Living in the Spirit

Day 1 of 5 • This day’s reading

Devotional

PRAISE, WORSHIP, AND PRAYER THAT CHANGE HEARTS


INTRODUCTION 


"But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7


When God ordered Samuel to anoint one of Jesse's sons to become king, God told Samuel not to look at his appearance or physical stature because He looks at the heart. Out of all Jesse's sons, it was David who pleased the Lord. Why? Because God saw David's heart, a heart that always longed for God's presence.


Likewise, God also looks at our hearts. Do we always long for His presence even though we have become believers? Lord Jesus once said that a good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart. No one can change the heart of man but God Himself. Once, God also spoke to the people of Israel in Ezekiel 36:26 "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."


This is also God's promise to us that He will give us a new heart. A new heart is something that we can get. A new heart is a change, a refinement of our lives so that our lives will reflect Jesus Christ day by day.


This is how important the heart is in the eyes of God.


SHARING


If God wants to give us a new heart and continue renewing us, then what is our part? (Read 1 Thessalonians 5:17-22).


1. Pray without ceasing (verse 17)


Prayer is two-way communication between all of us (His people, His children, His servants) and the Lord or the Father. Why is it called two-way? The God whom we worship is a living God. He can hear and speak to us. Prayer is the breath of life for believers. What will happen if we don't breathe? We will go limp and die. Our spirits will also be limp, dry, and die if we don't pray. Through prayer, we are connected to the source of life, who is the Father in heaven.


Prayer is not only about making requests to God. It is an intimate relationship with God that also speaks of our worship of God. Intimacy also speaks of our thirst and longing for the Lord. Therefore, do not rush to tell God about our requests. Let us enter with the sacrifice of praise and worship first. We invite His presence through the sacrifice of praise and worship.


Therefore, the most important thing in prayer is experiencing God's presence because God's presence will renew our hearts. Being transformed to be like Christ is our main goal in this world. We live to glorify the Lord. The thoughts and feelings of Christ are in us because we are intimate and close to Him.


We will gain something tremendous in our intimacy with the Lord. Psalm 25:14 says, "The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant." Not everyone can get God's promises or divine secrets. Therefore, let's become a house of prayer. Make prayer become our daily lifestyle.


2. In everything giving thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (verse 18) 


It is said here that we should give thanks in all things. Brothers and sisters, it is easy to give thanks for good things. Generally, however, it would be difficult for us to give thanks for bad things or troubles that happen to us. However, since it is written in the Bible, are we going to do it anyway?


Do you still remember the story of the Israelites when they were in the wilderness? They easily grumbled and became angry with Moses and God, even though they had seen many amazing things that God did. Once, Lord Jesus taught His disciples not to worry about anything in this life. If God says that He will take care of the birds in the air, He will also take care of us, His children. 


When we are not grateful, we are complaining or protesting about the situation; and by doing that, we are opening a way for the evil spirit to steal peace in our hearts. On the other hand, the Lord comes to fill our hearts and minds with heavenly peace when we give thanks to Him. The wisdom of the Lord will come upon us, and God's peace will give us the strength to go through the situation.


Giving thanks does not mean we are grateful for the situation that is happening to us. This is not the case. This is about all of us say that God is good even when we are in the midst of bad situations. This is what is meant by a thanksgiving sacrifice that will touch the heart of God.


Indeed, we are opening the door of blessing from the Lord when we give thanks. The most important blessings are peace, joy, and the wisdom of truth from the Holy Spirit. This kind of blessing does not exist in the world, except in Jesus alone.


3. Abstain from every form of evil (verse 22)


Each of us must have a past, and the devil sometimes likes to bring up our past. Why? Because the devil has no future. Only Jesus has a future for us. When the devil tempts us to do evil, it is because he doesn’t want us to receive all the best from the Lord.


Remember the words of Lord Jesus that the devil is a thief, a murderer, and a destroyer who has no truth in him. This verse reminds us to stay away from all evil. All evil here means everything that is displeasing to God or everything contrary to the word of God.


Joseph is an example. He ran away from Potiphar’s wife because he realized that it was evil in the eyes of God. Even when no one is looking, remember that God is omniscient and omnipresent, and therefore nothing is hidden before the Lord. He even knows the things or the intentions in our hearts.


Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”


Beware that the evil ones do not come into our hearts.


CLOSING


• Give time to draw close to the Lord. Don't get too busy with your routine. Listen to God's voice and His Word that will refresh and strengthen our hearts. God is not far away from His children; He is only a prayer away.


• God allows us to pass through storms, dark valleys, and deserts. It is precisely through this situation that we draw near to Him by bringing the sacrifice of thanksgiving, praise, and worship. Because of that, God changes our hearts, and our faith becomes even stronger and stronger.


• Share your experience in the two points above.