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First Things @ First

Pastoral Perspectives,

It seems that in most cases in our life on earth there is one thing that consistently helps us get through every day. That one thing is balance. Without balance, we will fall. Except a plane be equipped with two wings, it will not long fly. Knowledge without wisdom throws our thinking out of balance. While both are good and each have their place, exercise is required in both to make the most of life. Truth without compassion can harm more than it helps. Law without grace becomes punishment and not discipline. The choice to live by emotion without any reason or logic applied can put a person on a roller coaster that, let's just say leaves a person quite unsettled internally.

The one exception to this line of thought concerns being filled with/by the Spirit of God. Long have I and others compared it to a glass being first emptied and then filled to overflow with the blessing to others coming in the overflow. It's not just asking God to 'fill our cup' but to overflow within us to the point that others are blessed by His presence around us.

I have recently discovered what I believe to be a better illustration of what it means to be filled with/by the Spirit of God. We must first understand that only a born-again sinner can house the Spirit of God. Our physical body becomes His spiritual habitation when the believing sinner is transformed by the power of God and raised to walk in newness of life, being made alive from being dead in trespasses and sins. Eph. 2:1

The key to understanding how it is possible to walk in victory and serve the Lord in a headwind of opposition comes in understanding what the term 'filled' actually means. The word 'filled', or 'filling' is the word 'plro' as given by the Holy Spirit to those inspired of God to pick up a quill and be directed by the hand of God. The word 'filled' indicates domination.

John MacArthur gives some insight on this thought that I believe is worth our time. He says in part, "when John uses the phrase 'sorrow filled the heart' in John 16:6, then the word of God is conveying that the heart is being dominated by sorrow. The heart is out of balance. The scales have been tipped sharply in favor of the weight of sorrow. When Luke uses the phrases, 'they were 'filled with madness' in Luke 6:11 or 'they were filled with anger' in Luke 4:28 or 'filled with fear' in Luke 5:26, the dominating factor is madness, anger or fear. The mind is out of balance as a result of what is being given control. To be filled with sorrow throws our life out of balance and there is little room for joy to balance us out. When someone is filled with anger, you will often hear someone respond, they have lost control or gone off the deep end. When anger dominates, it leaves little or no room for kindness to balance us out."

Therefore, when the Apostle Paul says, be filled with the Spirit, he is speaking about control.

When a person is grieving, sorrow is in control. When a person is angry, pride and self-preservation are in control. When a person is filled with the Spirit, then God is in control. It means that I am dominated by His goals for my life, not my own. I have no will of any worth that is not first filtered through His word. In being filled with the Spirit, I permit God to put His hand on the scale of my life and 'dominate' it completely toward His desire and design for life. This may well be the only application in life where it's a great thing to be 'unbalanced.'

So, why are more NOT being filled with the Spirit in the church today? There may be many reasons but one is in particular, by nature we are constantly attempting to 'balance' or 'round out' our lives with a little bit of the right things and a little bit of the rest the world offers. Because it is commonly thought by many, if not most, a little 'too weird' to be 'all in' for Jesus or 'too costly' to my own preferential practices, then I choose to balance some of His word with some of the world. And I trick my mind into thinking that this is normal behavior for a Christian. In so doing, I forget there is nothing normal about a disciple's life. The life of a Spirit filled disciple will be looked upon by the world as abnormal. So much so that a person would have to backslide in order to be in fellowship with most today in the church. And we do. Consequently, it becomes common thinking today that I do 'this' on Sunday, on Wednesday and occasionally at other times through the year for Jesus but I do this and this with the rest of 'my' time, talent and treasure.

I believe this best explains why the church of the 21st century is so dramatically less dominant in the conversation today than the church of the 1st century was. And it is reflected in our community, state, nation and world.

When I say that, I'm not referring to being a majority. The church of the Lord Jesus Christ has always been a minority organization in the world. What Jesus began with less than 100 people at Pentecost became a dominant force because they were willing to be 'filled' with the Spirit.

The power was supplied through the Spirit. This was not supplied so much on what they learned but rather on who they loved and that changed how they lived. These early disciples permitted God to put His hand on the scale of their life and dominate it. That changed the way others lived!

History will record that it made a huge difference in this world. In fact, if you're reading this and have been born-again by the Spirit of God, then their willingness to be 'out of balance' in being Spirit controlled made it possible for you to hear the word of God and be saved. That makes what they shared in, suffered for and struggled through for His name sake worth it, doesn't it?

So, who or what is dominate in your life today? Is it God? Is it me? Is it some sort of twisted arrangement of me and God? Is it the mindless pursuit of this world and what it offers?

Are you engaged in the 'balancing act' of doing this for God and doing this for yourself every day?

I guess there are worse ways to live your life, for sure, but from God's perspective there's not a better way to live your life than being totally dependent on following His word and finding His will. That is where we must focus if we are to truly find His favor!

Here's to leaning completely on Jesus for life!!

Pstr K

Hebrews 10:35-36