetable, we'd start to worry. We'd think about all the activities and things we've got to accomplish. There's work, school, family outings, bills to pay and activities and social engagements we've already got planned. That doesn't include our "need" for social media. In a world that is on a 10 minute schedule, could we truly adhere to a 10 day, 10 week, 10 month, 1+ year timetable?
If we want the promises of God, we'll have to break away from modern societies expectation of timetables. We'll have to accept that God is a God that loves patience, temperance, long-suffering and steadfastness. Those aren't just suggested methods and means by which we live for God. They are core to the tenants of God's ways. Moreover, they make up the tactic of being still in God. Throughout the Bible, men and women, tribes and nations who have practiced this tactic have received exponential blessings. Those in the upper room did, too (Acts 2:2-4).
Unification is the Key
However, they showed another layer to stillness that is often overlooked. They didn't just wait in God. They waited with unity of mind and purpose. What makes stillness truly work is when we take all of our mind and passions and direct them towards God in faith believing. It takes a lot of faith just to wait, but couple that with believing with your whole mind and heart and you have a truly an individual truly unified with God. That's the transformation that occurs when are still the right way. We become unified with our maker just as those on the day of Pentecost were. They were filled with the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:4), meaning that God Himself came down and dwelt in them. That is the first time that God ever housed himself within a person.
He did it in all 120 of them and he'll do it for you. Just give your life to Jesus as they did on the day of Pentecost and follow the path Peter set down in his sermon following that event, and you will have God in you. For those of you who already have that wonderful infilling of God's presence, God wants to continue in his unity with you by revealing further His plan for your life. Take time to set your mind and heart on His ways and wait for His leading. He'll reveal the path and all you'll have to do is take the next step to glory.
Thought for the weekend:
If we will unify our minds and hearts towards God's purpose, He will unify Himself and reveal our purpose in Him.
Enjoy celebrating Pentecost Sunday and believe on God that He is going to do a mighty work in your life and those around you. Bless you all in Jesus Name! Amen.
We are almost at the end of our Road to Pentecost. I don't know about you, but I find that right near the end of a trip is the easiest time to get confused or turned around. You've traveled so far and are ready to get to your destination, but you just can't seem to fin that street name. It's at that time I am best served by pulling out those directions one last time to double check that I haven't missed a turn somewhere. Remarkably , when I do, I magically find my way I find my destination within a few minutes or less. Suddenly I'm transformed from a traveler to a vacationer. Today, we look one last time at planning for God and how it transforms us when we stick to it until the end.
Cornelius was a devout man. He loved and feared God and gave to those around him (Mark 12:29-31). Though he wasn't a Jew, he adopted their religion as his own because he saw the merit and truth inherent in their faith and their God. According to the Old Covenant, he was following the plan. However, he didn't know there was a New Covenant, a new plan.
When God sent an angel to him to testify of this New Covenant, Cornelius didn't hesitate to act (Acts 10:7). He was ready to receive the next direction God had for him. While this was the revelation of the truth of doctrine an salvation, we can take to heart how Cornelius reacted, God may have some specific things he wants us to receive in our lives and is waiting for the opportune time in our lives to reveal them to us. Maybe it is a ministry opportunity, a witness opportunity, a relationship opportunity or a spiritual development opportunity. Whatever it is God wants to give, we need to react like Cornelius did when the opportunity is given.
Thought for the Day:
The path to spiritual development only requires that we act according to God's will when he reveals it to us.
Cornelius' transformation would be that he would be filled with the Holy Ghost and have the presence of God inside of Him rather than just serving a God on the outside. As God changed him on the outside a sign came out of Cornelius. He spoke with tongues. This allowed him to be Baptized in Jesus Name and be fully brought into that New Covenant. When we see God's fulfilled plan for us, it is going to change us on the inside. That inside transformation is going to have an affect on our outside being that will fully establish us in what God wants for us.
Perhaps its that in your pursuit of God's ministry opportunity for your life, You are filled with a hunger and thirst after His righteousness that didn't quite exist before. That hunger and thirst will manifest not only within you, but also outside of you in your daily life. You'll start living the righteous life. Just like with Cornelius, the right people will take notice and you will see your ministry opportunity fulfilled.
We can see our lives transformed inside and out. All we have to do is stick to the plan God has for us. When we do, God will make us complete according to His will. The followers of Christ did this on the Day of Pentecost. They were in Jerusalem like Christ commanded and they were in one mind and one accord, which was necessary. Suddenly...(Acts 2:2)
We continue our transformation section of The Road To Pentecost series by examining how God's Word transforms us and what we become as a result of that transformation.
In Second Timothy, Paul is writing the final words of his ministry. They are directed towards arguably his greatest protege as well as one of his most effective churches, Ephesus. To his most loyal and productive followers, Paul wrote these words in his last hours:
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (2 Timothy 3:16)
What a powerful verse! It shows us the depth of the Word of God's benefits in a single sentence. The Word is profitable for doctrine. That means it is going to help in the establishment of truth in our lives and the lives of others. It is profitable for reproof. That means it helps us to find the conviction to both turn ourselves to God and in how to serve His Kingdom. It is profitable for correction. That means it helps us to improve our lives by showing us the way to live and also by restoring us with its truth and inspiration. It is profitable for instruction in righteousness. This means it tells us exactly how to live according to the plan God has for us. So it reveals to us truth, helps us to turn from the world, restores and invigorates us in God's ways and then teaches us how to live the way God wants us to live.
That's all very transforming in and of itself. However, the scripture following that reveals much more:
That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:17)
Paul firmly establishes the full purposes of the transforming power of 2 Timothy 3:16 in 2 Timothy 3:17. All of the profits we make from reading the Word transform us into a perfect - or complete - follower of Christ. We are made complete through the reading of God's Word. It fills the gaps and inadequacies of our lives with its inspiration, knowledge, understanding and wisdom. And it helps us to be complete not just in our mind, but unto all of the good works of the Kingdom. The Bible, when digested regularly and properly, makes us into the type of person God wants us to be, both inside and out. In that, our Road to Pentecost and the blessings of God become clear.
Thought for the day:
The key to a perfect life is to allow the perfect Word to reveal, convict, correct and teach us what is the perfect way of living.
Think about this. The followers of Christ, while they waited in that upper room, had perfected themselves through the Word. They knew the Word (Peter used prophetic scripture in Acts 1 and half of his sermon in Acts 2 was based on knowledge of scripture). They trusted God's Word when Christ said they would be filled with power from on high. If we will do the same, we will be made into complete followers of Christ, and that will allow us to be the most effective people we could ever hope to be.
As we look at the transforming power of the Road to Pentecost, we turn our attention to prayer. As we've seen in sessions 2, 7 and 12, prayer allows us to bring our needs to God, we discovered how to overcome distractions in prayer and we discovered what happens when we give ourselves to continual prayer. Today, we discover the type of person we become when we make prayer a regular part of our lives.
Through prayer we build our faith (Jude 20). How does this work? How can our communication to God grow our faith in Him? Is it because he supplies our needs when we pray? (Philippians 4:19) But he doesn't always give us what we ask for. (2 Samuel 7:4-13) Is it because he talks back to us when we pray? (Psalm 138:3) But sometimes he doesn't answer when we call (Psalm 13:1) No, our faith isn't built on what God does, but on who God is in our lives.
God tries us to build our faith (James 1:3)
When we face a trial in life, the natural inclination is to cry out to God for help and deliverance. This is absolutely okay, but what if God doesn't answer, at least right away? What if God has something greater for us? (Romans 5:2-5). In that case, the only way to build our faith in Him is to accept the trial we face. We must embrace the trial and praise and worship God believing that through this trial we will be perfected. People like David, Peter, John and Paul all praised and worshiped God in the midst of their trials. Through their trials, God made them greater in His Kingdom and they also saw God in a greater way than before. They realized they could make it through anything as long as they trusted God, even when it didn't seem like He was there.
Praying the Right Way
We will become faith-filled followers when we start praying the right way. This doesn't mean we don't ask God for our needs or even desires when they line up with His will. They mean that we pray for them according to His will. Here's two examples:
Notice the difference. It's not the length of the praye by the way, but the attitude of the prayer. Both express that there is a want/need. Both express faith in God that He can provide the need/want. However, the latter prayer concedes that this need may not be met right away or even ever. This prayer is willing to receive it whenever, or, if the need/want is not what God wants, the prayer states that it wants God's will to be done. If we will pray with this kind of attitude, we are becoming faith-filled people and not results-based believers.
Thought for the day:
All prayers are answered, but those with true faith understand and know what the answers are.
Faith-filled people aren't built by the prayers God answers, but by belief in God and that He will lead them to what He wants for them. They know that God has everything under control and He will not leave them or forsake them. They know that God is always near, even when He doesn't answer right away. They know that He is working on their behalf for their good (Romans 8:28). More importantly, they believe in God because they know He is God and that is good enough for them. If we can get this mindset, we will find ourselves living as a faith-filled believer!
We've identified the tools and tactics on the Road to Pentecost. We've seen the challenges when trying to walk in God's ways and with God's provision. We've recently examined the exponential blessings of the pursuit of God's outpouring in our lives. We enter our final week on the Road to Pentecost by examining how these tools and tactics transform us in our walk with God.
Fasting, especially when done over a prolonged period, changes us. Until we get past around day 3, the power of the flesh and the temptations of the world don't seem as powerful. Once we pass a certain threshold, though, it becomes apparent how tied we are to this world and our flesh. The flesh and this world claw at us and try to break us, not because of hunger or desires for worldly things, but because they don't want us to submit ourselves to God.
However, once we have broken through a certain threshold, we begin to transform. We see things differently because our spiritual vision is no longer blinded by the shroud of fleshly desire. We notice the spiritual war that rages around us. We might not see angels and demons, but we see the affects their conflict has on the society around us. We see the hurting and the lonely that surround us on a daily basis. Their hurts and hangups reveal themselves in their body language and words in ways that normally are hidden. It's truly convicting to know and witness all that goes on around us on a daily basis.
Not only do we see the spiritual wars and casualties of those wars, but we also see the power of God on display, too. We see Him at work in the lives of those that are hurting, knocking at the door of lukewarm and unwilling hearts. We see Him attempting to heal and deliver those who sit in bitterness, resentment and depression. Even still, we see him pouring out his blessings on those who accept Him, including ourselves. And yes, he finds ways to bless those who even reject Him because God loves all and wants all to come to Him.
It's amazing to have such a spiritual perspective opened up to us simply by denying ourselves, and it's completely humbling. To see those who face such troubling and terrible circumstances knowing there is nothing we can do in and of ourselves humbles us. To see the actions of God trying to interact with and work on behalf of those who reject him knowing we couldn't see those things on our own is humbling. To see God pouring Himself out and to know that which I have to give and pour out is so small is humbling.
Thought for the day:
Fasting opens our eyes to the limitations of man and this world so we can humble ourselves and receive those things that God wants to pour out on us.
The great news about being humbled is that we can then start to receive from God that which we need and do that which he desires for us. By seeing that we can't solve all of our problems through an action, decision or push of a button, we turn ourselves to God for our answers. By seeing the specific hurts of those around us, we are able to pray for them specifically and then seek to help them according to the leading of God. When we see the spiritual conflict in our communities, we can know for what to go to God in prayer.
We can do great things in our lives, the lives of those around us and our communities. However, it will only be effective with humility, which comes from seeing clearly our place in this world and the Kingdom of God. Fasting can reveal our place by pulling aside the shroud of flesh and the world and opening our spiritual vision. It's things like this that make the Road to Pentecost and any pursuit of God such a rewarding journey.
We close out this week on the exponential benefits of utilizing the 3 tools and 2 tactics on the Road to Pentecost by looking at what comes out of being still. We saw in session 5 that being still allows us to discover where to go next on our path in Him. In session 10 we saw the enemy of stillness is moving forward without considering God. Today, we'll head back to Psalm 46, the origin of this tactic, to discover what benefits we receive from this tactic.
Stillness disarms our enemies
He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. (Psalm 46:9)
In the verse leading up to the our command to be still, we are promised that God has the ability to stop all the chaos that might swirl around us. He not only causes the conflicts in our lives to cease, he destroys all the tools our enemies would use to defeat us. This heralded promise reassures us in the power and authority of God. We can therefore stand still knowing that God will fight our battle for us.
Samuel used the tactic of being still when he led Israel out to face the Philistines. He didn't command the Israelites to get into formation when the Philistines drew near (1 Samuel 7:7). However, Samuel had already gotten Israel to turn towards God (1 Sam 7:3-4). As the Philistines drew near, Samuel offered a sacrifice and cry to the Lord (1 Sam 7:9). In that moment, God did what he promised in Psalm 46. He broke the Philistine army and restored all the land they had taken back to Israel.
We may face some Philistines on the Road to Pentecost. These enemies will try to intimidate, confuse and defeat us before we ever face them in battle. However, if we will be like Samuel and be still, God will deliver into our hand a mighty victory. Note, the Israelites prayed, fasted and practied the Word in the lead up to this victory. They followed the plan set forth by the man of God to the letter. By coupling fasting, prayer, the Word and plan of God with our stillness, we open ourselves up to victories that we never have to fight for.
Take this thought with you into the weekend and practice being still in the face of your enemies as Samuel did:
The greatest foe we face on the battlefield is our lack of faith in the One who can deliver us from the hand of our enemy.
We've talked about the importance of having a godly plan in session 4 and what to do when the plan seems to get derailed or delayed in session 9. Today, we look at the exponential blessings that come out of sticking to that plan no matter what. For this session we'll look at Joseph and the plan God had for his life.
Scriptures found in Genesis 37, 39, and 41
Joseph was destined to be the leader in his family. He had dreamed it from an early age (Genesis 37:5-9). However, not everyone was behind that plan. The older brother's of Joseph resented him for it. His own father rebuked him (v.10). Note, Joseph wasn't telling people something he had thought up on his own. These were divine dreams given to him from God. He was merely reporting them as thought they were a testimony. The plan that was laid out before Joseph took a wild turn early on. Joseph's brothers trapped him in a pit and then sold him into slavery (37:23-28). He then served in Potiphar's house before being accused of rape and thrown into prison (39:7-14, 20). He stayed in prison for years. Even though he had helped a man in Pharaoh's house, Joseph seemed forgotten along with the dreams and plan that God had put before him at a young age.
However, Joseph never diverted from God's plan even in the darkest hours. As a slave, he prospered within his master's house and his master prospered because of Joseph's presence and position in the house. Note, Joseph prospered because the Lord remained with him (39:2). Potiphar even recognized how God was with Joseph (39:3). The same thing happened in prison, too (39:21-23). Joseph was living a life pursuant to God's plan for him. Joseph still honored God and believed God would take care of him. As a result, Joseph found himself blessed and those around him were blessed also. In fact, it is because of Joseph's mindset and faith that he ended up with the opportunity to stand before Pharaoh and realize the plan God had in place for Him (Genesis 41:14-41).
Thought for the day:
If we faithfully hold onto God's plan for our life and live in faith, there is no other option but to be blessed and highly favored.
We talked about making it through tough times before. Today, though, we see that on that journey to our promise - to our Pentecost - there are blessings for us as well. It might seem like the dream God planted in our heart is far off in the distance. However, God is working behind the scenes for our benefits and he's going to pour out blessings on us as we continue in our belief and pursuit in Him. Those around us will see it and bless us also, and we'll be a blessing to them, too! It all comes from a simple perspective on life: If God gave you a dream, he's going to fulfill it. Just trust Him and keep marching in faith.
We discovered all the way back in session 3 that the Word helps to direct us in our lives. It is a map for how to live and what to pursue in the Kingdom of God. This is only the beginning of the effective blessings of this tool from God, though. The Word of God goes beyond directing and revealing, it provides knowledge, understanding and wisdom about this life and the road we travel to Pentecost.
Knowledge: The general information regarding life and God. The Bible reveals exactly what life is and what makes up a good life (as well as a bad life, too). Every knowledgeable thing there is to know about living in this world and on this plane is found in it. Everything that identifies who God is and what He represents to humanity is found lies within those pages.
Understanding: The ability to take information and apply it in a way that is meaningful to your life. The Bible goes beyond just sharing facts and descriptors about life and God. It speaks directly to us. We can read passages and find meaning that directly relates to us as individuals and groups. What's more, every time we open the Bible, we can gain new and greater understanding because it is a living book.
Wisdom: The ability to take the Bible and apply it to your life so you can walk in the right way. The Bible isn't something we read and appreciate. It is something we live. When we take the words written in those pages and completely apply them to our lives and walk in the truth of their direction, we are walking in the footsteps of wisdom. As time goes on, we will find ourselves wise because we listened to wisdom and lived by its precepts.
These three benefits are great, but to fully attain them, we are going to have to use the other tools and tactics we've identified on our Road To Pentecost. When we choose to fast, it denies our flesh and opens us up to the leading of the Spirit. When we pray, we are coming into relationship with God regularly. When we plan according to His will, we are obeying His leading. Finally, when we are still in God, we are able to hear and feel Him clearly. By doing all of this, we are in connection to God. When we are in connection to God and read His word, we are in the presence of the Master who wrote the Book. We are open to his leading according to His Word. Basically, we are placed into a doctorate program with God when we align ourselves in these disciplines and then open our Word. Knowledge, understanding and wisdom will regularly flow when we get into that kind of environment and we will find ourselves truly blessed on our Road To Pentecost.
Thought for the day:
The key to unlocking the mysteries of the greatest book ever written is to have a truly intimate relationship with the One who wrote it.
As we look to maximize the potential from our Big 5 on the Road to Pentecost, we turn our attention to prayer. Prayer has so much potential when we unleash it in our lives. Through connection to Jesus Christ, we are capable of overcoming every obstacle, discovering every hidden potential and receiving every rich blessing God has for us. So what happens when prayer is actively implemented in our lives?
It delivers us the answers we are seeking (Luke 18:1-8)
In his parable about the unkind and ungodly judge the widow who sought to be avenged, Christ shows a striking comparison for those of us who follow him. If an ungodly just will deliver the answer to a persistent woman's pleas, how much more will God, who is good, give to those who seek Him consistently and fervently?
The answer to our need is discovered from the fervency and persistence of our pursuit.
Helps us to treat those around us well (Romans 12:10-13)
In this scripture, Paul talks about several inclusive activities and actions that will build and strengthen the church. Among those things is consistent prayer. When we pray together consistently, we become closer in our bond as a Body and become more effective in the Kingdom and our godly pursuits.
The bonds of the Body are sewn in the consistency, candor and compassion with which we pray for one another.
Operates as a weapon for us in spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:10-18)
In this section of scriptures, Paul outlines the tools we have available to us in battle. Prayer is not likened to a sword or breastplate, but rather stands alone on its own merits. It's the thing that gels righteousness, salvation, truth, peace, faith and the Word together. It is our battle cry against the enemy as we march onto the battlefield for souls. Prayer is a weapon that defeats the enemy when we utilize it regularly.
Helps us and others to find open doors to speak Truth (Colossians 4:2-4)
In this scripture, Paul implores that the Body would pray for him and his group that they would be able to bring the gospel where they went. For Paul, prayer was paramount for him to be effective in the mission field. We must hold that same sentiment. We must pray for every minister and witness of the gospel, including ourselves. Doing this will go before us and open doors to places that would normally be shut and provide protection from that which might overwhelm us.
It will help us to stay vigilant in the last days before he returns (Luke 21:36, 1 Peter 4:7)
Both Peter and Jesus mention the importance of continual and consistent prayer in the last days. As the world careens towards oblivion, immorality and loveless nature will persist. Temptation will only advance and the enemies of God's people will steadily grow. The only true way to make it through such turbulent times and to hope to be pulled out onto the other side is through continual connection to Jesus Christ.
These are just a few examples of what prayer can do. Through these examples, though, we see that our Road To Pentecost is not one of trepidation or despair; but it is one we can boldly walk down knowing that God will hear our call if we stay connected with him. Will we remove distractions and hindrances to prayer so we can have the ear of The Almighty? If we do, we will see doors opened, prayers answered and enemies overcome.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.