Green Lights – Red Lights: Listening to the Holy SpiritSeptember 2, 2013
The Missing Link: Including the Holy Spirit in Your LifeSeptember 2, 2013
As the Apostle Paul asked the new disciples he bumped into at Ephesus:
“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? Did you take God into your mind only, or did you also embrace him with your heart? Did he get inside you?” Acts 19:2 The Message
Having the Holy Spirit in your mind only, and not inside you, reminds me of our advice to engaged couples. Typically it goes like this: the young man is expecting marriage to be like adding an addition to his house. His house (his life) will be pretty much the same, he assumes, but of course with his new wife added.
The young lady is expecting a whole-house renovation! She’s expecting everything to change, including and especially her new husband.
He’s a spectator; she’s a participant.
And being a participant is what God wants for you. Listen to Peter, a former spectator:
“ … he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature ….” 2 Peter 1:4 Bold added
What a precious promise: to actually participate, not in a religion, not just in church, that’s for spectators, but in the divine nature?
But it involves a whole-house renovation, to which we independent humans are loathe to submit.
Me too. I’ve done it the hard way: room by room, begrudging addition by addition. And, this kind of remodeling approach takes longer, the mess and the frustration abound, and it cost me oh so much more.
Until recently. Now I am surrendering to, and welcoming a whole house renovation. None of this remodeling stuff for me. Renovate! From the studs out!
Room by room remodeling is a herky-jerky way to live, and most unsatisfying. So if you are still missing Jesus’ promise of the “Life to the full,” take a look at your renovation approach.
Trying to add Jesus, without being filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit, results in a tired, beat-up and harried attempt at being religious.
And in Acts 19, we see just such an example.
God had been blowing up Paul with Holy Spirit power, so much so people were crowding around him just to get a touch and be healed.
Some Jews who specialized in exorcisms observed this power, and realizing how cool it would be to have it, tried to add Jesus’ name to their routine, expecting similar results. Reminds me of so many who add church and all that comes with church, to their life, but not the Holy Spirit, who only comes with a full-out surrender to Jesus. (“See Spectator?” from last week.)
But, instead of the power-filled “Life to the Full” these Jews were seeing in Paul, their addition-without-surrender resulted in a thorough whipping by a clever demon as they tried adding “in the name of Jesus” to their next exorcism.
15 “One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.” Acts 19
Can you picture this: “ …they ran out of the house naked and bleeding?” Ha!
See, you’ve got to read your Bibles; there are hilarious stories in there.
But it’s not so funny, is it? Because many of us feel this same way after a few years on a church committee, or trying to serve our fellow man, or trying, trying, trying to be a good Christian.
We’ve added, but we have not been renovated.
And it won’t work.
Jesus did not die for you to add him to your already busy life. Jesus did not “become sin” for you so you could add his name to your church resume. He died for you, and promised the Holy Spirit to live within you, to rip out your old C- life, strip you back to the studs, and renovate you.
A whole house renovation; no mere additions here!
And then he plans to fill your new house with wonders and riches and treasures you cannot begin to imagine. So …
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Ephesians 3