by Gloria Copeland
Some people think love is so basic, it’s something only spiritual beginners must study. They consider the gifts of the Spirit—like tongues and interpretation, the gifts of healings and miracles—as more relevant to the mature believer. But as wonderful as the gifts of the Spirit are, the Bible teaches that it’s the fruit of the spirit—“love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, [and] temperance” (Galatians 5:22-23)—that indicate a person is walking in the spirit and not the flesh.
If you want to know whether you’re a spiritual person or not, look to see if you are walking in love. You simply can’t walk in the spirit or be a spiritual person without being ruled by love. The reason I single out love is because it is the foundation upon which all the other fruit rest. The others flow out of love.
Love is the bottom line. Nothing counts without it. In short, you and I can’t go anywhere spiritually until we get our love walk straight!
No wonder the Bible tells us to “Eagerly pursue and seek to acquire [this] love [make it your aim, your great quest]” (1 Corinthians 14:1, The Amplified Bible). Living a life ruled by the love of God is what opens us up to walk in the spirit and live in the highest measure of the blessing and power of God!
Thank God, I have changed. I once had to make myself study God’s Word and pray. Now when necessary I have to make myself do those other things. My interests have changed. My desires have changed. Why? Because I started paying more attention to Him and living my life for Him. I began to do everything that I felt God wanted me to do. He has taught me about following after my spirit, indwelt by His Spirit, and it has changed my life.
What did Jesus say? “If any man intends to come after Me, let him deny himself.” I do not mean that I have arrived. I am just getting started, but I am started.
You know, this is a growing process. Growing spiritually is like growing physically. When you were born physically, your mother did not expect you to begin to talk the second day after you were born. But she would have been disappointed if you were still not talking at 5 years of age.
Spiritual things are the same way. You have to walk with God one day at a time, starting where you are today. You cannot start where someone else is. You must start where you are. But you have to start.
You will never grow if you do not give God your time. If you do not spend time in the Word and in prayer, if you do not listen to your spirit, you will never grow. You have to do certain things to grow.
All God asks of you is that you begin where you are today. If you do not know God, the first thing you need to do is get born again. Just make Jesus the Lord of your life and say, “I’m starting today.” (There’s a prayer of salvation at the end of this book to help.) Then start. Keep moving and don’t ever stop!
In John 12 we find more of Jesus teaching the disciples:
The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour (John 12:23-26).
This is how you get the full blessing of God in your life—serve Jesus and the Father will honor you.
Jesus says in verse 27 in The Amplified Bible, “Now My soul is troubled and distressed, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour [of trial and agony]? But it was for this very purpose that I have come to this hour [that I might undergo it].”
Notice that He did not say, “Father save Me from this hour.” He chose instead, “[Rather, I will say,] Father, glorify—honor and extol—Your own name!” (verse 28).
Just like Jesus, this is the place you and I must reach in our own lives. We, too, must say, “Father, glorify Your Name in my life. I give You my life. I give You my heart. I give You the rest of my days on the earth.”
Jesus was putting this into the hearts of the disciples. Because we are also His disciples, we must have it too. “So then, whoever of you does not forsake—renounce, surrender claim to, give up, say goodbye to—all that he has cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:33, The Amplified Bible). These were strong words, but Jesus said them. He was training His men, and He trained them well.
According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, a disciple is a “learner, one who follows one’s teaching.” To paraphrase Matthew 10:24-25, Jesus said, “The disciple will not be greater than his master; he will be like his master.”
God has great things for those who will be obedient to Him and love Him with their whole hearts.
Contrary to what many Christians think, God does not begin your life of obedience by asking you to do something you’re not ready or equipped to do. He’s not going to send you to Africa unless you’re ready. He will deal with you today, right where you are. If you will follow His leading, He will tell you what you need to do, how you need to change, what effort you need to make for Him, and where you need to go—if anywhere!
He wants us to reach the place where we trust Him, where we know He is wiser than we are, where we are willing to do what He says, whether we understand it with our minds or not. That is called walking in the spirit, living the high life.
If we hold on to our own interests, desires and ambitions—if we fight and strive to perform our own wills in the earth—the Spirit of God will have no opportunity to take us into the higher life. We never will hear His voice speaking to us, or if we hear, we will not obey. We must make the decision to lay down our lives for Him. Jesus said, “If any man intends to come after Me, let him deny himself” (see Matthew 16:24). We must reach that place where we say, “Lord, I’m giving You the rest of my time on earth. I’m living it for You.”
I have made that decision in my own life. I have laid down my life before God. (And yet I have to confirm that decision over and over every day as choices are continually laid before me.) My desire is to please God and to do His will. I want to stay in the earth as long as He has work for me to do here. I am determined to run the race God has set before me, to finish my course and do it with joy! Yes, I intend to enjoy it!
But you cannot stay earthly minded and at the same time think about the glory of God, eternity, the kingdom of heaven and the Father.
Before I made this decision, there were certain things I enjoyed doing that interfered with my time with God. Those things, like hobbies for instance, were fun to me. I had to make myself go to the Word. Sometimes, because I so enjoyed those other things, I would spend too much time doing them, and my Word time would slide by. I have always been a reasonably disciplined person, so even in those times I stayed in the Word enough to keep my body healed and keep myself together spiritually.
Now you can begin to see why making the quality decision to set aside time to study the Bible is so important. We suggest treating this period of study as an appointment that you’re required to attend. Then, every day, follow through by building your schedule around this appointment—and not the other way around. Soon, you’ll develop a desire to attend your study and it will become easier and easier. And if you miss an appointment once in a while, don’t worry. Just get back in the flow.
As you get started studying, it is wise to use a Bible you feel free to mark and take notes in. Start underlining scriptures that have significance and special meaning to you. This will help personalize the Word for you. Marking these scriptures will also help you find them more easily when you need them.
At your appointment, one of the best ways to “dig” into the Word is to find a subject or certain scriptures you need to understand. Pray for under-standing and discernment of the scriptures. Allow the Holy Spirit, who inspired the Word of God, to reveal it to you. Read and think about each word in each scripture. You can check meanings, too, by using a concordance to study the Greek or Hebrew root words and their meanings.
An important part of your study of the Word is meditation. To meditate means “to think deeply and continuously, ponder or reflect.” It also means “to converse with oneself.” This takes some time. Read the scripture over and over again as you pray in the spirit. Meditation brings your spirit and your mind together and builds a capacity for your faith to be released (Romans 10:17). Ask the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of your understanding so you can comprehend the deep things of God. Then expect the Lord to do it. Expect Him to meet you on the level of your need and reveal His Word to you.
When starting out, spend the majority of your time in the New Testament (primarily in the letters the Apostle Paul wrote to the early churches). In light of this, we suggest you look for and underline phrases such as “in Him,” “in whom” and “in Christ.” These phrases are found 134 times in the New Testament from Acts to Revelation. Every one of them has something to offer you personally because according to Ephesians 2:6, you are in Christ!
Most believers have probably heard repeatedly how important it is for us to study the Word of God. Yet because many don’t understand why, they have a difficult time getting started. So before we get into the how-tos of Bible study, let’s look at the why-tos. Why is studying the Word vital to our Christian growth and maturity?
To understand how vital studying the Word is, we must first understand that the Word of God is alive! The Word can really affect and have a life-changing impact on our day-to-day living. God reveals Himself through His Word.
As He reveals Himself to us through His Word, we can expect our lives to change because we are not just getting to know about God, but we are getting to know God Himself! The reason we study the Bible is that we may know God, know His ways and walk in them. Then we can truly live successful Christian lives.
The Bible is a personal message from Almighty God Himself—straight from heaven—to us. The main theme of this message is Jesus—even in the Old Testament. Jesus is the living Word, the message of God to all mankind.
Ever since the Fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden, God was unwilling to leave us in our sin and live without us. So He had a plan—the plan of redemption. He gave His Son to pay the price for our sin on the Cross to bring us back into fellowship with Him. Glory to God! So we look for Jesus in every book of the Bible. All scriptures either point to the Cross or look back on it.
That’s why it is so important that we settle in our minds that, while the Bible is God’s inspired Word, it is also meant to be down-to-earth. We are not to just reverently give it a place of honor on our bookshelves, but instead to treat the Word as our personal hands-on reference book on life—a how-to book for everyday living. We must get rid of the negative idea that it is just a set of rules.
God’s Word is our very source of liberty. God sent His Word to set us free, not to bind us up and load us down. It is meant to be read with a positive attitude, approaching it as an open door to freedom, not as a list of dos and don’ts.
God intends for the Body of Christ to police the evil forces of this world. We are to change circumstances to line up with God’s will and put Satan under our feet through the power of God. We are to spoil his plans, plots and maneuvers against God’s people!
The prayer of binding and loosing halts Satan’s activities. Matthew 12:29 says, “Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.” You have authority over Satan (Luke 10:19). You exercise it with the prayer of binding and loosing. “Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18:18).
As you enforce the authority vested in the Church, speak directly to Satan. Exercise your faith in Jesus’ work at Calvary.
When Jesus was raised from the dead, He stripped Satan of his authority over mankind. That authority has been delegated to the Body of Christ in the earth. Bind Satan in the Name of Jesus.
Many times Gloria and I add a paragraph to our agreement prayer: “Satan, we bind you and render you helpless in this situation. As a matter of record, you are hereby bound in the Name of Jesus.” From then on, we thank God that Satan is bound and unable to work in the situation. We refuse to give him any place.
The ultimate choice is yours whether or not to receive from God. Jesus asked the man at the pool of Bethesda, “Wilt thou be made whole?” (John 5:6). His attitude is still the same: “Do you want to stay the way you are, or do you want to be made whole?” The choice is yours. God has already provided the way out for you.
Do not give Satan any place by talking about the problem after you have agreed and bound him. Instead of talking the problem, talk the answer—God’s Word.
Then loose the angelic forces of God to see that it comes to pass. Hebrews 1:13-14 describes the angels as ministering spirits, sent to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation. They are messengers sent to work in our behalf. Say: “Ministering spirits, I loose you in the Name of Jesus to minister in my behalf according to the will of God.”
If you do not know Jesus as your Savior and Lord, simply pray the following prayer in faith, and Jesus will be your Lord!
“Heavenly Father, I come to You in the Name of Jesus. Your Word says, ‘Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved’ (Acts 2:21). I am calling on You. I pray and ask Jesus to come into my heart and be Lord over my life according to Romans 10:9-10: ‘If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God has raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.’ I do that now. I confess that Jesus is Lord, and I believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead.
“I am now reborn! I am a Christian—a child of Almighty God! I am saved! You also said in Your Word, ‘If ye then being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: HOW MUCH MORE shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?’ (Luke 11:13). I’m also asking You to fill me with the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, rise up within me as I praise God. I fully expect to speak with other tongues as You give me the utterance (Acts 2:4). In Jesus’ Name. Amen!”
Begin to praise God for filling you with the Holy Spirit. Speak those words and syllables you receive—not in your own language, but the language given to you by the Holy Spirit. You have to use your own voice. God will not force you to speak. Don’t be concerned with how it sounds. It is a heavenly language!
Continue with the blessing God has given you and pray in tongues each day. You are a born-again, Spirit-filled believer. You’ll never be the same!
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