How does the Holy Spirit fit into our lives? John Wesley describes grace as having 3 components:
1. Prevenient grace
From birth God's grace prepares us for new life in Christ. The Holy Spirit goes before us (prevenient) preparing us in order to bring us to faith. Consider the image of a path that leads to our spiritual house. It is on the path where God pursues us. The Holy Spirit goes before us, pursuing us in gentle and love ways. How might that look and feel?
"And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." John 12:32
2. Justifying grace
We accept this grace offered to us and come into new life in Christ. Justifying or Accepting Grace describes the way we receive forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life when we repent and ask forgiveness. Consider the image of a porch at the end of the path where God has been pursuing us. At the porch of our spiriutal house we receive God’s forgiveness of sin and accept Christ as Lord. This is the grace that brings us to faith and salvation. This comes to people at various times – some are young, some are not.
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not form ourselves, it is the gift of God --not by works, so that no one can boast." Ephesians 2:8-9
3. Sanctifying grace
After accepting God's grace, we move into God's sanctyifying or sustaining grace. This is the beginning of our new life in Christ. Day to day we are being made perfect in love and motives. In our image we've moved from the path and from the porch to the inside the house where we open every room of our lives to the Holy Spirit. This grace accepts us for who we are but wants to make us better. Our goal is to open all the rooms of our spiritual house so that God can heal the broken places and motivate us to leave the places where we are stuck.
"But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 3:18)
When we are willing to open all of our rooms for Christ, we will have transformed lives. The key to real peace and happiness is inviting the Holy Spirit to dwell within us and walk with us every day.
In the Parable of the Sower Jesus (Luke 8:5-15) tells of a farmer who set out to sow seeds. Some seeds feel along the path, some fell on rocky ground, some fell among thorns, and some fell on good soil. He goes on to tell his disciples that the seed represents the word of God. Jesus is actually describing four kinds of Christ-followers and how they "sow" the word of God into their lives.
The parable begs the question, "What are you doing with your seeds?" In other words, what are you doing with the Word of God in your life?
Have your seeds fallen along the path? You hear the word yet you allow someone else to remove it from your heart. Have the seeds fallen along the path of your busyness and are left lying dormant waiting to be picked up again and re-planted?
Are your seeds on rocky ground? Maybe you’re joyful about God’s word and work for a while but it’s all a bit superficial. It doesn’t last long because the seeds haven’t really taken root.
Are your seeds among the thorns? You hear the word of God. You’ve heard it and you've read it. You've even studied in it how to cope with life and how to develop a strong relationship with God, but you give in to your weaknesses – your worries, materialism, worldy pleasures.
Or have they fallen on good soil? If so, Jesus says you have a noble and good heart. You hear God’s word, retain it and produce a crop. You internalize what you read and hear. You move forward in your relationship in faith and as a result you are producing good works.
When I taught high school students, I found many of them had a misunderstanding of how to prepare for tests. They thought if they glanced over the material and memorized some facts, they would be prepared. I told them good preparation means you internalize the information. You make it a part of you. The same principle applies for living out the Word of God.
We can read it and we can memorize some verses, but we need to internalize it and make it a part of us. When we do so, we'll have seed that's "fallen on good soil." Oh, what a crop it will produce!
What is the next step for you to consider in order to plant your seed in good soil?
Have you ever experienced a real connection between prayer and the release of God’s power? I have learned through many life experiences that there is a direction connection between my prayer life and my life responses. The more I count on God through fervent prayers, the more I notice that my attitude becomes brighter or I develop a courage I didn’t realize I had or I had an idea about how to effect change.
When my husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer years ago, I couldn’t have been the supportive helpmate to him if it weren’t for the power of prayer. I gained God’s strength through prayer. As long as I focused on God and not the mountain of cancer, I knew I would have the strength to be a loving caregiver. Looking back, I don’t know how I was able to keep on keeping on. The truth is I was not able to keep on keeping on, but God’s power energized me to carry out the many responsibilities of caring for my very sick husband, for working a full-time job, and doing the myriad of tasks each day brought. Yes, prayer unleashed God’s power in me.
The Israelites learned the connection of and God’s power through Moses’ example. When the Amalekites attacked the Israelites, Moses told Joshua to gather his men to fight. Moses promised to stand on top of the hill and pray with the staff of God in his hands lifted toward heaven. So Joshua obeyed the command and fought the Amalekites. Moses, Aaron, and Hur stayed on the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, he sat. Aaron and Hur even helped hold up his hands. Joshua’s army overcame the Amalekites. (Based on Exodus 17:8-13)
God’s power was released when Moses prayed. God’s power is released when we pray too. In the case of the Israelites, the power to win the battle was released. The power released when we pray looks different depending on what we pray for. In times of weakness, we may pray and receive courage. When we feel insecure about a situation, the power that’s released may be in the form of confidence.
Power can be released as…
A changed attitude
Or many other forms
It's awesome to note how powerful it is for others, like Aaron and Hur, to come along beside us to lift us up and support us in our prayers.
When your facing your Amalekites, remember the power of prayer. Prayer is the way to unlocking God’s power in your life. There is a connection between prayer and God’s power! Unleash his power!