Last week, we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus. He is alive! Nothing could keep Him down! Nothing could trip Him up! Nothing can stop the Kingdom of God, the will of God, nor the purposes of God! That means that if you choose to put your faith in Jesus and receive new life, you also are unstoppable!
How do we make the most of this new life that Jesus gave us? How do we know if we are living it well or missing out on something that God has for us?
This morning, we’re going to venture through Luke chapter 11 together. Through a vast dynamic of being questioned, challenged, doubted, and even opposed by others, Jesus teaches so much about how to effectively live a Spirit-filled life. It begins where every great revival began, where Heaven meets Earth, where potential is unlocked, where Kingdom secrets are revealed, where all that we need to be equipped and empowered by God begins; PRAYER!
1 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
2 He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Matthew 6:9-13 (KJV)
9 …Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
Now I don’t believe that Jesus intended for these words to become words that we repeat out of tradition. It’s not that there is anything wrong with doing that. However, the more that we say and do things out of tradition, the more that they can begin to lose their intent and motive and meaning.
If Jesus wanted us to do so, then He would have made sure that Luke and Matthew both clearly heard and recorded His words exactly. They both record Jesus’ example prayer quite differently. Rather, this example prayer that Jesus gave us provides key aspects which are important to remember when we pray.
First, a reminder to us of who God is and what our relationship is with Him. Far more important than anything that we could ever do for God is who He is (our Father) and who we are (a child of God).
After remembering the priority of our identity, we then intercede that God’s Kingdom and will is accomplished here on the earth and a reminder that we have a role in that process. We have been given authority even as Jesus was given authority over all things while walking in our flesh. We simply must learn how to steward and apply that authority well.
Third, a reminder that He is the provider of all things that we need and of our daily dependence on Him.
Fourth, the critical need for us to be forgiven of our sins and to also forgive others; to maintain healthy relationships both vertically with God and horizontally with others.
Fifth, an awareness of our own weakness and temptation and the evil so prevalent in this world that is always trying to trip us up and keep us down and hold us back.
Finally, a reminder to us that God is the source of all power and all glory forever.
These are keys to a healthy and effective prayer life with God. What is important and what we can miss in this prayer is that it isn’t so much the words that we pray, but that we live a lifestyle of unceasing prayer that is important. We are to be in constant communication with God.
In fact, to prove this point, God’s word teaches us that sometimes the most powerful and effective prayers that we could ever pray are entirely wordless…
26 …the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
We couldn’t possibly pray a more perfect prayer than when we pray in the Spirit. Though we’re essentially just making wordless noises, but what is happening is incredible and miraculous! The Holy Spirit is searching our heart, discerning the mind of God, and interceding God’s certain will on our behalf. So, why don’t we pray in the Spirit more often, right?
Jesus continued on teaching less about what words to pray and more about how we should pray; shifting the focus onto our relationship with God and the bold attitude that we should approach Him with through prayer:
5 Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
Yes, we are friends of God, but we are also much more. We are children of God! When we start with that relationship and then approach God with shameless audacity and boldness and faith and courage with our requests; how can He refuse? Especially when they are prayers for true needs and also in accordance with God’s will, word, and character. Remind God of His word and His promises and how He has moved in the past. It won’t offend Him, it will move His heart and bless Him!
Jesus continued on and reminded us to press in and persevere in our prayers as He said:
9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Jesus then goes on further emphasizing our relationship and the impact that it has on our prayers:
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
What is the greatest thing that we could ever ask of God? What is it that we need more than anything? An increased measure of the Holy Spirit. More of God’s Presence in our lives. More of Him, less of us as John the Baptist stated it.
When we ask our Heavenly Father for the Holy Spirit, we’ll receive Him. He won’t give us a demon. He won’t trick us and refuse us. If we, with shameless audacity and without any doubt, expectedly ask our Heavenly Father for good things, we will receive them. When we ask to be filled with, baptized with, the Holy Spirit, it will happen!
Think about this. How many good things does God have stored away for us just waiting for us to seek after them; waiting for us to ask Him for them? What things are we missing out on because we settle for less? How much of our lives do we waste filling ourselves up with the things of the world when there are far, far better things available to us from God’s Kingdom?
Have you ever had this happen in your own life? There have been several times when I find out something about my kids and I ask them, “Why didn’t you ask me about that? I could have fixed that for you. I could have given that to you. I had just what you needed out in the garage or in my closet. Why didn’t you ask me?”
These things are not hidden from us, they are hidden for us.
They are not intentionally hidden by God, they’re simply not asked for by us.
Ask and we’ll receive, seek and we’ll find, knock and the door will be opened.
Why do we keep filling our lives with lesser things when God is freely offering up the best things for us?
Jesus uses the analogy that our lives are like a house. God creates our lives, but then gives us stewardship over them.
We choose how to maintain our house. We choose who is allowed into our house. We choose what to place in our house.
With this in mind, we continue on:
14 Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. 15 But some of them said, “By Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.” 16 Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven.
Here’s a clear example of the dangers of living for the approval of others. Jesus, perfect, sinless, God-in-the-flesh. Jesus just healed a man from being mute by driving out a mute demon from within him. You would think that everyone would just be happy for the guy and celebrate his new found freedom, right?
Nope! All were amazed, but some responded in belief, some accused, and some outright doubted. How did Jesus respond to this messy chaos going on around Him?
17 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.
I’m not sure if the good old USA has figured this one out yet… You know, liberal/conservative, democrat/republican, and about 1,000 other ways that we can divide ourselves… Anyways, that’s another message for another time…
18 If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebul. 19 Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 20 But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
Now to the house analogy:
21 “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. 22 But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up his plunder.
For this reason, I believe that a Christian cannot be possessed by a demon. Oppressed? Yes! Influenced by? Sure! Tempted by? Every day! Can they gain a foothold, stronghold in our lives? Yes and yes! The devil and all those of his kingdom who chose to rebel against God will gladly take any part of our lives that we willingly give them.
However, if just the finger of God can drive out a demon, having even only the initial deposit of the Holy Spirit within us from salvation is surely a strong enough man to prevent a demon from fully possessing us.
The two just can’t cohabitate. As John wrote, “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4). According to 2 Corinthians 6 (and several other scriptures), our bodies are temples of the Living God and there is no fellowship between light and darkness. Light will always drive out darkness when in the same space.
So this is what I personally believe right now, but it is debatable and there may be enough Biblical evidence to sway my opinion at some point.
The definite takeaway for all of us is this: don’t mess around in the kingdom of darkness! Steer clear of it and resist it! If it is not of God, then have nothing to do with it! As the Bible clearly states, don’t give the devil even a foothold in your life (Ephesians 4:27)! We’ll get to the solution in just a moment…
23 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
And then Jesus goes back to the house analogy to teach us exactly what happens when a demon is driven from someone’s life:
24 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ 25 When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26 Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.”
This is very possibly the reason that deliverance, AKA, addiction recovery, programs out there fail so many people. Once we’re willing to get free and truly desire that freedom, we go through the program. It equips us with practical steps to clean up our lives and to separate from that bondage.
We clean up our lives and put them in order. We steer clear of whatever had us bound. However, our lives still need filled up with something. We were created as vessels purposed and intended for the Presence of God. Without it, we’re empty and will certainly fill ourselves up with something. Statistically, most people either go back to their initial addiction or swap it out for another one.
The solution to living an abundant life isn’t to have a life that is a clean and orderly house. It’s to have a full house! Be filled with the Holy Spirit and there won’t be any room for anything that leads to something other than freedom and true life!
As the old hymn says, “the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”
Don’t live a religious life that looks great by appearances; a house swept clean and put in order. According to Jesus, that’s an invitation to a demon and his buddies! Live a life that is a full house; full of the Holy Spirit! That demon won’t want anything to do with you and will move along searching for some other place to hang out! Paul states it this way:
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul also wrote:
1 Corinthians 14:15
So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding.
Right now, let’s do exactly what Jesus taught us to do and Paul reiterated. Let’s pray with our understanding and in the Spirit. Then, as the worship team now comes forward, we’ll sing from our heart to the Lord with understanding and in the Spirit. Why just read and listen to God’s word when we can live it out right here and right now, right?
It’s time to fill this house with the Spirit of the Living God, AMEN?!?!