I am to be filled with the Holy Spirit

Good Fruit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control; against such things there is not law.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. ~ Galatians 5:22, 25; NASB

It’s coming on to spring time, and I’m out doing my daily rounds. Checking the twigs of naked branches, looking for swells of life. I grow fruit as a hobby—apples, peaches, cherries and Saskatoon berries; they’re scattered around our property. Watching life slowly emerge from their winter-rested wood thrills me.

I’ve learned the difference between a leaf bud and a blossom bud—depending on the fruit (some fruits hide their blossom bud inside the leaf bud. Sneaky little things). The first time I spied a peach blossom bud on my tree, I was so excited. We’d have peaches that year!

But we didn’t. Frost. It’s a killer—literally.

The next year, those blossoms swelled again, and hallelujah! We had fruit that year. It was good fruit—sweet, tender, juicy peaches straight off our backyard tree.

The following year our trees rested, but then the next, more blossoms. Oh, we could almost taste those wonderful peaches as we walked beneath the pink blossoms of spring! But something went wrong. We had fruit, but it wasn’t good. You see, that year began an extended season of drought. We don’t irrigate our orchard, and it rained maybe two or three times during the season. The trees bore fruit, but the peaches were small, dry, grainy and not delicious.

I think back on that poor crop of fruit when I read the last part of Galatians five. I used to think that if I was bearing some kind of fruit, I must be doing okay. If I was serving in my church, that was fruit, right? Never mind that inside I’m seething with resentment. If I was singing praise in a painful situation, that’s good fruit. Just ignore that in my heart I’m nursing bitterness. If I’m rejoicing with my words for someone else’s success, that’s good fruit, isn’t it? Skip over the fact that my insides are green with envy.

The fruit of the Spirit is good fruit. Well shaped, sweet and juicy. On my own, the best fruit I end up offering resembles those drought wrought peaches.

Producing fruit isn’t enough. I need a drenching of my soul, the filling of the Holy Spirit before I can present good fruit. Fruit that is useful. Fruit that is pleasant. Fruit that is of the Spirit.

I am to be filled with the Holy Spirit

Filled to Speak

“And now, Lord, consider their threats, and grant that Your slaves may speak Your message with compete boldness. …” When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak God’s message with boldness. Acts 4:29, 31 HCSB

His legs were shriveled. They’d been that way since birth, and they condemned him to a life of begging. Well into middle age, he sat at the temple gate, playing on passer-by’s sympathies, getting enough coins each day to eat and have a place to sleep. A demeaning, boring life.

And then one day, he held his hand out to Peter and John. But he kept his eyes on the dust.

“Look at us,” Peter said. The beggar did. “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I have, I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” Then, Peter grabbed that outstretched hand and pulled the man to his feet – his perfect, strong, usable feet.

The beggar stepped forward, then tried running, then leaped and finally returned to Peter and John, hopping up and down and praising God. He hung on to them, and all three went into the temple. “Look what just happened to me? Praise God! Oh, praise God! Would you look at me? I can walk!” The guy would not shut up.

Crowds rushed the trio, and Peter seized the opportunity to tell all of them the story of Jesus. The melee attracted and appalled the Jewish religious leaders. Why was the 45-year-old lame beggar walking, and furthermore, acting like a 6-year-old who has had too much sugar? But more importantly, what was all this preaching about killing the Messiah? How dare these two say Jesus was the Messiah. How dare they say he rose from the dead.

So they arrested Peter and John. Locked them up overnight. The next day, they assembled a solemn lot of priests and elders – long beards wagging, dignified robes swishing. They called Peter and John in.

“By what power or in what name have you done this?”

Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he told them. In Jesus’ power. In Jesus’ name. “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.”

The religious leaders were speechless. They conferred. They debated. And finally they just resorted to threatening. “Don’t you dare speak Jesus’ name again,” they told Peter and John. Or else. We’ll get you. We’ll get other people to get you. You’ll be miserable. You’ll lose your stuff. Your social standing. Maybe your lives.

Then, they let them go. Peter and John ran right to their “fellowship,” – their home group – to tell the whole story. All of those Christians knew those threats will real. They knew that the religious leaders had the power to make life terrible for them and for their children.

But here’s the thing that gets me. They didn’t pray to be protected. They didn’t pray for safety. They didn’t pray against the Jewish leaders. Instead, they prayed for boldness. They prayed that God would give them the courage to speak Jesus’ name fearlessly.

And that’s when it happened. That’s when they were filled with the Holy Spirit.

Filled with Him, they preached. They did the dangerous, the uncomfortable, the socially unacceptable. They shared the gospel.

The Holy Spirit doesn’t just fill me to make me a nice person. He doesn’t give me gifts just to make me feel useful and good. He fills me to glorify God, and that means opening my mouth and boldly speaking about Him when it is awkward. It means telling a friend who is lost that … well … she’s lost, and Jesus is the roadmap home. It means seeking out opportunities to do talk about Jesus instead of steering my conversations clear of Him.

If I am filled with the Holy Spirit, I will be kind, but bold. And I will be far more focused on his glory than on my own comfort.

I am to be filled with the Holy Spirit

The Old is Gone

Therefore, if anyone [is] in Christ, [he is] a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  2 Corinthians 5:17, NKJV

Being filled with the Spirit means emptying myself. Maybe an illustration would help (I’m a visual learner, so forgive me if this is too elementary).

My little brother took on a massive project a couple of years ago. He is a master craftsman and he bought himself a fixer-upper. A real doozy. Not the kind that you update appliances and slap on some new paint. The kind that most people run away from.

He gutted it. I mean stripped the thing bare and started fresh. Walls were moved. The floor plan is entirely new. Electrical completely replaced. Plumbing redone. Everything redone. And it is gorgeous. I mean WOW.

I think sometimes as Christians we think that now we can be the best version of ourselves. We think that we’re a minor fixer-upper, when the truth is, we need gutted. Jesus isn’t into slapping on new wallpaper and then calling it a day. He has plans to make us entirely new.

When I read that I am a new creation in Christ, I think of this project my brother took on. He could have done something easier. He could have just fixed the cosmetics, made that house a better version of what it was. But all the deep problems would have remained. Bad plumbing. Dangerous electrical. Dysfunctional design.

He didn’t do that. He took a property he loved and applied his vision to it. He made it new—from the gut and bones out.

Sometimes I think, ‘hey, there’s some good stuff in me. God can work with that.’ But He’s got a perfect vision for what He wants in me and from me. And, if I’m really honest, it’s gonna require some gutting. Glup. But again, if I’m honest, I want to be that new creation—that perfect vision he has for me.

So, this morning, I chose to empty myself, Jesus. Fill me with your Spirit and make me new again.

I am to be filled with the Holy Spirit

Fleshly Believers, Or Spirit-Filled Ones?

Brothers, I was not able to speak to you as spiritual people but as people of the flesh, as babies in Christ.  I fed you milk, not solid food, because you were not yet able to receive it.  In fact, you are still not able, because you are still fleshly. For since there is envy and strife among you, are you not fleshly and living like ordinary people? I Corinthians 3:1-3

Hmm.  Envious people. People who fight. People who stir up strife. Some days, I don’t have to look any further than my own family to find four people like that.  And I often don’t have to look further than my church. 

Yet, my husband and I and our two children are definitely Christians.  We’ve all made the choice to trust Jesus to forgive our sins and follow Him.  My church?  It’s crawling with honest-to-goodness believers. Why then do some days find us mired in envy and strife? 

Because there are two kinds of Christians: Spirit-filled ones, and fleshly ones.  And on the contentious days, we chose to be the latter.  On those days, we look just like the people who don’t know Jesus at all.

In college, a Campus Crusade for Christ staff member helped me understand this when he poured three glasses of milk.

“These represent three people,” he said, picking up a bottle of Hershey’s syrup.  He squirted it into two of the glasses. The gooy gloop sank to the bottom. 

“The chocolate represents the Holy Spirit, so now the two glasses with chocolate in them represent Christians.  Both of them have received the Holy Spirit.  The glass without the chocolate is a non-Christian.”

He stirred up one of the chocolate glasses, and it turned a delicious shade of brown.

“This one is the Spirit-filled Christian, the one who chooses to allow the Holy Spirit to transform her character, change the way she acts and thinks. But the unstirred chocolate glass, it still looks white, right?  It’s a fleshly Christian.  She has the same amount of Holy Spirit as the other Christian, but she’s not allowing Him to fill her.  This Christian looks just like the non-Christian.  To look at her, you couldn’t tell the difference.”

Ouch.  Because just recently, I’ve been looking pretty white-milkish myself.  And this week’s study on being spirit filled is just what I need.

I am to be filled with the Holy Spirit

I am to be filled with the Spirit: A Joint Post

And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled with the Spirit: speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music to the Lord in your heart, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.  Ephesians 5:18-21

From Susan:

My denomination loves to trot out this verse as a tirade against drinking.  And while Paul is certainly saying here that getting drunk is sinful, I think he has a much larger point, one we sometimes miss if we get hung up in legalism about alcohol.

He’s making an analogy. A drunk woman slurs her words and does embarrassing things because the alcohol is controlling her mind and body.  We are supposed to give that kind of control to the Holy Spirit.  He is to have as much influence over us as alcohol can. I am to drink Him in, give him control of my mind and body, so that I think things I’d never think on my own, do things that are exactly the opposite of what I’d like to do.  Only, instead of embarrassing me, those things give God glory.

And he lists those things right here: speaking to one another in psalms, making music in my heat to the Lord, giving thanks in everything, and (this is the hardest one for me) submitting to one another.

I don’t naturally do any of those things.  If I do what comes naturally to me, I complain, worry and push for my way.  I’ve … um … done all those things this week.  So I have a choice to make.  Just as a woman makes the choice to reach for the third and fourth beer, I’ve got to make a conscious choice to drink in the Holy Spirit and allow him to control me.  Otherwise, I’ll act just like me … and not like Him.

What does this mean for you?

From Jen:

I don’t like me without Him.

I’m a little old for this realization, but it hit me this week. I really don’t like me when I am not submitting to His indwelling presence. I don’t feel like ‘me,’ and, more importantly, I most definitely don’t think and act like the ‘me’ He wants to wrought.

I was thinking about that drunk woman analogy. Sometimes people say or assume that what is said or done when a person is drunk reveals who they really are. I’m gonna have to beg to differ—a person’s personality morphs when alcohol is pumping through their brain. They do and say things that, if they knew about sober, they’d be appalled. Ashamed. Broken.

Perhaps this is true for a person who is not under the influence of the Holy Spirit. We become selfish, mean-spirited, unforgiving and unkind. We become the person with whom, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, we would be appalled.

I become that person. The ‘me’ I don’t want to be.

So, Jesus, come. Fill me up. Soak my soul with Your Spirit until that ‘me’ is drowned. Shape me into the woman You intend.