Romans 8:26-30 (NLT)
And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.
Last March, I attended a women’s conference in Louisiana with a good friend. I knew the moment she mentioned it to me that I was supposed to attend this event without question. Not traveling much in the previous year due to our son’s battle with recurrent metastasized cancer, something (God’s Spirit) kept pressing me to go so I did. There were several speakers at the event, all definitely brought by God and inspired by His Spirit. A woman by the name of Cheryl Salem was one of them. She was a former Miss America filled with beauty on the inside and out. We shared a common thread in our life as her youngest child and only daughter was taken from this earth too soon by the same dreadful disease that we had been fighting. This experience definitely had taken her deep into the Presence of God and her deepest desire is now to show others the way to God’s Heart her constant source of comfort. One particular evening, she led us in the worship song, “I Worship You to Live” by Israel. It has a very simple chorus, “To worship you I live, to worship you I live I live to worship you, to worship you I live, to worship you I live I live to worship you.” To be completely honest, I don’t even remember the verses to the rest of the song other than the chorus. She stopped for a moment and taught about the intricate part the Holy Spirit plays in our worship. After the chorus, there is a long series of “Oh oh” that becomes like a chant, mantra or even groaning. Many people do not know what to do in a worship service when the music has no words or there are long moments of silence with direction. This is the most important part. She encouraged every single person in the room to open their mouth and allow sound to be produced. Even if it was a simple groaning as the music played and allow it to flow out of your mouth no matter how it sounded or who was listening allowing the Holy Spirit to intercede on one’s behalf. Many people think that if these sounds mean nothing to them that they are useless and fall down void. But it is God’s Spirit rising up inside of us pouring out all the junk that has restricted and hindered the Power of God in our lives. It is releasing the Spirit to do His Job and Advocate in our life. It is an acknowledgement to the Lord of a contrite, humble or even crushed spirit relinquishing the controls. It is a repentant heart searching for a way back into the Father’s Arms. If we open our mouth and focus on simply allowing such a sound to permeate the atmosphere, it will change the atmosphere in our life as we become true worshippers in Spirit and in Truth! (John 4:23)
The Holy Spirit prays for us in groanings that cannot be expressed in words. I believe that. It happened that night. As I opened my mouth and began to simply sing, “Oh oh” asking the Holy Spirit to speak for me in my groaning – I was overcome. Afraid to cry because I thought I would never stop after facing the possibility of losing my child, finally it all came pouring out. The more I sang the more I wanted to sing. The Spirit of God filled that place not because perfect pastors were preaching perfect messages, or worship leaders had a perfect pitch. It was because if only for a moment a group of people gathered and rather than worshipping God their own way – they worshipped Him in Spirit and Truth. We sang this same song in church yesterday. My heart raced back that moment with expectancy but rather than a group of people ready to pour out their hearts before the Lord many just stood around impatiently waiting to move on. It made me sad. Worship is not meant to be something that we do. Worship must become who we are so it must begin inside of us and work its way out of us.
Isaiah 57:15-19 (NLT)
The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: “I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts. For I will not fight against you forever; I will not always be angry. If I were, all people would pass away—all the souls I have made. I was angry, so I punished these greedy people. I withdrew from them, but they kept going on their own stubborn way. I have seen what they do, but I will heal them anyway! I will lead them. I will comfort those who mourn, bringing words of praise to their lips. May they have abundant peace, both near and far,” says the LORD, who heals them.
Our discomfort in the Presence of God produces fear of silence. When God is not speaking directly to us, immediately people feel guilty as if He is punishing them for something. God is not a punisher. When we sin, God withdraws otherwise He would be required by His Justice to pass judgment on us. When God moves away, so does His Goodness. Now we are left to fend for ourselves going our own way by choice, although most of the time people don’t quite see it as such instead calling it freedom. We do not know God because we spend no time getting acquainted with His Person, Character, and Identity. We do not know who God is or how He moves simply because we spend all other time doing other things. God wants to heal, restore and renew your life. Every single one of us! The sad thing is most people don’t even notice when God withdraws until all hell breaks loose in their life. God wants to comfort you and draw you close to Him. It has been His Plan and Purpose all along. We are the ones who choose other paths. Those who finally come to Jesus Christ with a contrite, humble or even crushed spirit. Those who have repentant hearts that turn back to God will experience His Love immediately, completely and overwhelmingly because God is love. It has been His Intention all the time. He will even “bring words of praise to their lips”. The Lord will show you how to worship Him if allowed to do so. There will then be abundant peace for those who choose to worship the Lord in Spirit and Truth when they simply open their mouth and let His Spirit flow out.
Matthew 12:31-33 (Message)
“There’s nothing done or said that can’t be forgiven. But if you deliberately persist in your slanders against God’s Spirit, you are repudiating the very One who forgives. If you reject the Son of Man out of some misunderstanding, the Holy Spirit can forgive you, but when you reject the Holy Spirit, you’re sawing off the branch on which you’re sitting, severing by your own perversity all connection with the One who forgives. If you grow a healthy tree, you’ll pick healthy fruit. If you grow a diseased tree, you’ll pick worm-eaten fruit. The fruit tells you about the tree.”
I have approached the subject of the Holy Spirit cautiously which seems ridiculous to me but necessary as not to offend some believers. I unashamedly will tell you that I believe in the Presence and Power of the Holy Spirit based on God’s Word. I also believe in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, too. I also am willing to admit that some people have made a mockery of the Holy Spirit blaming Him for their own foolishness. Less I digress, the Holy Spirit is imparted to those who call on the Name of Jesus Christ to be their Savior and Lord turning from sin to follow Him. He is put inside of you! He is a Gift to you of important significance. He identified Jesus as God’s Son. (Mark 1:9-11) He identifies you as a Child of God. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22) The Holy Spirit also guarantees every promise that God has made us beginning with salvation. In fact, the Holy Spirit is who fills our heart with God’s Love. (Romans 5:3-5) The Spirit is a requirement for a spiritual life. (John 3:5-6) He is the One who bears spiritual fruit from our sinful being. (Matthew 12:33) The Holy Spirit gives us the connection needed to have Heavenly Outcomes while still on the earth as He is the One who fills us with Kingdom Power. (Luke24:49) The Holy Spirit works tirelessly to change the way that we think. (Romans 8:5-6) This is pivotal in the transformation process that we are in. (Romans 12:1-2) The Holy Spirit was released when Jesus Christ surrendered His Spirit on the Cross. Now even when our behavior forces God to withdraw, the Spirit of God and Jesus Christ remains in us showing us the way back and advocating to the Father on our behalf. (John 14:16-17) The Spirit guides us through every test and temptation leading us closer to the Lord. (Luke 4:1-2) He calls to our remembrance the Truth that repels the lie of the enemy rendering him powerless in our life. (Luke 12:11-12) We must learn to release the Spirit of God in our life rather than never allowing Him to do His Job and lead us closer to the Father! We cry out to the Lord with a long list of demands when God is in us with all the Power we need to overcome the world. We are fighting senseless battles simply because we refuse to worship God and allow His Spirit to move through our life. It is time to open our mouth, even if we do not know what to say or how to act, and let the Spirit move from its hiding place in our heart to be fully activated in our lives.
Acts 2:2-4 (NLT)
Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.
The first thing that happened after the Holy Spirit came was people opened their mouths. The Spirit of the Living God resides in you. It is well-documented in the Word so it is useless to try to refute it. To do so would nullify all of the Word of God. The Holy Spirit is inside of you working on your heart and mind. However, if you decide to keep Him captive there how will your life ever be changed? You cannot do it or you would have done it yourself. If your way was so great, you would have never turned to follow Jesus. We must not let pride tell us how to worship God but depend on His Spirit to facilitate real worship that begins in a heart and mind surrendered to God and flows out of our mouth even when we do not know what to say. Just pushing air out of our mouth in the sound “oh” is intent that can be used by His Spirit when we dedicate our mind, soul and body to live a life of worship!
In the midst of hard labor with my third child, I began to make a low moaning sound that grew louder when I opened my mouth to let it out. I was horrified as if giving birth is not undignified enough. Beautiful, of course, but nevertheless without room for pride or modesty. Now I was letting out this guttural sound that was almost animalist. The midwife told me in between labor pains that this was a natural phenomenon in some women. No one knew why or where the sound originated but it would just come out unintentionally. Are you kidding me? I was mortified but despite my greatest effort could not stop it from coming out. So rather than hinder it, at her encouragement I embraced it. I focused on the sound more than the pain which was a good thing since she was not born in a hospital but rather a birthing cottage naturally without medication. It was probably one of the easiest times. However, looking back I now wonder if it wasn’t the Lord helping in those moments of travail to overcome the pain of labor and my broken heart. This baby was not coming into a happy home. It was irretrievably broken. In the beginning of the pregnancy, I did not want another child simply because I was preparing to care for two by myself. When complications arose, the midwife told me that I had to decide that I wanted this child or my body would continue to force her out prematurely. That’s when I heard it for the first time in a long time in the middle of the night. My life had been silent for many years before as I had walked my own way, made my own choices and God had withdrawn from my life. After I poured my heart out to the Lord for the first time in years, candidly, transparently, with a broken heart and spirit, the Holy Spirit spoke to me, “I am giving you the desire of your heart!” Everything inside my heart and mind changed in that moment. I did not have another complication throughout the entire pregnancy and gave birth to a beautiful healthy baby girl in a total of about two hours. (For you guys, that is pretty fast considering she weighed a modest nine pounds and six ounces.) The circumstances of my life did not change and not long after that I did go through a divorce and other consequences of my sinful rebellion against God, but His Spirit was with me. God gave me peace even in the broken road I had followed. He led me back to Him.
Galatians 5:16-17 (NLT)
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.
In the coming year, why not resolve to let the Holy Spirit guide your life? I am. My sinful nature always wants to do evil. It even disguises it with words like “bless her heart” and many other “churchy” clichés that we use every day to gossip and backbite our brothers and sisters. We are all guilty of sin and will battle our sinful nature until we die. It doesn’t matter how well you clean up, the truth remains that we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard. You can pretend all you want that you are a saint, but the façade will come crashing down when the next trial or temptation comes along. The only chance that we have to remain close to the Lord is to live by His Spirit. We must open our mouth and worship the Lord in Spirit and Truth rather standing in the back and hoping no one notices. You want revival in your church, house or workplace – start glorifying God with your words, allowing His Spirit to change the way that you think leading to better actions and deeds and then you will be revived, renewed and restored. We want to worship in Truth, but the Word makes no sense without the Spirit. Some want to simply move by the Spirit but without the Word there is no foundation for our faith. The Spirit gives us the desire to worship. Open your mouth today. Pray to the Father. Tell Him the whole sordid thing. Trust me, He already knows. Invite the Spirit of God to show you how to worship. Release His Spirit so that freedom will be yours! God is ready to heal you, restore you and renew you! Stop trying to do it all yourself. You will never be able to accomplish in a lifetime what the Spirit of God can do in a second. Let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. For goodness sake, open your mouth and let Him out.
2 Corinthians 3:17 (NLT)
For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.