Last week’s reflection of I Corinthians 13 and the concept of “devotion” surrounded John Belt’s quote, “To the degree we surrender our hearts in devotion, to the same degree He (Holy Spirit) makes us His abode.”*
John Belt has shared four guidelines he considers significant in encouraging the manifestation of a “life that is filled with the Oil of His Presence.” Each one is worth meditation and thought.
The first guideline Belt suggests is a life of worship, prayer and thanksgiving. Belt observes, “You cannot give thanks and complain at the same time.” He stated, “a thankful heart is like pure gold to the Lord. True worship begins with a heart filled with thanks to God.”
Belt also states, “What comes out of our mouths is a big deal,” and cites James 3:6. The Messagetranslation states, “It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless word or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.”
Jesus taught, “…the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.” (Matt. 12:34, NASB) A heart, then, filled with thanksgiving and praise….will be one that brings water to dry souls, allowing the seeds of His Spirit to grow.
John Belt’s third thought on the topic involves those things upon which we set our minds. He stated, “Our meditation will make a huge difference in just how engaged the Holy Spirit is in our lives…What goes in comes out. Make sure you are sowing seeds of life in your heart so that you have something to give.”
The Apostle Paul wrote it this way to the Philippians: (The Message) “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse…do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into His most excellent harmonies….” (Phil. 4:8) The New American Standard translates the scripture, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things…” (Phil. 4:8)
Finally, Belt calls upon the elect to distinguish correctly between “self-less” devotion and “self-seeking” devotion. He writes, “Realize that everything you do is ‘spiritual.’ Some will sacrifice with things that look spiritual but miss the thing they really should be doing.”
That is a fascinating point, to me….for we all live busy, busy lives, often overflowing the “cup of hours” allotted to us each day. The obvious question is, how many things that we ‘should be doing’ get overshadowed by the demands of what we must be doing…?
How is it so easy to flip priorities? And is Belt saying that the “should be doing” is a measuring stick of success or failure – even in the Father’s eyes? Of course not….it is, rather, a call to hear the Father’s Voice and function in its direction right then, right there, for just that purpose, to accomplish His exact goal or to fulfill His exact promise in that situation, circumstance, person’s life.
The companion statement John Belt makes is even more thought-provoking and worth pondering: “One right choice can avert a multitude of prayers. By our wrong choices we create need for prayer.”
Think about that. By our wrong choices we create need for prayer. Does that mean that God is angry or disappointed at our choice and chooses to turn away from us? No. Does it mean we had only one chance to “get it right,” and if we fail we must “woo” God back into a cooperative mood or perspective? No. Does it mean that He no longer will hear our personal prayers, requiring others to speak in our place? No.
Jesus taught, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” (Matt. 6:8, NASB)
Therefore, my interpretation is that He is already in the process of answering a prayer or need, and choosing to answer it by means of us – you and me – actually doing the one thing that is needed at that time, place, circumstance, juncture of time or season. It will be “the one thing” He speaks into our spirits to do, as an extension of His will and purpose and for the manifestation of His (and our) desired outcome.
He is actively weaving together the threads of both the need and the provision. As we observe His process, we may “enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise…” while we skillfully learn to partner with Him.