Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Paying the Price


Prayer

by Dennis Pollock

To speak about the price of the Holy Spirit sounds blasphemous. And if we were talking about money it most certainly would be, as Simon the sorcerer found out after he offered money to the apostles, trying to buy the ability to minister the filling of the Spirit. When Peter preached to the people on the Day of Pentecost, he called them to repent, be baptized, and receive "the gift of the Holy Spirit." This amazing gift has indeed been purchased for us by the Lord Jesus as He shed His blood on the cross for our sins.

On the other hand there is a lifestyle and there are sacrifices that must be made if we are to enjoy the fullness of the Spirit. Many suppose that since salvation is a matter of grace, there is never anything for us to do. Everything God wants to do He does, whether we obey Him, rebel against Him, or ignore Him. The truth is, the Bible contains a number of promises that are contingent upon us doing certain things. These follow the simple, "If A then B" premise. One example of this is found in Hebrews 11, and is fundamental to a walk with God: "For he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). The Scriptures tell us that if we seek God diligently He rewards us."

Is This Works?

Is this promoting a program of works rather than grace? Not at all. We are not being told that blessings are being earned here; we are told that they will always be associated with seeking God. Let me illustrate it this way. Suppose a wealthy man hides hundreds of gold bricks in a field, and then tells a few homeless people he meets that they are welcome to come to his field and dig around for the gold. Anything they find they can keep. The homeless people jump at the chance and in an afternoon's time they have each acquired over a million dollars' worth of gold bricks. Do they go out and tell their friends that these are their wages – that they have earned their great fortune by laboring for the field's owner? Of course not. The gold was a gift from their wealthy benefactor. The bricks were not wages. They were an expression of the rich man's kindness. Digging in the field was simply the way he made sure they really wanted his gifts and believed his promise. An afternoon of digging was a means of distinguishing between those who truly believed the gold existed and those who thought it a fairy tale.

In like manner our great heavenly Benefactor has hidden all sorts of blessings and riches in His Son Jesus Christ, and told the world to come and seek Him. And with Christ's promise of the fullness of the Holy Spirit, there are conditions as well. We must do more than merely wish and hope that Jesus will continually fill us with His Spirit. There are conditions to be met.

The primary requirement in being initially filled with the Holy Spirit is to come to Jesus Christ in faith, claiming His promise. A major principle involved in living full of the Spirit is the principle of saturation. We must learn what it means to be saturated with the presence of God. One helpful passage is from the days of Moses and Joshua. Before the tabernacle was built Moses erected a small tent, which became known as the "tabernacle of meeting" where he could meet with God. That mysterious cloud of glory would come down when Moses would enter the tent and hover near the entrance. Often he would take his assistant Joshua with him. After a while Moses would finish his business with God, and would leave, but the Bible tells us that Joshua was never in a hurry to go. In Exodus we read: "And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle" (Exodus 33:10,11). Joshua seemed to love to linger in the presence of God and soak in that anointing. Is it any wonder that when Moses was about to die, God told him, "Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him; and have him stand before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation, and commission him in their sight"  (Numbers 27:18,19). Joshua, the man who loved to linger in the presence of God, became the man who would fill the shoes of Moses and do something even his master was not able to do – lead Israel into her promised land.

He's Good for You!

The presence of God is very, very good for you. There are things of the Spirit that you can never have by spending short little amounts of time with God. Quick little prayers and short little Bible passages can never take the place of unhurried, unrushed, quiet times of fellowship with our triune God. As we learn to linger in His presence, as we pay the price of shutting out all the many distractions of the day, and learn to hear His whisperings to our spirits, we shall be equipped for great things in the realm of the Spirit. We will be changed by continual outpourings of His grace taking us from glory to glory.

Suppose you want to die a white t-shirt a deep, rich blue color. You dip the shirt in the blue die and immediately remove it. It has a light blue color, but it isn't at all what you were looking for. If you want the deep, deep blue color you cannot merely dip the shirt; you must immerse it for hours. Place the shirt into the die until every part is covered. Then leave it all night long. In fact leave it for several days. Then take the shirt out of the die. You will now have what you desired. The shirt is a beautiful, brilliant, rich blue color that it could never have attained by a five second dip.

Your mind and your spirit were made to be immersed in God – regularly, and over lengthy periods of time. It is not enough merely to claim you have some "quality" times with the Lord. We need quantity as well. And not just for a few weeks or months. Frequent, regular times with God and Christ in prayer and in His word are meant to be the trademark of a believer. The abiding life which Jesus commands, and which He promises will result in answered prayers and much fruit, is what we are talking about here. David tasted of this and wrote: "One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple" (Psalms 27:4). David longed to live in God's presence.

One Thing Needed

Just as David spoke of "one thing" that he desired, Mary, the sister of Lazarus, also had "one thing" connected with her life. Jesus was teaching a group of people in her house, and she slipped in the room, and sat down at Jesus' feet to drink in His life-giving words. Martha, who was frantically preparing food for their guests in the kitchen, put up with it as long as she could, but finally went to Jesus and complained, "Tell my sister to help me." Jesus' reply settled forever the importance of lingering: "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:42). Like Joshua of old, Mary was a lingerer. She couldn't get enough of Jesus Christ.

Psalm one describes the blessedness of the man who meditates in the law of the Lord day and night. He is promised success in all he does and compared to a fruitful tree which will never dry up because it is planted by the rivers. This is an Old Testament description of the life of abiding in Jesus Christ. Trees do not hop. Rabbits hop, kangaroos hop, crickets and grasshoppers hop – but trees never hop. They stay right where they are planted with their long and plentiful roots reaching down deep into the moist ground and drinking in the nourishment provided by the soil and the nearby river. God says this is exactly what your life will look like when you abide in Jesus. But we must remember that the abiding life is a lingering life. To read a short chapter in the Bible every few days and limit our prayer life to occasional short prayers before we eat our hamburgers is not what we're talking about here. Meditating in God's word day and night implies doing it a lot, and making it a lifetime practice. And as you read, remember to linger over the words and phrases. If you only have fifteen minutes to read, it is far better to read two or three chapters thoughtfully and prayerfully than to try to set a world's record for speed reading, cover 12 chapters, and retain nothing. Slow down and smell the sweet fragrance of Jesus Christ wherever you are reading.

On the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit was poured out, the apostles were filled with the Spirit, and there was an explosion of the power of God that resulted in 3,000 people giving their lives to Christ on the spot. There was a reason the apostles experienced such a powerful anointing, beyond the fact that the right Jewish feast day had now arrived. These men had spent the last three and a half years living with Jesus. These years were in essence a continual lingering. Mary may have sat at Jesus' feet for an hour or two, but these men had sat at his feet and walked by His side for the last three plus years. They knew Jesus like no one else. The words of God that came forth from His lips had been stored up in their spirits until the disciples had become like walking time bombs, waiting for God's time and the Holy Spirit's fire. When the fire of the Spirit touched the incredible energy contained in the divine words that had been stored within their minds and hearts, an explosion occurred which shook the world.

Two Types of Fires

As an illustration let's consider two different types of fires. First, suppose that you pour a gallon of gasoline on a parking lot (preferably empty). Drop a match on the gasoline. You have instant fire, an impressive flash occurs and you produce both heat and light – temporarily. But the gasoline fire won't burn long. Because it has so little substance to it, the gas quickly burns itself out, and if there are no other sources of energy, the fire will be out in a very short time. Now let's try a second type of fire. Suppose you pile mounds and mounds of kindling together. On top of that place dozens of sticks of standard firewood. And then on top of that place huge logs the size of short telephone poles. Keep on piling the wood together until it resembles a small mountain. Now light the kindling at the bottom. The resulting fire may not take off as quickly as the gasoline did, but in the end it will burn far hotter and, more importantly last far longer.

The Word of God plus the Spirit of God – this is where the power lies. Some people come to Jesus for the fullness of the Spirit and He grants them their request. But because they have so little of the Word in their hearts and because they make no effort to meditate in God's Word day and night, their experience is more like a temporary flash than a long burning fire. They may get a few emotions, a couple of tears and some warm feelings, but in a few days they feel just as cold and dry as ever. They wonder if there is really anything to this business of being filled with the Spirit.

There truly is a great deal to experience; however if you are seeking the Spirit but neglecting the Word and prayer in your daily life, you are going to be disappointed. Let us come to Jesus daily for the fullness of His Spirit, and linger in His presence and in His Word as that Spirit saturates us to the core of our being. Like Mary let us choose that good part which shall never be taken away from us.


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