Gifts of the Holy Spirit in Prayer and Intercession

Holy-Spirit fireReaders, please notice a new Page titled Gifts of the Holy Spirit in Prayer and Intercession.

This is a series of teachings given during a Sunday School class titled Principles of Prayer and Intercession.

You will need to click on the Page and its menu for individual posts, as they are not automatically distributed via email to subscribers.

I will do my best to update the Page as new material is addressed in class. Please let me know if you have questions about any of these posts, or if you would like to read notes from our previous classes on Prayer and Intercession.

 

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Comfort / Comforter

Comforter ComforterRescuer

What kind of comfort do you need?

The origin of the English word comfort from the Oxford online dictionary: “Middle English (as a noun, in the senses of strengthening, support, consolation; as a verb, in the senses of strengthen, give support, console): from Old French confort (noun) or conforter (verb), from late Latin confortare, strengthen, from com- (expressing intensive force) + Latin fortis, strong. The sense of something producing physical ease arose in the mid 17th century.”

Thus scriptural comfort is a reinforcement of strength – mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical.

In 2 Corinthians 1:4 the Apostle Paul said this about comfort:

  • “who (i.e. the God of all comfort, v. 3) comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” (KJV)
  • “who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (NIV)
  • “who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (NASB)
  • “who comforts and encourages…” (AMP)

Note: The KJV word tribulation in this verse is from the Greek word thlipsis, meaning pressure, oppression, affliction, distress, straits; it’s translated trouble or affliction in other versions.

Comfort here is from the Greek word paraklesis (G3874, noun), defined in Strong’s as meaning:

– a calling near, summons, (esp. for help); importation, supplication, entreaty; exhortation, admonition, encouragement
– consolation, comfort, solace; that which affords comfort or refreshment
– thus of the Messianic salvation (so the Rabbis call the Messiah the consoler, the comforter)
– persuasive discourse, stirring address
– instructive, admonitory, conciliatory, powerful hortatory discourse

John 14:16-17 (NIV) says, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”

Advocate here in the NIV is translated Comforter in the King James Version. It is from the Greek word paraklatos (G3875, noun), defined in Strong’s as:

– one who is summoned, called to one’s side, esp. called to one’s aid
– one who pleads another’s cause before a judge, a pleader, counsel for defense, legal assistant, an advocate
– one who pleads another’s cause with one, an intercessor
– of Christ in his exaltation at God’s right hand, pleading with God the Father for the pardon of our sins
– in the widest sense, a helper, succourer, aider, assistant
– of the Holy Spirit destined to take the place of Christ with the apostles (after his ascension to the Father), to lead them to a deeper knowledge of the gospel truth, and give them divine strength needed to enable them to undergo trials and persecutions on behalf of the divine kingdom

John used this word to describe the Holy Spirit. It is translated Comforter in KJV, Advocate in NIV, Helper in NASB, and Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) in the Amplified Version. He is all that, in every imaginable variation and circumstance.

What kind of comfort did Peter need?

  • Understanding, wisdom, speaking ability, revelation knowledge
  • Angel for a jailbreak…

5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. 6 The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. 7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. 8 Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. 9 Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him. (Acts 12:5-8 NIV)

What kind of comfort did Paul need?

  • Understanding, supernatural information, healing from beatings, resurrection from stoning, deliverance from mobs
  • Earthquake for a jailbreak…

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” 29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:25-30 NIV)

See the Book of Acts for these and many other examples. Also see I Corinthians 12 for Gifts of the Holy Spirit, i.e. God’s power tools, equipment, supplies, inside information, wisdom and weaponry.

God the Holy Spirit, the believer’s indwelling Comforter / Helper / Assistant / Intercessor / Strengthener does more than just bring emotional calmness and peace of mind which is what most people today tend to think of as comfort, although he certainly does that.

And he isn’t just called alongside to help, he’s INSIDE to help.

So – what kind of comfort do you need?

Weapons don’t wield themselves

GodsWeaponsMadeForYou“The worst thing the enemy can do to a believer in Jesus is to send him home to heaven early.”

Why doesn’t God stop him in his tracks?

It’s obvious that the enemy of our faith is at work in the world, sometimes very close to where we live. We wonder why he seems to be getting away with so many murderous acts, causing so much chaos, turmoil and tragedy.

Reminders of several basic facts:

  • War is being waged for control of this planet, control of the people who live on the planet, and eradication of the people inhabited by the Creator of the planet.
  • God gave control of this planet to human beings. Stopping the enemy is our job. We’re not doing a very good job of it, but it’s still our responsibility.
  • It’s not an even fight, the sides aren’t even close to equal – but you’d never know that from the way some folks act. Or don’t act.
  • We are the conquerors!

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39 NIV, emphasis added.)

God’s goal:

  • “(God our Savior) who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (I Tim. 2:4)
  • “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:9)
  • God made a way for that to  happen: “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

The devil’s goal:

His goal is to destroy the things God loves above all – people, human beings created in His image. To do that, the enemy will try to:

  • Kill every human being he can, Christians or not
  • Prevent every human being he can from becoming Christians
  • Prevent every Christian he can from bringing other human beings to Christ

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (I Peter 5:8-9)

Well, the enemy himself is not flesh and blood. He just stirs up flesh and blood to perform as his willing servants, or as his unwitting instruments.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph. 6:12)

Stopping particular people the enemy is using will not stop him from picking other people to use. We should indeed do whatever we can to stop (or prevent) attacks by those people. But that’s certainly not all – we should also:

Learn how to fight the real enemy:

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:4-5)

Changing the mind and heart of the person is the only answer to shutting out the enemy from using that person to do evil. Praying, sharing God’s Word, God’s kind of love and life (living the gospel), displaying a God-filled life, are steps toward that change.

“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” (2 Tim. 2:24-26)

You can shout and yell at people, but that won’t make them listen. You can shout and yell at the devil, but that won’t make him listen either.

Only taking authentic authority over him will work to stop his activity. And first you have to know he’s real, and that he’s really the one behind the evil actions.

“God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

“Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, ‘In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.’

“Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?’ Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.” (Acts 19:11-16)

Weapons of war:

Acknowledge that YOU have been given spiritual weapons. Know what they are and learn how they work. Recognize who is actually behind the evil activity you see. Ask God what to do about it and listen for his reply. The Holy Spirit will tell you what to do. Some weapons at our disposal include:

  • Spiritual armor. (Eph. 6:10-18) This includes defensive and offensive equipment. “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Eph. 6:11) “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) Withstand and resist are the same Greek word.
  • Gifts of the Holy Spirit. (I Cor. 12) We need supernatural information, wisdom on how to make use of it, faith, miracles, healing.
  • Discerning of spirits. (I Cor. 12) We especially need to know whether the wicked behavior is caused by human or evil spirits. Believers can exercise authority over evil ones, but human spirits require other approaches.
  • The Word of God. (Hebrews 4:12) Knowing it’s in the Bible isn’t going to help if you don’t know the scripture itself. Study. Learn. Get it in your memory banks.
  • Prayer and intercession. (I Tim. 2:1-2) Ask specific requests, based on knowledge of the scriptures and who you are in Christ, being led by the Holy Spirit as you ask.
  • Love and forgiveness are powerful weapons. “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.” (Luke 6:27-28) Remember, the kindness of God leads men to repentance. (Romans 2:4)
  • Your own testimony. “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” (Rev. 12:11)
  • Spiritual authority. (Matt. 28:18-20) Jesus told the disciples to do what he had been doing, and to teach others to do the same things. That includes you and me. He gave us this authority because he knew we were going to need it.

Matthew 18:20 says, “Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” And “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” (Mark 16:20) Note: signs won’t confirm God’s word that isn’t preached, taught, or spoken.

  • Stand firm in the faith. Having done all to stand, stand. Stand firm. (Eph. 6:13)
  • Pray in faith, speak in faith. “Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.” (James 5:17-18)

If you look up those events in I Kings 17 and 18, you see that Elijah didn’t actually pray about the rain stopping and starting – he just spoke about the rain. Whatever praying he did, he did beforehand, surely to ask the Lord for instructions on what to do next.

  • Don’t waver back and forth in doubt, hoping for the best. “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” (James 1:6-7)
  • Confidently expect results. “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Heb. 4:16) “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us — whatever we ask — we know that we have what we asked of him.” (I John 5:14-15)

Weapons don’t wield themselves:

The problem is, too many Christians think all this is automatic –  that they don’t have to be on their guard, don’t have to put on any armor, don’t have to exercise authority, don’t have to resist the devil, don’t have to pray for their enemies, don’t have to share the gospel, in other words, they don’t have to wield any weapons.

It’s as if they think, Let the preacher do it, let the missionaries do it, I don’t have to do it myself.  They may pay a high price for that mistaken belief.

Also see: https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/armored-front-and-back/

Faith – what is it? How do we get it?

There’s more than one kind of faith…

Natural faith

Natural human faith is an attitude of the mind, thinking or determining something is true. It may be based on experiential knowledge, something we have proven to ourselves — if I sit on that chair, it will hold me up. It may be based on facts we accept from others. Two times two equals four. I accepted it as fact, proved it in practice. Principles of electricity I myself have never proved, but since electric lights do work somebody did and so I accept them as fact.

Supernatural faith

Supernatural faith that saves, heals, protects and provides powerful miracles is an attitude of God’s mind, however. We can’t generate it inside ourselves, it originates in God. Saving faith, living by faith, faith that can grow like a seed, the Gift of Faith – that faith is not natural. Jesus offers it to us and we have to choose to receive it. Here are some definitions:

Faith – Greek noun Pistis – translated faith, assurance, believe (most), fidelity. (Strong’s Concordance 4102)

Conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the NT of a conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervor born of faith and joined with it. Relating to God: the conviction that God exists and is the creator and ruler of all things, the provider and bestower of eternal salvation through Christ. Relating to Christ: conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God.

Faith / Pistis (above) is derived from the Greek verb Peitho – translated persuade, trust, obey, have confidence in, believe, be confident. (Strong’s 3982)

To persuade, i.e. to induce one by words to believe; to make friends of, to win one’s favor, gain one’s good will, or to seek to win one, strive to please one; to persuade unto, i.e. move or induce one to persuasion to do something; to be persuaded; to be persuaded, to suffer one’s self to be persuaded; to be induced to believe in a thing. Also, to be persuaded of a thing concerning a person; to listen to, obey, yield to, comply with; to trust, have confidence, be confident.

Believe – Greek word pisteuo – verb, translated believe, commit unto, trust. (Strong’s 4100) (This word is related to those above.)

To think to be true, to be persuaded of, to place confidence in the thing believed; used in the NT of the conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by a certain inner and higher prerogative and law of the soul.

Faith comes

Faith in God comes from God himself. Eph. 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.”

To have supernatural faith is to be persuaded by God that something is true – that He exists, first and foremost. Heb. 11:6 says, “He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Heb. 12:2 says, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” And that Jesus is who he says he is, and can do what he says he can do. (Romans 10:9-10)

This faith must be accepted when offered. God won’t force you to take it. Romans 10:17 tells us, “So then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Jesus, the word of God, spoke to the disciples and offered them faith in himself, like handing them a piece of bread: “Have faith in God.” (Mark 11:22) They did. They accepted it, and so did many others who heard Jesus preach.

Faith grows

Jesus described faith as like a tiny mustard seed – it could grow and accomplish great things. (Matt. 17:20, 21:21) Jesus said about their faith to several desperately sick people who were healed: “Thy faith hath made thee whole.” (Mark 5:34, woman with issue of blood, Mark 10:52, the blind man.)

Faith grows also as a fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22) Paul commended the Thessalonians “because your faith growth exceedingly.” (II Thess. 1:3) As we allow God the Holy Spirit more and more access and freedom in our hearts and minds, God’s faith grows in our thinking and believing.

Faith continues to come, growing as we hear God’s word in various forms (sermons, other believers), study the Bible ourselves, listen to the Holy Spirit, learn and exercise faith in obeying Him.

It’s important that our faith grows because we have an enemy (John 10:10, Eph. 6:16) who tries to kill us, make us doubt, sick, broke, or alienated from family and friends. (Not to mention the ordinary challenges of human life.)

The Gift of Faith

In certain circumstances the Holy Spirit will use a person to solve a problem that needs an extraordinary solution, by way of a supernatural Gift of Faith. (Gifts of the Holy Spirit, I Cor. 12. See Gifts of the Holy Spirit below.) God enables that person at a given moment to believe something – be persuaded about something – without human reasoning or logic. The result is that he then prays, commands or does something in the name of Jesus and what he asks or says will come to pass.

This kind of faith is not natural, reasonable or logical: it is supernatural. While God may use some people in this Gift of the Holy Spirit more than others, it’s not usually a permanent enablement like a talent or skill.

A recent example is two teenage girls who lifted a farm tractor off of their father, saving his life. They could not do that in the natural. They wouldn’t even imagine they could do that. But at that moment of extraordinary need, they were enabled to believe they could do it – and they did it.

Summary

Faith – being persuaded, believing, having confidence and trust – originates in God, who loves us and gave Jesus to die for us. He offers faith but won’t force anyone to accept it. Once we accept God’s grace of saving faith, we then live (walk) by faith, nurturing and seeing faith grow. When an extraordinary need arises, God may use us with a Gift of Faith to meet it.

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Gifts of the Holy Spirit

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” (1 Cor. 12:7-11 NIV)

The first group of these is Word Gifts, where God enables a believer to say certain things:

• The gift of prophecy — a message from God for the group or for an individual.

• The gift of tongues — God’s message in a language unknown to the person speaking.

• The gift of interpreting tongues — after God’s message in tongues is given, the person or someone else gives the meaning of it – usually not a word-for-word translation, but an interpretation.

The second group of gifts is Sign Gifts, where God enables a believer to do certain things:

• The gift of faith — God enables a person at a given moment to believe something without human reasoning or logic. The result is that he then prays or speaks (commands) something in the name of Jesus and what he asks or says will come to pass. This kind of faith is not natural, reasonable or logical: it is supernatural.

• The gifts of healing — enables a believer to be God’s instrument to bring healing to someone who is sick, whether spiritual, psychological or physical. Notice – this is the only gift that is plural.

• The gift of miracles — a manifestation of God’s power whereby some obstacle is removed or opportunity seized in a way that could only come from God’s intervention into human affairs. This gift is a sign of God’s presence and power and, therefore, often a source of belief to many.

The third group is Intellectual Gifts, where God enables a believer to know certain things:

• The word of knowledge — God gives a believer certain information he could / would not get from natural sources.

• The word of wisdom — God gives a believer insight into His mind or plan in a given situation and enables him to put this insight into words of advice, understanding, or direction. For instance, how to use the information he gave in a word of knowledge.

• The gift of discerning of spirits — God reveals to a believer the source of certain behavior or action, whether it comes from the Holy Spirit, a human spirit, or an evil spirit.

These gifts are not something we possess permanently like a talent or skill, but ways in which the Holy Spirit reveals Himself through an individual. Usually they are temporary (passing), given as the need arises.

They are meant for the good of others, not simply for and sometimes not even including the person through which God provides a gift. (I like to think of this as being a conduit for the Holy Spirit’s power, like an electrical power cord…)

Our motivation in allowing the Holy Spirit to use us in these gifts is simple — love. God’s love for people who need His ministry, and our love for Him.

Thorns, grace, power tools

In II Corinthians 12:7-10, Paul asked God to remove a “thorn in the flesh” three times. He called it a “messenger of Satan,” given to him because of the revelations he’d received. Given to him by whom? For what?

Messenger = angelos, translated angel in all but three places in the New Testament, and those are all in the gospels quoting an Old Testament verse that applied to John the Baptist as the forerunner of Jesus.

Every other place angelos refers to an angel. Like Gabriel. Like the angel that delivered Peter from prison. Like the angels in the book of Revelation.

In the Old Testament thorns in the flesh were always pagan people that vexed God’s people. See Numbers 33:55 and Judges 2:3.

Never does that word describe anything other than a person or personality. Angel of Satan. Demon-possessed person or demon itself.

Why does an evil personality harass a believer? In John 10:10 Jesus tells us. To steal, kill and destroy.

This satanic angel came to steal Paul’s attention, sidetrack his ministry or undermine his influence with the community. Preventing his ego from being inflated, yes, but interfering with his confidence in Christ too.

Read Acts 16:16-19 about the woman at Philippi who had a spirit of divination. Following Paul around, she said the right things but she had a wrong spirit. Paul tolerated it for some days, then finally cast it out.

So, did the “thorn,” the evil personality succeed? No, he didn’t. Paul performed many signs, wonders and miracles – KJV says mighty deeds (dunamis). (See verse 12.)

Notice God’s response to Paul, a simple statement: My grace is sufficient for you.

He didn’t say no, he said you already have the tools you need to get rid of that thing.

Grace = charis, gift, favor, gratuity; something Paul already had. Spiritual gifts. The Holy Spirit’s tool kit. God’s power tools.

Were they enough for the job? Certainly. More than sufficient for Paul to complete his mission.

Jesus had told him, My strength is made perfect in weakness. Paul said he would rather glory in his own weakness, then, so the power (dunamis) of Christ could rest on him. And it did indeed. His testimony in Chapter 11 is proof of that, all by itself.

Here’s the point:

If a man could perform signs, wonders and miracles in his own strength, then he could get the glory for them.

But if he could perform signs, wonders and miracles despite his weakness, then God would get the glory for them.

It’s not complicated.