Spirit Filled Life

Ephesians 5:19-21

We learn in Ephesians that the command to be filled with the Spirit is not a command to speak in tongues
or to prophesy or to call down fire from heaven.
The first consequence of the Spirit-filled life is a heart that sings.
It is a heart that cries out to minister to others.
It is a heart filled with joy.
It is a heart that serves.

That may not seem as dramatic as some ecstatic spiritual experience or mountain-moving phenomenon,
it is just as miraculous.

The human heart cannot be changed by man.
But when God gets hold of it – just see what happens!

First, the Spirit-filled heart ministers to others.

"… Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…" (Ephesians 5:19)

Christians are not rugged individualists.
We do not stand alone.
We are not islands.
Nor are we to erect barriers between ourselves and others, daring them to cross.
As part of the body of Christ, we need others, and others need us.

Each one of us has been gifted to minister to others.
Remember that sentence is for every Christian, not just to pastors and missionaries.
Each one of us is responsible to minister to others.

Of course, some of us have been called by God to work in ministry.
But God intends all of us to minister when opportunity arises such as in our workplaces,
in our neighborhoods, in our families and in our society.
Realizing that we have this personal responsibility, and then having a heart to help others
is a indication of being filled with the Holy Spirit.

All true Christians – believers are called the body of Christ.
The human body is a picture of that spiritual body.
By observing how the human body functions, we gain insight on how the spiritual body should function.

Some where I read about the cooperation of the entire body is involved when a toddler takes his first steps:
"If we traced all the body signals involved in walking, we would find in that grinning,
perilously balanced toddler a machine of unfathomable complexity."

The article goes on to say that over one hundred million sense cells in each eye compose a picture
of the table that he is walking towards.
Stretch receptors in the neck relate the attitude of his head to the trunk and maintain appropriate muscle tension.
Joint receptors fire-off messages that report the angles of the limb bones.
The sense organs inside the ear inform the brain of the direction of gravity and the body's balance.

Pressure from the ground on each toe triggers messages about the type of surface on which he is walking…
A casual glance down to avoid a toy on the carpet will cause all these sense organs to shift dramatically.
The image of the ground moves rapidly across the retina, but the inner ear and stretch receptors
assure the brain the body is not falling.

Any movement of the head alters the body's center of gravity, affecting the tension
in each of the limb muscles.
The toddler's body crackles with millions of messages informing his brain and giving directions
to perform the extraordinary feat of walking."

When seen up close, in detail, the physical act of walking is a stupefying miracle.
When seen up close, in detail, the spiritual act of 'walking together' is an equally, stupefying miracle.
It requires millions of individual beings contaminated by the impulse to act independently,
to reject that impulse and subordinate themselves to the leading of Jesus, the Head,
and move in concert with His will, rather than millions of individual wills.
The miracle of spiritual unity is also awesome as is the miracle of physical unity.

Lone rangers are not filled with the Spirit.
Caustic and abrasive people who tend to drive others away are not filled with the Spirit.

Those who are filled with the Holy Spirit since the importance of mutual ministry.
They understand that they are part of a larger whole, and they see the need for unity with the Head
and the body of which they are a part.

And now, in the that sense of wholeness the Spirit-filled heart finds joy.

Inner Joy

"… Singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord… (Ephesians 5:19)

You do not need to have a beautiful voice to have a beautiful heart.
Yet when the Holy Spirit invades your heart, inner joy expresses itself in inner song.
And this inner joy does not depend on circumstances.
It survives in spite of the circumstances.

John Haggai tells of his son who suffered severe physical trauma at birth because the doctor,
a respected obstetrician, was intoxicated at the time.
Here was how he related this:
"During the first year of the little lad's life, eight doctor said he would not possibly survive.
For the first two years of his life, my wife had to feed him every three hours with a Brecht feeder.
It took half an hour to prepare for the feeding, and took another half hour to clean up, and put him back to bed.
Not once during that time did she ever get out the house for any diversion whatsoever.
Never did she get more than two hours' sleep at one time."

Haggai continued to say, "My wife, Christine, had once been acclaimed by some of the nations
leading musicians as one of the outstanding contemporary female vocalists in America.
From the time she was thirteen she had been popular as a singer – and constantly in the public eye.
Hers was the experience of receiving and rejecting some fancy offers with even fancier incomes
to marry an aspiring, Baptist pastor with no church to pastor.

Then, after five years of marriage, the tragedy struck!…
She was now marooned within the walls of our home.
Her beautiful voice no longer enraptured public audiences."

Although John Edmond, Jr., was paralyzed, and able to sit in his wheelchair only with the assistance
of full-length body braces, his parents rejoiced to have him with them for over twenty years
– and rejoiced that he committed his heart and life to Jesus Christ and evidence genuine concern
for the things of the Lord.

Haggai went on to say: "I attribute his commitment to Jesus Christ and his wonderful disposition
to the sparkling radiance of an emotionally mature, Christ-centered mother who has mastered
living one day at a time.
Never have I – nor has anyone else – heard a word of complaint from her."

God's mercy.
Sometimes, it is so severe.
Yet the Spirit-filled life is a life of joy, surviving not because of the circumstances, but in spite of them.
And out of that joy the Spirit-filled heart gives thanks.

Giving Thanks

Ephesians 5:20: "… always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God,
even the Father
…"

When we traced the word, "thanksgiving," through the Bible – through the Old and New Testaments
– we get a sense of God's attitude to gratitude.
In Nehemiah 12:46 we read: "For in the days of David and Asaph, in ancient times,
there were leaders of the singers, songs of praise and hymns of thanksgiving to God
."

We also read in Psalm 69:30: "I will praise the name of God with song,
And shall magnify Him with thanksgiving
."

Psalm 95:2 says, "Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms
."

Then there's that wonderful passage in Psalm 100:4:
"Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
And His courts with praise,
Give thanks to Him; bless His name
."

Revelation 7:12 says, "Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor
and power and might, be to our God forever and ever
."

With this kind of emphasis, it's a little wonder that the third manifestation
of the feeling of the Spirit is a grateful heart.
The Spirit-filled heart is thankful.

If we understood our perilously our lives hang in the balance as we go about our daily living…
and if we understood how powerful the spiritual warfare is around us…
and if we understood how fortunate we are to have food on the table and a roof over our head…
if we grasped how dependent we are on the common grace of God and the goodness of others
for basic necessities in life… we would be a grateful people.
Grateful for what we do have, rather than ungrateful for what we don't have.

Then finally, the heart that ministers to others, beating with joy and thanksgiving,
is truly the heart of a servant.

Servant Heart

Ephesians 5:21: "… and be subject to one another…"

Anyone who knows anything about chickens knows that there is a pecking order in the chicken yard.
There is the Top Chicken, who can peck anyone in the coop without fear of reprisal.
And there is Bottom Chicken, who can't peck anybody in the coop without reprisal.
All other chickens are aligned in a hierarchy of power between these two.

If a kernel of corn falls between any two chickens, the one with a higher pecking order gets the kernel.
If there is any question as to which is which, a fight breaks out – anywhere from a skirmish
to an all-out war.
When the fight is over, the winner establishes or re-establishes dominance over the other,
and the hierarchy adjusts itself accordingly from top to bottom.

The same order can be observed in the great Corporate, Chicken Coop – the human workplace.
There is a Top Human and a Bottom Human; and in between all the others are aligned in a hierarchy of power… a great human pecking order.

If an opportunity for investment falls between two humans, a fight breaks out – anywhere from a little skirmish
to an all-out war.
This can mean anything from dirty looks to actual murder, whereby humans establish dominance
over other humans, and the hierarchy is established.

Just as chickens constantly jockey for position in the chicken yard pecking order,
so humans constantly jockey for power in the workplace.
It is only natural.

However, as Christians, we are not participates in this great posturing for position.
We are not to follow our natural inclination.
We are to act supernaturally.

This is exactly what occurred when James and John, twin brothers who were disciples of Jesus Christ,
began jockeying for position in the coming kingdom. (Mark 10:35-45)
"Master," they said, "when your kingdom comes, that one of us sit on your right-hand
and the other on your left
."
They wanted to be the top chickens in the kingdom of God.

Jesus said, "Men, you have it all wrong.
That's the way the world acts.
They love to lord it over others.
But things are entirely different in my kingdom.
In my kingdom if you want to be great, you must become a servant to everyone else
."

What a shock that was!
In heaven, the pecking order is reversed.
The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.
Those who humble themselves, God exalts.
Those who exalt themselves, God humbles.

Mark 10:45 says, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,
and to give His life a ransom for many
.

I have read that a vine produces a squash in six weeks.
And that a great oak takes a hundred years in its growth.
And a Spirit-filled Christian produces the fruits of ministry, joy, thankfulness and servanthood.

These manifestations of the Spirit will not come on you suddenly with great force.
They will come slowly, even imperceptibly at times.
But in the end, they will endure.

Paul's command to be filled with the Spirit does not mean that we must speak in tongues
or prophesy or call fire down from heaven.
Instead, we minister to others, we find joy in our heart, we discover gratitude in our soul,
and we serve others as Jesus did when He was here.

Think about that – isn't that is miraculous as any fire from heaven?

"This sermon was adapted from a sermon of my hand-written notes did not include the name of the author.
I would be happy to share his name for the message was so inspiring
that I wanted to share it." Dr. White