Be Filled With the Spirit

Be Filled With the Spirit

Be Filled With the Spirit
Ephesians 5:18-20
by Pastor Chuck Henderson

Today marks a new chapter in our church’s ministry, and it’s important for us to see it clearly

  • When a new pastor comes, one begins to see his values and priorities through not only what he preaches about, but also in the programmatic initiatives that he brings

Clearly, Pastor Sam values prayer, as this was his first sermon series; and he also values discipleship, for he has brought Discipleship Groups to the forefront.  Today marks the 3rd great effort.

  • From preschool, all the way up through our seniors in HS, we have geared the curriculum to be consistent in its form and content and are calling on all our families to participate fully in the SS and worship hour; we call this our Arrow ministry as we seek to fashion the hearts of our children into arrows in the hand of God
  • Specifically, this morning, during the 9:00 SS hour, we have begun 3 new types of classes we’re calling IG classes, where we are challenging parents to invest this training hour to be with their Kindergarteners, 3rd and 6th graders, sit with them, talk with them, and then converse with them throughout the week about what they learned
  • Why?  Why are we putting so much effort out there and asking all of us to make significant adjustments?  Because Pastor Sam, Jacob and Ellie, David and myself, believe with all our hearts this truth that has been so well captured by Rob Dreher in his book, Live Not By Lies:

In the coming soft totalitarianism, Christians will have to regard family life in a much more focused, serious way.  The traditional Christian family is not merely a good idea – it is also a survival strategy for the faith in a time of persecution.  Christians should stop taking family life for granted, instead approaching it in a more thoughtful, disciplined way.  We cannot simply live as all other families live, except that we go to church on Sunday.  Holding the correct theological beliefs and having the right intentions will not be enough.  Christian parents must be intentionally countercultural in their approach to family dynamics.  The days of living like everybody else and hoping our children turn out for the best are over.

Brothers and sisters – your leadership team doesn’t just believe this in theory.  We haven’t gone away to some conference and decided, “Oh, that’s a cool way to do things.”  In fact, we don’t know of any church that is doing what we are attempting.  We are convinced that God has led us to this significant shift in our Sunday morning programming precisely because our culture is shifting into dark days that absolutely require us as your spiritual overseers to call our church, and specifically our families, to raise their level of spiritual involvement to whole new intensity.  

And hear me clearly – we know with all our hearts that this will take the WHOLE church – we desperately need you, empty nesters and senior adults, to work with us if you want this church to survive and even thrive as it moves forward.  We will not – we simply CAN not – face our Chief Shepherd and say, “Well, Sir, you know that if we had made those changes, the people would have grumbled and maybe even threw a fit.”  Do you think He’s going to give us a pass for that?  Absolutely not.  

We are at war for the souls of our families, our children, and so we are dedicating ourselves and asking you to join us in answering the call of the Psalmist:

Let the high praises of God be in our mouths,

And a two-edged sword be in our hands (149:6)

This leads me to an observation: Most of us know in our heads what the priorities of our lives are – faith and family and work/school

  • Where we struggle is fitting in the secondary parts of life – entertainment, school activities like sports & band, our hobbies like boats & hunting & fishing & lake houses etc.

And what I observe so often is that folks fill their lives up with the secondary parts of their lives first, and leave no room for the bigger, more important aspects of life

  • Then they constantly wonder why they struggle to gain the victory over sin, or why their relationships seem so harried, why their lives so “busy”

After this long introduction(!), I’ve been led this morning to bring you a word from Ephesians 5.  If we are going to rise to this call as a church to fight against the cultural darkness, we simply must have the power of the Spirit of God, and this involves both an active and passive side to our effort; let me explain…

  1. Be actively corrective of how you “walk”
    1. Walk in love, 5:2
    2. Walk in light, 5:8
    3. Walk in wisdom, 5:15
  • Three times, Paul calls the Ephesian believers to examine and correct how they “walk,” how they live their lives – love… light… wisdom
  • This is an active process of inventorying our lives, seeking to analyze how we spend our lives to see if they line up with the priorities of Scripture
  • A practical suggestion involving at least 3 major areas:
    • …examining your daily schedule for investment of time
    • …examine your check record for investment of treasure 
    • …listen to what you talk about the most to understand your heart
  • These 3 areas of your life will show what you love, whether you are actually walking in the light, and practicing good wisdom
  • So, before we move on to some of the more subjective aspects of the filling of the Spirit, we are admonished to examine the tangible, measurable aspects of our lives, and change 
  • But let’s suppose that by the end of the service, the Lord convicts you of some things you need to change; for instance…
    • Your natural habit is that after a long day at work, you just want to reach for the remote and let the kids fend for themselves; but now you know the Lord wants you to spend dedicated time with your kids away from the TV
  • Your natural habit after a long week is to go to the lake on Saturday, and the strong temptation once you get there is to just stay over on Sunday; you “deserve” it; you’ve “earned” it; but now you know that the Lord wants you to invest in the ministry here on Sunday and you’ve got to get back here on Saturday night and get ready
  • Your natural habit is to just talk to your kids and grandkids about sports or school or band; but now the Lord wants you to initiate spiritual conversations, and frankly, you’re just uncomfortable with that; it’s awkward and feels overwhelming
  • How do you change?  How do you rise to this challenge?
    • You have to get real and personal with God by…
  1. Be actively passive to the Holy Spirit, 18-20
    1. The goal of your action is to place yourself in a passive position, 18 – an imperative passive, be being filled
      1. Subdue all other passions to that of knowing Christ – In all I do, I want to operate in the power of the Spirit, in the name of Jesus, all for the glory of God  
        1. In everything we seek the emptying of self so that you are a fit vessel for the filling of the Spirit 

Andrew Murray, The Spiritual Life, p. 29 (in speaking of the challenge of dying to sin) …this is very hard to do, and in fact impossible, until we realize that only the Holy Spirit, who is the mighty power of God, can give us the strength to make dead the deeds of the body.

If you leave here this morning and only hear me saying, “Clean up your life!” then you’ve missed it.  So let me say it again: The call to serious Christian living is the call to submission to Christ, a call to the death of self.  It’s a call to place yourself fully and completely and constantly at the disposal of God to do with however He pleases.  And where that gets real is when you…

  1. Make your private worship the ongoing priority of your daily life
    1. This takes daily spiritual discipline
      1. Morning, night, or both – you come to the Word and through prayer, place your day before Him
      2. There’s no shortcut!

But this is not just a private matter, some kind of experience where you are knocked over in a swoon…

What follows are 4 participles that hang on the main verb, and all of these involve the church; it involves our relationships with our Christian brothers and sisters…

  1. The act of positioning yourself before Christ will involve your church, 19-21 
    1. Constantly cultivate a melodious heart in each other, 19
      1. Specifically, through heartfelt singing  
  1. Through participation in corporate songs – the following breakdown may not be as clear cut in the text as I am about to make them, but it helps us to understand the variety with which we seek to round out our services:
    1. Psalms – Scriptures that are put to music
      1. Helps with learning and memory
    2. Hymns – Doctrinal teaching through music
      1. So helpful with learning, and thus imperative to be sound in teaching
    3. Spiritual songs – testimonies, heartfelt praise, thanksgiving, exhortation or even intercession
      1. Wonderful lyrics, often ones we identify with the most, but deal with more the experiential side of our faith

Great to stand next to Pastor Sam and Heather as they sing…

A while back, standing in front of a man who… he had a jailhouse voice – behind a few bars and had no key!  BUT, he just sang with all his heart!  For me, I love to stand in front or even beside men and women like that because when they sing, they sing with all their hearts and manifest their love for the Lord in obedience to this Scripture. And here’s what I believe: God’s transformer turns that into a beautiful melody before the throne

Beloved, if we are to increase the capacity for the Spirit’s indwelling, there is an individual application here – you should go throughout your day with a song in your heart and praise upon your lips.  

BUT, being filled with the Spirit will also involve the church; and involving the church includes singing!  What encouragement we receive from hearing each other!!!

And that’s not all…

  1. Constantly cultivate a thankful heart in every situation, 20
    1. At all times – Believe our God is sovereign and in control of all that comes
    2. For every thing…in the name (character) of our Lord Jesus Christ – 
      1. Believe that our God is intrinsically good, and therefore all He allows to come can be used for our God if we will truly seek Him in it (Rom. 8:28)
    3. To your Father – Believe that our God is intrinsically love, and therefore has your best interests at heart

The emphasis is that a Spirit-filled person is not a grumbler; you can’t be resentful of what God does (or does not) give, and be Spirit-filled.  One must grow in being thankful to God for whatever He sends our way.  And there is one more…

  1. Constantly cultivate a submissive heart to each other, 21

Is it not significant that one of the great means by which we are filled with the Spirit is a super-natural willingness to submit to each other?

  • Phil. 2exhorts us: “in humility count others more significant than yourselves… Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who… made himself nothing… humbled himself”

Clearly, you cannot be a proud person, and also claim the filling of the Spirit; you cannot be one who seeks your own way and also seek the filling of the Spirit; you cannot insist on being right and be Spirit filled

By now, I dearly pray you can see from this passage just how private AND public the process is to be filled with the Spirit of God.  It involves our relationship with the church body, and will lead to a private encounter with Christ Himself.

  • A story to illustrate… Eustace in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Be Filled With The Spirit

Ephesians 5:18-20

  1. Be actively corrective of how you “walk”
  1. Walk in Love, 5:2
  1. Walk in Light, 5:8
  1. Walk in Wisdom, 5:15
  1. Be actively passive to the Holy Spirit, 18-20
  1. The goal of your action is to place yourself in a passive position 
  1. Subdue all other passions to that of knowing Christ 
  1. Make your private worship the ongoing priority of your daily life
  1. The act of positioning yourself before Christ will involve your church, 19-21 
  1. Constantly cultivate a melodious heart in each other, 19
  1. Through heartfelt singing – 
  1. Through participation in corporate songs – 
  1. Constantly cultivate a thankful heart in every situation, 20
  1. Constantly cultivate a submissive heart to each other, 21