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Posts Tagged ‘filling of the Holy Spirit’

Here it is, something to ask God to do for me every day: fill me with the knowledge of His will. Think about it! The perfect solution to every situation, every setback, every decision, and every sorrow embedded in the knowing of His will. This is my new “catch-all” when I am overwhelmed.

Colossians 1:9
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

There is a second fall-back scripture for me in times of trouble, “. . . We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” [Romans 8:26] I allow the Spirit to guide in these circumstances.

But now I have this other way, this simple prayer for knowledge of his will. And I’m pretty sure I won’t have a conscious awareness of the knowing. Instead, I will have the effects of it [Matthew 7:18]: the fruits of the spirit [Galatians 5:22-23], the ability to endure and to be patient and to manifest a spirit of thanksgiving in all things [I Thess 5:18].

This is a prayer God will always answer. It’s not one of those “yes, no, or maybe” prayers. Paul prayed in this fashion for others. I can do the same and I can pray it for myself.

When Paul was “kicking against the goads” [Acts 26:14], he was going against the will of God in such a dramatic and determined way that he experienced a physical miracle — and not a pleasant one, no matter how “spiritual” we’d like to make it sound. He was thrown from his horse, lost his sight, heard voices, and had to be led to Damascus in disgrace. After that, he didn’t eat or drink for 3 days. He despaired and expected his own death.

I think I have experienced my own version of going against God’s will, I can tell by the fruits of it: impatience, anger, discontent, harshness, and even cruelty. When my mouth and mind engage in all those sorrows and negativity, I am operating in a vacuum and missing God’s will.

Fill me today, Lord. Fill me to overflowing that the knowledge of your will becomes a sweet aroma to others. Amen.

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The idea of fullness always brings up Thanksgiving dinner for me. I see us all, draped on various couches, sated and more, loosening belt buckles and trying to lie as flat as possible to give more room for all the plenty just consumed. Supposedly, this is what is available from Christ.

Ephesians 1:22-23
And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

But we’re not full. At least I know I’m not.

Some years ago when everyone was on the Toronto Blessing bandwagon and everyone was “soaking” on the floor and asking God for more, more, more. Now, I can’t help but think God was shaking his head, “How much more do you want? I’ve given you everything!”

It’s not that God is stingy with the stuff, with the power, with the blessings, with the anointings, it is our cap. In order to fill up with all of goods, we gotta make room. Goes back to the hoarding issue: keeping things we don’t need: thoughts, blame, anger, old scripts, pain, shame, ambition, judgments, and so on.

A sponge full of dirty water can’t take on more water no matter how tasty and abundant the spring.

Empty first, then fullness…

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Acts 13:9-10a
Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, “You are a child of the devil…”

This incident happened on the initial leg of Paul’s first missionary journey in Cyprus. Apparently, it is on this journey that Saul changes his name to Paul, which historians surmise he did to be more accessible to the Greeks. And it is here that he and Barnabas encounter a sorcerer named Elymas who opposed them when they sought to speak to the proconsul that Elymas had been serving up until then.

But what is of greater interest to me is this phrase about Paul being “filled with the Holy Spirit.” As far as I can tell, this particular phrase, or ones similar to it, are only mentioned a dozen times in the New Testament. And yet, this is a phrase that many contemporary Christians (particularly Charismatics and Pentecostals) bandy about as a frequent experience marked with outward expressions like tongues, laughing, shaking, and the like. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying these expressions of the Spirit are not authentic, I’m just not sure they represent being “filled” as in filled to overflowing.

I think that true fullness would, by its very nature, pour out on others. Most of the “filled” examples in scripture are followed with a time of emptying by speaking and prophesying, literally speaking for God. Anything else is probably less than full. I just think we have diminished the impact of what it means to experience the Holy Spirit in this way.

I have used the phrase myself. But now, I think I have been merely touched by Holy Spirit. Whatever experience I had was just a breath of the Spirit compared to being filled. There is so much more. If a person is actually filled to overflowing, something happens… something changes. Power is exercised and by its very nature, it is according to the direction of God for the sake of another. Someone else is changed, not so much the person who is filled.

I am ashamed to say but I believe I have sought these “infillings” for myself and not for others at all. Oh, it sounds so pious, to seek the Holy Spirit and to go deeper into the things of God. But really, isn’t the whole point of my faith supposed to be to touch others?

So many traditional church folks are afraid of the “postmodern” movement because it is so inclusive and yet, there is one thing the emergents and postmoderns have over a lot of the other Christians… they “get” the “relationship” message. They are loving and serving others as a natural outpouring of their faith and their walk “in the way of Jesus.” They are living with and serving the poor and the unlovely. They are not trying to get more filled… they are trying to empty. They are pouring themselves out for others.

Clearly, I am still holding on too tightly to what I have. I am afraid to empty myself because I don’t really trust God to keep me filled. Forgive me.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

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