Speaking in tongues

“But if your gift is that of being able to ‘speak in tongues,’ that is, to speak in languages you haven’t learned, you will be talking to God but not to others, since they won’t be able to understand you. You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit, but it will all be a secret.”  1 Corinthians 14:2 TLB

Most people reading this devotional may shake their heads in agreement or disbelief.  Most churches teach that speaking in tongues, one of the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, ceased a couple of thousand years ago.  It’s somewhat humorous to hear the interpretations of some preachers construct a position using Old McDonald logic of “take a verse here, take a verse there, here a verse, there a verse, everywhere a verse-verse.”  

Speaking in tongues receives a bad rap by being misused and abused by TV evangelists.  They openly violate Biblical guidance on how such a manifestation should be practiced.  Call me a skeptic, but they are generally frauds masquerading as being spiritually connected with the not-so-holy objective of fund raising.  As a result, they create great confusion over what tongue speaking really is.  

I’ve heard some preachers who are genuinely incredulous that anyone today would believe in it.  One could argue till the cows come home, but the better approach would be to open one’s mind and investigate the practice first hand rather than thinking one couldn’t possibly be wrong.  After all, I can allege that Tennessee is better at basketball than Kentucky, and a Kentucky fan can claim the opposite.  What’s the best way to find out the truth?  Witness an actual game between the two teams!  

The Scriptures teach two basic types of tongue speaking.  The first is to unbelievers who do not speak the native language of the messenger.  Everyone is familiar with what happened at Pentecost.  However, a tongue speaker must not speak out loud unless an interpreter is present to translate what is said; otherwise, it would be a distraction and meaningless to the worship.  The second is privately in praying to God.  He or she may not understand what is actually being said, but God does as it reveals the true heart.  

I have witnessed speaking in tongues.  It’s not an emotionally charged experience that involves foaming at the mouth, falling to the floor, shaking uncontrollably, extreme eye movement, etc.–you know, the kind of nonsense portrayed by some TV evangelists and espoused by some opposing preachers.  People who have received this manifestation of the Holy Spirit can do it at will.  They simply open their mouths and the words flow out without thinking.  

If anyone thinks this ability is just babbling, I invite you to try to speak anything totally foreign to you for a few minutes that is convincingly fluent.  You can’t do it!  

If you don’t have this manifestation of the Holy Spirit but earnestly believe in it, do not despair!  He may have something greater for you!  

Prayer:  Thank you, God, for the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.  

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