This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.
Our Prayer Helper
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (Romans 8:26)
A man’s heart is moved when he groans. A groan is a matter about which there is no hypocrisy. A groan comes not from the lips, but from the heart. A groan, then, is a part of prayer that we owe to the Holy Spirit, and the same is true of all the prayer that wells up from the deep fountains of our inner life. [see also Jeremiah 4:19; Isaiah 38:14; Psalm 77:4, 38:8-9] …
That which is thrown up from the depths of the soul, when it is stirred with a terrible tempest, is more precious than pearl or coral, for it is the intercession of the Holy Spirit! …
Beloved, what a different view of prayer God has from that which men think to be the correct one! You may have seen very beautiful prayers in print and you may have heard very charming compositions from the pulpit, but I trust you have not fallen in love with them. Judge these things rightly. I pray you never think well of fine prayers, for before the thrice-holy God it ill becomes a sinful supplicant to play the orator! … The tail feathers of pride should be pulled out of our prayers, for they need only the wing feathers of faith. The peacock feathers of poetical expression are out of place before the throne of God. … God looks at the heart. To Him fine language is as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal, while a groan has music in it!
From The Holy Spirit’s Intercession
God is not looking for well-polished prayers; He’s looking for real prayers. Let’s be honest: Not even the most educated person in the world has a vocabulary sufficient enough to accurately communicate with The Almighty God!
Our Heavenly Father wants us to come to Him in simple, childlike anticipation. Notice I didn’t say childish anticipation—there is a huge difference. What Paul is telling us in Romans 8 is that the Holy Spirit can make the most eloquent, childlike, sincere prayer out of our deepest longings in our hearts.
Jesus reminded us, “Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:8). Our Father wants to answer our prayers, and He has given us His Holy Spirit to help us pray in a way that He can answer.
Don’t try to spruce up your vocabulary before you come to God in prayer. Just come to God in prayer, trusting that the Holy Spirit will make a beautiful prayer even out of your childlike groanings! The Holy Spirit turns our groans into prayerful poetry in our Heavenly Father’s ears!
I grew up reading the King James Version of the Bible. So naturally, this was the version I also memorized. Even to this day (all these many, many[!] years later), many of the verses I memorized still come back to my mind in that Olde English slant.
A few years ago we celebrated the 400th anniversary of the King James authorized translation of the Bible into English. It’s astounding to realize how many words, phrases, and concepts from this version have become mainstays in the English language. From Shakespeare’s plays right down to current writings, this “Book of books” infiltrates our thoughts and our vocabulary.
Here is an outstanding poem Glen Scrivener put together to honor the 400th anniversary of the KJV, where he attempts to share 100 phrases from this translation in 3 minutes. Enjoy!
These are the last words of David: “The inspired utterance of David son of Jesse, the utterance of the man exalted by the Most High, the man anointed by the God of Jacob, the hero of Israel’s songs. The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me; His word was on my tongue. The God of Israel spoke, the Rock of Israel said to me: ‘When one rules over people in righteousness, when he rules in the fear of God, he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings grass from the earth.’” (2 Samuel 23:1-4)
Look how David describes himself:
This statement by David reminds me of the words Moses spoke about himself: “Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3)!
David also said that he was the hero of Israel’s songs. The King James Version says he was “the sweet psalmist of Israel.” However he is described, these are his last words. Literally, that means that his words loitered. They hung around. They continued to impact people’s lives long after he was gone.
Look how long his words loitered. When the Church prayed in Acts 4, they quote David’s prophetic words, stating that they were spoken through the Holy Spirit. David said that’s exactly how he was speaking—“the Spirit of the Lord spoke through me; His word was on my tongue” (v. 2), and God Himself is recorded as speaking through David in verse 3.
David was both confident of this and humbled by this.
God is still looking for people through whom He may speak loitering words.
May our prayer be—God, You are still looking for men and women through whom You can impart loitering words. You want to put Your words in the mouth of those who are righteous in Your sight and who walk in reverent fear of Your holiness, those who acknowledge Your love and Your sovereignty. O God, make me that person! I don’t want to speak idle words, but life-changing, God-glorifying, Spirit-empowered words that will loiter, and impart truth, and bring people to Jesus. Show me what I need to change to be the one through whom You will speak Your loitering words.
Last week we learned that speaking in tongues was one of the most noticeable and consistent characteristics of those who were baptized in the Holy Spirit.
Speaking in tongues as the Spirit enables you is the unmistakable, objective, outward, initial physical evidence. The Bible makes clear that continuing to pray in tongues has huge benefits for both our personal prayer lives and for the corporate church body. But don’t stop there!
The initial, outward evidence is primarily for the individual Christian—it’s a way of knowing that you know that you have indeed been baptized in the Spirit. But there also needs to be some everyday evidence for others that testifies to them that something is different about your life.
Consider the disciples of Jesus before and after being baptized in the Holy Spirit…
Before being baptized in the Spirit they said stupid things because they didn’t know what to say (Mark 9:5-6) But after being baptized in the Spirit there was no more foot-in-mouth disease. Just as the Holy Spirit enabled them to praise God in an unlearned tongue, He also empowered their natural dialect. The same Greek word is used in Acts 2:4 (enabled by the Holy Spirit), 2:14 (Peter addressed the crowd), and 26:25 (what I am saying is true and reasonable).
Their spiritual power
Before it was limited, and often thwarted, but afterward, it was limitless and effortless (Mark 9:17-18; Acts 3:1-8; 5:15; 6:8).
Their understanding of servanthood
Before they argued about who was the greatest. Afterward, they gladly gave all that they had to others (Mark 9:33-34; Acts 2:44-45).
Their boldness in the face of adversity
Before they abandoned Jesus, ran away, and hid in locked rooms. Afterward, there was no intimidating or silencing them (Acts 4:8, 13, 18-20).
Their understanding of Scripture
Before they had virtually no understanding of Scripture’s application. Afterward, they understood how to apply God’s Word in almost every situation (Acts 2:16, 33-35; 4:24-26).
Jesus promised that the baptism in the Holy Spirit would empower us TO BE His witnesses (Acts 1:8). Not just to do things for Him. There’s nothing wrong about doing Jesus-glorifying things, but in themselves, they are too short-sighted. Jesus doesn’t want us empowered to do things, but TO BE a living, breathing, walking, talking witness of a life transformed by His power. That’s the reason why I say to you again and again: Don’t stop at salvation. Press on and press in to be baptized in the Holy Spirit so that you can BE an empowered, transformed and transforming witness for Jesus!
If you missed any of the messages in this series, you can access the full list of messages by clicking here.
You might have thought it was just a slip of the tongue, but it’s not. That slip of the tongue is actually a gift to us to help us know what’s really going on in our heart.
Check out this 2-minute clip—
The Scriptures I reference in this passage are Psalm 39:1; Jeremiah 17:9; and Matthew 15:19.
This is a snippet from a longer message on putting other things in our life in perspective. You can check out the full video by clicking here, or you can read the list of the 5 things we need to keep in proper perspective by clicking here.
In these six chapters, nearly every verse uses the conjunction BUT to set apart God’s way from the world’s way. In fact, I counted 144 BUTs in these chapters. Clearly there is a lifestyle that God blesses, and a lifestyle that God rejects.
I would encourage you to read these proverbs for yourself, but let me give you just a taste of what I’m talking about. In chapter 10, the BUTs show us that doing things God’s way leads to:
And doing things the world’s way leads to:
Or consider the proverbs about our vocabulary from chapter 12:
Take some time to study the BUTs in these chapters, and then comment below on what you find.
“What a great responsibility God has laid upon us preachers of His gospel and teachers of His Word. In that future day when God’s wrath is poured out, how are we going to answer? How am I going to answer? I fear there is much we are doing in the name of the Christian church that is wood, hay and stubble destined to be burned up in God’s refining fire. A day is coming when I and my fellow ministers must give account of our stewardship: What kind of a gospel did we preach? Did we make it plain that men and women who are apart from Christ Jesus are lost? Did we counsel them to repent and believe?” —A.W. Tozer
“Prayer pursues God’s glory by treating Him as the inexhaustible reservoir of hope and help. In prayer, we admit our poverty and God’s prosperity, our bankruptcy and His bounty, our misery and His mercy.” —John Piper
“We love beauty with simplicity, and we love the pursuit of knowledge without effeminacy. We employee wealth properly, for use rather than for noisy display, and we do not consider poverty to be a disgrace but do regard it as shameful for someone not to seek to escape poverty through labor. We citizens of Athens care for both our own domestic concerns and for the affairs of state; those of us engaged in business are not lacking in understanding of public matters. For we alone consider those who avoid engagement in public affairs not as ‘uninvolved’ but as useless. And we, as we judge and reflect carefully on matters, do not consider words to be a hindrance to actions. Rather, the real hindrance to action is to enter into whatever must be done without taking forewarning through discussion.” —Pericles, speaking about Athenian culture, quoted in the Archaeological Study Bible
The serious mental health costs of watching pornography. Don’t be fooled: porn is dangerous!
Tim Dilena talks about the difference between truth and “viral fame” in this video.
I like Seth Godin’s thoughts on our vocabulary. “It’s not about knowing needlessly fancy words (but it’s often hard to know if the fancy word is needless until after you learn it). Your vocabulary reflects the way you think (and vice versa). It’s tempting to read and write at the eighth-grade level, but there’s a lot more leverage when you are able to use the right word in the right moment.” Read more in Does Vocabulary Matter?
In his latest book, Dr. Frank Minrith tells us about a vital link between our vocabulary, and the growth in the human brain. It’s really quite fascinating! Check out my review of A Brilliant Mind by clicking here. Below are a few quotes from this book I wanted to share with you, along with a helpful list for increasing your memorization capacity.
“Only 3,500 words separate the culturally literate from others.”
“The average adult probably has a vocabulary of thirty to sixty thousand words. The highly literate may extend to one hundred thousand words. Yet the English language has well over one million words. Moving above the thirty-thousand-word range will greatly enhance our communication skills.”
“Many other tests since Dr. Johnson O’Connor’s have confirmed the correlation between career success and vocabulary knowledge.”
“Neuroplasticity simply means that the brain is capable of being molded: it can change and develop more connections between its many nerve cells so that, to a degree, it can even develop more cells. Neurogenesis is a similar term; it means that the brain is capable of growth and development. … You can increase the number of synapses in your brain by memorizing words. The more words you memorize, the more you can memorize because of the increase in neural synapses.”
“K. Warner Schaie, who investigated cognitive decline, found that the risk of cognitive decline could be reduced by three factors: higher education, extensive reading, and being married to a spouse with high cognitive status.”
“We are, to a degree, what we repeatedly take into our brains. As we begin to expand our mental capacity through memorization, the brain chemistry is rearranged and memory is stored. Not only do we gain greater memory capability, but our brains actually change and improve. It is as if we program the brain with new software, and therefore we can respond to life around us in a healthier manner.”
Eight memory techniques: