Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ultimate Empowerment

Life in America has suddenly become challenging to everyone. September, 2008 will be historically significant for our nation because of our economic shifts and fears. Yesterday I attended a business networking lunch and learn. In attendance were bankers and financial planners along with other business professionals. When discussion landed on the economy I saw the fear on every one's faces. All of us know someone that's been laid off; or someone taking on jobs of fellow workers laid off.
This Friday I will be directing a Christian business networking luncheon. I look forward to that group because when the challenges of this current tension comes up; we have answers and solutions that could not be understood fully in yesterday's luncheon. As a Christian my source of strength is in God as I am filled with God's Spirit. My peace, power and joy are not limited by my skills and my circumstances. My strength and hope are in God; as I am filled with His Spirit and I respond to His lead.

Recently in a small group of Christians of many denominations we discussed having the strength to face our challenges. I brought up the fact than in ourselves we cannot make it; but filled with Holy Spirit and led by God through Him is our hope. That set off some lively sparks. I'm convinced we want to avoid this topic because of our difference in Bible interpretation to the point that we do not focus on this great truth sufficiently to walk in the power Jesus secured for us.

So ........ I'm daring to jump in there!!! America, God is not surprised by the Wall Street blues. Fanny Mae does not have Him buffaloed. You and I operate with provision beyond our comprehension. Circumstances don't own us. But in the Bible I read, "you have not because you ask not." So my hope is in God and I ask to be filled with the Spirit of God to be ultimately empowered for all that will come to challenge me and mine.

Knowing I could stir up many questions on what do I mean by "filled with the Spirit," I choose to conclude this post with John Piper: http://www.desiringgod.com/

The fundamental meaning of being filled with the Spirit is being filled with joy that comes from God and overflows in song.

And Luke would agree with that, too, because he says in Acts 13:52, "The disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit."

To be sure, one of the marks of a person filled with the Spirit is that he is made strong to witness in the face of opposition (Acts 4:8, 31; 7:55; 13:9).

But the reason for this is that "the joy of the Lord is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10).

"When you are happy in God you are a strong and brave witness to His grace. So I repeat, whatever joy or peace you find in alcohol, the Spirit of God can give you more.

Even the psalmist of the Old Testament had experienced this. He says in Psalm 4:7- 8:
You (O Lord) have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

And that psalm leads us now to our final, all important question of how we can obey this command to be filled with the Spirit. We are commanded to be full, and yet we are not the filler, the Spirit is. The answer to this predicament in the New Testament is that God has ordained to move into our lives with fullness through faith. The pathway that the Spirit cuts through the jungle of our anxieties into the clearing of joy is the pathway of faith.

Luke says of Stephen in Acts 6:5, that he was "a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit," and he says of Barnabas in Acts 11:24 that he was "a good man full of the Holy Spirit and of faith," The two go together. If a person is filled with faith he will be filled with the Spirit, the Spirit of joy and peace.

The most important text in Paul's writings to show this is Romans 15:13, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." Notice that it is in or by believing that we are filled with joy and peace. And it is by the Spirit-that we abound in hope.

When we put those two halves of the verse together what we see is that through our faith (our believing) the Spirit fills us with His hope and thus with His joy and peace. And, of course since hope is such an essential part of being filled with joy by the Spirit, what we have to believe is that God is, as Paul says, the "God of hope." We have to rivet our faith on all that He has done and said to give us hope.

Nobody stays full of the Spirit all the time -- no one is always totally joyful and submissive to God and empowered for service. But this should still be our aim, our goal, our great longing. "As a hart pants for the flowing streams, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God" (Psalm 42:1,2). But in order to slake that thirst we must fight the fight of faith. We must preach to our souls a sermon of hope:

Why are you downcast, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God. For I shall again praise Him. He is my help and my God (Psalm 42:5, 11; 43:5).

We must set before our own soul the banquet of promises that God has made to us and feed our faith to the full. Then it may be said of us as it was of Stephen and Barnabas: "They were filled with faith and with the Holy Spirit."


jhunnelle said...

the whole world i guess was shocked with what happened in America, even here in our country, many are worried of their investments.

your post is so encouraging, indeed it's only through Him that we can find true joy and peace, which the world can not give.

We really need the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to face the challenges of life, and that is my desire and my goal to be always filled with the Holy Spirit.


Angela @ Refresh My Soul Blog said...

Good post. Praying for your meeting.
Much love,

© 2008 Kay Martin

Thrive In Christ

Who I Am In Christ by Neil Anderson

For several months we will center on this book to pursue Thriving in our Christian journey.

Neil challenges us with: "Do you know who you are in God's eyes? We are no longer products of our past. We are primarily products of Christ's work on the cross. Who we are determines what we do.

You are not who you are in Christ because of the things you have done, you are in Christ because of what He has done. He died and rose again so that you and I could live in the FREEDOM of His love."

That's just the introduction. More to follow.