Are you content to be a self-absorbed, TV-obsessed, critical, mean, miserable person, who sucks the life out of others? Most of us are somewhere between those extremes. We have days when the sinful nature takes over and we are full of darkness and we have days when the Spirit is invited to fill us. But, we are always moving towards light or darkness!
“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit (the visible evidence) of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:19-23, NIV) What kind of motivation for change might we find if, like I did with my physical trainer, we did an honest assessment of the way we live?
If you’re not ‘in church,’ I encourage you to find one where Christ is loved, where the Spirit is welcomed, and where you can grow deeper in the things of God – ultimately for His glory.
according to his power that is at work within us,
to him be glory in the church
and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”(Ephesians 3:20-21, NIV)
I recall a time when a woman counseled with me telling of her husband’s cruelty to her. He was mean, belittling her day in and day out for years on end. Her anguish went deep and her dilemma – ‘do I stay in this marriage or do I call it quits after all this time?’ – was real and urgent. I listened and we prayed together. We asked for the Holy Spirit to lead her and to convict him. Good was accomplished, yet even in that situation, the sinful nature in me found an opportunity. After she left my office, I found myself congratulating myself on being such a good husband to my wife! “I am so glad I’m not like him,” I thought proudly. I repented for even making the comparison when the Spirit convicted me. Is that a dramatic sin? No, but it is that kind of persistent sinfulness that makes me desperate for the Spirit’s transformational work in me.
When we come to the end of ourselves and our own ability to be good, we are in the place where God can use us. The Bible says, ‘when we are weak, He is strong!’ John Ortberg, in his book, God Is Closer Than You Think, recounts a funny, simple little illustration. To make a point about being empowered by God, he brought an electrical engineer to church to conduct an experiment. “We turned off all the lights, hooked up an ordinary pickle to some wires, and then passed an electrical current through it. The pickle glowed! It gave light to a room… Many people believe that the flow of the Holy Spirit is reserved for spiritual giants… but, throughout history God has caused His power to flow through the most unlikely people; a prostitute named Rahab, a con man named Jacob, and a cheat named Zacchaeus. … so the next time you’re feeling inadequate, remember that even a pickle can glow if it stays plugged in to the flow.”
Jesus promised a ragtag group of followers that they would know success in the work of His kingdom because “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49, NIV) A few days later, the Holy Spirit flowed into that Upper Room and rested on those ordinary men and women in a life-transforming way. Were they made perfect in that instant? Hardly. They disagreed about things, worked through misunderstandings, and dealt with personal sin. Yet, God mercifully filled them with His power again and again. These ordinary men turned the world upside down in a generation!
Christianity has not survived for 2000 years because of the greatness of Christians, but because of the faithfulness of God.
Are you feeling inadequate for the calling of God in your life today?
Have you failed Him in some way?
Are you discouraged?
Here’s a word from the Word. With a simple, open heart receive this promise.
and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.
(Training of the Twelve, A. B. Bruce, 1894)
Only he can help us, protecting us like a shield.
In him our hearts rejoice, for we are trusting in his holy name.
Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord,
for our hope is in you alone.” (Psalm 33:20-22, NLT) Amen