Navigating the River of Life: Salvation to Sanctification
We’re making our way deeper into fully embracing our forgiveness so we might live without fear and in the freedom God calls us to enjoy. We’re so glad your walking with us and hope you have others alongside you to share the experience of deepening faith.
Father, how grateful we are for the way You’ve made for us to draw near You. Open our hearts to Your faithfulness and bless us with the faith to take each step You call us to.
Review: Finding Your Way in the River of Life
Forgiven to Walk in the Spirit
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28 ESV
Consider the following questions to reflect on the second week of study.
What did you discover in your study of Finding Your Way in the River of Life?
What impacted you most?
What did you learn from your own story?
What did you discover in God’s story?
What questions were answered?
What new questions arose?
My practice of Showing Up! has changed drastically. My morning ritual of showing up a week ago looked like what many describe as a quiet time. I poured coffee, sat in my favorite chair, and began writing in my prayer journal. I meditated on His Word and prayed for passion.
Last Tuesday, when life turned upside-down, my showing up now spans from walking the porch in the early morning hours praying the 23rd Psalm again and again to just getting out of bed and putting one foot in front of the other.
Prayer isn’t a formula that works for all seasons of life. Sometimes, it is a picture of tranquility and other times prayer is prayed with every tear you shed. The truth is God is not concerned with how you show up, but that you Show Up!
Wading in the Word impacted me the most in the second week of study. I chose Hebrews 2:9-18 to wade through. On the second reading, reading slowly, feeling for a tug, I didn’t get past the first four words… But we see Jesus… (MEV).
The “But” at the beginning of the sentence caught my attention. I was drawn to read what came before this word of contrast.
“…You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” For in subjecting all things under him, He left nothing that is not subjected to him. Yet now we do not see all things subject to him. (emphasis added) –Hebrews 2:8 MEV
The contrast is in what we don’t see versus what we can see. Verse 8 is quoted from Psalm 8, and the “his/him” refers to mankind — the son of man. God initially gave people dominion over the world He created. However, since the fall — the sin of man in the garden of Eden — we handed over our authority to Satan. So, it’s true, what we see in the world around us is man subject to sin and death, not the world subject to man. But the great contrast for Believers is what we see: Jesus, the Son of Man.
Jesus, through His work on the cross, took back man’s authority over the world from Satan. The victory is won, but He’s still waiting for the full number of those who will believe. From the world’s perspective, now, it doesn’t seem like anything has changed because the spirit realm is hidden from their sight.
But we — the faithful — see Jesus with eyes of faith.
The Creator, stooping down on behalf of His creation, took on a lowly position among those whom He created. He did this to defeat the enemy we unleashed on earth: the devil and his power of death.
In the rest of the Hebrews passage (verses 9-18), we are told how to see Jesus. He is the one who sanctifies those being sanctified (Believers). He is the Author who writes our story. He became part of our story in order to make our story come out right. His suffering rewrote the story of every one who puts their faith in Him.
This is what Believers have the ability to see. When we suffer at the hand of sin and death, we are to see Jesus in charge, not the enemy. We are to see Him sanctifying us just as He was perfected through suffering.
But we see Jesus…
Making our way in the River of Life, this is where we meet the greatest resistance in our seeing. Things are not as they appear — we need to set our eyes on Jesus. Ask Holy Spirit to open our eyes to the truth.
The deeper we go, the clearer our vision should become. Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1).
Session 3: Coming to Our Knees in the River of Life
Forgiven to Pray in the Spirit
He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way.
1Peter 2:24 The Message
Here’s the thing. Jesus lived an amazing life in word and deed. He taught one essential lesson almost too difficult to grasp. He lived and died the lesson of love.
Jesus was forsaken and condemned, but that’s not the end. In fact, it is only the beginning. This one moment in history changed life as we know it for all eternity.
Do you hear it? Can you feel it?
From the cross, Jesus poured out love so vast, not one thing we do or say can separate us from this love.
This is the Gospel truth. And yet it is most difficult to embrace. How in the world can someone love that much?
Maybe the more important question we can ask ourselves is… How will I ever be worthy of this kind of love?
The God who is Love — Father, Son, and Spirit — chose to make a way of forgiveness so we could walk with Them in life. Not just any old life, not simply getting by, but an abundant life defined by Love.
Walking in the Spirit, learning to maneuver in the life of forgiveness, God leads us through our ordinary days, drawing us deeper — little by little — into the River of Life. The grave clothes fall one at a time. Some loosen and unwind slowly, others seemingly disappear as if they were never there.
Can you relate? Do you have a story to share about your walk in the Spirit?
Walking in the Spirit inevitably leads to Praying in the Spirit. Not that we haven’t been praying as we walked. Praying is an important part of showing up. An important part of participation. But just like babies move from learning to say DaDa and crying out for felt needs, they go deeper into conversation with their parents as they grow. They learn to receive instruction and wrestle through Why? and How? As children mature they come alongside their parents, mentor, or friend to form close associations and common pursuits.
Praying in the Spirit is when we stop talking and start listening.
It’s when we stop telling Him what we want and ask Him what He wants.
It’s when we recognize there may be more to life than physical and material needs.
Read Ephesians 1:15-20
What does Paul tell the church about how he prays for them?
What specific prayers does he offer on their behalf?
Paul, seeing the church’s faith, prays for them constantly, always giving thanks for what God is doing among them (v.16).
He prays for God to give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation to know God better. He asks God to bless them with understanding and enlightenment of the hope they have, the riches of their inheritance, and the power Believers have access to by faith.
Does Paul’s prayer sound like things you currently pray for those you love? How does it differ? How is it the same?
Early on in our walk with God our prayers are often childlike. Simple. We are spiritual beings wrapped up in flesh and our greatest concerns are focused on physical and material needs.
Paul’s prayer for the church comes in response to giving thanks for Believers and then naturally (or supernaturally) flows into asking God to bless the church with spiritual blessings.
As we walk deeper into the River of Life we grow to understand our inner well-being is not based on our physical or material needs. We wade deeper and deeper, walking worthy in obedience to His call, and discover the body we inhabit is simply a vessel to carry out the spiritual and eternal works of God.
What do these passages tell us about our relationship to food? In addition to physical food, what do we need to live? Which is more important?
There is something greater at stake than our physical needs. The physical is here today and gone tomorrow (Psalm 103:15-16), but our spirits last forever. However, without faith in Jesus, without receiving the good news of His grace, in the end we will only experience eternal grief and want, misery and regret.
Growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus moves us to be more concerned with the things of God’s Kingdom and less concerned with the things of the world. It may sound callous, but growing in the fear of the Lord and understanding His sovereignty in all things, we begin to see how He uses and allows what we would judge atrocities as means to bring about good.
Praying in the Spirit leads us to not only ask for different things, but to think about prayer in a wholly different manner.
We saturate our minds and memories in Christ and the Scriptures, and then go about our day’s work without a prepared script, unself-consciously trusting the Holy Spirit language — its syntax and metaphors, its tone and rhythms — always working deep in our souls without awareness, sometimes articulate in our ears and on our tongues.–Eugene Peterson, Practice Resurrection
Wading knee-deep into the waters of resurrection, walking in the Spirit, our time in God’s Word and our knowledge of Jesus begin to infiltrate our thoughts, infuse our language, and re-form the conversations we have with God.
We find ourselves seeing Scripture made flesh around us as the Holy Spirit reveals the spiritual reality behind the daily circumstances of life. Our prayer life is no longer defined by a scheduled quiet time or four designated parts of prayer, it’s transformed into something so much more.
Praying in the Spirit is moving toward the realization that all of life is an opportunity to commune with God, and His prayer language is not limited to words.
Closing prayer exercise: Mapping the River
Today, we’re asking the five W’s and H of research — Who, What, When, Where, Why, How — to discover our current way of prayer. Take a pen or pencil in hand as you may want to take notes like a reporter seeking information.
Position yourself in a posture of prayer. Set your mind and attention on God.
Reflect on your prayer life. Think about the earliest prayers you can remember praying. Think about your current way of prayer.
Replay your last conversation with God.
Who is the focus of your prayers? Who dominates the conversation?
What are the major themes of your prayers? What do you talk about with God?
When do you pray? Do you have a regular time of prayer? Do life’s circumstances determine how often you pray?
Where do you pray? Are there places where prayer seems off-limits or out of place?
Why do you pray? What is your motivation?
How do you pray? With words or without? Methodically or ad lib? What is the posture of your body? eyes closed or open?
With the evidence you compiled, have you stepped knee-deep into the River of Revival? Are you currently or have you ever experienced praying in the Spirit?
What does it feel like to pray in the Spirit? Or what do you imagine it would feel like?
Going deeper into a river requires boldness, especially when you can’t see the bottom. Resistance increases. Unknowns lurk beneath each step. It takes more faith.
What fears or resistance arise in your heart and mind as you think about going deeper to pray in the Spirit?
Ask God for the grace to pray in the Spirit, to step deeper into the River of Life.
But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.
Philippians 3:20-21 The Message
As you go forth, deeper into the River of Life, learning to pray in the Spirit, remember: This world is NOT your home. There is far more to life than the physical and material, yet this is one of the greatest resistances we meet as we come knee-deep in the River of Life.
Praying in the Spirit is an important part of our sanctification process. Begin to shift your focus from the “earthy” to the heavenly, yet remember, for now, the two are inextricably connected. Our life of flesh must become less, and our life in Christ greater and greater.
He must increase, but I must decrease.
John 3:30 MEV
In faith, let’s press into the resistance we feel, walk worthy of His calling with confidence in His presence and provision to get us where we are going:
Fully surrendered to life in Him: Forgiven, Fearless, & Free!
Here’s a PDF of the Week 3 Study: Coming to Our Knees in the River of Life
Wading right along with you…Stacy & Carol