Filled with God

“Be filled with the Spirit.”
(Ephesians 5:18)

 

Reflection:
There are certain truths we need to grasp about what Paul is saying to us.

The first is that it is written in the imperative mood – that is it is not a suggestion or some spiritual advice but an authoritative command addressed to us by an apostle of Jesus Christ writing under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit. It becomes, therefore, a responsibility that we are not at liberty to avoid. To be filled with the Holy Spirit is not optional but necessary for all followers of the Lord Jesus.

Secondly, Paul is addressing himself to the whole Christian community – made up of each individual. All of us, singly and together, are to be filled with the Holy Spirit. This fullness is not something reserved for an elite few but is available to, and required of, every individual.

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:7)

Thirdly, it is written in the passive voice and is interpreted in the New English Bible as ‘Let the Holy Spirit fill you.’  As the Holy Spirit comes to us as the gift of the Father and the Son He is not something that we earn but on the contrary are not to avoid, block or hinder. In fact we are to seek more of His presence and fullness and open ourselves to Him at all times.

Fourthly, Paul is writing in the present imperative tense, the meaning of which is to go on being filled. The gift of the Holy Spirit is not a once-off experience but ‘a privilege to be renewed continuously by continuous believing and obedient appropriation.’ We need to be filled with the Spirit and go on being filled every moment of every day. In this way our relationship with the Lord will deepen and develop.

“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13)

We can ask God every day to continue to fill us, we can turn to the Spirit for guidance, wisdom and strength, and we can soak ourselves in the Scriptures – particularly the New Testament. The Spirit cannot be separated from the Word that He inspired and will never act or have us act contrary to that Word. By a regular and prayerful reading of Scripture we open ourselves to God and allow the Spirit to both inform and form us in the process.

The Holy Spirit is God within us – seeking to transform us more and more into the living reality of the sons and daughters of God.

Response:
Read the New Testament (again) praying that He will speak to you personally as You read.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, please fill me and continue to fill me with the wonderful gift of Your Holy Spirit –and help me to recognise and to be attentive to Him. Amen.

—————————

 

Advertisement

Ask God

“God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.”
(1 Corinthians 2:10)

Reflection:
The living truths of God cannot be established and received without the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who reveals and gives life to these truths within us at a spiritual level. There they become not just knowledge but life-changing and liberating reality.

The Scriptures were inspired by the Holy Spirit.

  • “All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16)

The Bible can be read and studied as historic literature in the same way as any other and certain truths may be identified and established. However the danger is that they remain a store of knowledge to be used and abused as it suits us. Jesus challenged the religious leaders on this when He exclaimed,

  • “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39-40)

As we read these same Scripture under the guidance and revelation of the Spirit, who inspired them in the first place, we discover that they are both a revelation of God and a revelation within us from God. They are not meant to be merely an historical record and a list of do’s and don’ts – they are meant to be God  speaking His eternal love, light and life into our individual and corporate lives today and every day. We need God’s help because

  • “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14)

The Scriptures both invite and demand a response from us – for throughout them the message rings out calling us back to the Living God and into His love, forgiveness and grace. It is a call to abandon the ways of a fallen world and to embrace the Way of Christ. It is an invitation for us to leave the world’s darkness and to enter into the glorious Light. It is an assurance that we no longer have to search for love but to receive Love. It is the comfort of knowing that when we can’t God says simply “I can.” It is the liberating wonder of knowing, when we fear that we will never be good enough for Him, that He is good enough for us!  For

  • “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us”  (1 Corinthians 2:12)

Response:
Keep asking the Holy Spirit for guidance and understanding

Prayer:

Almighty Father pour out Your Spirit on us today that we might walk in Your light, life and love and by Your grace know Your presence. Amen.

—————————–

 

Spirit of Truth

“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes,
he will guide you into all truth”
(John 16:13)

 

Reflection:
The Spirit of God has to be the Spirit of Truth. There can be no untruth in God at all and so Jesus described Himself as “ ..the Truth..” (John 14:6)
As a first priority the Spirit will focus on Jesus Christ in whose birth and baptism, life and ministry He was so involved.

  • “He will testify about Me” (John 15:26)
  • “He will bring glory to Me” (John 16:14)

The Holy Spirit will also act to do something that the world and humankind is incapable of achieving.

  • “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: (John 16:8)

He will convict the world not only of sin itself but of the greatest sin which is that “men do not believe in Me.” – the Me being Jesus Christ and God’s greatest gift.

He will convict the world of righteousness – the rightness of Jesus Christ as the Lord and Saviour of the World and the only Way to God.

He will convict the world of judgement – in that Jesus Christ has supreme authority over all of creation and He will come again in great power and glory to judge the living and the dead. In this regard the ‘prince of this world now stands condemned’ through the glorious revelation of Jesus Christ.

Both the Church and the world have gone very soft in all of these areas. This means that today the first focus of the Holy Spirit must be to glorify the Lord Jesus, and do His work of convicting, within the Church itself and the individual lives of its members. The world will not be convinced or convicted until the truth and life of the Spirit is revealed in those who believe.  Therefore those who know the Lord must take sin seriously before those who don’t know Him will do the same. When that happens our glorious message will ring out and be heard as we

  • “go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins” (Luke 1:76-77)

Response:
It starts with me

Prayer:

Holy Spirit of God please help me to open myself to You so that You may glorify the Lord Jesus within me and lead me into the knowledge of the Truth in Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

————————

Spirit of Life

 “The Spirit gives life”
(2 Corinthians 3:6)

Reflection:
The Nicene Creed refers to the Holy Spirit as ‘the Lord the giver of life.” That’s exactly what He does and has been doing since the beginning of the history recorded in the Scriptures. He has given life to God’s will and word as well as to God’s creation and creatures.

He is also the One who brings us into the new life offered to us through Jesus Christ. He reveals the truth of the Lord and Saviour to us, enables us to receive and respond to that truth and blesses our spirits with the eternal reality of that new life. For as Jesus taught Nicodemus,

“I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit” (John 3:5-6)

As He takes His place within us as a part of our new birth and life He begins to add to our lives certain qualities and gifts that flow from Himself as God.

  • “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23)
  • “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. .. All these (gifts) are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-11)

As these are allowed to develop and grow they add value and loveliness to our characters and a new empowered purpose to our living. We do not strive to create these qualities – they come from the Spirit as we honour and trust God with our lives. Others may see them before we do!

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10)

God’s desire is to make us a part of His life – not for Him to be only a part of ours.

Response:
Pause to consider the truth – God is at work within you to develop the beauty and strengths of your character. How wonderful is that!

Prayer:

Holy Spirit please lead me more deeply into the new life which is in Christ Jesus our Lord and help me to open myself more fully to You. Amen.

———————-

By God’s Spirit

 

“Not by might nor by power,
but by my Spirit”

says the LORD Almighty.
(Zechariah 4:6)

 

Reflection:
Next Sunday the Christian Church celebrates the Day of Pentecost. It commemorates how on a real day, in a real room, in a real city, real men and real women, received a real blessing and a real experience that impacted and changed their lives in a real way.

In fulfilment of the promise of both Jesus Christ and the Father, and as prophesied by John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit entered into the lives of the believers. It was at once the final act of the saving ministry of the Lord Jesus (before His second coming) as well as the inauguration of the new era of the Holy Spirit.

It marks another crucial moment in the history of humankind. For without it, without the presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit, the life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus would no longer have any real and personal relevance in the lives of people today.

Nothing of significance happens without the Holy Spirit. He was present and involved in all of the great acts of God, as evidenced in the accounts of

  • the Creation [Genesis. 1:2]
  • the Annunciation [Luke. 1:32]
  • the beginning of Jesus’ ministry [Luke. 3:21-22]
  • the beginning of the Church’s ministry [Acts 2:1-4]
  • the new birth of believers {John 3:5]

We see the Holy Spirit repeatedly engaged in His activity of making the will and word of God into a reality. He is the One who continues to do so today and our lives as Christians are blessed, enriched and given a new purpose and worth through His ministry.

Not all that He does is at the level of the great acts referred to above, for He works in the lives of individual believers in both small and intimate ways as well as in ways that leave us breathless with amazement. He is the ever present reality of the Living God within us – you and me.

Response:

Blessed are You, creator God,
to You be praise and glory for ever.
As Your Spirit moved over the face of the waters
bringing light and life to Your creation,
continue to pour out Your Spirit on us today
that we may walk as children of light
and by Your grace reveal Your presence.
Amen.

———————-

Capability

“I can do everything through him
who gives me strength”

(Philippians 4:13)

Reflection:
As we grow into our new identity in Jesus Christ we find that it leads us to certain foundational truths.

  • I am Completely Accepted (Monday)
  • I am Extremely Valuable (Tuesday)
  • I am Eternally Loved (Wednesday)
  • I am Totally Forgiven (Thursday)
  • I am Fully Capable (Today)

Paul discovered through experience that he was able to meet all the trials, obstacles and temptations of his new life through the wisdom, understanding, strength and presence of His Lord. The Holy Spirit led him into the truth, provided him with gifts, poured the love of God into his heart, clothed him in the armour of God and produced the fruit that followed after him.

When Jesus promised His disciples that He would be with them always He meant it in a way that would never, ever leave them alone. And so He came in the Spirit of God to live within them – just as He had promised.

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever– the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:16-18)

So many Christians have discovered that as they walk with the Lord their strengths become their weaknesses and their weaknesses His strengths. We realise that we are at our best when we allow Him to work in and through us – and so we aim to involve Him in everything that we do. And when it seems that the storms of life are really about to overcome and overwhelm us He is the Rock upon which we can stand, His the Hand to which we can cling, His the love and strength that is stronger than fear and death.

By His Spirit within you He will help you to face all of life’s challenges and equip you with what you need at the time.

Response:
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5)

Prayer:

Lord Jesus You promised to be with me always – help me to be with You always. Amen.

—————————-

By My Spirit

“Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,”
says the Lord Almighty.”
(Zechariah 4:6)

Lent 18

Reflection:
The revelation of Scripture is that nothing of significance happens without the Holy Spirit. He is the third person of the Holy Trinity together with God the Father and God the Son. We find Him particularly in the Great Beginnings recorded in the Bible.

  • The Beginning of Creation
    • “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” (Genesis 1:2)
  • The Beginning of Jesus humanity
    • “The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)
  • The Beginning of Jesus Ministry
    • “When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:21-22)
  • The Beginning of the Church
    • “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” (Acts 2:1-4)
  • The Beginning of our New Life
    • “You received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:15-16)

The wonder and glorious truth is that the same Holy Spirit is the gift of God to His people today.

  • “If you then though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (Luke 11:13)
  • “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit ies given for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:7)

He has been taken for granted and even ignored, and the state of the Church bears its own witness to this unhappy truth. However, He still works His ministry of love, grace and life in and through those who will receive Him, and brings us deeper and deeper into the reality and love of our Lord.

We are not alone. God is both with us and within us. How marvellous is that!

Prayer:

Holy Spirit, I ask You to fill my life, draw me closer to Jesus, and lead me in the purposes of God, each and every day. Amen.

——————————–

 

Let your fruit grow

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
 patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
(Galatians 5:22-23)

 

Reflection:
God created us originally in His image. Now in our re-birth as His daughters and sons His purpose is for us to be Christ-like.

 “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

The qualities that we find in Christ are the same fruit that the Holy Spirit seeks to produce in us.

  • Love – “God is love” (1 John 4:16)
  • Joy – Jesus said, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”(John 15:11)
  • Peace – “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.” John 14:27)
  • Patience – “But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience.”(1 Timothy 1:16)
  • Kindness – “in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”(Ephesians 2:7)
  • Goodness – “How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you.” (Psalm 31:19)
  • Faithfulness – “For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.” (Psalm 57:10)
  • Gentleness – “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”(Matthew 11:29)
  • Self-Control – “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!”(Philippians 2:6-8)

Notice how they all flow from Love and feed into each other. It is as love begins to grow in our lives that it feeds the other areas as well. God wishes this fruit to be visible in our lives because this is what He is like. It is the fruit of God and not of man. As with a fruit tree it comes only from within. It is the fruit of the Spirit who lives within us and comes from Him as we submit to His ministry and guidance. The closer our walk with God the more abundant and lasting the fruit will be (John 15:5 & 16).

As we look at the world around us we can see clearly that the fruit of the Spirit is not generally evident – which is all the more reason for us to pray that God will bless us with it all. We might also pray particularly for those areas where He shows us that we are lacking in a particular way.

Response:
Don’t stay like you were! Pray that these aspects of God’s fruit will grow visibly in your life this year

Prayer:

Father, these are some of Your qualities that You wish to be reproduced in me. Please grow them in me through the blessing of the Holy Spirit, and help me to embrace them more and more. Amen.

——————-

My Gifts

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.”
(1 Corinthians 12:7-11)

 

Reflection:
The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was a reality. This was being ‘clothed with power,’ for which Jesus had told His disciples to wait before embarking on the Great Commission. This empowerment was not just of the spirit, mind and body – they were empowered with specific gifts. These were to be used in the course of their ministry, and to make them effective in the building of the Kingdom.

Paul’s teaching, now, is very specific.

  • The appearance of the Holy Spirit is to be real for each Christian.
  • The Spirit gives a variety of gifts – some of which are mentioned here.
  • The Spirit gives one or more of these gifts to each Christian.

No believer is excluded. The Holy Spirit, with a specific gift, comes to each one. And each includes you, just as it includes me. Whatever else we may have to offer God, the ministry in which He wishes us to be involved will be based upon the gift that the Holy Spirit gives to us. This is God knowing what has to be done, choosing His team, and equipping them with what they will need. And the gift that the Spirit gives to us is the one that He will empower and bless. It may, or may not, be an extension of a talent that we have.

If we are going to be effective in our place in the ‘Body of Christ’ – where all should be working in harmony with each other and towards the same end – then we need to identify and become experienced in the use of our particular gift/s. We will, in all probability, find it in the area for which we have, or are developing, a God-given ability or passion as opposed to a self-centred desire. It is important to ask God to help you to identify it, and also to seek the prayer and discernment of mature Christians whom you trust. Its focus will be to bring glory to God and achieve His purposes.

It is our very great privilege and honour to have been chosen, and called, into the salvation of Jesus Christ and into the ministry of the Holy Spirit, as the daughters and sons of the Eternal and Almighty God.

Response:
As a Christian I have received the Holy Spirit who has brought to me specific gifts to enable me to be an effective member of the Body of Christ.

Prayer:

Lord God, please help me to recognise my spiritual gifts and to use them in love for Your glory and the blessing of others. Amen.

——————–

My Freedom

“Now the Lord is the Spirit,
and where the Spirit of the Lord is,
there is freedom”
(2 Corinthians 3:17)

 

Reflection:
The Holy Spirit brings about a transformation in our lives to the extent that we allow Him. His purpose is to make us (more) like Christ. It is a process from one degree of glory to another.

The Spirit sets us free from our bondage to sin and death – and our bondage to the law. Jesus was never enslaved by the law but served God freely and in love. He fulfilled the requirements of the law not because of an external obedience to the law but because that was the type of person that He was. He loved God with all His heart because He was like that. He did not steal because He was not like that – not because the law said so.

When the Spirit sets us free from the law His transforming work begins to change us in the same way. We become holy and moral because that is the way He is (trans)forming us. When complete we would not do the things that the law forbids even if the law did not exist. Just like Jesus. So we do not wear obedience externally like baubles on a Christmas tree – we display the fruit of the Spirit of God because that is the way that our characters have been, and are being, (re)formed.

It does not all happen immediately but is a part of our Christian journey. Some of it can be quite painful as like Paul we bewail the fact that

“I do not understand what I do.
For what I want to do I do not do,
but what I hate I do”
(Romans 7:15)

We are growing into our new identity in Christ – day by day. We are learning to trust the Lord, let go of the things of the world, and embrace the new life that is already ours. And the more that we do so the more we begin to realise just how free He has really made us. I am free to be a person of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in all ways – and at all times.

Response:
The new me is waiting from me

Prayer:

Most Holy Spirit fill me with Your Light, and Life and Love that I might more fully be the person I am created to be. Amen.

———————–