I have just returned from our Chapel choir retreat. My weekend was truly blessed as we worshiped, listened to the Word, prayed, sang, and shared in life together. It is a beautiful thing when people who love the Lord gather in unity for one purpose and give their hearts over to the Lord in worship. As we sang together this morning in the beautiful little Chapel with the sun pouring in on us through the glass windows, the Holy Spirit moved powerfully among us. I wept as I experienced the beauty of worship with those who suffered greatly from loss and pain, yet still worshiped with hands upraised and voices uplifted through the tears. We were free to praise him. Some knelt, some wept, some rejoiced, but all worshiped at His throne. We brought what we had to give to minister to the Lord and pray for one another. We shared communion - ate the bread and drank the wine in remembrance of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for our sins. His saving grace covered us. The Holy Spirit of Jesus counseled us in His Word and poured out as we embraced one another in the power of His love that has forever changed us.
We came to prepare our hearts and voices to sing the Christmas musical and left having experienced His Joy - Jesus, the joy of every longing heart. The lyrics of one of our Christmas songs is still ringing in my heart.
“Joy of every longing heart
You find us where we are,
Waiting for You, Waiting for You.
Love to make the broken whole,
You rescue every soul waiting for You,
Waiting for You.”
This weekend I was blessed by the fruit of the Spirit at work in the lives of these choir members. They are all juggling demands in their own lives. They sacrificed financially and with precious time to come and invest in a weekend of rehearsals to prepare to bless others in the Christmas season. The evidence of the Spirit’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control all touched my life with grace this weekend. When the Holy Spirit of Jesus is at work you cannot miss His beauty and power.
This brings me to Faith lesson #2 in this series - Juggling the Demands of Life with Grace.
Surrender to the Holy Spirit in prayer each day.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you....... But the counselor, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
John 14:15-17, 26 ESV
One of the most transforming times in my life came when I read a little book called, “They Found the Secret.” At the time, I was a young mom and I was desperate, overwhelmed and worn out with ministry, frustration and disappointment . There was an anxiousness in my spirit that was always there. The Lord used this little book to open my eyes and heart to my need. It was a book of stories about men and women, some famous, some not, who were laboring in ministry with hearts for the Lord and his people. They each had come to a place in their lives as believers where they were at the end of themselves and were then confronted in different ways with their relationship with the Holy Spirit.
“They had believed on the Savior, yet were burdened and bewildered, unfaithful and unfruitful, always yearning for a better way and never achieving by their efforts a better life. They came to a crisis of utter heart surrender to the Savior, a meeting with Him in the innermost depths of the spirit; and they found the Holy Spirit to be an unfailing fountain of life and refreshment....”
V. Raymond Edman
It was in the testimony of a man named Dr. Wilson in “The Yielded Life” that I saw myself. At a point of despair in his life, a traveling missionary asked Dr. Wilson, “What is the Holy Spirit to you?” After some discussion and orthodox answers he replied truthfully, “He is nothing to me. I have no contact with Him, no personal relationship and could get along quite well without Him.”
The missionary challenged him that was the reason that His life was so fruitless even though His efforts were so great. Dr. Wilson acknowledged his fear of becoming a fanatic and the fear of giving the Savior an inferior place if he exalted the Spirit. That night Dr. Wilson confessed his mistreatment of the Holy Spirit in his Christian life and surrendered his life and body totally to the Holy Spirit of Jesus within him. His life and ministry were transformed.
That night after reading His story I laid out my own life on my living room floor in surrender to my Lord and the Holy Spirit. I began the practice of surrendering to the Holy Spirit and asking my Savior to fill me with the fullness of His Spirit each day.
Ephesians 5:18 - Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead be filled with the Spirit.” This verse in the present tense in essence says, “ Be Being filled with the Holy Spirit”, continually give over control of your life to Him.”
This yielding, this place of abandon and total surrender and dependance on Jesus has made all the difference in my life and it will in yours. Perhaps the Lord is bringing you to that crisis of belief in your need. Are you willing to offer your life in total surrender and filling of the Holy Spirit?
It is death to self that leads to the abundant life with Jesus. It is faith that will bring us to the reality of His abiding fullness and presence within.
Jesus cries out in John 7:37-39
“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
My life came to a point where I knew I could go on no longer unless God filled me with more of Himself. It was a thirst for God that has defined my life ever since. I had to come to the end of myself first. I had to be emptied in order to be filled. God in His grace will allow pain, sorrow, disappointments, brokenness, darkness-whatever it takes to bring us to a place where we recognize our desperate need for the Spirit of God. It is a personal journey we each must take. We must come to the place where we cry out with the psalmist,
“My soul thirst for you God, for the living God.”
Being filled with the Spirit is not just a helpful addition to our lives. It is the power by which we live life with Jesus. Being filled with the Spirit begins with a holy hunger, a thirst for a closer walk with God.
“The desire to be filled must become all absorbing in your life. If there is anything in your life bigger than your desire to be a spirit-filled Christian, you will never be a spirit-filled Christian until that is cured. If there is anything in your life more demanding than your longing after God, then you will never be a Sprit-filled Christian. I have met Christians who have been wanting to be filled in a vague sort of way for many years. The reason they have not been filled with the Spirit is because they have other things they want more. God does not come rushing into a human heart unless He knows that He is the answer and fulfillment to the greatest, most overpowering desire of that life.”
A.W. Tozer - The Counselor
As we seek to juggle the demands of our lives with grace, it is the Holy Spirit who will lead and guide us. As we learn the joy of surrender we begin to see the fruit of His Spirit start to take over. In time our words and actions bear the fruit of His Spirit. Often others will notice a difference before we do.
We each must answer the question - “Who is the Holy Spirit to me, what is my relationship with Him? If your answer is I don’t really know, I have no personal relationship, I’m afraid or ignorant of how the Holy Spirit works in my life as a believer, then dig into God’s Word and spend time in prayer asking Jesus to fill your life with the power and fullness of His Spirit. Through your saving relationship with Jesus you have the divine power of His Spirit living within you. It is the Holy Spirit that will illuminate God’s Word and enable you to bear fruit in your life and ministry. In time you will learn to recognize His voice, His gentle nudging, His power and counsel, His abiding presence and will for your life and you will not turn back.... for your life will never be the same.
No eye has seen
no ear has heard
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him
but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10
God has a plan for the work for us and for His kingdom. He is willing and able to reveal to us what His plan is. He is the great teacher. We must learn to wait upon Him to show us His will. It is God that gives the grace and the power. “What is done in the will of God, the strength of God will not be withheld from it. What is done in the will of God must have the mighty blessing of God. And so let our first desire be to have the will of God revealed...God can only reveal His will to a heart that is humble and tender and empty. God can only reveal His will in perplexities and special difficulties to a heart that has learned to obey and honor him loyally in little things and in daily life.”
I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power
through His Spirit in your inner being. Ephesians 3:16
The rush and demands of life can take over us. We must persevere and purpose not to let it. We must ask forgiveness if we have not honored the Holy Spirit as we should. grieved Him, and allowed self and the flesh of our own wills to work where the Holy Spirit should have been honored. The Holy Spirit in His spirit of love is willing to bless.
Will you choose to honor Him in surrender today and seek the Spirit's power in your own heart and life to conquer self, cast out sin and work the beautiful image of Jesus within you?
Jesus, thank you that your death and shed blood accomplished full salvation for me.
Thank you that my sins are forgiven and I have the hope of eternal life.
Thank you for giving me your Holy Spirit to live within me as a fountain of living water to refresh and renew my mind.
I humbly pray that You will fill me today and minister to me and through me.
I surrender to Your work and power within me.
Holy Spirit take possesion and dominion over my life.
May Your Spirit enlighten me and nourish me in Your Word.
Strengthen me in my inner being and fill me to overflowing
with the love of Jesus into the needs of others.
By Your grace teach me how to live a holy life that always brings honor
and glory to my Savior, Jesus.
In the power of Your Holy name, Amen
If you have a moment, Be blessed by the prayer and truths in the song on the youtube link below -Holy Spirit, Living Breath of God - by Keith and Kristen Getty
In His love,
Resources and recommended reading - “They Found the Secret” - V. Raymond Edman
Wonderful Counselor - A.W. Tozer, God in You - David Jeremiah, Absolute Surrender - Andrew Murray,
Joy of Every Longing Heart, lyrics by Cottrell, Smith, and Moffitt
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