Focal Passages: Romans 8:26-27; Ephesians 5:17-21; 6:18
A Godwin having trouble talking is almost an oxymoron. But it happened one time. We have eight grown grandchildren who are all able communicators. But one of them had trouble jumping the hurdle to intelligible speech early on. When he spoke, what came out was like a lightning storm of sound we couldn’t understand. His defense mechanism answering all questions was, “I dunno.” In our grandson’s angst of trying to communicate, we learned a strange thing: his older sister could understand him perfectly and interpret to us what he said.
Prayer (Romans 8:26-27): In prayer, we are that frustrated grandson; the Spirit is that understanding sister. The Spirit takes our feeble efforts at prayer and empowers them with how and what they should be (see Luke 11:1; Romans 8:26). He takes our groaning, sighs and unintelligible prayers to God, who searches man’s heart. And God never misunderstands the Spirit’s interpreted prayer of the saints to want God’s will ((Romans 1:27). The Spirit helps prayer.
Prayer is our best effort to trust God. We pray for what seems best to us, but we don’t know what’s best. We pray about the future but can’t foresee it. God wants us to pray, and He has some blessings for us we won’t receive unless we ask for them. The Spirit then strengthens and communicates our prayers.
Priority (Ephesians 5:15-18): What a difference a day makes in the life of a banana: Green? Ripe? Rotten? The Greek word for “time” in verse 16 is fruit-picking time. God commands us to live life awake and wise to His will and to pick the spiritual fruit of each opportunity exactly when it ripens. In the Spirit, we are to discern God’s will each day and each moment. Then when God hands us an opportunity, He calls us to say yes with our lives (see Ephesians 4:1-3). A Spirit-filled life makes this kind of timely living possible for God in Christ.
Happy up! (Ephesians 5:18-20): Whenever one of our boys would begin a morning with, “It’s going to be a bad day,” my reply was an imperative: “Happy up! It’s going to be the kind of day you make it.” Paul was getting ready to talk about music when he said don’t get drunk with wine but be filled with the Spirit. Alcohol is just one of life’s anesthesias that temporarily dulls pain and then leaves a hangover with side-effects. If alcohol has its way, it’s a bad day.
Spirit-filled lives count the most and produce music that blesses our lives and praises God in Jesus’ name. In my heart there rings a melody like perpetual Muzak, and it comes out in whistling and singing. A man in a customs line smilingly said to me, “You don’t usually hear people whistling classical music in a customs line.” I asked what I was whistling. He said it was Beethoven: “Ode to Joy” or “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.” Paul undoubtedly did some of his best singing in jail, so he knew how to give thanks always for everything (v. 19).
Build up! (Ephesians 5:21; 6:18): The word for “submit” in Greek literally means to place under. How do we submit — or place ourselves under each other? We do it out of reverence for Christ (5:21, NIV). In the broader context of Ephesians, Paul has focused on building each other up. And when we think beyond ourselves and yield to others, we in effect build them up and vice versa. Ephesians 6:18 climaxes this lesson of the Spirit’s empowering as we pray alertly, consistently and at every opportune time for the saints (holy ones).
— Godwin, a retired pastor and publisher, is a member of First Baptist Church, Hendersonville.