Around 5:30 this morning the house suddenly went silent; air conditioners off, the hum of the frig gone. The quiet brought me to a state of being fully wakeful. After using my cell phone to notify the power company, I rested in the semi-darkness, wondering how long it would be until the power was restored? In my neighborhood power is frequently out, though usually for an hour or two. Each outage reminds me of just how much I rely on the flow of energy into my home – to pump my water, heat and cool my home, cook my food, connect me to the wider world via the Internet. And, yes, I was a happy guy around 8 when the beep of newly powered up smoke alarms announced the return of the electric power!
God has empowered us, my Christian friend, giving us the Holy Spirit, but many Christians seem to living with a power failure. I mean no disrespect in comparing Him to the energy in my house. The Spirit is more than ‘energy’ but He is truly our Power for living. Many Christians, because of the imagery of the Scripture illustrating the Spirit’s acts with wind, fire, or oil, struggle to relate to Him, to know Him. I very much appreciate the supply of power from Jersey Central Power and Light but I also don’t ‘love’ that power, nor do I relate to it personally.
But, the Spirit of God, is Personal, a Counselor, an ever-present Source of strength, wisdom, and comfort IF we live with an awareness of His Presence. That is a BIG if for many.
First let me underline this:
Jesus promised the disciples that “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”(Acts 1:8, NIV) He is Who makes us unique in the world. Many people are ‘nice.’ Many are ‘religious.’ Some are ‘kind.’ Many are, at least on occasion, ‘loving.’
But, the consist likeness of Jesus in us, the replication of His character that fills us with love, hope, and joy, making us steady and faithful, is a divine work of change. Paul prays that magnificent prayer of faith that includes this line – “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,” (Ephesians 3:16, NIV)
Is your Christian life constantly empowered by God’s Spirit or are you suffering a power failure? The difference in your life will be even more dramatic than the difference in mine when the power goes off in my home and that’s pretty dramatic!
Knowing the Spirit IS your birth-right as a Believer. So why don’t more Christians enjoy that power, live in that sweet intimacy that makes their lives remarkable?
In my evangelical Christian tradition we are taught that being a ‘disciple’ of Jesus, the pathway of spiritual growth, is found in three basics – read the Bible, pray, and go to church. Those are good choices that should not be neglected. The Wisdom of the Scripture informs our mind. Prayer connects us to our Father. Going to church provides opportunities for worship, instruction, and sharing the work of God in the world. However, if that is the ‘be all and end all’ of being a ‘Christian’ it is very unlikely that the experience is anything like what God desires for us.
The heart of our faith, the core of what it means to be a Christian, is to know God and He is known to us by the Spirit. Yes, He is God, the Father, who dwells in majesty. Of course, He is Jesus, Who is relatable because He was human and walked in the world revealing God’s love and making a way of restoration for us. But, this is the age of the Spirit. Jesus says “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor 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.” (John 14:16-17, NIV) Though he is Spirit, we must not let our mind think only of Him as a force or energy in the world. He is our Friend, constantly with us and IN US.
The key to knowing Him is learning to be with Him. The ‘busyness’ of life, even in the ‘Christian’ life, is the greatest hindrance to knowing the Spirit. A quick reading of a verse or two in the Bible, a hurried prayer in the morning, a half-distracted hour in church will not make us friends of God, people who draw transformative strength from Him. We must learn the practices of solitude and quietness, developing the ability to be ‘alone’ without being lonely, quiet without needing noise, music, or other distraction. So many of us are addicts to phones and screens, filling our cars and homes with constant noise. Even our Christian music can be a distraction.
If we would learn to hear the voice of the Spirit, to know His Presence as richly as we may, we will learn to turn off the world and be with Him. It’s a lot more difficult than it sounds, but it is not impossible. If we start with just 10 minutes each day of complete silence, hands open, heart open, ready to receive from God, we will learn to treasure those moments. If we will prepare for worship by getting up a little earlier and sitting quietly to meditate on His goodness, we will enrich that experience.
Richard Foster, whose writings about Christian living are profound, opens his book, Celebration of Discipline, with this line –
“Superficiality is the curse of our age…. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.”
When we learn to walk with the Spirit, ‘keeping step with Him,’ we are connected to life eternal, hope unceasing, love overflowing, and
peace like a river.
And, we move beyond surface religion to deep relationship with God.
Here is a word from the Word. Lord, use this truth to change our hearts. Amen.
“I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love.
And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19, NLT)
Holy Spirit (a song of adoration and invitation)
There’s nothing worth more that will ever come close
No thing can compare You’re our living hope
I’ve tasted and seen of the sweetest of loves
Where my heart becomes free and my shame is undone
In Your Presence Lord
Holy Spirit You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory God is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your Presence Lord
Your Presence Lord Your Presence Lord Your Presence
Oh God how we love Your Presence Lord
Let us become more aware of Your Presence
Let us experience the glory of Your goodness
Bryan Torwalt | Katie Torwalt © 2011 Capitol CMG Genesis (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) Jesus Culture Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
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