After the Candles Go Out

Candlelight Service
Candlelight Service

Like most churches, we have done our best to minister during the Christmas season to anyone God put in front of us as well as declare the truth of the Gospel. Having seen many new faces over the last month I guess we can deem this past Christmas season a success. Of course, nothing would make it more of a success than if all those who have come in contact with Jesus this Christmas have been changed by Him. This is not just a goal for those who do not yet believe but also very much a goal for those already a part of the church.

So, now the candles from the Christmas Eve service our blown out and, as we speak, the Christmas decorations are being taken down. It’s time for a new year.

I imagine most people are beginning the new year with thoughts of what the year will bring, some with resolutions, some with regrets looking forward to escaping the past. I guess there’s all kinds of thoughts we can have when a new year approaches. Of course, if you are a follower of Jesus, you have the opportunity to find yourself with hope; hope that the new year can be one that brings you closer in fellowship with Christ, experiencing the life-altering influence of His Spirit and the ability to hear more when your Good Shepherd speaks. I’ve been reflecting a lot on Psalm 96 as I prepare to preach a New Years message this Sunday. I love how so many of the Psalms speak of the newness we find in God, even when we’ve known Him for a long time:

Oh sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth!
(Psalm 96:1)

As a pastor, I often find my personal “hope goals” are often the same as the goals I have for our church. This year, I have one goal in particular:

This year my goal is too big to be a resolution and is probably impossible to measure. As a matter of fact, this goal is something that should be on going and should be, and have always been, the most important goal of my life since meeting Jesus Christ.

This year my goal is to make decisions, act, speak and even think (thinking is probably the most difficult) as if the only thing that matters is what Jesus thinks. Is that crazy or what?!

You see, my thinking is simple. If Jesus Christ is really the creator of the universe (See John 1:1 and Col. 1:16-17) and all of this world is really about what He’s planning and what He’s doing…and…He’s calling me to follow Him, hear His voice and live the life He’s given me, then, my crazy proposal is, I should care about what He thinks.

So, that’s my New Year’s “Hope Goal.” To live, act, move and breath as though what Jesus thinks matters. What do you think? Are you crazy enough to try this with me?

I was struck by the words of Oswald Chambers this morning, as I often am, so let me conclude with an excerpt from My Utmost for His Highest:

“If we have never had the experience of taking our commonplace religious shoes off our common-place religious feet, and getting rid of all the undue familiarity with which we approach God, it is questionable whether we have ever stood in His presence. The people who are flippant and familiar are those who have never yet been introduced to Jesus Christ. After the amazing delight and liberty of realizing what Jesus Christ does, comes the impenetrable darkness of realizing Who He is.”

Now that the candles are out, it time for us to live as though Christ has come and that what He thinks really matters. Read More

Filled with the Spirit – what does it mean?

Paul gives a directive in Ephesians that Christian’s should be “filled with the Spirit.” However, this may be one of the most misunderstood aspects of the Christian life. What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? Is it about how you feel or something euphoric?

I really appreciate DK Stuart’s statement about spiritual filling:

“’Being filled with the Spirit’ is a biblical idiom for ‘having from God the ability to do or say exactly what God wants done or said.’”

As we look, biblically, at Spiritual filling one truth we quickly find is that filling is about what God is doing, not about what we’re feeling. Spiritual filling is not about some kind of ecstatic experience.

It may surprise you to find out where the discussion of Spiritual filling begins in the Bible but it’s not in the New Testament. The first “filling” is actually found in the book of Exodus in chapter 31. In this chapter, God has chosen and man named Bezalel to oversee the construction of the tabernacle. In order for Him to fulfill this calling, God “fills Him” with His Spirit. Here’s the text that explains what that “filling” is all about.

and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship,” (Exodus 31:3, ESV)

There are four results of God’s Spiritual filling that will enable Bezalel to do all that God’s called Him to do (I will explain these as they are listed in the text):

  1. Ability: The NKJV renders this Hebrew word (hokmat) as wisdom. The same word is used verse 6 in regard to the men appointed to help Bezalel and their ability or skill to complete their task. God is giving Bezalel knowledge to do what He’s calling Him to do (will talk about that later) and along with knowledge He’s giving him the ability to apply that knowledge. In other words skill or wisdom.

The same is for you and me. When God fills you Spiritually He is giving you the Spiritual ability to apply the knowledge that He gives. This is the beginning of your filling and your ability to live your calling.

  1. Intelligence: Wouldn’t we all like a good dose of this from time to time? This is talking about aptitude or understanding. As God calls and fills Bezalel, He will progressively continue to give Him the ability to acquire the knowledge for His calling.

This is good news. When God fills us with His Spirit, He gives us the ability to learn. Just as He wants to teach us His ways He gives us the Spirit of understanding to learn them.

You can see this illustrated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 2. Paul explains it’s impossible to understand the wisdom of God without having the Spirit from God.

…So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.” (1 Corinthians 2:11–12, ESV)

  1. Knowledge: This may seem redundant but this is talking about the information itself. If you were to flip through the chapters prior to chapter 31 in Exodus you will see that there is great detail in God’s instructions as to how the tabernacle, furniture and everything else involved with Bezalel’s job.

A big part of the filling of the Spirit is God giving you and me the knowledge we need to fulfill our calling. This means our calling is not something we can fulfill by our own knowledge, this knowledge must come from God and He gives it as we need it.

  1. Craftsmanship: By filling Bezalel with His Spirit God gave him the hands to fulfill his calling.

This is a very practical part of God’s filling with the Spirit. God is working supernaturally in us and naturally through us.

When it comes to every Christians calling to live out the Gospel, just remember, the Gospel is the “power of God for salvation” but God also works through men. If you think, “well, I just don’t feel like I’m full of the Spirit,” I understand. But, fullness is not of us, it’s of God who gives His Spirit and fills those He calls.

You can know by truth and by trust that God is equipping you, supernaturally by His Spirit, to work out the entire course of your calling. That’s being biblically, Spiritually filled.