Empowered by God's Spirit, Part I
"Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit."1
Some time ago a lovely Broadway actress wondered how one person could possibly fill Madison Square Gardens with 20,000 people every night for four months? Impossible, she thought. And the only reason she attended Billy Graham's New York Crusade was to find out how he did it.
This actress had a longstanding illness that she described as "a terrible cavity somewhere in the abdominal region." Fearing she had some dreaded disease, she had been examined by several doctors and had insisted on exploratory surgery. Not one doctor could find anything physically wrong with her. But that night as she sat listening to Billy Graham and trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, without warning, she was gripped with this dreaded emptiness more severely than ever.
Suddenly, she realized that its cause wasn't physical at all. It was spiritual. So she responded to the invitation to receive Jesus Christ into her heart as personal Lord and Savior—and her overwhelming emptiness vanished, never to return.
Not all emptiness has a spiritual cause by any means, but much of the emptiness that plagues modern society does. Or it may be a combination of causes, including the spiritual.
People are not only physical and emotional beings with a need for food and friends, but they are also spiritual beings with a need for God.
Without Christ in our lives we are spiritually dead, but when we receive Him as our personal Lord and Savior, we become spiritually alive2 and are immediately indwelt by God's Spirit (the Holy Spirit), and become a part of the body of Christ and the family of God. As the Apostle Paul said, "For we were all baptized (immersed) by one Spirit [God's Spirit] into one body ... and are all given the one Spirit."3
Every true Christian, therefore, has God's Spirit dwelling within him or her. But God doesn't only want us to be merely indwelt by, but also to be filled with His Spirit. His injunction is to "keep on being filled with the Spirit”4 which is not a once-for-all experience, but needs to be a continuous, daily experience.
When we are filled with God's Spirit, He fills the spiritual vacuum in our life and empowers us to help us overcome temptation and sin,5 and to produce in us the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.6 The Holy Spirit also helps us to become effective witnesses for Jesus Christ.7
How then can we be filled with and empowered by God's Holy Spirit? We will answer this question in Parts II and III in Thursday and Friday's Daily Encounters.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank You that when I accepted Jesus as my Savior, I was indwelt by Your Holy Spirit. But I don't want to be a half-hearted Christian and only be indwelt by Your Spirit. Help me to understand and learn how to be daily filled with Your Spirit so that Your light will shine through me and impact others for Jesus. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."
To be continued.
1. Ephesians 5:15-18 (NIV).
2. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV).
3. I Corinthians 12:13 (NIV),
4. Ephesians 5:18 (literal translation, NIV).
5. Romans 8:12 (NIV).
6. Galatians 5:22, 23 (NIV).
7. Acts 1:8 (NIV).