Foundations: What Every Christian Ought to KnowMarch 13-17
What Does it Mean to Live Spirit-Filled?
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. – Ephesians 5:15-16 (ESV)
Years ago, a wealthy businessman from London chartered a bus to carry a busload of urban children to the coast. Many of the children had never left the city. Most had never seen the ocean. It was a splendid day filled with vivid memories. On the ride back to London, the businessman went through the bus speaking with each of the children. Toward the back of the bus, he noticed a boy sitting alone with a wistful look on his face. In the boy’s grimy hands was a bottle half-filled with water from the ocean. He pointed to the bottle and asked, “What are you doing with that?” The boy replied that he was taking it to his mother because she, too, had never seen the ocean. The businessman was quiet for a moment. He then asked the boy why the bottle was only half-full. Without hesitation, the boy replied, “I left room for the tide to come in.” (Ken Gurley, “Leaving Room for the Tide”).
In Ephesians 5, the Apostle Paul describes the Spirit-filled life. When someone is filled with the Spirit of God they are controlled by the Spirit of God. The word “filled” means filled to the brim. They are not self-controlled but fully Spirit-controlled. The Spirit-filled believer “looks carefully” at their own thoughts, words, and actions because the Spirit of God is directing their life.
Are you full or “half full” of God’s Spirit? Is there anything in your life that is keeping you from being filled with the Spirit?
Praise God for giving you His Spirit as a permanent comforter and guide. Ask God to remove anything in your life that is in the way of You being filled and led by the Holy Spirit.
Joy and Gratitude
Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. – Ephesians 5:19-21 ESV
Ray Stedman writes… I remember when I was in the Navy we all took our meals in the mess hall. (If you could see the food trays after the serving men had plopped the food on them you would know why they called it a mess hall.) I recall sitting with a Christian friend across the table from a great, burly quartermaster who was a complete pagan, with one of the foulest mouths I have ever heard; that is not uncommon in the Navy. As we always did, we bowed our heads and gave thanks for the food. It happened that my friend disliked the food and began to complain about it. Suddenly, this fellow sitting across the table spoke up and said, “Look, didn’t you just give thanks for that? Then eat it and shut up!” This was a word in season. You cannot give thanks and complain at the same time. The word to us is, “in everything give thanks.”
The first evidence Paul records that identifies a person who is filled with the Spirit is the character of the words that come out of their mouth! In other words, our speech is a good “barometer” of whether we are filled with (controlled by) the Spirit. Also, without a doubt, Spirit-filled Christians have a song of joy in their hearts, and a heart of gratitude for God’s mighty acts.
John Stott rightly remarks that…The grumbling spirit is not compatible with the Holy Spirit. How much complaining have you done lately? Do others see and hear the joy in your voice?
Praise God for the joy and gratitude the Spirit of God places in your heart. Ask God to help you remain positive when you are tempted to let complaining and negativity have priority in your life.
Why Should I Be Spirit-Filled
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. – Ephesians 5:17 (ESV)
A flight attendant spent a week’s vacation in the Rockies. She was captivated by the mountain peaks, the clear blue skies, and the sweet-smelling pines. But she also was charmed by a very eligible bachelor who owned and operated a cattle ranch and lived in a log cabin. At the end of this week, Mr. Wonderful proposed. But it had all happened so quickly that the woman decided to return home and to her job, feeling that she would somehow be guided to make the right decision. The next day, in flight, she found herself wondering what to do. To perk up, she stopped in the restroom and splashed some cool water on her face. There was some turbulence and a sign in the restroom lit up: PLEASE RETURN TO THE CABIN. She did–to the cabin back in the mountains. (Reader’s Digest)
We all need help making decisions and doing the right thing. Nothing is more important in life than to discover and do the will of God. The “will of the Lord” includes who you are and what you do. We can’t know the will of God without being filled with the Spirit of God.
When Jesus taught us to pray, He prayed “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” What would change in your life if God’s will was being done?
Thank God for the perfect plan He has for your life. Ask God to help you fully understand who He wants you to be right where you are and what He would like you to do next.
How Can I Be Spirit-Filled?
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, – Ephesians 5:18 (ESV)
A park ranger at Yellowstone National Park was leading a group of hikers to a fire lookout. The ranger was so intent on telling the hikers about the flowers and animals that he considered the messages on his two-way radio distracting, so he switched it off. As the group neared the tower, the ranger was met by a nearly breathless lookout, who asked why he hadn’t responded to the messages on his radio. A grizzly bear had been seen stalking the group, and the authorities were trying to warn them of the danger. Any time we tune out the Holy Spirit or ignore the warnings of the Bible we put ourselves and those around us in danger. (Craig Brian Larson)
Walking in the Spirit helps us avoid danger and destruction in our spiritual lives. Charles Swindoll writes, “I don’t know of a more important verse in the New Testament for the Christian than Ephesians 5:18—honest, no exaggeration. This verse tells the believer how to live an authentic, empowered life.” Pastor Jim taught if you want to be filled with the Spirit, it begins with complete and total commitment, transparency, confession, and cleansing. Instead of a life controlled by alcohol, we should have lives surrendered to and controlled by God’s Spirit. Much like someone must continue drinking to become drunk, a believer should continually seek the Spirit to be filled with the Spirit.
Someone defined “debauchery” as “a reckless waste of money and of life itself.” How might being Spirit-filled lead to the opposite of “debauchery” in your life?
Praise God for the positive effects of His Spirit in your life. Ask God to help you live under the constant influence of the Holy Spirit.
Walk in The Spirit
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. – Galatians 5:16-18 (ESV)
A father and son arrived in a small western town looking for an uncle whom they had never seen. Suddenly, the father, pointing across the square to a man who was walking away from them, exclaimed, “There goes my uncle!” His son asked, “How do you know when you have not seen him before?” “Son, I know him because he walks exactly like my father.” If we walk in the Spirit, the world should know us by our walk. (The Gold Mine, Lee Roberson)
The Bible tells us in Galatians 5 to “walk by the Spirit.” What does that mean? The simplest way I can explain it is this – who or what will you allow to direct your life? To “walk” by the Spirit indicates the need to yield to the Spirit every day: at work, at a ball game, at home, and everywhere. Frances Chan writes in his book, “The Forgotten God” that “There is a big gap between what we read in Scripture about the Holy Spirit and how most believers and churches operate today. In many modern churches, you would be stunned by the apparent absence of the Spirit in any manifest way. And this, I believe, is the crux of the problem.”
Tony Evans adds that walking… “means you keep going. If you fall down, you get up and start walking again. Can you imagine how long it would take you to learn to walk if you only practiced on Sunday and then sat around the rest of the week? A lot of Christians do that spiritually and then wonder why they can’t seem to stay on their feet.” What can you do to walk in the Spirit daily?
Praise God for the gift of His Spirit in your life. Ask God to help you walk in such a way that people know you belong to His family.