Installment 2 of 3
All of this technology is overwhelming! The kids around us have no problem with it, so they have become our “Technical Assistants” by default. I just consulted with my 22 year old about how to delete the articles on my laptop that never came to fruition. It involved a mere drag of the title to the little white trashcan on my lower right screen. Obvious now, but not 5 minutes ago! Either you’re laughing at me or sympathizing with me. I remind my kids and students that I got my Master’s Degree with a typewriter. They marvel that I have lived that long.
I actually have a smart phone, but it's probably one of the most underutilized devices in the country. I use it as a phone, to text, and to read emails. All of those cheerfully bright, crayon-colored apps were placed on it by my in-house consultants for my benefit, but (don’t tell my kids) I don’t think to use them. I remain a dinosaur, needing a full-size laptop to organize my life. Am I the only one who can’t seem to squint enough to read a smartphone screen? I recently was delighted to find that they still sell calendar planners in paper form! Whew! But even my peers are amazed when I take that ancient document out to see when I'm free next week.
Seriously, one of my kids just said to her phone, “Shut off 4G.” The phone responded, “4G shut off.” What? Even Star Trek didn’t foresee that anyone off of The Enterprise would have this technology in their back pocket. I never took photographs of my coffee and sent them to everyone I know when I was 15 years old, either. Things have changed. This generation has serious technical opportunity and potential.
Am I the only one who can’t seem to squint enough to read a smartphone screen?
Imagine this situation; a group of people are sitting in a room with one telephone attached to the wall, a few stamps, some stationary, a phone book, a tv with one news station, a pile of crossword puzzle and word find books, a shelf of fiction books, an encyclopedia and a few reference books. Well, let’s just call it your typical household, thirty years ago. Then someone comes in and says, “A device is coming that is about the size of an index card and as thick as magazine. It will perform every function that is completed by all that is before you in this room.” Would we wait around to see and try it? Probably. We couldn't imagine it ahead of time, though. What would it be like?
This is actually similar to what happened after Jesus was resurrected and then ascended into heaven. His disciples were just getting used to having him around again, after witnessing His brutal execution, then glorious resurrection. He knew He was leaving them again, and reassured them and commissioned them in John 14:12-14;
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.”
Paul begins the book of Acts, explaining that Jesus took 40 days to prepare and brief His apostles for their impending Kingdom work. In Acts 1:4-5, Paul says of Jesus,
“On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’”
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
“Suddenly a sound like a mighty rushing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw tongues like flames of fire that separated and came to rest on each o them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.…”
As a spirit-filled believer, are you underutilizing the gift of tongues? In The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, each of the four children is given gifts for the battle. A time comes for each of them to use their gift. May I suggest that the time has come for you to use yours? Are you in a battle? There are many ways that the gift of tongues can be used to empower us. Why would we choose to fight without the tools and weapons that God has given us?
You can send a postcard across the world and wait for it to arrive, weeks later. You can call a business and be put on hold for your entire lunch break to answer a simple question. You can drive to a movie theater to get show times. Or you can use your smart phone and other available technology. So it is with the gift of tongues. Pray in the Spirit and submit to His highly-efficient and effective work in the Spiritual realm. Don't leave your gifts unopened. Use it in emergencies, but use it as part of your daily life, too.
The first and probably most common way that we underutilize the gift of tongues is by believing that it is for just emergencies. On the contrary, most of our daily energies are spent on routine tasks. I have a family member that will go to the hardware store for a lightbulb, will come home and screw it in, then will go back to the store, ten minutes away, for a piece of sandpaper for another task. That’s really up to him, but after years of this, the inefficiency may add up. The same is true for all that we do for the Kingdom. Asking God for direction by speaking in tongues can save us some serious milage.
The first and probably most common way that we underutilize the gift of tongues is by believing that it is for just emergencies.
Paul is making it clear that he is in the habit of speaking in tongues. And he thanks God that he does. He is being led by the Spirit. That is using this gift in its maximum capacity; regularly. In fact, it’s great when we don’t have an emergency. Then the Holy Spirit can pray through our unknown words and can do some serious “maintenance” work.
A long time ago I had a housekeeper come in. If the house was in bad shape, it looked good when she left. If it was in good shape when she came, it looked fabulous when she left. The Holy Spirit is much more than a housekeeper! I think of times when I have prayed in the Spirit until dawn with an unexplainable urge. I knew things were happening, that these prayers were preventing or causing very important events. When I have prayed in the spirit at other times, on luxurious walks or as I load the dishwasher, by choice, not compulsion, I have known that I would somehow soon pick appealing fruit from the “sowing” that I was doing.
The second way that we underutilize the gift of praying in tongues is when we don’t understand the immense power that these Spirit-led prayers hold.
If such power in found in the natural uses of our words, imagine the power in the words directed and inspired by the Holy Spirit! If our words can steer ships and set forests on fire, words spoken in tongues can move mountains and command miracles. They can stop the forces of hell. When our understood prayers seem weak, shift gears and transfer the contents of your prayers to the Holy Spirit. Testimonies abound of near-misses, changed hearts and open doors that came out of desperation that led to the submissive praying of tongues. “Take over, Holy Spirit!” That’s what we say when we begin to pray in tongues.
The third common underuse of the gift of tongues is stopping our prayers too soon. Praying in the Spirit a little while is better than not praying in the Spirit at all. But praying in the Spirit until the Holy Spirit clearly says “stop” is much, much better. You may get the cake if you stop just short of the frosting of the cake. As Paul stated, more is often better with the personal use of the gift of tongues.
The third common underuse of the gift of tongues is stopping our prayers too soon.
Otherwise, I see persistence as pressing in, like the persistent widow. In Luke 18:7-8, Jesus says of this widow, “And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Put plainly, there is faith in persisting in prayer. Jesus encourages it. God honors this. Persisting in supernatural prayer carries amazing promises, and awe-inspiring answers can be anticipated.
There are many other ways that we keep one of our most versatile and effective tools provided by the Holy Spirit on a shelf. These are just a few. If you are someone who hesitates to use this gift liberally, it may be time to try it out, with higher expectations. Many cars are sold because of a 15 minute test drive. My belief is that practicing with our gift of tongues will produce much fruit, even for the novice.
In John 12:24, Jesus says, “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” It is necessary to let go and trust that our words, spoken in tongues, are like seeds that we drop in fertile soil. They are gone and may seem to have not served a purpose for us. They are let go in faith, and we may see very little happen at first. But we will. They will spring up and produce much fruit and many more seeds. Take this gift out for a test drive, so to speak, and see what happens.
This series began with
Tongues: An Often Misunderstood Gift
and concludes with
Tongues: An Often Misunderstood Gift, Part 3