Is there a beauty, a compelling quality to your Christianity? Do you live joyfully, authentically, openly? Is there a bedrock conviction about the things of God that wraps around your experiences – good and bad – that steadies you? That kind of Christian life can be known by all, not just an elite group of insiders! The title of this blog is purposely misleading, written only to capture your attention. What I write of today is an open secret, known to all those who read the story of the Church.
In the book of Acts there is a remarkable change in the disciples. In the Gospels they are often at a loss for spiritual understanding. They waver, they confront evil and are defeated by it. Just months later, they are fired up, preaching Christ, living under stress without giving up or compromise. The difference? They were filled with the Spirit! Luke tells the story – “On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.” (Acts 2:1-4, NLT) When people saw this behavior, they accused the disciples of being drunk! Peter told the crowd that “what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike— and they will prophesy.” (Acts 2:16-18, NLT)
When God, the Holy Spirit, came into their hearts and minds, there was a complete transformation. So it can be with us in 2016! Our Christian lives are not just about intellectual agreement with doctrines of faith or conformity with certain behavioral standards or practice of some religious rituals. We can be people of the Spirit, owned by the Lord, overflowing with a Life that is eternal and rich. Jesus promised that when He, the 2nd person of the Trinity, left this earth, God would remain, known to us through the 3rd Person – the Spirit. “When the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:26-27, NLT)
The Spirit-filled life is described throughout the New Testament. He is the open Secret of the Christian life, the power that enabled those people to do God’s work, to endure; yes, to thrive! And, He is ours, today. How do we live this life? I hesitate to write of that only because some will try to make it a formula. You can no more describe a universal formula for the Spirit-filled life than you can write one for a successful marriage. Each relationship is unique; yet there are choices to be made, shared in common.
First – the Spirit-filled life is one of FAITH.
The Holy Spirit does not ‘possess’ us without our cooperation, nor will He knock down the door to take up residence. We come to God in faith and accept His promise. One of my daily prayers is “Come, Holy Spirit.” He is, of course, God and therefore always present, but with that invitation, I make myself present to Him.
Second – the Spirit-filled life is one of SUBMISSION.
Paul speaks of ‘grieving’ the Spirit. If we do not listen to Him, responding to His direction and guidance, we will grow cold towards Him. An attitude of persistent refusal of His purposes will bring about a disconnect of our fellowship with Him. We are taught by the Word that “Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives.” (Galatians 5:25, The Message)
Third – the Spirit-filled life is one of WORSHIP.
We orient our lives towards God, learning to think His thoughts, to make Him known in our words and actions. What happens? His Presence grows brighter in us and the attraction of Self diminishes. How we live becomes a statement of His worthiness, which is the essence of worship. There is a great statement about the disciples who were Spirit-filled. In Jerusalem it was said of them that ‘they had been with Jesus.’ He rubbed off on them. Worshipful Christians will become known primarily for the Presence that lives in them.
Do make the mistake of thinking that you can somehow become worthy of being baptized in the Spirit! You can no more earn His fellowship than you can earn a place in God’s holy family. He is God’s gift, coming to those who are hungry to know God. If we ready to settle for satisfaction with food, fun, money, and sex – we are not likely to seek or know the Spirit’s fullness. But, when we have come to the end of those things, we are ready to look higher and say, “Come, Holy Spirit!”
Ready to thrive? Ready to be fully alive? Seek the Spirit’s Presence.
Here is a word from the Word. Oh, Lord, make us fully alive in the Spirit.
“So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance!” The Message, Romans 8:12-17
Here in this worn and weary land
Where many a dream has died
Like a tree planted by the water
We will never run dry
So living water flowing through
God we thirst for more of You
Fill our hearts and flood our souls
With one desire
Just to know You and to make You known
We lift Your name on high
Shine like the sun make darkness run and hide
We know we were made for so much more
Than ordinary lives
It’s time for us to more than just survive
We were made to thrive
Into Your Word we’re digging deep
To know our Father’s heart
Into the world we’re reaching out
To show them who You are
Anything is possible
We were made to thrive
Mark Hall | Matthew West © 2014 Atlas Holdings (Admin. by Atlas Music Publishing)
Highly Combustible Music (Admin. by Atlas Music Publishing)
House of Story Music Publishing (Admin. by Atlas Music Publishing) CCLI License # 810055