Trying to do the Lord's work in your own strength is the most confusing, exhausting, and tedious of all work. But when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, then the ministry of Jesus just flows out of you.
CORRIE TEN BOOM
Wanting to make Sunday morning a day of delight for Joy and Joel on their last Sunday home for many months, I arose early, tromped downstairs to make 4 loaves of bread so that we could have an exceptional breakfast, I was feeling pleased with myself. While waiting for the bread to rise, I made Joy a cup of tea and took it upstairs to her in bed. My heart was all good. I was intending to shower love and spoil my two before they went back into the fray.
But suddenly a dark spirit must have jumped into my body because when everyone came downstairs, I got off kilter, threw out a frustrated bomb on all who were in my wake and pretty much spoiled the morning I had so intended to make our time so beautiful. I felt sick that I had blown it and ruined the morning. But, by God's grace, my sweet ones extended grace, eventually giggled with me and said, "Mama, we think you need a break!" And all is well, again.
Have you ever been trying to be good when all that has come out is bad? :)
I think that sometimes it is just such a frustrating part of life. Our hearts are good, our deeds are sometimes awful. Paul identifies with us. He said, "Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?"Romans 7:24
We are not able to live the Christian life--only Christ living through us, the Holy Spirit inside of us, can live His life and love through us when we learn to yield to Him, again and again. I was reminded of this when I read this piece I had written years ago. Maybe you can relate. It was another one of those times when I meant to be patient.
It’s a miracle! I thought to myself as I closed the door behind me. Somehow I had managed to slip out of bed without waking Clay, slip on my shoes and a comfy sweater, and get out the door for a Saturday morning coffee--even at 6:15. As I sat in the cozy corner of the café, coffee in hand, I basked in the delight of a stolen moment alone. I read my morning verses, and jotted down some deep thoughts in my journal. I will be so kind, very loving, and patient today, I thought.
And then my phone rang. “Mom! Where are you? What are we going to do today?” I responded patiently with this child (how could I not be patient in such a lovely moment?) and explained that I’d be home in just a little while to do something fun with the whole clan. Even just thirty minutes alone was rejuvenating for me, but I sighed nonetheless.
But then the phone rang again. “Hey, honey! Who’s going to take Joy downtown for her appointment?” This time it was my husband's voice. I pondered on this. There were no less than four adults in our home who could drive; perhaps one of them could manage? This was my one morning alone. Even so, I continued to talk with Clay as we puzzle-pieced schedules. As I ended the phone call, I breathed deeply. The coffee and quiet started to enchant my soul back into a pleasant attitude.
And then the phone rang. Again. Everyone was hungry and wanted breakfast. With another sigh, I gathered myself, thanked God for the few moments of peace, and resolved to enjoy the day and cherish my beloved ones. This thought was barely a notion in my mind when I walked through the door to discover the dog had thrown up on the new carpet.
I think I need another cup of coffee.
So many times in my life I have encountered the tension between wanting to be Spirit-filled and gracious, and then being overwhelmed by my own attitudes, the unexpected situations of my life, or the many clashing personalities of my family members. Life tends to have a sandpaper effect on my attempts to be holy. These times have led me explore what it means to live in the power of the Spirit.
Throughout Scripture, the Holy Spirit is often described using the analogy of wind, or breath. When explaining the mysteries of the Spirit to Nicodemus, Jesus said:
“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).
The Greek word Jesus uses is pnuema, which can be translated as wind, breath, or spirit. Later, when Jesus is commissioning his disciples, Scripture manifests the metaphor into an actual happenstance: “And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20:22).
Again and again the Holy Spirit is described as breath which brings life, and wind which provides direction.
Breath is a daily necessity. We cannot live without breathing, and it is a constant need moment to moment. The same sort of dependence we have on breathing is how we ought to depend on the Holy Spirit. Living in the power of the Holy Spirit means letting the Spirit of God be the breath that allows me to make it through every day. Relying on the assistance of the Holy Spirit should become as natural to me as breathing in and out.
To live only within the mundane constrictions of daily life is not to be alive at all.
Christian means, "Christ in one." When we live in Him, we are "in Christ Jesus." When I learned this secret--owning the Holy Spirit's strength in my life--I was transformed.
Christians cannot flourish apart from making God's Spirit the source of their spiritual lives.
Even the phrase "spiritual life" refers to the Spirit-living-through-us life. I am not speaking of some kind of unique charismatic experience (though throughout history, people have experienced God's filling in different ways), but of a power that we can never muster up on our own. It might be described as:
*an inner strength *a voice that calls us to become more excellent *an energy that moves us to love and forgive supernaturally *a fruitfulness that can only be explained by God
When the Holy Spirit directs our course, the natural consequence is a life outside of normal striving or fleshly effort. We are able to live beyond our own capacity.
To tap into the power of Scripture, choose five verses of Scripture that encourage you and memorize them through the next month. Start with this verse: "Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16).
Chapter 7 in Own Your Life helps us understand the Holy Spirit's role in our lives and how we can have even more of Him.
I hope you enjoy the podcast today where I also share about the importance of cultivating spiritual habits that will give strong foundations to your life.