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."