Living in the Spirit: Not Rocket Science

Jesus died and rose again so that we could have eternal life AND the power to live now. He does not expect or want us to live in our own strength. We cannot and our attempts lead to frustration and exhaustion. When you became a Christian, Jesus gave you the gift of His Holy Spirit, and the Spirit lives in you to empower you to live this life. In fact, Paul says that God wants “to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” We don’t have to live a life of powerless-ness, frustration and exhaustion. We can live in the power of the Spirit and it’s not rocket science. I always feel disappointed when an author suggests that she/he is going to give practical instruction and does not. My goal is to provide clear, practical instruction from the Word. For example, prayer is a part of the journey, but what do we pray for? Paul spells it out. Praying for you as you begin or continue on this journey. Here’s an outline of Sunday’s message on living in the Spirit.

  • Understanding precedes Transformation: As Christians, the Holy Spirit lives in us and transforms us, but He begins by giving us understanding.
  • How does that work? What do we do? What does the Holy Spirit do?
  • John Ortberg uses an analogy of the boats to help us think about our part and the Holy Spirit’s part.
  1. Rowboat – We do all the work. No.
  2. Motorboat – Holy Spirit does all the work. No.
  3. Sailboat – Yes. The Holy Spirit is often described in Scripture with the word “pneuma”, which means breath or wind. Jesus said the wind blows where it will, we can’t control it, but we see its effects. We can’t control when the wind of the Holy Spirit will come, but we can be prepared. We prepare or “raise the sails” so to speak, but the wind supplies the power.
  • What does it look like to raise the sails?  Paul describes this in Ephesians 3:14-21.
  • 14 “For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

    20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”One attitude, 2 actions:

  1. Attitude – Trust: Verse 20: first, believe, trust, have faith, that God, through his power at work within us, wants to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine.
  2. Action: Pray: Explicit: Verses 14 & 16 – “I kneel, I pray…” There is no way around it. Prayer is a crucial discipline for living in the power of the Spirit. All healthy relationships require communication. More on what to pray for below, but start simple. You don’t get more points for praying longer or with more eloquence. For now, you’ll be praying Ephesians 3:14-21. If you feel lead to pray more, go for it.
  3. Action: Read the Word: Implied by the fact that instruction is given in the Word: (e.g., We know to pray and what to pray for because of God’s Word in Ephesians 3:14-21). Understanding precedes transformation. The Bible says that God’s Word is supernaturally powerful. To fail to read it daily depletes your soul just as not eating depletes your body. Where to begin? Don’t try to start big and don’t try to start at Genesis 1:1 and read through the entire Bible. Start simple. I would suggest reading the daily devotionals available at He Reads Truth or She Reads Truth and allow the Spirit to help you grow. http://hereadstruth.com
Note what Paul prays for:
  • “your inner being”: We try to fix the outer person by our own strength: “I’ll stop yelling at my kids. I’ll stop looking at pornography. I’ll stop being selfish.” If you want to get all the air out of a glass, you could create some type of air-tight vacuum, but it would be easier to fill the glass instead. Rather than trying to subtract the bad things, be filled with good. The Holy Spirit will change you from the inside out.
  • “…Christ to dwell in your hearts”
  • and the most critical part: “that you may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—
  • so that: that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
THE KEY: Understanding precedes transformation and grasping or understanding that 1) Jesus literally dwells/lives in you and understanding 2) the love of Jesus is the key. It is the single most important thing to understand. Why?
  • Jesus loves what is good: Rather than promising to quit losing your patience with people, Jesus, through you, will love what is good (And by the way, He loves you. And He likes you. He doesn’t tolerate you or shake his head in disappointment over you. When you came into a relationship with him, you were completely forgiven, and God now loves and accepts you unconditionally).
  • Jesus loves well: Rather than recommitting to loving your spouse/kids/neighbors better, Jesus will love them through you with a perfect love.
  • Jesus loves what matters: He knows you better than you know you. There are many good things to love, but Jesus will love through you, and will direct your love to those things that you need to be focused on.*
  • Understanding the love of Jesus fills you with all the “fullness of God”, His peace, power, love, kindness…
Take away for now: 1) for the next 21 days (about the time needed to develop a habit), pray Ephesians 3:14-21 for yourself every day. If it’s the only thing you pray, pray this. The Spirit will grow your prayer life as He is ready, 2) Read the Word: If you have a plan that works, great, if not, He/She Reads Truth is a good starting place. http://shereadstruth.com
*We are called to love everyone, but we are not called to prioritize everyone the same way: for example, as a spouse or parent, you are called to love your spouse or child with a greater priority than a co-worker.

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