Fill, Full and Overflow

Aware...

Looking-forward

The Holy Spirit's work . . .

  •     John 16:8-11: He convicts us by holding up the righteousness of God
  •     John 16:12-15: He will reveal God's truth to us
  •     Romans 8:14:  He will help us to live according to God's ways.  As we live God pleasing lives, by the power of the Holy Spirit we are then assured that we are children of God.
  •     Romans 8:16:  The Holy Spirit confirms our place in God's family
  •     Romans 8:26:  The Holy Spirit helps us to pray according to the will of God.
  •     Acts 20:22:  The Holy Spirit guides us in our ministry assignments
  •     Acts 20:23:  He gives us insight into what is happening so we can face our hardships with the big picture in mind.

Yesterday I saw the Holy Spirit at work in my life.  My computer was having some issues so I took it to the store to have it looked at.  It was a two-hour ordeal.  In the process of working on the computer I got to talking with the tech and found out that he had at one time attended church and had even attended seminary.  We got to talking and I felt the Holy Spirit prompt me to encourage him, so I did.  He was talking about going back to school to become a medical doctor and I spent some time just encouraging him to do so in response to the Holy Spirit's guiding.  I went home and over the course of the evening I again felt the tug of the Holy Spirit to go back and thank him for his help and then invite him to church.  As I was thinking about the whole frustrating process of having to re-install everything on my computer (yes, I had to wipe the hard drive and start over) the Holy Spirit reminded me that there was a bigger plan afoot than just my computer repair.  God cared about my tech guy and sent me there under the guise of having to repair my computer.  Now, I get to partner with God through the Holy Spirit's guidance to remind Mr Tech Guy that God still loves him and wants him to take his place in the family of God.  Woo hoo, I am pleroo!

How is the Holy Spirit at work in and through you?


Barnabas: Full of the Holy Spirit

Sail

  • Acts 11:19-26 (NIV) 19Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. 20Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21The Lord's hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. 22News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. 25Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

 
News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch.

The Holy Spirit moving through the leaders of the church in Jerusalem chose Barnabas and sent him to Antioch.  Barnabas displays that he is full of the Holy Spirit because he allows the Holy Spirit (through the spiritual leaders of the Jerusalem church) to send him, AND he goes.  He picks up his life in Jerusalem and relocates 300 miles to Antioch in order to do the work that the Holy Spirit had set aside for him. Can anyone say pleroo?

Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people.  

If there ever was evidence of the Holy Spirit in the life of a person then this is it.  Barnabas went and looked for a man who up until now had been known as the “Christian killer.”  Paul (formerly Saul) has been converted to Christianity, but people are still holding him at arm’s length because they are unsure if it is for real or just a ploy to gain their confidence before he arrests them.  Barnabas, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, goes and looks for Paul to come and help him with the task of making disciples.  He took a huge risk (humanly speaking) in taking in Paul but what great dividends it paid out, because the truth of the matter was that Barnabas was being obedient to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.  

I wonder how many times the Holy Spirit prompts us to take a risk in regards to the mission of multiplying Christ-followers everywhere, and we are not willing to be pleroo.  We are not willing to let Him blow wind in our sails.  What we usually do is we take down the sails (see yesterday’s definition of pleroo).  After we take down the sails we then get frustrated because we feel like we are stuck in our current spiritual position.  The truth is that we must let the Holy Spirit blow wind in our sails and also be willing to let Him set the course.  When we do, we find ourselves engaged in the great and exciting adventure of going and making disciples.  The most exciting place is also the safest place – in the center of God’s will.

Last thought…
Barnabas was naturally an encourager and a good man.  In this story and in other references in the New Testament we see that he naturally believed the best about people, but when Barnabas took his natural gifts and abilities and allowed the Holy Spirit to breathe His life into him, Barnabas really became effective as a minister.  We are all called to be ministers (people who are on the mission of making and multiplying disciple everywhere) but the only way we can truly be effective in this calling is if we are full of the Holy Spirit.  If we are letting Him fill our sails, be controlled by Him and allowing His nature to fully permeate our lives.

Are you pleroo?


Filled to Completion

Poor-in-spiritMatthew 5:3 (NIV)"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

ptoôchos (poor) is from a verb meaning “to shrink, cower, or cringe,” as beggars often did in that day.

The word was used to refer to a person who had been reduced to total poverty, who crouched in a corner begging.  As he held out one hand for alms he often hid his face with the other hand, because he was ashamed of being recognized.  The term did not mean simply poor, but begging poor.

The word commonly used for ordinary poverty was penichros, and is used of the widow Jesus saw giving an offering in the Temple. She had very little, but she did have “two small copper coins” (Luke 21:2). She was poor but not a beggar.

One who is penichros poor has at least some meager resources.
One who is ptoôchos poor, however, is completely dependent on others for sustenance. He has absolutely no means of self-support.

We don’t really get this – especially today.  We are not really faced with slavery or deep poverty here in SCV.  To us poor means we can only afford to go out to dinner four out of seven nights a week.

Jesus says that we must be ptochos IN SPIRIT

To be poor in spirit is to recognize our spiritual poverty apart from God.

  • It is to see ourselves for what we really are: lost, hopeless, helpless.
  • Apart from Jesus we are spiritually destitute, no matter what our education, wealth, social status, accomplishments, or religious knowledge.
  • We understand that there are no saving resources in themselves and that we can only beg for mercy and grace.
  • We know we have no spiritual merit, and we know we can earn no spiritual reward.
  • Our pride is gone,
  • Our self-assurance is gone,
  • We stand empty-handed before God.

 The result of truly humbling ourselves before God is that we are filled up with His life and love.  But…

  • We cannot be filled until we realize that we are empty;
  • We cannot be made worthy until we recognize our unworthiness;
  • We cannot live until we admit we are dead.

If you are struggling with this concept of humbling yourself, take a moment to pray and ask God to give you a picture of who He is and who you were before He saved you.

Take time today to thank Him for loving you in spite of who you were. 


Filling Up Through Fasting

Fasting

  • Matthew 6:16-18 (NIV) 16 "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.


In the passage we see that Jesus says, "when you fast."  This language suggests that Jesus expected that His followers would make fasting a normal and acceptable part of Christian living.  

Fasting is the laying aside of food for a period of time for the purpose of seeking to know God in a deeper experience. It is to be done as an act before God in the privacy of our own pursuit of God.

There are many reasons to fast...

  • When we are going through hard and difficult times it is appropriate to set aside time to abstain from food and seek God more intently. (2 Chron 20:3)
  • In times of mourning over our sin it is appropriate to abstain from food and seek God.
  • When we need a miraculous intervention from God into our situations it is appropriate to abstain from food and seek God in prayer.  (Esther 4:16)
  • Fasting relates to a time of confession and repentance. (Ps. 69:10).
  • Fasting supercharges our prayers.  (Ezra 8:23; Joel 2:12).
  • The early church often fasted in seeking God’s will for leadership in the local church (Acts 13:2).    
  • When the early church wanted to know the mind of God, there was a time of prayer and fasting.

I want to encourage you to fast.  To be reminded that we are eternal beings…that this place is not our home…that we are citizens of another kingdom.  It allows us to refocus…quiet our busy lives.  It is a spiritual discipline, that when practiced helps us to grow closer to God...it fills us up. 


Filling Up Through Serving

Serve

The world tells us that we are satisfied when we fill up with money, success and power over others.  Jesus tells us that to be filled up with Him we must empty ourselves of the world’s way.  To be filled up with Christ we must serve. Because that is exactly what He demonstrated to us.

  • John 13:2 through John 13:4 (NIV) 2The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. 3Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.

Jesus served.

He didn’t need to, He was God, but He demonstrated something that He wanted His followers to do, to serve.   In order to serve though, we must empty ourselves of self, because the greatest barrier to serving is pride.  We must choose to put others above ourselves.  Let’s face it, that can be very difficult at times because we really are most interested in how we can have others serve us.  

Jesus took off His outer garment, He grabbed a towel, and He put it around His waist. 
He was doing this outward reminder of an inward truth that “I am here to serve.” 

How about you?  Why are we here at DSC? 
Are you here to serve, or are you here to be served? 
Are you here to partner with God in what He is doing in people’s lives, or is it sort of a spiritual consumer idea where you get in, you get what you can get, leave if it doesn't meet your need, and then you are on with life? 
Or are serving those around you and being a part of what God has called us as a church to do? 

So..how is God asking you to serve others?  Not what other people think you should do, but what would God call you to do?

And how can you be sure that you have the same heart as Jesus did on that night when He washed the disciples feet?

Three questions that you can ask yourself that will help you discover if you have the same heart that Christ did when He served. 

What is my motivation? 
Things that were not Jesus’ motivation: pride, self-righteous attitude.

Some things that motivated Jesus: love and compassion. 

What’s your motivation? 
Do you see things the way that Christ does?  Or are you just doing a task? 

What is the need in front of me? 
What is the need in front of you right now?  Name it and do it. 

What do I have to give? 

  • Acts 3:6 (NIV) 6Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”

What do you have to give? 
Is it just time? 
An ear to listen to someone, their problems?  Or be there for someone? 
Is it resources that others don’t have? 

When we have those things in that order… 
When you have love and compassion for people the way Jesus did,
you are going to know the need right in front of you.
You won’t care what the task is, you are going to do it, and you are going to give whatever it is you have to give and the more you give the more you are filled up!

P.S.  Here are a few ideas on how you can serve at DSC...

  • Spend time in prayer before Sunday services.  We meet from 9:15am to 9:50am for prayer.  Join us. 
  • Arrive early and look for ways to help.
  • Take time to encourage people when you see them.
  • Look for visitors on a Sunday morning and make them feel at home and welcome.
  • Get involved in some area of ministry.
  • Be obedient to give freely and sacrificially.

 


Filling Up Through Fellowship

Fellowship

 

  • Acts 2:42 (NIV) 42  They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

The word fellowship is the greek word koinonia which has a few different understandings.
It refers to a group of people who have a shared mission and vision.  Think Lord of the Rings: The FELLOWSHIP of the Ring.  Common mission and vision.
It is the understanding of people who share their resources.
Fellowship also carries the understanding of active participation and generous contribution.

The new converts on their way to becoming disciples devoted themselves to the fellowship.
If we extrapolate from the passage and the meaning of the word then we understand that...

  • they were identifying together with the other followers of Christ.  This is seen in their commitment to meet together regularly and to be known as a disciple of Christ.
  • they were embracing the common mission Jesus had given them to multiply Christ-followers everywhere 
  • they were so devoted to that shared mission that they were actively participating in what the plan was to accomplish that 
  • they were contributing eagerly to it as well 
  • they gave willingly and freely of their time and resources


If that is what fellowship means, my question is are you in fellowship here at Desert Streams? 

You see, every disciple of Christ must be in fellowship with other believers and today that is generally accomplished by being a part of a local church family.  There cannot be lone rangers in Christianity because God created us to be in community with other believers.  Community is a part of the nature and character of God.  We say it all the time, God is a community, made up of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  So if we are to be imitators of Christ, then we must live in community - koinonia - fellowship. 

Jesus gave us the example of community...
He was constantly talking about the shared mission of the Godhead. 
He embraced His role in that mission, giving all that He had to see it come about. 
He did it willingly and eagerly. 
Even as a man He demonstrated living in community as He lived with His disciples; teaching them, encouraging them and doing life together with they.

So let us be imitators of Christ, disciples who follow in His footsteps.  Let us begin to live fully in community here at Desert Streams. You will find that you will grow in leaps and bounds as the nature and character of Christ is formed in you.


A Disciple Fills Up on God's Word

Bible

  • Psalm 119:9-16 (NIV) 9  How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. 10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. 11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. 12 Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees. 13 With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. 14 I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. 15 I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. 16 I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word. 

 The Psalmist asks, “How can a young man keep his way pure?”  
He gives us some ways we devote ourselves to the Word of God. 

He says that we should seek to know the nature and character of God as we read the commands in His Word. 
He says that we should memorize God’s Word. 
He says that we should say out loud the Word of God and meditate on God’s Word. 
In so doing we find ourselves living according to God’s Word.

Remember yesterday’s reading, the new converts devoted themselves to the Word?  The young man in Psalm could also refer to the new believer who devotes himself to the Word of God.  We devote ourselves to reading, memorizing, meditating and saying God’s Word. We devote ourselves to understanding it. 

Sometimes when we talk about being devoted to these things and disciplining ourselves to do it we think of this being a chore - something we must do.  The reality is that this should be a delight for us.  Devotion also carries the understanding of having a deep love for someone that we are willing to do whatever is necessary to please them.  This devotion to the Word of God should be something we delight in, something we want to do.

Let us delight in God’s Word by reading it, memorizing it, meditating on it, saying it and living it.  Let us be filled with the life-changing Word of God as we continue to devote ourselves to it.

 

 


Follower, Believer or Disciple?

Disciple

 

I have been thinking about this idea of being a disciple - someone who is a disciplined follower of Jesus, one who imitates Christ. 

Last week we saw that to become a disciple requires saying yes to Jesus’ call to follow Him.  In our day and time it is the understanding of surrender - giving Jesus the right to tell you how to live.  Immediately that seems a little tough.  As Americans we celebrate the fact that we are free to do what we want and now you are telling me that I must give up that right?  But to be a disciple of Christ we now walk in a different kingdom, we are now citizens of the kingdom of heaven first and foremost, so we must live under the rule and authority of Christ.  We must choose to give Him the right to tell us how to live.

Having surrendered to Christ we now begin the journey of discipleship: choosing to become a disciplined follower of Jesus, one who looks and acts like Him. 

But how are we to truly become imitators of Christ? 

The answer lies in Acts 2:42-43. 
Followers of Christ must be devoted.  As we see in the story, the new converts needed to be instructed in becoming imitators of Christ so they earnestly pursued the avenues that were available for them to become imitators of Christ. 

  • They disciplined themselves to be instructed in the Word of God and how it revealed the nature and character of God.  
  • They disciplined themselves to pray - not just in the moment by moment, ongoing conversations with God during the day, but also in the set-aside, withdrawing from the hustle and bustle of life kind of prayer.  
  • They disciplined themselves to be involved in the family of God because it was there that the nature and character of Christ is worked out practically and where they were able to find encouragement and accountability for continuing in the faith.  
  • They also disciplined themselves to constantly remember the sacrifice of Christ on the cross by communion.  It was a reminder that Christ was the center of everything they did.  They existed only because of His incredible sacrifice.

Let us choose to be devoted.  Let us not be followers or believers, let’s make the step into being disciples!  Disciplined followers of Christ.  Imitators of Him.  Devoted, set apart as people who exist to bring glory to our King and Savior Jesus.  


Is Jesus Worth It?

 

 

  • Matthew 13:44-46 (NIV) The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

In ancient times, the practice of hiding valuables in the ground was common. Because there were no banks most people protected their valuables in a secret spot in the ground. When they needed money or decided to sell or trade a piece of jewelry, for instance, they would go to the place at night, uncover the jar or storage box, take out what was desired, and rebury the rest.
Because Palestine had been a battleground for hundreds of years, families would often even bury food, clothing, and various household objects to protect them from plundering enemy soldiers.
Over the years, the ground of Palestine became a treasure house. When the owner of buried treasure died or was forcefully driven from the land—sometimes deported to a foreign land such as Assyria or Babylon—the treasure would be forever lost unless someone accidentally discovered it, as occasionally happened.

How much is Jesus worth?
How precious is He to you?
Where does He rank in your scale of desires?
Notice the man's willingness to sacrifice everything he had in order to possess the treasure. AND He does not sell all that he has begrudgingly; he does it joyfully. The reason is because he sees how precious the treasure is. He knows that, whatever he pays for that field, it's a steal.

Jesus is worth so much more than anything else in all the world, that every loss endured to have more of him can be endured with joy.
 
Paul is living testimony of this parable. He said in...

  • Philippians 3:7-11 (NLT) I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ...I want to know Christ...

Is He worth it?  Yes! Yes! Yes! An thousand times Yes!  And for those who have experienced His life and relationship we find ourselves longing for more.  We hunger and thirst for Him so that we may be filled with more of Him. 

Don't be afraid to say yes to Him.  To abandon all that you hold dear to embrace Him and His calling.  He is worth it!


Emptying Ourselves of Self

Empty

  • Luke 9:57-62 (NIV) 57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." 58 Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." 59 He said to another man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." 60 Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." 61 Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family." 62 Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."

Everything about Jesus was, and is, astounding, marvelous, and humanly unexplainable.  How can people witness God's power over and over again, admit that it is marvelous and even divine, and yet refuse to accept and follow the One who does such wonderful things?  It is baffling to me.

People are resistant to Christ and run from Him because in coming to Him their sin is exposed and they don’t want to empty themselves of it.  They are having too good a time in the moment.  It is short-sighted thinking because the pleasure of sin lasts only for a short time.

Some people are attracted to Jesus because of what He can do for them.  They are followers from a distance because from a distance they can observe but not have to really make a commitment to Christ.  Obviously when we stay at a distance we are easily distracted and turn away from Him.

Others don’t want to commit fully to Jesus because it means giving up personal comfort or they believe that they have to live a life of poverty.  Some are fearful of suffering or inconvenience.  

For some the idea of being fully identified with Christ would mean the loss of friends or ridicule of some kind.  

What is it that you are holding on to instead of emptying yourself so that you could be filled up with Christ?