Discerning The Spirits

Friday, June 7, 2024
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Listen while you read: "Standing On The Promises"1 (Lyrics)

I still white-knuckle it when I recall fishing in Alaska with my friends. It was one of those picture-perfect days, and the guide found great spots for us to flyfish from the shore. When it got slow, we would move on to other spots, making our way down the churning white water. To balance the weight, one of my friends sat in the back of the boat with the guide, and since I was lighter, I was positioned sitting up front.

We caught some strong currents and swirling water, and the boat bounced around rocks, dipping up and down with the rapids. Suddenly, the boat lurched, the bow dropped, and then, with weight in the back, I sprang up and was thrown out of the boat into the icy water.

What I remember of shooting down the rapids was not only the fear of being helpless but the greater fear of my head being squashed by a rock as my clumsy fishing waders filled with water and pulled me down. After what seemed like an eternity, in a minute, I was lifted by my wader belt by a friend in the front boat who had witnessed the accident and who came to my rescue.

Not knowing about hypothermia, I was shivering and in shock as they pulled me to shore, put me in dry clothes, and quickly built a fire. Following the fear, I experienced peace.

Recall Jesus' first words to His fearful disciples on the evening of His resurrection:

John 20:19 – When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." (NRSV)

Take a moment and pause with the word fear. Identify a time when the spirit of fear held you locked behind closed doors. "Peace be with you." Peace is a beautiful word. Add to it the peace of God. In Philippians 4:7, Paul reminds us that the peace of God "surpasses all understanding". This is so because it requires faith. Faith in the risen Lord surpasses understanding and informs our knowledge to discern the spirits, bringing light into darkness, life into death.

Prior to unlocking the door and leaving the upper room, Jesus "breathed on them and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'" (John 20:22b NRSV)

We are in the season following Pentecost, and it is the Holy Spirit who "will guide you into all the truth" (John 16:13b NRSV) by discerning the spirits. Fear stops us. Fear is strong but it is destructive. Faith is stronger and productive. Let us receive the Holy Spirit, and He will produce our life in Christ — now and forevermore.

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, come. Help us, we pray, in our weakness. There are times when we are caught by the spirit of fear and know not how to pray. Yet, we know that You will intercede, especially when our sighs are too deep for words. Help us to discern all things working together for good as we ask You to come, Holy Spirit. Come! Amen.

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About the author:

Robin Jennings <robintjennings@gmail.com>
Louisville, Kentucky, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Amen to that!

    Great message.

    Thanks for the encouraging words, Robin.

    Thank you for sharing, Robin. You are a great writer.

    Thank you, touching and so truthful. Fear is probably one of the reasons that people don’t want to talk about eternity.

    Good morning Robin,
    Thank you for your good words this morning.
    Blessings on your day.

    Thanks for your devotional writing today, Robin. You experienced quite a fearful episode being thrown from that boat but thankfully was rescued.
    Yes, we need be so thankful for the Lord’s loving care of us in any circumstance. Blessings for writing and sharing about your experience.

    Thank you, Robin, for sharing your fearful experience.
    It is inspiring to be reminded of the Holy Spirit and the prayer that it comes to us and gives us direction through our faith.
    (Ontario, Canada)

    Good afternoon, Robin,
    Thank you for your message today – what a frightening experience. I could actually imagine the experience you wrote about and then the peaceful feeling of being rescued by the powerful hands of your friend – God’s hands. And of course your prayer spoke volumes. Thank you.
    Grace and Peace to you!

    I feel as if I was the one experiencing it. What a witness to share the sense of peace that followed the fear.
    Thanks for the reminder. It made me stop and ponder shock, fear, and peace and realized that when my husband died from a fatal heart attack on a holiday, I definitely experienced shock, and needless to say, some fear of the unknown. Then I too experienced the Peace of God as many people were praying for me when I couldn’t form a prayer more that “Help me Lord”. He sure did answer prayers as I survived it, not in my own strength, but with His help and guidance. I sensed the peace of His Presence.
    Thanks be to God!
    Blessings to you.

    Changes in our life bring fear – only with the guidance of the Holy Spirit can we make decisions that bring peace.

    Thank you, Robin. My ladies Bible study is starting David Jeremiah’s Slaying the Giants in Your Life and the first chapter is on fear. I will share this with them.

    Thank you for sharing this encouraging devotional with us. To God be the glory! Blessings.

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