Speaking in Tongues: My Testimony (Pt 3)

It would take several months before I spoke in tongues. However, in the days and weeks following the Life in the Spirit Seminar, I noticed unusual things happen to me.

First, I never wanted to have anything to do with the praise and worship songs of the Charismatics. But I started noticing a change. When I heard the sound of worship songs, I felt drawn to it. Those songs delighted my spirit. I couldn’t explain why; it just happened.

Second, I caught myself one day raising my arms to heaven when I worshiped. Up to that point, you couldn’t get me to raise my hands. Yet, here I was raising my hands in worship. I don’t recall anyone telling me to raise my hands. For some of you these details might sound trivial, but for me it was a big deal.

Third, I felt light and free and joyful. I couldn’t explain it; I just experienced it. Fourth, I noticed that I was more assured of God’s presence in my life. I felt God was close to me and I didn’t need anything. I felt drawn to Jesus in a new way. For the first time, I noticed that I didn’t need the Virgin Mary (or the saints) and sacramentals as much as I previously thought. Again, no one coached me. I just felt different inside me.

Fifth, I became bold, confident and spontaneous in prayer. When I joined the Charismatics, I learned about the spiritual authority of the believer and how to use it. For the first time in my life, when I discerned demonic activity, I knew what to do or say and I felt bold about it.

 Let me share an example with you.

One day in the seminary, a classmate of mine was sick so I visited him to see how he was doing. He looked pale and weak. I sat next to him on his bed while we talked. He, too, was seated. Suddenly, his eyes rolled and became white and he bent backwards, looking unconscious and lifeless. In that very moment, I looked at him and spoke the following words, “I rebuke you, death!” As soon as I spoke those words, he sat up again as if I had woken him from a dream. His eyes became normal again and we continued our conversation.

The interesting thing is, he didn’t realize what had just happened. And I felt at that time that it wasn’t necessary, either, for me to tell him.

My point is, if I had faced this situation in my earlier life, I would have been scared or scrambled to recite some of the traditional prayers I had memorized (e.g. the “Hail Mary” or “Prayer to St. Michael”). But this time, I wasn’t moved a bit by what was happening in front of me. I knew by spontaneous discernment which spirit was trying to harm my friend (the spirit of death). I took authority, spoke directly to death and rebuked it to lose its grip on my friend. And it obeyed.

The next chapter of how I came to speak in tongues takes place in Rome, Italy. I’ll talk about that in my next post.

Until then, may the rivers of living water in you refresh you and meet every need in your life. Amen.


Paul: The Chief of Sinners? (Pt 4)

Daily Devotional | Day 348

“Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me . . . O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:20, 24-25, NKJV).

In Romans 7:13-25 Paul paints a rather depressing picture of the struggle against sin, a struggle in which sin appears to have the upper hand. But who would blame him? He is giving an accurate account of what happens to a person enslaved by sin. Being in such a condition is no fun, especially if one has a conscience. Sin is a ruthless master. Once it has a soul in its grip, it is determined to deprive him of life, peace and joy. In today’s presentation, we will sum up Paul’s description of the struggle against sin by reflecting on two key points he raised. The question we are addressing remains the same: Is Paul describing what happened before he was saved or what happened after he was saved?

The first point is about sin dwelling in a person. Because he is captive to sin, Paul says he finds himself doing the evil he hates, while failing to do the good he desires. He tells us the consequence of being in this condition: “Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me” (v. 21; he makes the same point in v. 17-18). Paul just dropped a bombshell. Many have relied on this statement to create a popular doctrine that says sin (“sin nature”) dwells in all people, Christians and non-Christians alike. As we continue our study, we will find out if that is accurate or not.

When Paul says, “it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me,” this means sin has taken over his life. Sin is now in the driving seat. It has deprived him of self-mastery. A greater power than he is at work in him, prompting him to make sinful choices. Regardless of his best intentions, he invariably ends up doing not what he wants to do, but what sin wants him to do. At this point, he is addicted to sin and cannot break free. We will not discuss it yet, but look at what Paul said in Galatians 2:20 and compare it with what he says about indwelling sin: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. . .” In the meantime, a critical question which emerges is: How does sin come to dwell in a person? We will talk about this in tomorrow’s presentation.

The second point we want to address today involves the following statement by Paul: “with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:25). As we noted earlier, Paul is describing the inner conflict of a Jew who knows the law yet fails to keep it. Paul says he is not ignorant about the requirements of the law. He has been instructed and enlightened by the law. In his mind, he knows the law is good and holy. He even delights in the law (v. 22). With his mind he serves the law of God, i.e. he esteems the law highly. But with his flesh, he serves the law of sin (Notice there is a law called the law of sin. This is what binds people and keeps them in bondage to sin). This means the law is only in Paul’s mind. In practice he fails to keep it. Instead, he obeys his real master, sin.

Paul explains his dilemma thus, “for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find” (v. 18). He has come to the end of himself. In his desperation he cries out, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (v. 24). We will save the first part of the next verse (“I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!”) for later. Notice that at the end of the passage, Paul is crying out for someone to deliver him. Who will that deliverer be? Is it possible to be delivered from sin’s bondage and be free to do only what is good? Was Paul crying for deliverance from sin’s bondage before he met the Savior or after he met the Savior? The answers will soon surface as our study progresses. 

We will continue next time, God willing. May the Lord keep you free from the enemy’s shackles. Amen.

For further studyGalatians 5:1-26

Why Satan Stalks People and How You Can Stay Safe (Pt 2)

Daily Devotion | Day 310

“And the LORD said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’ So Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it’” (Job 1:7, NKJV).

Yesterday, we talked about satan’s stalking endeavors and why he does what he does. We will conclude the message today by looking at how you can stay safe and not become the devil’s prey. To do this, we will briefly examine examples from the lives of Job and Peter. Today’s opening Scripture confirms what we read yesterday from 1 Peter 5:8. Satan, by his own admission, goes to and fro on the earth, and walks back and forth on it. Interestingly, the author of the Book of Job did not tell us why satan roams the earth. But Peter did. Satan’s purpose for roaming the earth is to find someone to devour.

In the Book of Job we learn that satan attacked Job twice (Job 1:6-22; 2:1-10). The enemy had stalked and scouted him. As a result, he knew details about Job’s life (Job 1:8-10). Unfortunately for him, he could not enslave Job as he had other people. Desperate and frustrated, he sought God’s permission to launch an assault on Job in hopes of getting him to abandon his faith in God. But he failed. Job maintained his integrity and emerged victorious. He proved to be a man of faith, faithful to God in happy times and in difficult times. The lesson here is the following:

 You can’t stop satan from roaming around or from looking into your affairs. But you can stop him from defeating you. And you do this through a life of faith (faithfulness). Faith repels the devil. This is what Peter meant when he said, “Resist him [satan]steadfast in the faith” (1 Peter 5:9; see also James 4:7 and Ephesians 6:16). John confirms this when he writes, “And this is the victory which has overcome the world – our faith” (1 John 5:4). Victory over the world is tantamount to victory over satan. To overcome the devil, you need to adopt a posture of resistance. This posture is the posture of faith.

The next example is from the life of Peter. This man knows a thing or two about being targeted by satan. Satan knew how close Peter was to Jesus. More importantly, he knew that Jesus had chosen Peter for a position of influence in His Church (Matthew 16:16-19). Finding a vulnerability in Peter, he prompted him to dissuade Jesus from going to Calvary (Matthew 16:21-22). Jesus’ response was timely and revealing: “But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:23).

Satan was not done with Peter, yet. He had a more sinister plan in store for him. But for the intervention of Jesus, he would have thoroughly shattered Peter’s faith. Unfortunately for Peter, he had no clue about what was happening behind the scenes. Thankfully, the Lord revealed it to him and cautioned him, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32).

The lesson here is this:

Prayer destroys the devil’s plans against us. At the same time, it gives us strength to stand and endure. In this instance, it was Jesus’ prayer of intercession which saved Peter. This means your prayer can save someone from satan’s evil schemes. If this is true (and it is), then it is equally true that your prayer can save your own life, too. I pray that one of these days, God would open your eyes to see the positive influence your prayer has on others and on you.

To sum up: Combine faith and prayer to keep satan from messing up your life or the lives of those you love. You have the advantage. Use it, and stay safe.

For further studyEphesians 6:10-20 and Psalm 121:1-8

What to Do When God Seems ‘Asleep’

Daily Devotion | Day 275

“And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He [Jesus] was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’” (Mark 4:37-38, NKJV).

The Apostles had had enough. The storm wouldn’t cease. Initially, they probably tried to let out as much water as they could. At first, they didn’t want to bother the Master who was taking a nap. But all their maneuvering proved futile. The storm only grew fierce. Now their boat was filling up with water. They knew what that meant: The end was near.

But wait, there was one more thing. During this whole time the Teacher (Jesus) was asleep. The noise from the storm didn’t seem to disturb His sleep. The Gospel writer added an important detail. Jesus wasn’t just sleeping. He was comfortably resting on a pillow – in the middle of the storm.

When all their efforts failed, the Apostles turned to the sleeping Teacher. They awoke Him and poured their frustration on Him: “Teacher,” they said, “do You not care that we are perishing?” A Friend who sleeps during your period of crisis certainly doesn’t appear to be the caring type.

Up to this time, the Apostles had confidence in their Master. He was there when they needed Him. But today is different. Today, the Master sleeps when they need Him the most. This was the one day they doubted that their beloved Teacher cared: “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”

All crisis is not the same. Some are more severe than others. Some problems you can easily manage and ultimately overcome. But there are times when problems come at you with the intensity of the waves of the sea, and you can feel overwhelmed. In these moments, you hope you can use some divine intervention. But all you hear from heaven is silence. It feels like God is asleep.

Then you begin to wonder if He cares. When this feeling persists long enough, in some people it can reach a tipping point where they begin to wonder: Does God even exist? Perhaps you’ve had your own moments where you wondered if God cares or is who He says He is.

Moments when it seems God is ‘asleep,’ remember (and this may shock you): God doesn’t do everything for you; not because He can’t, but because He has already given you the wisdom, the will and the ability to handle the problem. Your prayer shouldn’t be, “Lord, don’t you care? Please, do something.” Rather, you want to pray, “Lord, I know you care. Show me what I am missing here.” And listen attentively, He will illuminate you about how you ought to proceed. You will marvel at how suddenly you begin to see a clear path and an open door before you.

Take the following example:

One day the Israelites were caught between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army. It was overwhelming. They felt it was a mistake to leave Egypt. They also felt JEHOVAH was not who He said He was. Moses was under immense pressure, so he cried to God. Now listen to what God told him, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it.”

Did you catch that? God wanted Moses to stop crying to Him; not because He didn’t want to help, but because He had given Moses the ability he needed to take care of the problem. God didn’t say, “Wait, I’m going to divide the Red Sea for you.” Rather, He told Moses to go ahead and take care of the problem using his rod.

Understand that God has made you His partner. He has shared His power, wisdom and glory with you. When you feel like He is silent or ‘asleep,’ it doesn’t mean He doesn’t care. It means it’s time for you to act by faith in God’s Name.

BlessingMay your light shine and overcome all powers of darkness in your life. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study2 Kings 2:1-14

Finding Strength in Corporate Prayer Support

Daily Devotion| Day 241

“Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai: ‘Go, gather all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!’” (Esther 4:15-16, NKJV).

A decree had gone forth for the destruction of all Jews in king Ahasuerus’ kingdom (Esther 3:12-13). The clock was ticking. Mordecai petitioned Queen Esther to intervene. Fearing for her life, Esther hesitated. By law, anyone – including the queen – who entered the king’s presence without his express invitation incurred the death penalty. But Mordecai insisted that Esther reconsider her decision. Eventually, Esther mustered strength and decided to approach the king on behalf of the Jews. Our Bible passage today contains Esther’s reply to Mordecai – her uncle.

Esther’s plan was simple. She was going to do her part by speaking to king Ahasuerus. But she needed the support of the Jews. She, therefore, demanded that all her fellow Jews join her in fasting for three days, counting on the Lord for breakthrough. This was a battle for survival. Yet, Esther and everyone knew that they could not rely on physical weapons for victory.

The Jews had one thing working for them: confidence in JEHOVAH. And they put that faith to work by collectively supporting Esther’s efforts with fasting (and prayer). They weren’t fasting for health and wellness reasons. They were fasting for divine intervention. When people of God fast like this, they are declaring their complete dependence on God as the source of life. At the same time, they are demonstrating their confidence in God’s promises, believing that “man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD” (Deuteronomy 8:3).

At the end of the day, the Jews prevailed. This teaches us an important lesson about corporate prayer. A divided house cannot stand (Mark 3:24-25). When Christians get together to pray for breakthrough regarding something, it is important that they be on the same page as far as believing is concerned. When believers (with one mind, having no doubt) join in fasting and prayer to support a fellow believer or any issue, powerful results happen. The Jews stood behind Esther with one accord, and they prevailed.

Next time you have an opportunity to be part of a corporate prayer, make your support count.

Blessing: May the Lord preserve you from all who plot your downfall, in the Name of Jesus! Amen.

For further study: Acts 12:1-24